Gift of Communication Gift of Communication Gift of Communication Gift of Communication Gift of Communication


    When do you discuss the future of the family home with your elderly parents?

    Recently  I read an article in the Real Estate section of the New York Times  written by Constance Rosenblum. She made a very good point that all adult children need to discuss with their elderly parents. What do our elderly parents believe is the future of their family home?

    For many of our parents, their home is probably the most valuable asset they own. It is  the last thing that they want to give up. But they need to realize that if they leave it to their children to decide, after they are gone, it can often lead to family rifts that last for decades.

    One of my wife’s friends took care of her parents the last few years of their lives. She lived with them full time and dedicated her life to taking care of them. When they died they left their home to her in their wills. Her brothers were shocked and extremely upset that they were not consulted in this decision. As a result they have not spoke to her for years.

    Ms. Rosenblum makes several very valid points in the article:

    1. Take a few basic steps early on. This will avoid problems in the future
    2. Start early to discuss the future of your parents’ home with them, while they are both healthy.
    3. Begin the conversation in a non-threatening setting. Consider sharing with them the article that appeared in the NY Times (or this blog)
    4. Balance Competing Issues. Don’t let taxes and financial concerns be the only motivating factors. Consider if the home still works for your parents and will as they age.
    5. The future of the family home becomes more complicated when several children are involved. Each has their own agenda. Involve everyone in the discussion.

    In my book, Can We Talk? A Financial Guide For Baby Boomers Assisting Their Elderly ParentsI have a chapter on transferring real estate from your parents which includes such ideas as the Life Estate and the Qualified Personal Residence Trust. Please read this chapter to learn more.


    Financial Advisors may reprint any articles from The Gift of Communication Blog in your own print or electronic newsletter. But please include the following paragraph:

    Reprinted from Bob Mauterstock’s The Gift of Communication Blog. Subscribe at  and receive Bob’s Family Meeting Checklist Guide.

    When do elderly people lose their youth?

    Guest post is written by Alana Vial

    Many of us direct our intentions to ensure that we enjoy a convenient stress-free healthy elderly life.

    But when do elderly people really lose their youth and begin to fall prey to the psychological and emotional burdens of the elderly stages of life?

    Factors That Make Elderly People Lose Their Youth

    There are 3 great factors that influence the loss of one’s youth:

    1. Stress – No matter how old one becomes or how young one still is, the amount of stress greatly affects his or her ability to deal with aging. The human body experiences increased aging due to the hormones that need to be released in a stressful environment. When such processes are repeatedly experienced, the human body can no longer undergo reversible conditions thus fall prey to aging.
    2. Support and coping – No matter how great the stress that elderly people experience, as long as they have the right coping mechanisms and support sources, they will stay healthy.
    3. Information – When it comes to maintaining one’s youth, the amount of information that has been acquired to deal with all possible problems of aging matters a lot. This involves gathering as much information as possible in not only dealing with the common diseases and problems of elderly life but also maintaining quality of life despite old age.

    When do you say goodbye to your youth?

    After everything that has been said, you can easily tell when an elderly loses his or her youth. It is the point the he or she gives up and loses hope. Seeing the world through the eyes of youthfulness is seeing it with strength, hope, and glee. No matter how harsh, depressing, or hopeless a situation, with all 3 factors mentioned above adequately provided to your elderly, they will never lose their youth and fall prey to the a disastrous aging process.


    Financial Advisors may reprint any articles from The Gift of Communication Blog in your own print or electronic newsletter. But please include the following paragraph:

    Reprinted from Bob Mauterstock’s The Gift of Communication Blog. Subscribe at  and receive Bob’s Family Meeting Checklist Guide.

    What will you do with all your stuff?

    One of the greatest concerns I have noted among older couples is, “What will happen to all our stuff when we are gone?” I can remember having a family meeting with a couple in their 70s and their four adult children and noticed that mom was getting very anxious. At first I thought her anxiety was due to the fact that she was preparing to discuss her end of life planning with her children.

    But when I asked her what her concern was, she responded, “I don’t know what I am going to do with all my stuff! I have several beautiful collections and I don’t want my children fighting over the objects right after my funeral or just putting them out in the yard for a giant garage sale!”

    She admitted to me that she hadn’t slept for several nights thinking about this terrible possibility. She confided in me that her husband still wasn’t talking to his sister after 20 years because she had raided the house when their parents died and taken everything of value before he had even arrived. “I don’t want that happening in my family!” she proclaimed.

    So what did we do? I asked her to describe her valuable collections to her children at the family meeting. She then created a list of all the items and asked each child to review them. If they wanted an item they were asked to put their name next to it. If more than one wanted something, they both listed their names next to it and mom would decide who got it.

    Mom collected the lists after the family meeting, reviewed them over the next few weeks and then reported to her children who would get what. No one disputed her decisions. After all, the collections were hers and she could give them to charity if she chose. The next time I talked to her I noticed her anxiety level was significantly less. She told me that for the first time in a long time she was sleeping very soundly.

    If you are a parent, don’t do your children a disservice. Don’t leave it up to them to decide what to do with your stuff after you are gone. The loveliest relationships are often spoiled by siblings fighting over the silver forks. Meet with your children and tell them what you intend to do. If you are an adult child, strongly suggest to your parents that they follow the procedure my client did. It will save much grief and anxiety for the whole family.

    Financial Advisors may reprint any articles from The Gift of Communication Blog in your own print or electronic newsletter. But please include the following paragraph:

    Reprinted from Bob Mauterstock’s The Gift of Communication Blog. Subscribe at  and receive Bob’s Family Meeting Checklist Guide.

    Share Your Wisdom With Your Children

    Did your parents share their wisdom with you? Did they make you aware of anything they learned from their own successes and failures? Was it helpful to you? Have you thought about sharing your wisdom with your own children?

    Susan Turnbull in her book, “The Wealth of Your Life” reminds us that “What you have learned is as valuable as what you have earned.” If you haven’t taken the time to share the important lessons you learned in life with your children, it’s important to do so now.

    Richard Lieder, a highly respected executive coach, wrote in his book, “Life Reimagined, Discovering Your New Life Possibilities”, “As we move through middle age, the uncertainty of the world moves us to focus on what matters; our own purpose and our connection to others”

    So where do you start? How do you pass on your legacy to the next generation? By writing them a “Legacy Letter”. It is a letter to your family that defines what has been important to you in your life and what you want to pass on.

    First decide whom you want to send the letter to; your children, your spouse, your brothers and sisters

    Second make some notes in the following areas:

    • Your values and the things you did in your life to act on your values
    • Something you learned from your grandparents/ parents/spouse/children
    • Something you learned from experience
    • A mistake that you made that you learned from.
    • Something you learned that you’re grateful for
    • Your hopes for the future

    Now take these notes and weave them into a letter that is addressed to the audience you want to letter to go to. Don’t forget to add stories from your personal life that expand the points you’re trying to make. And just like that you have created a Legacy Letter.

    Share it with your loved ones the next time you get together with them. And always remember, “The gift of communication is the greatest gift you can give your family.”

    Will Hospice Shorten Your Life?

    Many of us might believe that when we choose to accept hospice care at the end of our lives, our lives will be shortened as a result. After all, hospice patients often stop painful chemotherapy or other interventions that are expected to prolong their lives.

    But a number of studies have proven this not to be true. A landmark study from the Massachusetts General Hospital in 2010 made some startling findings. Researchers randomly assigned 151 patients with Stage IV lung cancer to two possible approaches to treatment. Half received the usual oncological care. The other half received the same oncological care with additional visits from a palliative care specialist. These specialists focus on preventing and relieving the suffering of patients.

    Those who saw a palliative care specialist chose to stop chemotherapy sooner, entered hospice far earlier and experienced much less suffering at the end of their lives. And they lived 25% longer that those who did not receive palliative care!

    Atul Gawande, M.D. ,in his groundbreaking book, “Being Mortal”, states that “Like many other people, I had believed that hospice care hastens death, because patients forego hospital treatments and are allowed high-dose narcotics to combat pain. But multiple studies show otherwise.”

    He adds, “For some conditions, hospice care seemed to extend survival. Those with pancreatic cancer gained an average of three weeks, those with lung cancer six weeks, and those with congestive heart failure gained three months. The lesson seems almost Zen: you live longer when you stop trying to live longer.”

    Gawande, a practicing physican in Boston, reports that most terminally ill cancer patients have had no discussion with their doctors about their goals for end of life care despite being within months of death. But those patients who enrolled in hospice, suffered less and were better able to interact with others forlonger period of time. “People who had substantive discussions with their doctor about their end of life preferences were far more likely to die at peace and in control of their situation and to spare their family anguish.”