What Do Your Adult Children Talk About… When They Talk About You?

NOTICE: Do you dislike difficult discussions? Shy away from challenging topics? Would you rather not know? Are you content to retreat into irrelevance? Do you think your kids/friends/relatives are not thinking about “what to do” with you? If so, stop reading now OK. Still with us? Onward, then…

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Dylan Thomas

We all have to go sometime, but why rush it? Do you wish to remain alert? Independent? Engaged? Aware? In charge? Should your choices matter? Do you refuse to let others decide “what to do” with you? Do you reject dependence?

Your adult children are over to visit. They are in the kitchen. Talking. Vigorously. Your choice of old movies? Meh. Your cable news channel? How can you watch that stuff?! Your political views? Best not to go there… And gee, you do not seem to be keeping this place as spick and span as usual…

No kids? Single? You are not exempt. Replay the scenario with your friends from church. Brothers or sisters. Nieces or nephews. Same-same.

So… lively discussion. Sounds important. You wander over. Sudden silence. Glances back and forth. Nervous ha-ha’s. Guilt? And now… Insipid small talk. Gee, it sure is cold/warm/wet/dry/cloudy for this time of year…

I am sure that before you showed up, they were talking about the Super Bowl. Or COVID. Maybe something insignificant or vaguely bizarre. Like the President. (Whichever one you choose).

You do not need hearing aids for the chirping birds. You need hearing aids so your family and friends will not think you are addled. And that is what they think. When you are a certain age. And when you do not reply promptly. Or if your answer is inappropriate. It is not dementia; it is hearing loss. Brought on by 30 years on the factory floor. Chain saws. Lawn mowers. In the Army, we called it “tankers’ ear”. Or maybe 47 years of listening to your spouse just wore your ear drums out.

The point is that at a certain age, everything looks like dementia if you are looking for dementia. Well-meaning folks. People who love and care for you. Good-hearted, kind, benevolent. They will roll you up in bubble wrap given half a chance. For your own good. Aren’t you glad they think it is for “your own good”?

You Might Just Be Suspected Of Dementia, If…

You like your grandkids. They like you. You taught little Jimmy how to whittle. Janey learned how to swim from you. And neither of them would be riding bikes if you had not stepped up…

But now… The parents do not “need” you to pick up the grandkids after school. There is daycare for that… Sleepovers are a thing of the past. No more whittling, swimming, bike riding or other such dangerous activities… Why not? What changed?

You have not changed. But their perception has. You are older. Confused. Not “with it”. Perception is reality. And reality bites.

And Now They Want To Have “The Talk”

Not the sex talk. The “you are not safe at home anymore, you are slipping a gear, don’t you think it would be easier in a senior community” talk. You know it is coming. You can see it a mile away. It is funny. The kids read a book like, “Mom, Dad…Can We Talk?: Helping Our Aging Parents with the Insight and Wisdom of Others,” by Dick Edwards. (Available on Amazon!) Now the kids think they are oh-so subtle.

There are many other similar books. And experts. And courses. And strategies. All crammed with handy hints. All designed to hide the “elephant in the room.” They toss a bedsheet over the elephant and expect that you will not notice. All because you cannot be trusted to deal with these issues. They think you cannot handle the truth. Seriously. They do think this.

They think they can kinda, sorta hide the real issue. Like covering an elephant with a bedsheet. Good luck with that! That old elephant is still doing all the things elephants do, bedsheet or not. You have been sniffing out their BS since they were born. These are same kids who thought you bought their shenanigans. Who thought you believed their late Saturday night excuses. Whoo boy!
But it is not all high-test malarkey. Dementia is real. Getting older happens. They do love you and they are concerned. But you can put their fears to rest. You can relieve their anxiety. Not for their sakes, but for your own. For your spouse.

Do not wait until your kid introduces you to their “friend from church” or the fellow who helped your in-laws’ parents. And God forbid that your children download some boilerplate forms from the Internet (Free! Free! Free!). And God further forbid that you sign that steaming pile of download destruction.

Be the hero. Answer the call. Take care of your business. If you do not, the younger ones around you will get the wrong idea. They will think you are “out of it.” Cannot handle your own affairs. Need “help.” That means going to probate court. Having you declared incompetent. Incapacitated. And they are in charge. Not you.

The elephant is in the room. That bedsheet is not hiding anything. Rip off the sheet. Stare that pachyderm in the eye. Just as you have done in so many other situations. Over decades. You have faced wars. Riots (real ones, not just fake news). Terrible economic times. Good times of prosperity. Grief. Joy. This is no great challenge for you; you can do this.

Jump! Or Be Pushed

You notice a problem with your tax return. An honest mistake, but significant, obvious. Should you wait for the IRS to come knocking on your door, demanding explanations, assessing more taxes? Or would it be better to file an amended return, fixing the problem?

You are the hero of your story. You get to choose how it unfolds. Why would you give that power to your kids or court-appointed strangers?

Do not wait until someone else wants to have “the talk.” Sit them down. Give them the talk. Point out that they have not protected your grandchildren appropriately. Put the shoe on the other foot! Show them that you have planned with wisdom and foresight. Who is the boss now? Whose decisions count?

Do not give them your legal documents (very bad idea!). But we have general information handouts for this very purpose. Reassure them that you have done the grownup thing. That you have followed through.

And REMIND them that they need to do the same. You are looking out for them. They should be looking out for those grandchildren. Change the conversation. Flip the story. Demonstrate your ability. Prove your capacity. Authentic. Real.

What Does Any Of This Have To Do With LifePlanning™?

Everything. Without planning you will spend yourself into Nursing Home Poverty. You get what they feel like giving. Not what you have earned. Not what you want. Not what you deserve.

Without LifePlanning™, you do not have good answers to the questions. No one has your back.
LifePlanning™ preserves your lifesavings. You never go broke. Your earnings serve you throughout your lifetime. And that means…

You stay home. Longer. You get the help you need, that your spouse needs. Clear-eyed. Relevant. Participating in your own care.

Does Quality Of Life Matter To You? We Wasted 2020. Get It Done In Twenty-One!

Last year, the number of regular folks planning their futures dropped. Significantly. Fewer people focused on planning ahead, LifePlanning™. I fear 2020 was a year of wasted opportunity for regular families. Devastating.

Get the information you want. In-person workshops and one-on-one meetings. Recorded and live-streaming webinars. Like you, we have never stopped serving. As you seek out new ways to accomplish your life’s work, we are on the same journey. By your side. Making the rules work for the people who play by the rules.

Sixty minutes to personal control. Now and as long as you wish. Because you earned it. Avoid Nursing Home Poverty. Thousands of middle-class families have learned and use these techniques. Why not yours?

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There are actually two separate roles that should be named for minor children in an estate plan. The same person can be delineated for both roles but oftentimes parents decide to choose different people to perform these two disparate roles.

The conservator is the person who would manage your estate’s finances in the event you are no longer able to do so due to incapacitation or death. A child still struggling to grasp the intangible nature of monetary value won’t be able to manage a complex estate, including the variety of assets and potentially complex investment and financial vehicles it contains. The role of managing finances is also separate from day-to-day parenting duties, so it makes sense to view these as two separate responsibilities.

The guardian would be the party responsible for raising the children and caring for their physical wellbeing. In the event of your death or incapacitation this is the person who would assume the role of meeting your children’s day-to-day needs and ensuring their well-being and happiness until they become adults.

Choosing the Right Conservator and Guardian for Your Family

The conservator in charge of managing the financial aspects of your estate should ideally be someone you trust who has displayed an ability to act in a financially responsible manner. This person should be a person who has the bandwidth to take on this added burden to ensure they’re giving your estate, and in this scenario your children’s estate, the time and attention it deserves.

If you have close, trusted family or friends who are attorneys, accountants, financial planners or similar professionals with intimate knowledge of finances, those people may be excellent choices. These types of professionals are often busy, so it’s important to choose someone you believe will be able to give your children’s inherited estate adequate attention.

Just because someone is good with finances doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be a great parent.

What’s probably most important, from your perspective as a parent of minor children, is choosing a guardian who has the requisite compassion and temperament to raise children and shares the values you consider to be most important.

If you’re religious and want to make sure your children are raised in a household that practices the same denominational tenants you and your spouse practice, make sure
you’re choosing guardians accordingly.

Ideally, you’ll want to find a guardian who can take all your children, but if you have several or the person or persons you’re considering already have a large family of their own, it may not be a feasible burden to expect one person or family to carry. If you are in a situation where you need to choose multiple guardians, consider factors like geographic nearness to minimize sibling separation as much as possible, if that’s in your children’s best interest.

Money can be a factor as well. Although the guardian you’d choose may be able to use some of your estate’s money to pay for the many expenses of child rearing, having to raise extra children will likely hoist upon them additional financial burdens they don’t currently face. The family you choose should be financially stable and capable of shouldering those extra expenses.

A lot of these decisions come down to common sense. If you’re a conservative and want your children raised with the same values, you likely won’t want to choose progressive relatives, even if they are great parents. Likewise, if you have a kindhearted brother or sister who is great with kids but is always struggling with credit card debt and other financial issues, they may not be the best choice for conservator of the estate.

Also consider longevity and health. Your parents may have done a great job with you, but think about their age, mobility, energy and other factors when deciding whether the person you’re choosing will have the physical endurance necessary to raise your children to adulthood.

Before you put anything in writing it’s important to talk to the people you’re considering about conservatorship or guardianship. Although the scenario in which they may be called upon to take on these duties is hopefully highly unlikely, it’s still important to get the potential conservator’s or guardian’s confirmation and commitment prior to making it official.

Drafting Documents and Crafting Your Estate Plan

It’s important for your grandchildren and children to be protected should the unthinkable happen. If you have grandkids, ask their parents if your grandchildren are protected with the right legal documents. If not, have them give us a call (616) 361-8400.