I love the information in this guest post by Gary Newman, who provides great insights on how to be financially prepared before there’s a death in the family.
Be a Real Hero – Empower Your Beloved!
Here’s a true story (names changed) from my experience. If it doesn’t apply to you, or I can applaud you for wisely already having fixed the problem that it exposes, please stay with me, anyway. That’s because you could be a huge help to someone who still needs to fix theirs:
Pete and Alice have been an ideal harmonious couple, admired for six decades, Alice the perfect homemaker and Pete the consummate family business manager. Alice thrives on her freedom from the “messy and mysterious ” mechanical and financial chores of life’s business, and Pete revels in prideful self esteem for protecting her from them, finessing them so well himself. He’s her hero.
Now, if you’re already figured out where I’m going with this, don’t go away, there might still be as nugget or two for you.
Terminal cancer is extinguishing Pete’s life, and Alice is awakening to her imminent helplessness. Besides losing Pete’s loving and protective companionship, she’s unequipped to manage the ordinary daily business of life.
By pampering and protecting her, Pete unintentionally undermined her. Sure, she loved it, but the price to pay will be grievous. It has deprived her of the ability to function with the dignity, self-reliance, and independence that she needs. Now, in painful necessity, she’ll have to sacrifice her lifelong goal never to be dependent on the children. She’ll have to burden them with the tasks of shepherding her through the management details of life.
If you’re one of those “in-charge” men who think you’re doing your Alice a favor and sheltering her by excluding her from the daily business of life, please understand that you are in fact setting her up for disaster.
In many couples, the roles are reversed, but the inevitable disaster is the same. Many divide the chores and management functions between the partners. Each does what he or she likes best to do, or is better at, and some things are partnered or shared. The problem happens when one beloved for whatever reason doesn’t keep the other informed, or the other isn’t interested and just doesn’t want to know. You’ve seen this, haven’t you?
Yes, we think we’re pretty sharp about how well we steward our financial and property affairs, and we probably are. But let’s be sure to keep our beloveds in our loops, and to be seriously interested in being kept in theirs. And if we already do, but look closely, we well might be surprised to learn how much we can improve it.
Would you like to make the inevitable disaster worse? Just ignore the problem. Denial and its co-conspirator, procrastination, are such convenient cop-outs.
We’re talking about the business of life’s daily operations, big things and little things. Some examples:
- Reconciling the checkbook register.
- Skillfully and knowledgeably dealing and negotiating with services provider, and everyone that you buy from and sell to.
- Creating a shipping label, and figuring the charges.
- Changing the printer ink cartridge.
- Skirmishing with the auto repair, HVAC, or carpeting shop.
- Unjamming the garbage disposal.
- Mastering the attorney’s advice and the resulting documents.
- Choosing, analyzing, buying, selling, and financing investments, to suit objectives and market conditions.
- Buying the right insurance and pursuing claims.
- Handling income and spending skillfully, in synch with needs.
- Tuning in to the car’s “language”, and ordering the right maintenance.
- Selling, leasing or buying the home, and relating effectively to the realtor.
- Pursuing grievances against a contractors.
- Prepping, filing, and understanding tax returns.
- Planning for both of your futures and for your estates, and readying documents and assets to carry them out.
To be continued tomorrow…
About Gary Newman
Gary Newman is an actively retired life underwriter and practitioner of related family and small business financial security disciplines. He holds degrees from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and the American College of Life Underwriters, and is an emeritus member of the Washington, D.C. Estate Planning Council and several other professional societies.
He brings over a half-century of hands-on experience and fiduciary work in counseling, designing, teamwork-coordinating, and servicing clients’ life, health, long-term care and retirement insurance plans, as well as their employee benefits plans, cash-flow and investment strategies, and estate plans. You can reach him at [email protected]