HOW DO WOMEN DO IT?
A woman’s ability to unconditionally love is universally accepted. Our innate disposition to
care for others, especially family is undisputed. “Mother’s Love” is depicted in timeless art, for example Duccio di Buoninsegna’s 14th century painting of “Madonna and Child”. Similar images have been reproduced in every culture, in all races, even among the animal kingdom.
“Agape” is a Greek word used to describe this fierce, loyal, protective bond magnified in the “fairer” sex. It is exemplified in women warriors, even those without biological children, and those who have adopted causes or extended their families instead. This view represents an , indispensable stereotype: the nurturing support that women bring to the table, the Boardroom, at dinner, or to people, interests and issues they care deeply about. Think of Maya Angelou, Harriet Tubman, Katharine Drexel, Jamaica’s fierce national warrior hero, “Nanny”, and our modern Oprah.
Let’s reflect on how women express love within family and then discuss ways to pass these traits and benefits to others. Specifically, how can we transfer intangible qualities and gifts inter- generationally.
The word “Agape” is derived from ancient Greek word and means unconditional love, a selfless, nurturing “Jesus” type love. A love that puts the needs of others before personal gain. Most women readily relate to it, and seldom understand why they are misunderstood when sharing it. To them their love or good intentions should be obvious, even when beguiled by others, or misinformed. This is why misunderstood women publicly break down and cry; feel rejected or maligned when good intentions are thwarted by malicious intent. This trait is evident irrespective of whether the relationship is biological, or among strangers. Some people may say, taken to an extreme, its an inability to discern or sense danger, but I disagree. Its more of an protective sense, a desire to preserve the whole and build community than to self destruct by “one-upmanship”.
I remember growing up in a culture where on Sundays Mom would always cook enough that whoever “drops in” could have a meal. I also remember at the market female “higglers”, subsistence farmers, would always give children a “brawta” (a little extra for stopping by their stall). Women routinely make sacrifices, even when they have little material goods to give that promote the welfare of others above their own interest.
FORMATIVE VALUES: PLANNING TO MEMORIALIZE MOM
Sometimes when speaking with a client or family member, I hear comments like:
“What do I care about what happens to my money and property after I am gone?”
“If there are problems related to what’s left behind, its not my problem, I won’t be around to worry about it.”
This is shortsighted and perpetuates a futile cycle, where growth and strengths become beyond reach, where each generation starts from the bottom. It reflects an absence of foresight, one without any vision for scale, or generational gain. It becomes a Lose: Lose mentality. These statements show that love has been hijacked, replaced by an unharnessed, distorted emotion. Yes I understand that past experiences, psychological and economic factors contribute to the distortion, but it is far from ideal and a state to move beyond..
On the other hand an ability and willingness to think beyond self, to protect, preserve and provide for family, is an expression of true love, usually encouraged by Mom. A family’s unwillingness to invest time or resources for future gain is a condition that can be resolved. Actively taking responsibility to plan ahead is important.
The pandemic has shown us, that life is unpredictable. Things change quickly when we least expect them to. Do not be caught with “your pants down” Be proactive to do what’s right for yourself and family over time. One way to proactively provide for Mom and loved one is by using an Estate Plan.
What Exactly Is An Estate Plan?
An Estate Plan is more than a simple will. it includes at a minimum a Durable Power of Attorney (appointing somebody to act on your behalf), and a simple Will, or Trust. A colleague shared a story about sisters who spent thousands of dollars fighting in court over a $5 hairbrush. Their grandmother would brush their hair at night and talk to them while doing so. Upon her death, the sisters valued the $5 hairbrush more than the money and family home they jointly inherited. They spent all their money fighting in court to get the hairbrush! The animosity and bad feelings that developed destroyed them! I am sure this was the last thing Grandma wanted. Yet, it could have been avoided if there was a proper Estate Plan disposing of sentimental gifts like the hairbrush, as well as tangible ones like the family home. Had this been adequately included in an Estate Plan, Grandma could have continued to reassure of her love, and guide both girls beyond her grave.
A Trust is a legal arrangement through which one person the Trustor or Grantor holds legal title for another, called the beneficiary. The Trust is designed to ensure that during any eventuality, loved ones know a Grantors wishes, and a Trustee is authorized to protect assets while minimizing generational losses (for example, due to taxes, creditors or lawsuits). One advantage is that a Trust can easily shift assets, or conveniently transfer property to beneficiaries beyond any lifetime, even if a family member has special needs and has to rely on government assistance during infirmity or a disability.
An excellent Estate Plan will also include medical directives, guardianship or conservator documents that protect and preserve assets, including income distribution, even when family members want to avail themselves of government benefits.
Think about it, what if you made proactive arrangements that rewarded Mom’s sacrifice for family, her hard work for a cause, while ensuring that your family’s interest is preserved for multiple generations? This kind of thinking preserves a family and mother’s memories. It memorializes her Lasting Legacy of Love. Do you want to learn how to create multi-generational estate plans that give peace of mind and prosperity to your children, and theirs? You can. There is a relatively small cost to planning, but in some situations it is nominal, for example a starter Will or Trust kit is available at: https://wfg.protectmorefamilies.com/heatheratkinson You can always reach out for a consultation before or after if you need to professional help.
In other situations, as with “blended families” or family members who have “special needs” documentation of the Plan is more nuanced. What really matters is that you get started. Do not leave your legacy to chance, reduce the odds of untoward conflicts, wasted spending, or tax consequences. You can discuss your Legacy of Love without obligation at: https://www.IntervivosPlan.com
© Heather Atkinson & IntervivosPlan.com