Kupuna Transitions: Money as love is a two-sided coin

Life presents us with many opportunities to make financial decisions based on emotions, and I’m hoping you’ll consider with me how our money best serves the values we hold dear. It can be used as a demonstration of love, yet can also be used to manipulate love if it becomes a tool for control.

An example of this is the way that inheritance can fracture family relationships, especially when uneven distributions of one’s estate are left behind. On the other hand, if the estate is evenly divided but one sibling provided more physical or financial care of a parent without fair compensation, they could feel frustrated and/or hurt.

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When considering a legacy that truly leaves the family in a better position than they had originally been in, we may want to consider other ways to demonstrate love through those funds. Large family adventures or appreciation parties are a lovely way to create memories that keep you vivid in their minds after your departure.

We give much of our lives for the income that serves our basic needs and preferred lifestyles, and spending some of those funds in preparation for future situations is a newer concept for society. The average life expectancy for men born in 1919 was 53. One hundred years later it is almost 80 years old. Due to this shift in the number of years we spend in our bodies, there are evolving expectations of how our income will be utilized.

The above-mentioned desire to leave our loved ones with some sort of monetary gift when we pass away is thoughtful and quite common, particularly for older generations. The ironic thing is, the societal shift has taught us to expect our older loved ones to living longer so many children no longer rely on an impending inheritance. The best way to avoid being a burden to our loved ones is to plan for our financial futures.

I believe a good approach to this preparation is understanding the resources that are out there, as well as the funding sources behind those programs. I would guess that at least one-fourth of the family members who reach out to me, looking for services for their parent, believe that their blue cross/blue shield or Medicare insurances will cover the care. If they had an idea of what out-of-pocket expenses could be expected, creating a step-by-step plan to pay for it would be more beneficial.

We need to take ownership of the precious earnings in our own lives so they can be used as a tool of support for many years to come. Investing in life/long term care insurance and retirement accounts that can grow through the years are wise ways to help our money work for us. A financial advisor can help you plan for the day when you will no longer be heading off to work and, in the meantime, help the compounding effect work in your favor.

Should you be in a situation where someone has prematurely promised you an inheritance, it may be tempting start making plans for that windfall. Chances are, the well-intended money may be needed for care services or other needs. It may be prudent not to mentally spend it until that day actually comes. I’ve seen how the anticipated inheritance spent on the care of an adult loved one creates feelings of resentment that would not have been there if they hadn’t expected it.

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Benjamin Franklin said “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” May you lovingly grow your own fruitful financial garden of knowledge and wealth!

Karyn Clay is a gerontological specialist who began caring for older adults in 1994 and earned her B.A. in gerontology from SDSU in 1998. She founded HooNani Day Center in 2002 and HooNani Care Home in 2015, which make up HooNani Adult Care Services, Inc. and are located on the same property in Kamuela. She invites you to join her Caregiver Conversations gatherings at Tutu’s House and Dementia support group held at HooNani once a month.