When I mentioned to my friend Phyllis that my partner and I work with families who experience intergenerational issues around end of life, legacy and change of residence, she looked despairingly at me and said: “I don’t think you can help my family.”
She went on to tell me about her grandmother who at 86 lives alone on a small farm in South Carolina. Her grandmother refuses help of any kind from any of her family members. This ruggedly independent matriarch has lived alone for years. Despite a recent illness she won’t grant any of her adult children a health care or a financial power of attorney. Her will, if indeed she has one, remains a deep secret.
When I asked why, she replied that her grandmother believes that ”The Good Lord will provide.”
As admirable as her faith may be, it has become a source of frustration for other family members who fear what could happen if grandmother becomes helpless with no power of attorney, or dies with no will nor any other legal safeguards that can ensure that family members understand in advance her grandmother’s wishes. There’s also a need to reduce the chance of any misunderstandings among the siblings about who inherits what.
Phyllis said that her grandmother’s sister shared this philosophy. When she died, disputes arose among her children because there was no understanding of who was to receive what. Sadly the dispute became a court battle resulting in thousands of dollars in court costs and lawyers fees. Apparently Phyllis’ grandmother has chosen to ignore the painful and expensive outcome of relying only on the Good Lord.
Phyllis concluded her tale of woe by stating that nothing can change her grandmother’s attitude.
Have you experienced this with any of your family members? If you have and were able to encourage that family member to change his or her mind, write us. We can always learn from others’ experience.