The forgotten post-box

Many of you will know that my 95-year old mother-in-law Millie is no longer able to take care of herself and so I became her “apotropus”, or guardian with power-of-attorney. I am responsible for decisions regarding her finances and as such I am in charge of her bank account. I noted that every month there were two payments into it, which I assumed were her British pension and the interest payments from her two Bond accounts in National Savings and Investments (NS&I) in the UK. But, I was puzzled, because we remembered that she used to receive two checks in the mail every month, and we remembered asking if they could be paid directly into her bank account here in Israel and we were amazed when they said “no,” so we wondered what had happened to these payments.

I decided to investigate the origin of the two monthly payments further and so I went to the Bank and asked to see where the payments came from. One was of foreign origin, so this was obviously her UK pension. The other payment proved to be her Israeli pension, not a large amount, but clearly labelled “Bituach Leumi.” So then we were left with a mystery, what had happened to the interest payments on her UK bonds?

We remembered that previously Millie had received two checks in the mail every month in a Post Office Box and after she could not deal with this Naomi had collected them for a while. But, somehow she had stopped doing it, probably after we returned from our month’s visit to the US last Dec-Jan. We looked thru Naomi’s keys and found one that was probably the PO Box key, but we didn’t remember the number of the box. We visited the boxes, and there are hundreds of them behind the main Post Office. They told us that they could open it for us if we brought her id card (teudat zehut) and the box number. Barbara found the number in Millie’s papers, and we were then able to go back and try to open the box, but it would not open! So we went inside the PO and eventually got to see the manager and he was very nice and after he went to investigate for a few minutes he returned and told us the reason the box would not open was that it had not been paid for in a year. So I agreed to pay for it and then he released the lock on the box, and then we were able to open it. I must admit that my hands were shaking a bit when I finally turned the key and found that it was packed chock full of envelopes!

I counted that if we had not opened it since December, 2010, then there should be 7 x 2 = 14 envelopes with checks in them. There were many more envelopes in there than that, but most of them came from the bank that used the same PO Box address. When I removed the NS&I envelopes from the others there were actually 15 envelopes! I was puzzled, why an odd number, but it appears one was missing. Anyway I took them to the bank and they accepted all except those that were more than 6 months old. They amounted to a reasonable sum in sterling. If you want to contact me write to my PO Box in S. America.

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