Business Affairs ... Sticky Business?
This can be tricky. You are going to stick your nose into the affairs of someone who may consider his business HIS business. Some Aging Loved Ones are willing to share their financial information and ask for guidance. Some are hesitant. Some may be suspicious. They may have good reasons for guarding their privacy. They may have unreasonable reasons.
Money matters—it really does.
Money can be a source of pleasure and security.
It can also be the root of all evil.
It can provide for the finer things in life and it can divide families.
There are several ways to help with this aspect of your Aging Loved One's life. Sit quietly with a fresh cuppa and read thoroughly the following sections. They may or may not apply to your situation. Some may be more important to you than others.
Business means you will be BUSY. It isn't hard physical labour, but you may feel as though you've been through the meat grinder once you have attended to all the pieces of paper. Take it one step at a time.
Don't try to accomplish everything in a day or a week. Allow a month or more with some breathing room, provided you have time.
As you learn of things financial and legal—learn you must and will—you may discover one of three scenarios:
- Your Aging Loved One has visited a lawyer within the last 5 years, has a valid Will, has designated power of attorney, has made an Enhanced Representation Agreement for Health Care or Living Will, and has compiled a list of all financial institutions and related names and phone numbers.
- He has attended to at least one of the above.
- He has done absolutely none of the above.
If #1 above applies, rest easy.
If #2 or #3 applies, roll up those sleeves.
You're about to become more familiar with the offices of the business world!
Remember ... Someone sent out a signal or a call for help. You're providing help.
Slowly and Steadily
Are you anxious about breaking the ice regarding business affairs?
Does Mum seem slightly unapproachable?
Phone Mum, Dad, Auntie, Gramps ... the recipient of your loving care.
Say, "Auntie, I'd like to discuss some business. May we call it a Business Meeting? May I visit next Saturday morning?" Or, more insistently, "I have set aside Saturday morning to talk with you about some business affairs. I'll bring a treat."
Give her time to grasp the idea. "Do you have any questions about your business affairs? Please write them down and we'll go over them then."
When you arrive (with a hug and a little bouquet of flowers or some fresh muffins to soften the situation) you may find Auntie in a different mood, perhaps a little nervous or evasive.
This may be a new experience for her. Use the gentle approach.
Be comfy. Then say with a smile,
Now you're up front, the subject is on the table.
Auntie: "I'm not at all sure that I want to deal with this now. I'm not feeling up to it. It seems like too much all at once." Stall ... stall ... stall.
You: "We must deal with it. I'm free now, but I may not be free another day. We will begin slowly and do a little at a time."
And begin you must.
Firm, but Friendly
You may have to be a little more forceful than you would otherwise choose. You may have to leave your comfort zone. You may have to remind your Aging Loved One that he asked for help, or that he needs it.
Especially regarding men who were formerly in business:
- They are accustomed to delegating, to dishing out orders.
- They have a hard time letting go of control.
- They want the briefcase!
Professionals recognize these traits. They are aware of them. They are trained to deal with them. "I'm going to call in some outside help. This is bigger than the two of us. This calls for a professional."
You may know that Auntie has had dealings with a lawyer in the past. "I believe we should talk to Mr. Bach, your lawyer, to make sure all of your paperwork is current."
You may know, also, that Auntie has her income tax prepared by an accountant. "It would be a good idea to talk to your accountant. Perhaps all is in order or he may have some suggestions as to how you could save some money."
Before this chat, YOU have called the lawyer and accountant and know that it's time for some overdue updating.
Suppose Auntie balks at your approach. What then? Phone the lawyer's receptionist and ask her to call Auntie. "Hello Miss Ray. Mr. Bach was reviewing your file and would like to meet with you." You've passed the torch and may have escaped the Miss Bossy label, at least on this issue.
Use the "sly" approach or a little white lie when you need to accomplish the goal and are confronted by someone less than cooperative. It works. It's kind in the long run. It isn't wrong. Ask anyone you talk with to keep you out of the picture. "I'm doing this for Auntie. Please do not reveal my name or the nature of my call." Professionals respect confidentiality.
Why aren't there any funny jokes about investment planners and advisors? Send one along.