Some of you may have seen on my Facebook page, Jessica Weaver Wealth Advisor, that my 98 year old grandmother passed away. The Facebook message was about her life beliefs, and for someone who has only lived a third of the life she has, I thought it was worth sharing. This post is in honor of the wonderful woman my grandmother was.
Monica was a strong woman, you might not think it if you saw her petite frame, but she was Irish strong. She raised five children mostly on her own since her husband, Bob, worked the midnight shift on the railroad. He would leave for work around 3 when the children got home from school and return at midnight. Bob would also take any overtime work he could, since they have five children to raise. So Monica would get all five children ready for school, and make sure her husband wasn’t woken up. Not an easy task with only 1 bathroom. Then she got them all off to school before going to her own job. If her children weren’t back for dinner, she would tell them to get home before their father did at midnight. Many of them pushed that request a little too far, a few too many times. But she did an amazing job with all the children, and then when my father, who was the youngest, was done with college they retired.
My grandfather passed away from cancer only six months into retirement. This was the first glimpse my father got into financial planning. Here was his mother, widowed right at the start of the next chapter of her life. Thank goodness my grandfather chose the survivor option for his pension. There weren’t as many pension options back then as there are today, life only or life with a fifty percent survivor. If he had chosen life only, the pension would have ended when he passed away. Since he picked the survivor option, my grandmother was able to keep half of his pension for the next 30 plus years. My father helped his mother get her finances together and on track so she could still have the retirement she and her husband had planned together for so long.
As my grandmother got older, my father helped her more and more with her finances, taxes, and making sure the bills got paid. She would call up asking him if he sent in her tax return “because she didn’t want to get locked up for tax evasion.” Can you imagine the IRS coming for a 90 year old lady who weighed 85 pounds? Or she would ask if he paid her electric bill since “she didn’t want them to kick her out of her apartment.” Just for the record, he did always send in her tax return and pay her bills on time.
We see other sons and daughters now dealing with their parents getting older and needing some support from them. It isn’t easy to see you mother or father lose their memory and need reminders of who you are. It is important to always check in with your parents to make sure they know where all their accounts are, where their income is coming from, and what their wishes are. If you start to see a decline in your parent’s mental state, you should set up a meeting with your advisor or with theirs if they have one.
We are in the process of reaching out to our elder client’s sons and daughters to alert them if they see their parent’s forgetting facts to let us know. Or if we see them not remembering things we discussed during our last call or meeting, we will reach out to them as well. It is important to plan before it is too late. Review your parent’s wills, update their power of attorneys, and living wills. Most financial institutions want to see a power of attorney updated within the last two or three years. You can put together a list of all of their accounts, and where they are held to make it easier when your parents need some assistance. It might not be an easy subject to bring up, but you can always bring in a lawyer or financial advisor to help.
I will end with the three thoughts to live by, courtesy of my grandmother:
My grandmother is survived by her five children, twelve grandchildren, and eleven great grandchildren. She had a great life full of wonderful memories, nothing much more you can ask for. We will always love you and will miss you every day.
Jessica Weaver, CFP®, CDFA™, CFS®
The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete, it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision, and it does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Jessica Weaver and not necessarily those of Raymond James.
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