Mary Owens: Getting through it together
We will continue with the journey of Tony and Martha as they face together the challenges of Tony’s cancer diagnosis.
We left off with Martha leaving the house to go for a walk so her husband would not see the tears streaming down her face. She wanted to stay strong and upbeat for her husband, and knew how important her positive support would be for his struggle, but she never fathomed how stressful the process would be. She was overwhelmed with fear, rage and utter frustration all at the same time. She had to take control of the situation without angering her husband again.
She called the financial advisor and asked if she could come to the appointment without Tony. No need to bring him if it was only going to upset him further. The advisor indicated that since most of their assets were in Tony’s IRA, he really needed to be there. Martha was not yet listed as a Power of Attorney (POA) on the account. Without Tony there, the advisor could NOT even show her the IRA let alone discuss it. Tony also had to sign the POA forms and have them notarized. His presence was critical if the advisor was going to educate Martha about their financial affairs. Martha agreed, and said she would make sure Tony attended the meeting. Her frustrations only grew after this conversation. She had no choice; she would have to deal with his anger once again.
Three days later, both Tony and Martha were in the meeting with their financial advisor. Tony was so exhausted from chemo that he did not have the energy to display much emotion. The advisor was shocked at his condition and realized that critical affairs had to be addressed IMMEDIATELY. The POA form was prepared in advance for Tony’s signature, and the notary was ready, but they hit a problem right out of the gate. Tony did not bring his driver’s license. The notary needed it. Martha left Tony with the advisor and drove home to get it. But the continuing frustrations Martha was experiencing on the errand turned out to be a blessing. The advisor got some time alone with Tony, and the wake-up call that he needed was delivered without equivocation. Tony was told how much danger he was putting Martha in without getting his affairs in order. He would be the person that people would whisper about if he failed to act and stop the denial. He would be the husband that left his wife in a pool of messy issues. When Martha returned, Tony turned to her and apologized. He would stop fighting the process.
Tony signed the POA document and the advisor went over their financial picture at a high level. It became clear that all the assets they owned should be left to Martha if she was to have financial security. The advisor went through their trust document and suggested it be amended to leave all assets in trust to Martha, with the balance going to the kids at the time of her death. If Tony wanted something to go to his kids at the time of his death, it was suggested that he leave them the $250,000 life insurance proceeds. The advisor printed off a change in life insurance beneficiary form for Tony, filing his children. Tony indicated he would sign the form and mail it in after they visited with the estate planning attorney. Tony signed the IRA beneficiary change form to leave all the IRA to Martha. He felt better. Now he knew for certain Martha would be safe. He would tell his kids of his decision so they would understand. He did not want his children to feel like he had forgotten them and wanted peace between them and Martha if he should pass away.
They both left the advisor’s office feeling better. Tony was relieved and Martha felt the stress coming down. At least her husband was not going to be angry with her anymore. They held hands as they slowly walked back to the car. It was the first time since the diagnosis they held hands like lovers. Their thirty-first wedding anniversary was tomorrow. It would be a bittersweet celebration, but it would be focused on their love for one another.
Two days later, Tony and Marta met with their estate planning attorney. The entire estate planning document was going to be restated. It was drafted over 25 years ago and none of the language fit their current circumstances. The attorney told them it would have been a very difficult outcome if Tony had passed away without this update. They both had resolved all their concerns and felt that they were now prepared for whatever outcome would occur. The attorney indicated the new documents would be ready in a week. They calendared a date to sign that fit with Tony’s chemo schedule.
When they got back in their car after the appointment, Tony turned to Martha and took her hand. He tearfully apologized for his attitude and how much he did not understand about their financial affairs. He recognized that his stubbornness could have put her in danger. He never wanted her to feel neglected. They cried and dried each other’s tears. They were going to get through this together.
Mary Owens, Principal/Branch Manager, RJFS, 426 Sutton Way, Suite 110, Grass Valley, CA 95945, 530-272-7500. Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Owens Estate and Wealth Strategies Group is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Investment advisory services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. Neither Raymond James Financial Services nor any Raymond James Financial Advisor renders advice on tax, legal or mortgage issues, these matters should be discussed with the appropriate professional. The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Mary Owens and not necessarily those of Raymond James. This information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation.
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