Participate in your aged parents financial planning
When Mum, in her eighties, engaged a new advisor, we decided that it would be a good idea for me to accompany her to acquaint myself further with things financial. Having worked till she was over seventy and diligently acquainted herself with financial investment at a late stage in her life, she had a passionate interest in preserving, protecting and growing her money.
She would send pages and pages of questions, numbered and bullet-pointed for her advisor’s consideration prior to the appointments, so that he would be suitably prepared for the grilling he was to get. He used to tease her that he had to take tranquilisers to get through the appointments, but they developed an affectionate relationship over the years. While she trusted him, she never accepted his advice at face value and would study it before agreeing or disagreeing with her investment strategy.
Although I had appointed been a co-trustee of a Testamentary Trust for my deceased sibling’s children, I had not a clue about financial management; however, I was determined to be an involved and active trustee and requested all pertinent documents and discussed the finances with my mother, who had overcome her aversion to financial investments in order to save for her old age. I had frequent meetings with Old Mutual regarding the performance of the investments and the wellbeing of the children. At first, I included my mother in the meetings for guidance, as she had more financial knowledge than me. I therefore viewed the meeting with Mum and her advisors as helpful in learning more. Mum agreed that one day I might have to manage her money should something happen to her and felt that I should be well informed.
Dad became mentally and physically more and more compromised until Mum and I felt that he was beyond understanding money matters anymore. We set up Mum’s will so that if she predeceased Dad, a trust would be set up of which I would be the Trustee (and others, should anything happen to me), so that his needs would be managed until his death.
Some time before Dad died, Mum fell in her bathroom. She did not remember falling, but woke up with broken ribs. I could not manage her at my home and she went back to her retirement village to the frail care for a few weeks while the ribs mended and I could manage her at my home, where she stayed for a while. During this time, she became very disorientated with regard to time and place and the sequence of recent events. She also became very combative with me and thought I had it all muddled up and should pull myself together! Never being one to give up, she tried day in and day out to write up her finances and purchases in her housekeeping book and to reconcile her bank statements. Alas, she got very confused and disheartened but was not willing to let me help her, partially, I think because she felt that I was already overburdened with managing her and Dad and the three extra children, in addition to my young adult children.
Mum’s reaction when she feels compromised has always been to attack. Her frustration causes her to lash out. This can be difficult for others to manage and was a stumbling block in taking over her affairs. IF I was to do it, I MUST do it her way or she would not let me take it over. I HAD to give her the accounts every month, laid out EXACTLY as she required, and I was not to deviate or this would totally confuse her. I did understand, though, as I am also not a financial person, and have an idiosyncratic way of doing things that my own brain understands. I started this daunting task, and got confused myself, trying to manage it her way. It was an inordinately huge amount of work. But, we managed. I consulted her all the time, as she has control issues. She said she trusted me, but she trusts no-one. Never has, never will.
It has a blessing to have the backup of the Chartered Family, who have guided Mum and me and, latterly, me, along our journeys. Kerryn helped so much when Dad died and has helped us all with our Wills. David, Donovan and Christina have guided us along the best financial paths to preserve and grow Mum’s money to allow her financial independence and to fulfil her wish to leave something for her family.