January 3rd, 2008



It is 2008 and the probate process for my brother's estate is still not completely closed. He died in April 2005. We were able to distribute the majority of the money to the heirs in 2006 but had to hold on to a small amount in case there was a problem with the taxes. The estate (represented by me) had to hire a lawyer and an accountant and then I paid myself a smallish fee in comparison. At this time I need to pull together any stray bank statements so the accountant can finalize the accounts and we can distribute the remaining money to the heirs.

I mention this to point out that probate can be expensive and time-consuming. It is well to avoid at all costs - and yet I personally have not been able to work a way to avoid it at my death. In California probate kicks in if the estate is valued at more than $100,000, even if a large portion of that amount is still owed! As in a loan for a house. This is where I have the problem. I have a loan on my mobile home and the lender refuses to put it in the name of my revocable trust. I can understand the hesitancy because they want to be sure that the person who takes over the loan is qualified. But if my daughters were willing to take on this charge it would affect their credit adversely. Not a good situation.

The solution would be to own the house outright so I can move it into the trust. But that's not realistic yet. I should chat with an accountant.

So many cables, so little time

I have decided to create a little instructional video for Joey for his new xo laptop (see http://www.laptopgiving.org). I think he stands a chance of using it more if the basic moves are easy for him immediately. How to open it. How to turn it on. How to move from one program to another. How to get connected to the internet. How to take pictures and videos. The laptop uses linux, modified for children into an operating system they call "sugar". It really is pretty intuitive but some things can be frustrating if you want to get going right now.

I first tried to do the video using the built-in camera on my mac and iMovie. I wasn't able to adjust the mac to get the angles I wanted to show what I wanted. It's fine for the introductions, where I talk to the camera. So I decided to take out my miniDV camcorder and record the rest that way.

I recorded most of what I want but then discovered that I do not have the proper cable to connect the camcorder to the computer. I thought sure I had this the last time I used it but that was a couple of years ago and who knows what might have happened to it? I looked through my neat little clear plastic shoe-like boxes with the proper labels - "camcorder" and "computer", but did not find the right kind of cable. I found many others, of course. Just not that one. So I am off to Best Buy. I want to get this finished, crude or not, so I can send the little guy to Joey.