Financial Literacy

Avoid the Tragedy of Disappointment

This week in the news was the report of a 92-year-old woman in Arizona who killed her 72-year-old son because he wanted to move her into an assisted living facility. She said that he wanted to take her life, so she took his. This is a tragedy on so many levels. This is an extreme that we don’t typically see or hear about, thankfully!

In the best-case scenario, we will grow old. “Old” looks different on each person and “old” happens for people at different times. I often hear people say that they don’t want to be a burden on anyone in their older years.

The greatest way to make sure that we have the life that we want is to prepare for it and create the supports to make it happen. The Bible says, “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” (NKJV) With intent, if we let our wishes known and create capacity for it to be carried out, then there will be no opportunity for someone to deviate from the plan.

We are assured only of this one life on earth. There may be others who disagree, but the assurance is in the here and now. We want to have the life that makes us most comfortable and provides the greatest opportunity for our unique pursuit of happiness. If we are dependent upon others to provide the lifestyle that we want or to make decisions on our behalf, we will be subjected to their choices, not our own.

The extreme example of the mom killing her son is dramatic but unfortunately a real case. The truth is many people as older adults become depressed as their wishes are overlooked in their lifetime. It may be because they hadn’t thought about what they wanted to prepare for making it happen. It may be that there are not the resources to allow for the lifestyle that they want, in the place that they want or with the supports that they want.

One of my favorite examples of support was when a mom in her 90s came in to talk about ways in which the family could protect their assets while applying for Medicaid. She came in with her seven children and their spouses to discuss strategies. They wanted to make sure that they were all in accord with their mom’s wishes and that they were committed to preserving the assets for their children’s children.

It was an amazing strategy session where we were able to first and foremost hear mom’s priorities, create an action plan that actualized her best interest and preserved her assets. It was indeed an empowering conversation for all. The family was stronger because they were on one accord. I often say strong families make strong communities.

There are strong opinions to be understood in many of the aspects of estate planning. When planning, we consider not just distribution of assets when you pass away, but life decisions as well. If you write the vision and make it a plan, the one who reads it can indeed run with it.

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