When we were in LA in April, I went to the post office to get my mom's mail forwarded here to Anchorage. The supervisor I talked to was understanding, but she wanted to see some documentation that said I was the responsible person for my mom's estate. I had some pages that named me, but not all the pages. I'd thought we were done with that and everything was in Alaska. I did have a death certificate. I did suggest she talk to Eric who delivers the mail and has for years and knew my mom, knew the caregiver, and knew us.
Then we went back to Anchorage.
I called her before we went back to LA in May. She said she'd talked to Eric and she had approved it. But when we got to LA, mail was still coming to the house, most of it stuff that went right to recycling. Eric said he was still waiting for the instructions to start forwarding the mail.
A little after we got back to Anchorage I got a letter from a higher level supervisor saying I needed to send a death certificate, a change of address form (for just one individual per form), and some proof that I had the authority to get the mail. So I wrote up an affidavit (I'd already had one notarized to get into my mom's safe deposit box) and took it to the credit union to be notarized. (The banks in LA don't do notary work any more - at least not my mom's banks - but the credit union here in Anchorage still does it free for members.)
Then I took all three items to the post office. I put everything into an old 8.5x5.5 manila envelop, with the original address covered with paper and the new address. Same with the old return address. The lady behind the counter weighed it and put new stamps on over the old one. That was late Wednesday afternoon.
Thursday, the envelop was in our mailbox! The address was clear and big and said "Send To" above it. How could they do that? Fast, yes. Wednesday afternoon to Thursday afternoon. But it was supposed to go to LA.
Friday morning I went back to the post office. The woman who had helped me wasn't there, but the other two women who'd been there were working. When I got to the counter she very quickly assessed the problem.
PO Lady: You used an old envelope?
PO Lady: Yeah, well see, it has a bar code, so that's why it went to your house.
Steve: But the address is really clear.
PO Lady: It reads the bar code.
She drew a pen line through the bar code. And charged me another 61 cents.
Steve: So I get punished for recycling old envelopes?
PO Lady: Well, you have to pay the new postage.
Steve: Why didn't the person tell me?
PO Lady: She's new. She didn't know.
OK, I understand that they need good proof that I'm the one with the authority to get my mom's mail. Potential rival heirs can get pretty devious as I found out when a relative died and one of the siblings screwed the others.
And I understand why bar codes are a good idea. So, I'm not complaining. I'm just relating and warning others to be careful when they reuse envelopes. Check for old bar codes and cover them or cross them out.