This is the fourth part of a fiction serial, in 767 words.
Jim Bell more or less took charge of things after her mum’s death. Gillian went with him to register the death, and then they went to the undertaker where mum had already taken out a funeral plan. It was going to be very basic. Just the hearse and one car, followed by a short cremation service. Jim said he would come to the funeral with Maureen from work, surprised to discover they had no family or friends attending.
It was a sad affair to see, with just three mourners and a vicar who Gillian had never met before. There was no wake after, and standing outside with the flowers, Jim Bell told her to take as much time as she needed.
Her mum had always told her that Purdey’s had her will and instructions, so a week after the funeral, Gillian made an appointment to see someone in that firm of Solicitors. She was shown in to the boss himself, Graham Purdey. He said the usual condolences, and then got down to business.
“Your mother has left everything to you, Miss Baxter, as might be expected. As well as the house, I am pleased to inform you that there is a substantial sum of money. Your father’s pension lump sum was paid after his death at work, as well as the life insurance. Then once I get the paperwork sorted for your mother’s pension, I expect that will come to a lot of money too. She worked for the civil service for a long time, and has thirty-four years of pension to be paid to her beneficiary. That’s you. As far as I can estimate at the moment, there should be something close to two hundred thousand, and then there is the value of the house to consider. I will juggle the figures around to save you paying any death duties, and our fee will be most reasonable, I assure you”.
Back at home later, Gillian treated herself to having a pizza delivered, adding garlic bread and a two-litre bottle of Pepsi to the order. She had missed any birthday celebrations because of all the upset, so it seemed to be the least she could do for herself.
The amount of money discussed by the solicitor was well over ten years salary for her, maybe as much as twelve. He didn’t know about her own savings of course. Not having to pay any bills or housekeeping for most of her working life, at the age of twenty eight she had saved up a lot of money. Eight hundred a month since she had turned eighteen amounted to ninety-six thousand pounds.
As she waited for the pizza delivery, she chuckled to herself. She was rich.
Four days later, the solicitor rang to tell her that she would get half of mum’s monthly pension, but all of the lump sum due. “I have opted for you to take the largest lump sum on offer, and the half-pension should be something over three-fifty a month, paid until you die. The lump sum is estimated at the moment, but I suspect it will be something close to sixty thousand. Meanwhile, I have transferred the rest of your mother’s funds and savings into your account. You will have to visit your bank to make any arrangements for the money, but it is substantial sum, almost one hundred and thirty thousand pounds. I will need you to come in and sign some more paperwork soon though”.
Gillian’s accounts were at the same branch of the same bank as her mum’s, so she would pop in there soon and arrange to sort out her finances. Meanwhile, she went online to look at her own pension. She had been paying into it for eleven years, and she filled in an online estimate which returned a figure of a little over three hundred a month, with a lump sum of twenty-seven thousand on top.
In bed that night, she made a decision.
Around ten the next morning, she rang into work and asked to speak to Jim Bell. He was tied up with something, so Maureen said he would ring her back later. As she was enjoying some toasted waffles with raspberry syrup, the phone rang. It was Jim, returning her call. Eager to get him off the phone and finish the waffles, Gillian made it short.
“I have decided to resign. Can you sort out the paperwork and inform the pension people, please? I’m sorry to let you down, but I have inherited some money from mum, and I don’t need to work any longer”.