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Edition 410 – Getting Yourself Sorted

In Growth Edition 199 – Ageing Parents – – I spoke about the impact on our lives, and our businesses, as our parents age.

When health and mobility challenges arise for our parents, and, depending on the severity of it, it can mean all hands on deck as family are involved in a role reversal, five decades on.

Over the Christmas/New Year break, my mother was admitted to Tamworth Hospital with Bacterial Pneumonia. A planned trip to see them for a couple of days at the end of the Christmas week was aborted by the phone call from my stepfather that she wasn’t well, followed by news that, later in the day, she finally relented, parked her stubbornness to one side, and agreed that an ambulance should be called.
Over the past few years, my mother has undergone a Gall Bladder operation, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for Lung Cancer and one or two other health related matters, including a hospital stay following a fall out of bed in the middle of the night.
For more than two years, I’ve been speaking with my parents about getting their affairs in order. There’s no assets of any worth, as they don’t own their own home. However, it’s not just about a will. It’s also about:

  1. Enduring Powers of Attorney.
  2. Enduring Guardianship.
  3. Advanced Care Directives.

For two years, whilst there has been, no doubt, a pre-occupation with some of the health related issues that my mother has experienced, absolutely nothing has been tidied up. Being shocking hoarders, goodness only knows where their current wills and any other estate planning documents are located.
Striking whilst the iron was hot, and knowing full well that it would generate a response, I couldn’t help myself when I posited to my mother, when I was visiting her in hospital, that not having their affairs in order means that no one in the family would have control over what she would want to happen, if she experienced a catastrophic health event beyond what she already has experienced. For one of the few times in her life, my mother was speechless.
All of this is on top of the fact that a recent house move, which created a fabulous opportunity to declutter their lives, resulted in virtually nothing being sorted. There’s a single garage stacked high with removalist boxes in their new home, which is 500km away from me, and 9 hours drive from my sister, who is based on the Gold Coast. They’ve chosen to live somewhere their family are not, making it all the more difficult for any support to be available at short notice.
If it’s you that’s in the demographic of ageing parents, it’s imperative that you get your affairs in order. Thinking that you are going to keep on living forever, or will not experience health issues in the future, means you’re being nothing but self indulgent if you’re not getting your life sorted.
On the other hand, if you’re in the adult child demographic, and it’s you that have ageing parents that don’t have their stuff together, one of the following will happen:

  1. You will need to have a long, hard, impassioned conversation with your parents about them planning for the next stage of their lives; or
  2. You’re going to be called upon, a lot, to deal with matters as they arise. This will impact not only the relationships with your own direct family, but also your family business.

Ultimately, it’s down to that old saying, “you can lead the horse to water”….

This Week’s Tip

“In terms of your family business, do not underestimate the disruption to your business
of the sudden health issues associated with ageing parents.”.