Continuing from yesterday with Gary Newman’s guest blog post on financial affairs for couples…
Be a Real Hero – Empower Your Beloved!
So, how to bring Beloved up to self-reliance level, even if Beloved doesn’t want to? Here’s your chance to be an even bigger hero or heroine than you already are. Unless Beloved already suffers incapacity and truly can’t handle it, it’s a matter of motivation, isn’t it? The barriers are want-to vs not-want-to, can-do vs. can’t-do, confidence vs. apprehension, reality vs. denial, urgency vs. procrastination.
You’re already telling yourself that helping Beloved needs your respect, patience, gentle guidance, and understanding. And its time is today, if not yesterday, because you are fantastic people, but not immortal.
You might start with the typical “heart-to-heart” hand-holding conversation, but on the intellectual level, Beloved likely already knows the drill. If, for whatever reason, it’s difficult to relate to each other on this level successfully, maybe a respected confidant friend or relative of Beloved can deliver the needed motivation.
If Beloved can see and feel the stark misery of a dear one who now is suffering an Alice life, that perhaps would be a harsh approach, but a strong eye-opener and motivator.
All of that might work, but it surely is negative and unpleasant, isn’t it. Let’s instead do something that’s positive, comfortable, and even pleasant, a desirable togetherness activity. Both of you really are quite capable, and have good ideas to contribute. How about joining together in a project, such as creating the core working guide, the marvelous chaos-killing “Operators Manual.” I’ve noted how this project generates introspection, thinking and decision-making, and encourages hands-on managing of the business of living and dying. The “Manual” can turn intimidating chaos into a calm, smooth, pleasant experience.
Doing such a project can chip away subtlety at the barriers, and maybe soon Beloved will embrace your effort. You’ve succeeded, Congratulations, Hero or Heroine!
Now, though, let’s be realistic. What if the efforts don’t succeed, and Beloved will indeed need heavy-duty help? Hence, “Plan B”:
It’s time to prepare the other family members and whoever else will be needed to become your surrogates, and should be informed, positive, willing, available, and compassionate. Logically, they might well be those whom you’ve selected to perform various roles in the estate plan that you’re building or updating.
When you are updating your plan, check to be sure that they’re still the right choices, available and willing. But, instead of merely keeping them in reserve until they’re needed, keep them posted periodically with insights briefings, and awareness of the “Manual”, the key enabler. If you’re just beginning to build your estate plan, you might look for tips on choosing helpers in my future columns.
If your unique scene is favorable, you and Beloved together might consider bringing them into your operation now, to become comfortable and get hands-on knowledge of everything. But do that only after considering the possible downsides, such as intrusion on privacy, family conflict, information and identification security, and pride.
Let’s also note that if part of your world of the business of living is complex or intricate enough to suggest professional and specialized skills, everyone is best served by professional firms, despite the cost. But, as with individual family members and friends serving in management roles, have them selected, contracted, briefed, and periodically re-briefed, for the same reasons.
Now, all of this is how REALLY to be Beloved’s – and the family’s — hero or heroine, isn’t it? Those grateful, smart partners in life, whom we take such good care of and who likely will be our survivors, will really admire us and thank us for our wisdom and our magnificence (well, goodness, at least). So might everyone else who knows us.
I look forward to your feedback, ideas, question, and comments.
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]