You can remind, you can nag, you can plea, but no matter how much you may want to, if you’re married, you can’t plan for your future without your husband’s cooperation.
You can’t write your husband’s will. You can’t take his medical exam for life insurance or long-term care insurance. You can’t be his health care proxy if he doesn’t assign you durable powers of attorney to make medical decisions for him. You can’t be comfortable about your marital finances if he doesn’t share financial information with you.
You need your husband’s cooperation to protect yourself against what you would face if he were disabled or died. If your husband doesn’t face the fact that he’s mortal like you and me, your hands are tied. If all he does is reassure you not to worry about a thing, that doesn’t do anything for you except lull you into a false sense of security.
You can’t make your husband protect your financial interests in case your marriage ends. If it ends in divorce, chances are you’ll be in a combative position with him. If it ends in death, it’s too late to do anything constructive about your financial situation.
You expect him to want to protect you because he says he loves you. But let’s get real. A marriage is as much a legal and financial partnership with obligations on both sides. But people have different definitions of love, and we can rarely be sure we’re ascribing the same characteristics to your love and his love.
If he won’t cooperate with you to get you the financial protection you need, it’s safe to assume that his definition of love doesn’t match yours. For me, that would be a deal breaker.
Abuse of parents is a silent problem, prevalent at all income levels but not widely discussed. A web search for information about adult children who abuse their parents focuses on financial and physical abuse. Little is available about emotional and verbal abuse.
Parents who are bullied or mistreated by their adult children have trouble admitting it to others. Many put up with the bad treatment because they don’t want to end a relationship with a child whom they love. Some need their child’s help with care giving. Others fear the consequences of being open about their feelings.
Estate planners often run across these painful situations when parents draw up a will. Planners like to recommend that parents talk openly with children about inheritance plans, reasoning that children will change their behavior in anticipation of a future reward.
While this may be sound advice for families in general, it feels dangerous to parents who live in fear of the next round of insults or other bad treatment from a child. Odds are that the family bully will become even more enraged when informed that he/she has been left out of the will.
It’s unfortunate, but remaining silent about inheritance plans is a safety shield for abused parents, a way to regain a sense of balance, dignity and self-esteem. For those parents unable or unwilling to draw that vital line in the sand earlier in their parenting role, their message will have to wait until they die.
Psychiatrists have long equated the reluctance to write a will, prepare an advance directive or estate plan, with fear of dying.
Who wants to think about planning for death? We’d rather do just about anything else. However, we must confront our mortality. We can’t afford to have illusions that it won’t happen to us. We have to face giving up our possessions and power. We have to deal with uncomfortable subjects like aging, illness, death, inheritance and a host of other things we’ve managed to avoid thinking about.
Having the ‘money conversation’ is rarely ‘just about money’. It’s also about family dynamics, mistakes, regrets, guilt, and a host of other issues. Children feel morbid, greedy and intrusive asking their parents questions about money and death. The parents don’t want to start conversations about ‘touchy’ subjects either. The result – people procrastinate, hoping for the best. Hope is not a strategy. It’s a procrastination tool and most often, it doesn’t work.
The burden of grief for children when a parent dies is heavy enough without adding financial confusion to the mix. It’s truly an act of love for parents to get their affairs in order.
Go to http://www.moneyloveandlegacy.com Check out the guide for opening the conversations that matter between parents and children. Follow the check lists for what parents need to put in place so children aren’t burdened with a financial and legal mess after parents die.