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#43 Maya Fisher-French – Transcript

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Maya Fisher-French
All right, so Louis and I landed up having coffee one day, because I was absolutely fascinated by the speciality of law major life transitions. So I think on your profile, it sort of said things like, you know, divorce death, obviously not your own death, because that’s happened, the death of a spouse, divorce, and I think these are all life transitions, we’re going to face whether we like it or not, I mean, we’re going to go through one of those. And then, as part of this conversation, we started talking about My poor mom, who is moving into retirement village, and the emotions and the admin and I think, to some extent, the trauma around the so you and I have decided we’re going to do a series of podcasts around transition moments, but because of my mom, and Louis, I mean, you know, I suppose this this podcast is relevant, whether you are someone in that process, or you’re the adult child like me dealing with it, I mean, how frequently do you come across, sort of dealing with these situations,

Louis van der Merwe
Maya, I think every time a client reaches out to us, it’s because money is moving. And when money changes, life changes, and when life changes, money changes. So almost everything starts with a change in what’s happening. Because if you stay the same, then what’s you know, there’s no reason for you to seek help. But when there’s life changing events, and we call that life transitions, specifically, because the American financial transition is Institute termed it that way. And that’s really when you’re going through a big change in your life, it could be positive, it could be winning the lottery or getting a big inheritance that you didn’t expect. And that can have a equal impact as a negative life transition. So losing a spouse maybe being retrenched, because both of them, your brain almost shuts down when it comes to decision making. So it’s very interesting dealing with clients and family members, you know, when they go through these life transitions, because there’s so much that can go wrong. So true.

Maya Fisher-French
And I want to talk to you a little bit later about this shutting down of the brain, because we all face it, whenever we are overwhelmed by something our brain starts to shut down. That’s not always the best thing that you really need to be doing at the time, especially when there’s money involved. But let’s, let’s go, let’s talk about this thing about ageing about retiring. Why is it such a difficult time in our lives? You know, whether that’s retiring from work, or like my mom, I mean, she’s 80. So it’s not retirement, but it’s moving house, it’s downsizing to village? Why is the wild bees particularly challenging times as opposed to be things you know, are coming you’ve planned for them? But why? Why do we struggle so much with those,

Louis van der Merwe
because sometimes it’s planned, and sometimes it’s not. So with the transition, as Institute’s, we talk about the four stages of life transition. And that starts out with anticipation. So that’s, as you mentioned, we’re planning for something you’re waiting for this event to happen, then there is ending this event has now happened, you’ve been retrained to spouses as past, or you’ve sold your property that you’ve lived in for two years. And that’s always the easy part, then comes the part that we called passage. And that’s the messy middle, that’s when you lose your sense of identity, and you struggle to put things back together. And ultimately, moving through this, you get to the final phase, which is what we call the new normal. And that’s where you can look back on your transition. And you can actually see how you’ve grown as a person, be that negative or positive, there’s something that you can take away from that. But going through that as hard, it’s emotionally difficult. It’s change. And I think as humans, we’re not very good with change, you know, we want to stay with the things that we know and the things that we’re comfortable, and all of a sudden something changes, and we kick against that and we don’t want to do it. And if you can imagine someone in an elderly position, there might be very little things that they still have control over. So now you overlay that on top of this life transition on top of the financial decisions, and it all just becomes a big mess. And that’s the messy middle part.

Maya Fisher-French
And that is that sense of agency, I’ve really seen that dealing with my mom, it’s incredibly important because I’ve got this personality to barrel in and rescue and sort it all out. But you taking away a person’s independence doing that that’s not really the right approach at all. So I think I want to ask you a few questions, but later about how I should better approach this whole situation but going back to this difficulty of it. And and you know, you spoke about the brain shutting down. And I saw that with my mom, she I mean shame she’s going through so much. In fact, she’s right now under a knife right now she’s in surgery, she had a she has to have a major backup. And this home sold sooner than she expected. Moving into retirement village, all of these things were happening and she was damn staying with me for a week whilst we were dealing with it. She doesn’t live with me. It doesn’t live in the same city as me. And she just couldn’t her mind couldn’t hold on to anything. She kept saying the same things over and have I done this in heaven. I’d done that and you gave me the most unbelievably You want advice, which is what I bought cost landed up doing this podcast. And there was you said, write down a brain dump, just start writing down everything that she thinks about needs to do. And I did that for five days, I kept a notebook. And every time she opened her mouth, I jotted it down. And then I compiled it at the end of the visit. And I said, here’s the list. Here’s the now the later it was she she knows she was in tears. She said, I can’t believe you’ve done this. For me. This is miraculous. And I said, Now, when you feeling anxious, when you think, did I must I, you just have to refer to the list taught me because that list was part of and I messaged you, I said, wow, look at that list. It’s changed the game.

Louis van der Merwe
I have goosebumps as you as you say this, because I think that part of life transitions is that it’s not difficult to help someone, you know, you maybe need a little bit of guidance in the human side of money. And that’s the part that drives our decision making. So this tool you specifically referring to is what we call the decision free zone. It’s not the No Decision Zone, it’s just allowing someone through the use of a transitioners to a family member to put down on paper, what’s in their head, okay. And that process of doing a brain dump means that they don’t have to keep it internally, they don’t have to worry about it, even though they might not know that they’re worrying about it. And so now you have this mesh of maybe 50, or 100, different things that’s on someone’s mind. Now you can start arranging it into what we call the now the soon and the later. And that process helps someone to actually park some of it, they can say, Okay, well, I still need to update my wall. But you know, is that important with me moving into a new property? Maybe not, I can park that under later. And it’s not the financial plan and making that decision? I think it’s important, it’s not the children making that decision. It’s working with your parents or your family member or your client and saying, What do you want to tackle first. And the things that are time sensitive, and important should be under now, everything else should be under soon and later. And this is not a checklist for financial planners, you know, it’s not, these are all the things you need to do. It’s what’s on your mind. And just that process brings a little bit more calm. And it means that someone can have that clarity to say, Okay, I’m only going to focus on this one or two little things that I need to tackle. Now, it’s not this huge mountain. Now you can actually start taking, taking the first step. So that is a very valuable tool that we use for clients in transition. But also not, you know, you can think when you have a lot to do just going through that process, like doing a to do list. And yeah,

Maya Fisher-French
that’s exactly what it was. It was not it wasn’t an end, as you said, doesn’t just have to be about the financial part. It was everything Oh, God affirm the doctor to take this. What about the cat’s you know, all of those things. And, and when you you got so much to do, and you’re trying to remember all the stuff in your sticking in your head, you go into this, you can go nuts, actually, I’m sure you can go quite crazy. So I think was a brilliant idea. And certainly one that I would highly encourage anyone to to do themselves ought also if they’re if they’re if they’re dealing with somebody who’s in a state, just to say, right, let’s just write in randomly, whatever random thoughts are coming into your head, let’s just write it down. It was such a brilliant, you know, just a brilliant that really got me through that week. But I think coming back now to we spoke a little bit earlier about agency and making sure that you don’t take over. So how do you how do you support a parent going through this transition? And when should you have those conversations? And I talked about the transitions in two senses, I suppose here because it’s kind of broader. One is the whole retirement, you know, the retirement part. And you know, how do you check in with your parents to make sure that they’ve made a retirement plan, because guess who’s on the hook, if they haven’t? Or if it’s about, you know, reaching a stage where you realize your parents may need to go into a supportive care or something. So how does we how do we have conversations with with our parents,

Louis van der Merwe
I would say the first step to realize is to say, whose anxiety Am I looking at? Is it my own? Or is it my appearance? If we for this moment, say it’s my parents, then we have to turn this conversation around. And instead of saying you have to do this, and this and this, we can start with a question. And we can say what are you most scared about? You know, what does this look like? If it turns out well, what can get you excited? What are the things that can maybe derail our plans? And it might sound like funny questions, but this is almost a coaching approach, where instead of telling someone what to do, because a we know that almost never works. Mr. Client, Oh, Mom and Dad, you just need to do X, Y and Z. That unfortunately, is not a great way to get someone to do what you want them to do. And just realizing that and say, What can I change? What do I have control here as a child? I have control over how I approach this situation. I do not have control over that person’s response. And understanding that I think is key because if you keep on doing the same thing if you can keep on saying Mom and Dad you need To save for retirement, you need to save you need to save at some point that might give up, but you are probably going to drive yourself crazy. So turning that around and asking the question, you know, what’s stopping you from? How can I make this easier for you? How important is it, that there is cash for this? Maybe it’s not, maybe for them, you know, it’s not a concern. And I don’t think we must just dismiss it the there is an element where we can bring awareness, and we can teach someone to say, okay, you know, this is an important part. So, not discounting financial education. But sometimes it’s just turning it around and saying, What do you want what’s most important? And in the transitional space, we we first look at what do we need to predict? So if you think about someone moving into a new place, what’s most important for them? And we’d ask that, you know, what would you like to protect it. And sometimes, it’s my sense of community, right for a lot of people in his community, because that brings down our stress response, we can talk a little bit about stress, but thinking about what you want to protect, and what you want to create new. Now, I think that positive spin on what you’re going through, even if it is someone that might have, you know, a terminal illness, and they on the last days to ask, you know, what do you want to protect during this time? What would make it meaningful for you, the default sometimes is just to lean back and almost disengage. But we’ve been taught that we should actually be leaning in. And you should actually be asking caring and empathetic questions at that point.

Maya Fisher-French
And the other thing, you and I really did see this with going through this whole process my mom and saying, and we were, you know, creating a vision of what it will look like the new place will look like or will her life be like, and seeing the opportunity in there. But the other thing you told me and I shared this with my mom, I said, you said you’re gonna go through kind of flat out panic to euphoria, almost all optimism about the future, and you’re going to keep moving between the two of them. And she said to me as well, should that was so useful to know, because you said at four o’clock in the morning, when I’m completely panicked about these decisions I’ve made. I remind myself that well, this is part of the process. So that was also a you’ve got to be realistic, people aren’t gonna say, Oh, yes, I’m happy with this decision, and I’m going to go ahead with it. They’re going to oscillate.

Louis van der Merwe
You’re we call it normalizing just for someone to feel that what they’re going through is not abnormal. It’s a normal response for you to be uncertain. We talk about loss aversion and buyer’s remorse. Once we’ve made a decision, we keep on going back to that, and we need some comfort. And sometimes it’s just someone saying, You know what, I’ll be here with you, whatever this decision brings. And I think that support that the family can give is a lot more valuable than them saying, Oh, I’ll write out a check. You know, sometimes that’s necessary. But that emotional support during difficult times, is is critical.

Maya Fisher-French
And also being empathetic. So not being irritated that she’s not excited every five minutes about the change, to say, I understand, I understand you’re giving up your home. And this is hard. And I completely understand. And just being empathetic, and I think we do not and I certainly have that personality. So I’m very aware of it, of just trying to fix everything. Well, that’s upsetting. I’ll fix it. But sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s just grief. Sometimes it’s just lost, sometimes you just said, and you can’t fix it. And living with that it’s as the child it’s very hard to see your parents or vice versa parent dealing with a child going through through trauma like that. Sometimes it just it’s people are just said,

Louis van der Merwe
this is as much work on yourself, then what it is on that person going through that transition. So Mary Martin is a wonderful teacher in America. And she teaches mindfulness for financial planners. And her approach is that the way you show up to your meetings has a massive impact on your clients, even if you don’t say anything, just your presence and actually being the listening to someone. But how do you get to that point? Well, I think you have to have a mindfulness practice. So that when these thoughts come in, you can let go of it. You can say, Oh, I have this feeling that actually I want to fix this. But for you to then automatically lean into fixing, I think would maybe not be the best approach. Just taking that saying, Okay, what do I want to do here? What’s going to be helpful for my parents, or my family members and then making a decision? Daniel Kahneman talks about the system’s one and the system two. And you know, one of them’s automatic. It’s that kind of prehistoric brain that just goes into action. And we want to slow down and we want to use system to so that we can work through things and properly think it through, because what we see in life transitions is that someone rushes through it to get to the new normal, and they end up making decisions that don’t serve them. And that

Maya Fisher-French
is that’s so interesting. I’ve just, I’ve just, you know, been watching my mom go through this process, and there was a little bit of the rushing and I had to keep saying, Mom, just slow down. Think about this. Is this what you want? There is a sense that I have to get through this very horrible thing I have to do. Let me just rush through would tick the boxes and then I can breathe on the other side. Because that indecision and unknown is so uncomfortable for me. So I that’s interesting because and and I do think giving that reflection to a person and saying maybe that’s what you’re going through, maybe you do need to slow down and make sure these are the right choices and decisions is part of the process. Then another piece of advice I was given by extra bit by friend of mine, who’s a counselor is she said, don’t have an expectation of the outcome, don’t buy into an outcome, because that also is I need this to happen. And you said that upfront, you don’t have control over that. And if you’re in conflict around that, you’ve got to say, whatever choices she makes, or he makes, is going to be the choice they make, it’s not my choice. And to just disconnect from that. And that’s, again, more work on yourself, I

Louis van der Merwe
suppose. We see that so much on so often with widowed people that just want to rush through this. And people say, Oh, no, a year from now, you’ll be much better. What the studies are telling us that, that on average, it takes someone seven to eight years, when they go through a life transition to get into a new normal. That’s the average. And so that means half the people take longer than that. And half of the people go through that process quicker. This is not a race. You know, as soon as you get to that new normal, guess what, there’s a new transition waiting for you. And that’s part of life. I think it’s just going through that. What I didn’t know before starting out this journey is that you can look back on a life event. And you can see how something that seemingly negative can actually make you a better person, and how there is good that can come from anything, you know, being be at a war, be at a spouse that you’ve lost be moving into a new place. Life isn’t just black and white, it’s not all bad, not all good. And so this helps you to start reflecting back on it and saying, Okay, I am a different personnel had a conversation three weeks ago, with a client that has terminal cancer. And his words to me was this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Now for someone to say that it means that they’ve gone through a process of number one going through the guilt and getting comfortable with it, but actually taking meaning from life throwing a curveball and saying how do I make good of what I get? And not everyone has the opportunity to go through that?

Maya Fisher-French
Yeah, that’s quite profound, it’s quite amazing that you can come out the other side, well, you know, have have those reflections. That’s very powerful. And now to talk a little bit about the money side of things, because this is one of the big problems that I see. And a lot of my friends are going through this with their parents where there’s been financial mismanagement of the retirement funds. And often it’s cognitive. So something you know, they retire at 6065. But by 7075, there’s cognitive changes, perhaps. And certainly the kids discover that, you know, they’ve made some really weird investments or done some really strange things. So how do you as I suppose, as a child protect against this, but also how do you as a person who’s retiring and make going into retirement, knowing that you may reach a point where you’re not fully capacitated? To make financial decisions? How does one manage them?

Louis van der Merwe
That’s a very interesting question, Maya, because a South African law is not really well written for us to deal with this. So number one, people often sign what’s called the power of attorney. And so that’s giving someone else control over your financial decisions. And fortunately, as soon as you lose the ability to revoke a power of attorney, so your cognitive ability that fails, so now you power of attorney is no longer valid. What a lot of people do is that they start moving assets into possibly a trust so that you can have other people look after it trustees to look after this person’s assets, for their benefit. With that also comes more complexity, because you have additional costs, and you have other people involved. And then I think, thirdly, you can appoint a curator, right, which is also a costly process. And I would advise everyone to try and steer away from that unless someone is really incapacitated or have a mental disability. So what can we do as a family member? That suspect this? I think it’s spending time with your family so that you can see the warning signs, right? In psychology that often talks about a mini mental taste, and my grandfather suffered from dementia. And so we went through this process. And the psychologist asked him, you know, what day is it? What’s in the news? You know, what did you have for breakfast that would show them a couple of items? And And funnily enough, he said, No, he doesn’t need to answer these questions at all. He has a walking cane, and this walking cane will tell him whatever he needs to know. I don’t want to make light of these situations, but it

Maya Fisher-French
is what was a little mini

Louis van der Merwe
time. So I think being aware when there’s these warning signs and then having a discussion and say, Okay, well, what do we need to do here? And at that point, you need to be working with an attorney and a financial planner, because There’s legal complexities, there’s financial planning implications, do not try and do this alone, that’s definitely a time when you when doing it yourself can be expensive. And then they can come up with solutions, it might be, let’s set up some assets in your spouse’s name, because you can do donations without worrying about donations tax, you can help you can get the family members to be more involved, sometimes it’s just being practical saying is this someone that can go in and check every day that you still okay, and that you have everything you need. So the money should be for something, right. And what we don’t want to lose track of is the quality of the life. So I would say the conversation should be, do we have everything set up so that the quality of life is still in the way that they would have wanted it, and then there’s many mechanisms around it. What happens with clients is that, and and humans, you know, we we approach it from, oh, I want to try this thing. And I want to try that thing. But without having a clear indication of where you’re heading, those tactics just become tactics, right, you want to have a strategy to say, this is what we want, and then work from there.

Maya Fisher-French
And it’s interesting, you’re saying, you know, that the the money that they do have must be used for their comfort, you know, and that is the hardest thing to get through to my mother, she wants to leave an inheritance. And I’m like, we don’t need inheritance, we need you to be healthy and happy and well looked after. And then parents get to this point where they would rather sacrifice their life, you know, that they make these interesting decisions, and we really having to continuously remind me, we’re fine. We’re fine. You You’re the one who needs to, to make sure that you’re enjoying your life. That’s what will make us happy. So there is a bit of a conflict there, I suppose. And the other thing I have question I have Well, one of the things that I see happening quite often and I my readers write to me often is people falling for scams. And yeah, older people are more likely to fall for a scam. So first of all, my mother is very good. She sends me absolutely every email that she thinks could be suspicious, and they generally aren’t. But she said the post office scam, she said the SARS scams, and fortunately, she sends it to me. But the point is, she still doesn’t know if it’s a scam or not. She sends it to me as a mom, that’s definitely a scam. But how many people you can fall for that? I had one desperate reader saying his father keeps falling for these. The danger and sort of scams is I’m a pretty rich Prince falls for he’s been losing so much money. And at what point, you know, he said, What can I do? And you know, again, you probably have to go to court to get some sort of interdict against or do you just say, well, it’s his money. I don’t know, this is what I’m saying the challenges of agency, it’s his money, he chooses to be scammed. It’s difficult.

Louis van der Merwe
Mind before our call started, we spoke a little bit about financial abuse. And that shows up so often with elderly people, and you know, elder abuse, because they become easy targets. And so what we’ve tried to do in our practice is to minimize the impact on these things. Because I don’t think you can create a foolproof environment where no one can get in. But what you can say is, well, if he does get scammed, well, how do we minimize the losses. So some of that might be let’s move this big amount of cash that you have in your bank account. And let’s put that in a money market at the bank. So it’s a little bit more difficult one step removed, for someone to get access, think about increasing friction. So you want to make it more difficult. Just like when you’re on a diet, you want to bring in friction so that you don’t just, you know, grab the chocolate that’s in front of you, you’re gonna hide it somewhere. East Bay steaks

Maya Fisher-French
are a problem. They’re in the house now and they get eaten even if you don’t like Easter eggs and eating them. Absolutely. But

Louis van der Merwe
if the friction was there, and it wasn’t in the house, would you get in your car, drive down the road, go and buy one, bring it back, and then it probably not. So I would say look at ways that you can increase the friction, maybe get a second signatory on large amount. A lot of financial planners, as included use what we call a cash management system. So that’s where you can open up a banking license, and you can open up a transactional account for someone not to keep the money away from them, but to help protect them. You know, big transfers, what we see from from attorneys interest accounts, that’s usually when people try and intercept it. So if someone gets into your account and they steal maybe 500 grand, that’s much better than them. Stealing 5 million Rand, right, the impact we want to minimize. And so I think we might be focusing on the wrong thing that we try and not you know, get them to be scammed. We just want to have the reduce the impact and like you did with your mother, you know, a buddy system send that to someone before before you act on it slowing down noticing, oh, could this be a scam? You know, obviously there’s a long list of things that you never should do. Don’t give your pin number. Don’t give you CVV number, but we forget you know these scammers are trained to trick us into doing

Maya Fisher-French
they are brilliant at human behavior and they No, and they use orphans one that one’s a banks that they they pretend to be from the bank. And so there’s a massive debit order that’s going through your account fraudulently, we need to reverse it. And that panic and especially as you get older, you do tend to panic more I find even I’m not even that old, didn’t I still panic more than I used to? Yeah, it’s easier to get someone in a panic state and they take action. But to me, it’s sort of the messaging that I’m getting is is that it is, you know, when it comes to retirement, as you’re getting older is to have a valued financial planner, actually, somebody who you can trust, who’s properly registered, probably, you know, got the proper qualifications has a body that they like, the FBI that that Oh, and also if you’re certified financial planner that they have to account to, and that can hold them to account. And that is probably and then saying to them, Listen, if I start trying to, you know, buy the my neighbor’s, whatever, Bob, or FIM for 10 million bucks, you know, just just be there as my sounding boards, I suppose that’s also the role of financial planning. And a lot of this is setting it up before, because we’re all gonna go a little bit daft at some point, I imagine at some point, you’re gonna go and maybe not be quite as rational as you shouldn’t be. And well, can we predict our own selves from that as well?

Louis van der Merwe
I think setting up those agreements beforehand, specifically if you don’t have family members, or children to rely on. So we often see that with clients that might not have kids.

Maya Fisher-French
Sometimes they don’t trust their children. That’s another week. And that’s another,

Louis van der Merwe
that’s another episode. Probably it comes down to trust in the Do you have a friend, family member professional that you can trust, to give you an honest, direct opinion, ideally, someone that’s also governed through some form of ethics system. And we call that a fiduciary, you know, acting on someone else’s best interest. The dilemma is, what if we also get it wrong? You know, we don’t have a crystal ball to see exactly what is a scam or not. But there’s a lot of warning signs. And if you have another pair of eyes, that can just look at it, I think you would eliminate 90% Of all the problematic actions, nevermind, you know, illegal actions, it could just be decisions that are detrimental to your financial investment

Maya Fisher-French
decisions, you know, taking on too much risk, because you didn’t really understand. So all of those, I think quite frankly, we will all benefit from being a sounding board. And then obviously, as we age, that becomes more important. But Louis, I want to say thank you very much. Firstly, on a personal level, because you’ve read gave me the tips you gave me for my mom have been absolutely brilliant. And I’m really hoping that we’re going to get to have more conversations around this. There’s so many life transitions that we that we need to talk about. So I’m looking forward to more these wonderful conversations and learning more from you.

Louis van der Merwe
Thank you, Maya. It’s been wonderful. And just that ability to help someone. I think a lot of financial planners, that’s what gets them up in the morning, including myself. And so it’s wonderful Tiana.

Maya Fisher-French
So this is a podcast about transitions. And Louis and I are back. And if you listen to our first podcast, you’ll know that we discussed what it is that made a transition, because it was my personal issue of appearance, going into a retirement village and all the issues around that. But really, what I wanted to talk about today is planned lifestyle changes when you have decided you want to live a different life, we are seeing it with COVID I can’t tell you the number of friends and people that I know who’ve said, I’ve only got I’ve realized Life is short. And I don’t want to be living this life anymore. And they’re either moving cities, they may be immigrating. They may be quitting jobs and starting their own business. There’s been these really massive changes. And I must be honest, when I listen to them, I’m not always convinced they’ve fought through that. So if you are thinking of a major life change, listen to this podcast first. So let’s start with what what if I came to you and I say listen, Louis, I’m out of here. I’m I’m cashing in, I’m gonna go and live in some little door PA, I don’t know, greater motto something some little village? Like, how do you approach it when somebody’s facing a big, big decisions like that?

Louis van der Merwe
My I think we have to start off to say that. In it life transition can be stressful and can be difficult. If we impose it on ourself. If it’s positive, or if it’s negative, it’s equally stressful. And we tend to go through the same four stages. So think of this person that’s moving to grade 10. They are probably in the anticipation stage, which is the first stage of the four stages, the second being ending, so they have not sold their property. And they have moved to grid and there’s no going back. Then this passage is kind of the messy middle where you get used to this new life, maybe out of the city, a new community. There’s things that you’ve lost in these things that you’ve gained. And then over time you move to the new normal, right, you’re now a resident there and you’re happy with how it turned out and you go into a new transaction. So let’s talk about the anticipation phase. Because people often show up as invincible And what we mean with that is that they only see the positive, like, I’m going to move to grade 10. And I’m going to have no stress and my relationship is going to be wonderful. And my kids are going to visit me every week. And and it’s going to be the best decision that I’ve ever made. In life. Unfortunately, there’s always two sides of the story. There’s the good things, and these are the less good things. So what we would start off with is to just understand the reason behind the move, you know, tell us a little bit more about what went into thinking about this, you know, what impact does that have on your spouse and on your family members, and who else is involved in the decision and you think of painting a picture of this decision, and you want to just color it in? Because sometimes it comes up that someone hasn’t thought this through, and they’re just rushing into maybe getting away or, you know, fleeing towards something. And rash decisions is almost always bad? Because we don’t spend the time looking at the impact?

Maya Fisher-French
Absolutely not. I do think you know, I go through it. You know, sometimes there’s a moment that I’m hiking in the mountain on the weekend, I just think I want this to be my life every day. I just don’t want the deadlines. I don’t have another podcast I have to do now I’m joking about my podcasts. But another article, I’ve tried all that pressure and deadlines and had just want to escape. And sometimes that feeling of escape, leads you to think Well, maybe if I opted out, maybe if I downsize maybe if this maybe of that, but ultimately, I’d probably be bored within two weeks. And it would be a big mistake. So how do you kind of, you know, decide that this is actually what you want is not a knee jerk reaction to an event that is happening to you. I mean, like COVID was an event, or it’s just something it’s really just bad at work. I mean, how do you process what you can do without actually making a major life change?

Louis van der Merwe
I think part of it is just slowing down, and then saying, Okay, well, what is behind this chain? Like, why do I want so badly to not have any stress, because stress is actually a good thing, right? It helps us to grow. And it helps us to have a purpose. And, you know, we can be creative when we can give back to the world. So sometimes the thing that we’re running away from is actually the thing that we shouldn’t be leaning into. And I think we all have blind spots, right? There’s other things that are sitting here that you can’t see on your own, maybe because you don’t want to, or maybe you’ve had trauma in the past, and maybe you’ve just been trained to ignore that. So having someone that can shine a light on those blind spots, not to say, oh, have you considered this, but to actually help you start thinking and to open up those blind spots and actually say, Well, you know, what is life look like two months after you’ve moved? What is the Tuesday morning look like? Tell me about that? What about that is important to you. And if you think of the layers of an onion is you want to start peeling away at that. You want to say okay, why is great and so attractive to you sitting on a Tuesday morning at a coffee shop, enjoying the newspaper? Like How’s that different from what you have today? Because then you can start looking at the comparison. And in life, we only have trade offs. If you give up something, you gain something else, but you also lose something. And so starting out saying what are you giving up to make this move possible, I think creates a more fuller picture so that someone can start thinking is this really what they want?

Maya Fisher-French
I know Kim put Keita in. She’s another financial planner, she always says she gets people coming in, they’re going to retire. And they live in the city and they’re going to retire to the coast. And their first question is why? Have you ever spent any significant amount of time at the coast? No. But that’s what you do when you retire. And she’s well find out if you actually want to live at the coasts, you may not actually enjoy it very much. So I think we do have pictures in our heads of what our lives are going to look like, in a specific place. That place will solve our problems rather than actually saying, Well, what is it about where I am currently, that’s an unhappy with that I could could change. And where do you think sabbaticals come into this as well. Your face lights up? You liked that question?

Louis van der Merwe
That was unexpected. I did not expect that. And that’s why I’m smiling. I think sometimes it’s just are you living life on autopilot? And all the decisions that you’re making someone else’s or society’s decisions? Or is this really what you want? sabbatical is interesting, because you’re almost saying, Okay, I’m gonna take a break from what I’m doing. And then you have to ask, why. What’s, what’s difficult from what you’re doing now? Why do you need this break? There’s a lot of people that find so much value in sabbaticals and it’s almost a reset. And I would say if you have that need to lean into it and start understanding what is it how else can I get the benefits of a sabbatical but maybe not doing a sabbatical? Because it means I’m giving an income and that have has different trade offs. In the financial transition as the world we use a tool called Managing expectations and they we unpack the impact that this has on other family man members. So you know, taking on a sabbatical might say, Okay, what do you expect to gain from this, but you can also ask the spouse or the partner You know, how do you expect this to look like this sabbatical? And just getting people to verbalize what they actually mean, you can start challenging it and you can get them on the same page. Because I think would sabbaticals you, you know, you can resign very quickly, you can say, Okay, I’m gonna take a sabbatical. Sometimes it could just be an easy way out to gain permission, do not do anything for that time. Yeah. So that’s a that’s a very interesting one. I think if you have the financial resources, then absolutely. Create a life by design, not just on autopilot.

Maya Fisher-French
And I think also, if you’re going to take a sabbatical have a plan for it. It’s not about I’m going to do nothing. Yeah. So my husband actually did that. So the reason I so he left a company he was working for, and he just he was burnt out, and he didn’t want to go straight into something else. So we looked at the finances, he was paid out, he got a lump sum. And we said, right, how long can you we if we cut back a little bit, how long can we survive? And, you know, we had a plan. And he, you know, it was I think was seven months or so that that he could afford not to earn an income. And but that was a family discussion, and we all discuss it, my children were included in their discussion, because it this is the this is what we’re doing. We wanted to make sure that they understood that financially, we’d made the right that we weren’t being crazy, and, and let take you on date or anything that this was was planned for, and was, you know, it was done as a couple. So how important is it when you wanting to make a big life change, you know, moving immigration is, of course, a huge one at the moment, having that conversation with your spouse, because that’s, that’s a big part of the annual kids.

Louis van der Merwe
That’s probably the number one thing that we see in, in clients, that lack of communication when it comes to money, you know, money is still a taboo topic, it’s almost easier to talk about sex than what it is talk about money these days. So we have to note that, you know, your first money, memories start from the age of seven. So you can think back of how you grew up with money and how your parents communicated with money. And almost always, it’s not about the money, right? It’s the emotions that piggyback on the money. It’s what the money brings its power or security or decision making, or vulnerability, hey, I have this amount of debt. So we go through a process where we help clients to have better money, communication skills. And that starts off with an awareness of how do you show up? You know, what type of methods do you like communicating? And and I’m not talking about written versus email I’m talking about? Do you want to know who’s involved? Do you want all the facts? Do you want the bottom line? Should we soften the tone of communication, because then the other party and this can be a spouse or financial planner, can change the way they deliver the message. And think about it, if I deliver a message to you that you are more likely to receive, it’s so much easier than just talking past you? And you know, spinning out all the facts, when you might be someone that takes a softer approach? And you know, how does this money make you feel? And you know, what’s important to you? Yeah, so I think communication in any relationship is the bedrock of that, if that’s about money, or your life decisions that all intertwine, you know, we can’t separate the one thing because if your communication around money is bad, then probably there’s other areas in your life where communications also not great.

Maya Fisher-French
And I think all you’ve also got to make sure you’re both on the same page. Because I tell you that that that’s the small town thing is very big at the moment. And I often find that there’s a spouse who’s not keen on it. The one spouse is like, Well, I’m gonna like the city I like where I live, I’m happy in my job, the other one wants to go and farm chickens has never farmed chickens ever in his or her life, but it’s going to farm chickens. And which is perhaps an extreme reaction to a situation. But what if the partner doesn’t want to leave the city? So I think those are many of the conversations that that I’m seeing Sydney among my peer group that that is where people are having difficulty that they want their lives to go in different directions. And that’s difficult can

Louis van der Merwe
often lead to resentment, you know, Oh, you wanted to move to this small town, and it was your decision. So.

Maya Fisher-French
So every time there’s a bad day, or the chicken dies, it’s why you see you, you and you’re very careful of that

Louis van der Merwe
you need to be on the same page, because hopefully, your marriage, you know, you’re on the same page and you’re living life together. Just like you can’t do financial planning with just one party. You hopefully have similar goals and similar dreams and similar objectives. And maybe it is a point in your life where you know, the paths are splitting. And maybe that means they’re looking at alternatives. But just starting to have that conversation in a space where you feel safe with someone that you trust, that’s not going to judge you and that’s not going to want to change anything. I think that’s key because, you know, we have to be ready to do this. No one can push you into this conversation. I think that’s key and sometimes we get frustrated with our spouses or their partners. Oh, you just You just need to have this conversation, we just need to do this. We can’t control the reaction, we can only control the way we show up. And the way we approach in the I would say, in that scenario, maybe try a different angle of attack, try a different way of community

Maya Fisher-French
coming in until you figure out the angle. Yeah, but it’s interesting. So when my husband made the decision to take a sabbatical, you know, you I also had to articulate my expectations, my expectation was, you’re not going to sleep until 10 o’clock in the morning, wander on your pajamas, eating cereal whilst I’m working, because I will feel very resentful. So you need a plan. And you know, it could be getting up going cycling, which is what you wanted to do. And you know, there had to be things that I saw him being active, because it would have drive, and I was honest about that it would have driven me stark raving mad. So I think you also have

Unknown Speaker
to have rules of engagement.

Maya Fisher-French
But you know, you mentioned financial planning and being on the same page financially. Okay, so now you’ve made the decision, you’ve had this discussion, you’re going to sell your big property, you’re going to downsize, you’re going to move to the little village or overseas or whatever it is. Do you know how many people I know who do this without any financial planning? Or any numbers being being drawn up? So I mean, how critical that is? And looking at the numbers? Or do you think you should just blindly jump because sometimes, because the numbers will tell you not to do it,

Louis van der Merwe
it’s the age old thing you don’t know what you don’t know, or had. So for you to first know what you don’t know, you need someone to point out, maybe you should think about the taxes or, you know, what is the implication of moving? How are you going to support this new lifestyle, they might be different expenses, that can be a family member, it can be a financial planner, I think why financial planners are ideal for this is because we trained to know what to ask, you know, you don’t have to sift through everything, you can look at the pieces that are critical. And you can help someone, I think relieve the anxiety of the unknown. Because when we don’t know we’re surprised by what comes up, and then we have to figure out a plan. And that immediately creates the stress response. What am I going to do now I have to pay the capital gains tax on this property, I never thought about it. So every time there’s a big life change, and you go on autopilot, unfortunately, you make decisions that are often not in your best interest, or the interest of your family. So slowing down, looking at the numbers. Sometimes you just need to leave, take that leap of faith, right? If it’s something that you truly value. And if it’s something that’s super important to you and your family, there’s always a way, because it means that you’re trading off something, you can maybe work a little bit longer, you can pass away a little bit sooner, sometimes you don’t have that choice, you can trade off your lifestyle, you can sell some assets, you can generate other sources of income. When there’s options, I think there’s home. And so for a lot of clients, sometimes they don’t see the options in a scenario where they feel like all the options are gone. And so the role they have a financial plan is just to have a little bit of open and show them well. Actually, there’s a scenario where this turns out well, and most of the time life works out. But don’t just follow it blindly.

Maya Fisher-French
But I think you said to me earlier said you can have anything but you can’t have everything. And that’s what it is. It’s about sitting down saying, right? What this really matters to me. Okay, why? And what is now the how so and I think I think you’re so right, because just by planning, if just close your eyes and go and jump within on autopilot, you don’t look at it, you’re going to miss easy ones. And those easy ones will make your life easier. So absolutely make the plans. And if those numbers look at you, and they say hi, you’re not doing this, the numbers are not adding up. That doesn’t mean a No, it means what am I needing to do differently to still achieve it. And I think that is it’s a very different spin on it. But I think what I find is a lot of people are so scared to look at the numbers to open that lid and look at the numbers that they just keep the lid on, make the leap and then deal with the consequences afterwards, which can be quite belt that is actually where the financial problems can really come in

Louis van der Merwe
Maya, we see the flip side out of interest, we see someone stuck in deciding that analysis paralysis, they would look at all the different permutations, and then they would never make a decision. And if you look at the work that George Kinder does in life planning, the whole objective of life planning is to help you reach your life goals in a shorter amount of time than you would have reached it without working with a life planner. So sometimes it’s just motivating that client to take that leap of faith if it’s something that aligns with his values, what’s important to the family, and if there’s a really good chance that they will make it I think in our client base on Well Our motto is live life fully now. So we see the opposite thing you know someone wants to over save. So finding that balance between enjoying your assets and enjoying your life but also being responsible to plan for the future.

Maya Fisher-French
I think That’s a personality, that’s gonna be personality. So you get people who are really conservative and afraid to make change. And then you get other people who just say what the hell it will work out one way or the other in some way within their, obviously, the medium and that is the financial plan is what you play. And you’ve got to sit there and say, right, what kind of personality am I dealing with? Let me let me put it all together. So I mean, I think this is really, really fascinating. And I hope the listeners have got something out of this because it is, I am seeing this and I think we’re going to see more of it. There’s a lot of uncertainty, living costs, petrol, you know, kids education, people are being really squeezed financially, and they feel like they’re going to work every day. In this job, they’re not really enjoying struggling to keep things going. And the why, you know, who am I? What am I doing here? I think he’s becoming more and more, you know, critical. Yeah. So that’s obviously the Yeah, so take this, find yourself a good planner, like Louis anyway, a psychologist or a counselor or someone who can, who can really talk you through what is driving your, your lifestyle decisions?

Louis van der Merwe
My I think this talks about wellness, you know, are you happy where you are now, you know, sometimes you need the help of a professional psychologist, sometimes you need a coach, sometimes you need a counselor, a counselor, sometimes you need a technician. And on that spectrum, you know, I think everyone can benefit from those relationships. But you have to start doing the work on yourself, you know, like your husband taking that sabbatical, to heal and go through a place where, you know, he doesn’t feel burned out and gets excited about the future. And so I think we have to hone in on that to pick up the signs when someone might not fulfill that wellness that they ideally want to, and it’s just being there to listen, picking up on the things that are worrying.

Maya Fisher-French
Yeah, absolutely. Well, thanks, Louis. And I look forward to our next our next conversation, I think our next conversation we’re going to be focusing on Well, the sad reality of death and widows and being left you know, when your partner, something happens to your partner. So looking well, I’m looking forward to that conversation is probably not the right word. But I’m looking, I think it’s gonna be really, really interesting one. Thank you. Thank you, man. Yeah, so Louis and I are continuing our conversations around life transitions, which started a couple of weeks ago, over a cup of coffee, where I just found everything you were saying just absolutely fascinating. And I thought I want listeners to be able to hear it as well. So thanks, now that we’ve spoken about perhaps the softer things in life, the you know, my mum spoke about my mom going to retirement village, and we spoken about making big life changes. But we perhaps skirting around the biggest life change of all, which is death. And I think you and I were saying, you know, it’s, it’s people say, if I don’t know, when you die, you are going to die. So how do you prepare for that, and there’s a very high chance that during your lifetime, you will suffer the loss of a loved one. So how do you prepare for that? So let’s just get in there, let’s not mince words, we’re going to die. So how do we, we prepare ourselves and they start maybe with making sure that we are prepared for our own mortality?

Louis van der Merwe
Buyer, this is a topic that is difficult for most people. And I would say almost everyone, and unless you’re Elon Musk planning to live forever, if you could write the say you are going to pass away at some point. And we can do so much to help prepare the people that we leave behind or support people. And it starts with our words. It starts with showing up. And probably the biggest thing, I think that frustrates people that have lost someone is that word. I’m so sorry. Right? That is not helpful. Because our response is, don’t worry, it’s not your fault. Or, you know, that is not the ideal response. So I think coming to grips with our mortality and starting to say, or what should I get in place, like when this happens? What impact would that have on the family and start talking about it within your family, it doesn’t only happen to people in their 60s or 70s, or 80s. It happens to people in their teens and their 20s and their 30s happens to everyone. And I think what the Certified Life transition is training has taught us is that it is still a life changing event. And that means that we can show those four stages, you know, anticipation, sometimes death gives us, you know, a warning sign, it might be a terminal cancer, sometimes it goes directly into the second phase, which is ending, you know, think of a car accident, I lost my uncle and aunt last year, very sudden, unexpected, and the family was dropped into ending. That’s the phase that you would see grief. That’s the time when you do not want to be making any decisions. Right? So the biggest thing if you take one thing away from today, is in a time of grief do not make important financial decisions. Have the comfort to know that you can tackle it in the future unless it’s something that is super time sensitive. And almost everything is not that time sensitive. Give yourself the space to work through the grief. And that takes a long time. It can take years, studies have shown us on average, it takes widowed people seven to eight years to work through a life transition. That means half of them take longer than that, and half of them take soon. It’s not a race, you don’t want to rush through it. And then that third phase is where we do most of our work. It’s called the messy middle on at passage phase of putting life back together, you know, you have chaos, and you have fear. But also from that you create possibilities. You know, what is my new life look like a life without my partner a life where part of me is no longer day, unfortunately, you can’t undo can’t go back. You have to make peace with the fact that you are moving into a new normal and life that can be equally meaningful. And remembering that person that’s no longer the

Maya Fisher-French
that of course, all of this is so much easier if you have money and admin that is sorted. And you know, I have to say, I know so many women who have lost partners who have been left without resources, I’m own family, my father passed away left my mother financially destitute. So you so yes, I understand that in the middle of grief, you must make no choices. But what if suddenly, you don’t have the money to pay the bills, you have to sell the house, you’re not sure how you’re gonna make meet your kids finance, school fees. Those are very real experiences of people. And especially, you know, and I’m gonna be maybe I’m incredibly sexist here and you can put me right. But I generally see men being a lot more disorganized around the stuff then woman so maybe woman feel a little bit that especially their mothers, they worry about their kids, and they worry about the future of their children. But for some reason, it seems to be this immortality mindset. The amount of men who do not have a will have not taken up life cover have not had these conversations with their families. I mean, are you do you come across a how was it practice? Do you manage those conversation?

Louis van der Merwe
Brilliant question, Maya. And it’s something that I don’t think we’re going to fix overnight. And that’s okay. It’s starting to have the conversation starting to prompt starting to say, Well, talk me through what happens if you pass away tomorrow? Do we have things in place? And I think it’s really that thing of perfect is the enemy, right? You do nothing? Because you want to have everything perfect. And it’s just really taking that first step and saying, Okay, well, what is the most important part? Yeah. Is it drafting a world? Is it having a conversation around who should be the guardian of our children? Is it about leaving some resources. And your point around when there’s money is valid, I think it doesn’t necessarily make the process less difficult. But it gives you more options, it gives the family more options, and there’s more resources, it is incredibly difficult either way. And so whatever we can do to make that a little bit easier, I think we at least have to try and start that conversation and start bringing it up. It’s a critical piece of financial planning, right? Because then we can say, Okay, what do you what’s important to you? What do we need to keep intact? It’s not always about you need an additional life policy, our industry is well renowned for just selling products. Sometimes there’s a place for life insurance. Most often, you have to say, well just talk me through what it is that you want to leave behind for your family and for your children. And I think starting age starting that conversation about what does this look like when it’s done? Well, instead of moving from a place of fear, to say you need to get your world in order, because otherwise, you know that that isn’t a great approach, we like the more positive approach around supporting someone helping them coaching them, talking about what’s holding them back from tackling this, making it more digestible breaking it down, and then you can take that first step. It’s like training for a marathon, you don’t just put on your running shoes, and there you go. 42 kilometers. You start with running two kilometres or five kilometres, right, and just breaking it down.

Maya Fisher-French
I love you know, if you see this so often where it is the fear tactics, if you don’t have a world, then this will happen. And that will happen. And instead, you say, what would you do like legacy you’d like to leave? What do you want your family to look like? And you know, and have it as a different conversation on about the negative and maybe I think that’s that I’ve taken a lot of solace. I think from what you’ve just said, I think that’s a better way to try and have those conversations. Then then the scare tactics, what is that picture in your mind when you’re no longer there of the people you love? So I think that’s that’s really important. But I mean, that’s obviously as make individual making choices about you know, what they want to leave behind. But I want to talk now about the flip side, you are the partner. And you were you was talking about anticipation, the end of life stage so often it’s not about a sudden it’s the cancer. It’s, you know, something that you know, is coming. How do you You want at that time as the spouse or the partner, what do you need to be doing, and I’m talking on quite a practical level as well to be doing at that stage.

Louis van der Merwe
My, in our first episode, we spoke about this decision free zone. And that is a brilliant exercise for someone that maybe have just heard that they have a terminal illness, they might have all these things floating in their mind be that the client or the person that’s diagnosed or the spouse, because, you know, imagine yourself someone saying to you, you know, you maybe have a couple of months left to live. Firstly, there’s a big emotional response to that. And you know, that all those are the seven stages of grief that we have to notice. And there is no plan for moving through grief. But at the same time, you can have 50 or 100, different things that’s on your mind. And often, it’s just organizing that and saying, what do we need to work on soon? And you want to three things maximum, sorry, what do we need to work on now to do three things? What do we need to work on soon? Something that’s not time sensitive, and what can we talk until later. And so in our practice, we’ve had a few clients that’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness. And that’s been so helpful, because we can actually zoom in or kind of hone in on really what’s important.

Maya Fisher-French
Give me an example of what those would be in the now and the sooner.

Louis van der Merwe
So a great example that would probably not be now is that, oh, I need to, you know, sell my property and I need to create liquidity for my family, right? Most times, it’s not a big event, you do not want to be making big decisions when you’re in that state of grief. But what’s important is maybe saying, oh, I need to double check my beneficiaries, you know, is that still in place, I need to work on a treatment plan with my physician or oncologist, if it’s cancer, that can be the biggest thing on your now list. And maybe that’s the best thing. Because if you have that, then you can reflect back to that. We we’ve worked with a client, and this is very common across any financial transitioners, that deals with these clients is that they tend to forget the technical parts behind it. So this is a client with a very big estate that has sufficient money, and you struggle to remember what would happen. And so we create what’s called a one pager. It’s literally one page, where we show them, what amount is spouse will get, what amount will go to the state and what amount will go to the trust. And instead of him to one day, every time will my spouse be okay, is everything sorted, he just opens his one pager, can look at it. Ah, okay, that’s why we have it. And the numbers are not that important. It’s what feeling Are you leaving that client with? are you reducing anxiety? And the thing we try and hold on to is, can we reduce some of the suffering in this time, we’re not going to make this process easier, but we could definitely reduce the suffering.

Maya Fisher-French
And now you have a sudden death. And this is happening again, my age, I think a lot of people in their 50s the heart attacks, men with heart attacks. It’s really scary. COVID. Of course, born at home, a lot of people in their 50s passed away. It’s a sudden death. And now you’re the widow, widow person, I think is the correct terminology. Because whatever, whatever person, what, what how, you know, how do you start dealing with this stuff? Or the admin, the admin of death? I’m sorry, it’s actually ludicrous. So how do you process that you said don’t make any rash decisions, but there’s all the stuff that has to happen.

Louis van der Merwe
I think the question is, you know, is there really so much that has to happen, okay, the one thing that probably has to happen is that you have to submit it to the Masters code and send them the death certificate. And if you have a will, your executor can be appointed, and your executor can handle a lot of these things. And so it’s important that in your world, you choose an executor that you can partner with and someone that you trust, that’s going to become your guide through helping wind up your spouse’s estate, and dealing with the finances, but at the same time, they’re gonna ask you a ton of questions. They’re gonna say, What do you want to do with the chaise? What do you want to do with the life policy proceeds that bears out? And what we see with these things at that point is that people come out the woodworks dependents that you didn’t know of, or people that are looking for money, and we work with our clients to come up with a statement. And that statement can just be I am not ready to make a decision. Now I’m working with my financial planner. I’ll reach out to you when I’m ready. Okay, just having that permission to tell someone not no but not now. It’s it’s on my soon list or it’s on my lighter list. I’ll deal with it. But not now. I’m grieving and give yourself permission to grieve and not have to worry if you have the luxury of fine Natural Resources, you should not be worrying about that that point. There’s a brilliant tool. And so the transition is planning is all around using these different tools that says, Am I okay? And we go through an exercise where we look at, do you have sufficient cash for the next six months just to get you by and to pay the bills? What assets could we be using? What penalties are they in? What taxes on it? Those four things, that’s the only thing you want to look at? You want to say, are you okay to cover your expenses for the next six months? If not, then, you know, maybe on the now list, we need to put that let’s figure out how to get through the next six months without making major decisions. So I think the key is just slowing down. And knowing that this is going to be a long process, and that you have people with you, it could be a family member, could be the executor, it could be a financial planner, that will support you and not make the decisions for you, but help you to make decisions that serve you, and and your person that’s no longer there.

Maya Fisher-French
And one of the things I also pick up is that people don’t always know what policies they are or what their spouse has, because people listen, most people’s admin is a disaster. So it’s not like here’s a nice, neat file. It’s just like, is there a live cover? I don’t know. Are there investments? I don’t know the retirement fund is usually okay, because it’s linked to an employer or something. So is there a way for for the planning plan to try and find all the stuff

Louis van der Merwe
there is. So remember that once that person passes away, there’s the space between the deceased and when the executor is appointed. So ideally, you want to get that letter of executor ship from the master as soon as possible, because when the executor is appointed, then they can start gathering more information, and they can even release some of the funds. So it’s really difficult to gather information when someone’s passed away. But the spouse and the close family has a right to that information by law, to reach out to those insurers and find out what are the in the what are the insured amounts were the beneficiaries, I would say that at that point, you probably wouldn’t want to be dealing with that. So get someone in the family or financial planner that can help you do the legwork to can do the research and say, Okay, we found these three or four policies, we’re going to deal with it, it’s not a difficult process, your executor doesn’t deal with it. Sometimes, if the amount of money is paid outside the of the estate, the executor won’t touch it. So have a process and have someone that can help you think of almost a buddy system, you don’t want to be taking on that you’re in a stage of grief and our brain switch off, which means for you to fill in details, like ID numbers or tax numbers is going to be really difficult. Now you’re gonna go into a state of panic. So don’t put yourself under that pressure unnecessarily, have a place where ideally you can go to a file or an online system, these great ones these days, where you have a sense of what’s going on the policies, the maybe the deed, from the property, hopefully, a copy of the world, you know, there might be divorce orders, the administration process can be complex, but you know, your executor should be well trained and well versed in terms of dealing with that. But I

Maya Fisher-French
just think you know, this, in listening to this, if people are listening, it’s just too to think about these things and prepare for them. So in other words, is there a person in your life, who you could call on if the if this happened to you? And sort of having that, that those thoughts and I suppose, of course, this should be the conversation one spouse should be having saying, well, we need to be talking about this. So maybe you can play this podcast as a starting but I was just thinking like, who would I call on who would that friend be or trusted person be? And I think that that’s that’s a really, really important point, just that person. And you spoke also about I know, you mentioned to me before about life docs, which is an online system that you can actually upload documents to. So again, this is a pre prep preparation, it doesn’t help before afterwards. But you know, in terms of preparation, how does that work?

Louis van der Merwe
So it’s a brilliant platform that you can subscribe to, you don’t have to be a financial planner can be the man in the street. And that prompts you of which documents should you be storing, important to note that they will keep an electronic copy. And what’s great is that you can nominate who should receive those documents when you pass away. So practically, they request a death notice. And they would then share that with your emergency contact center. benefit of that is that you don’t have to go and go through the property and go and find this red file. That’s all the documents are in. It’s important that you still have original copies of some of the documents things like a world it’s critical. A electronic copy will not be accepted by the master. But other copies like insurance policy statements, or just knowing where the bank accounts were held, knowing which properties and which shades that personnel. It helps with the financial organization. And when we take on a client, the first step we do is financial organization. Let’s just take a snapshot of what you have and You’ll be surprised how things pop up things that clients forgot about things that they didn’t know they had. And so just going through that process of organizing, not necessarily changing, just saying, Here’s everything in one place, I think will alleviate a lot of anxiety. And it will reduce the burden on the executor. Because otherwise they have to look around and try and find this information. Can you imagine you worrying about finances and then only finding out a few years later that there’s a life policy that wasn’t claimed on unnecessary stress? I think this whole process is just to make a very difficult process a little bit easier.

Maya Fisher-French
And you know, we were speaking in the previous podcasts about dealing with elderly parents. And of course, this is one of the things you could sit with them saying, look, let’s upload your documents or, you know, let’s get all the documents together. Because again, death is coming in. And maybe we shouldn’t be so scared to have these conversations. But I do find people are really, really do not want to talk about it. In fact, I was speaking to some financial planners who were saying that people will will write up a wall, but they won’t come and sign it. They struggle to get them to sign it. And it’s nagging them. And we’re going back and going back. And this is absolute fear that if you sign up or you’ll die, I don’t know, they just this fear and instead of realizing you’re gonna die, we just don’t know when, and you need to be prepared for it. And I think that that is absolutely critical.

Louis van der Merwe
Why that’s a very valid comment. And I think we have to pose them, we have to say, well, what are the stories that we’ve internalized about death, like studying deceased estate administration during this year, made me think about my own mortality and realize that actually, this can be a nightmare for my family? And how can I make it a little bit easier? So now, instead of it becoming about, oh, I’m going to pass away? I’ve changed the focus. I’ve said, How do I not leave my wife and young child in a position where they have to go and find the document, it took me a good 10 minutes to find a bond document in my emails that I went through, imagining if she would have to, number one, gain access to my emails, sift through the hundreds of emails to find this document. And only at that point, then say, okay, now I have this document, I can give it to the executor. I would not want her to go through that stress and anxiety that that causes. So sometimes it’s just shifting the narrative and saying, okay, yes, we understand that this is something that you might be scared of. But, you know, there’s also a consequence to not having if you don’t sign a well, then there’s a there’s a law called the intestate succession act, that determines the set of rules of how your money and your assets will be distributed. Are you okay with that, and maybe you are, you know, maybe you don’t need a needle. For most people, their wishes are very different from what the law, say. And so you can take a little bit of ownership, and you can say, this is what I would want to have happen. And we have technology now that makes it so much easier. A brilliant platform like quick will allows you to do a will very quickly, you can even nominate where your pets should go, who should be the guardian of your pet, something that not a lot of people think of. So it doesn’t have to be this very high bar of a need to go to an attorney and need to spend 1000s of rands, I think they charge 250 Rand to help you draft a will, you can get that in place. You can upload your documents to live docs, you know, make sure that your insurance is sorted out, does not have to be complex and difficult.

Maya Fisher-French
And you were speaking about your wife having to access your emails. Yeah, digital, that’s another whole drama. You know, for instance, is husband’s passed away. There’s a whole digital world out there that access to email, your passwords, your social media, is there a way for us to like maybe show a piece of paper with or I don’t know, how does one solve for that,

Louis van der Merwe
please do not write it down on a piece of paper. From a security perspective that you do not want to be do that. There’s a lot of password managers out there. So we use one called one password. The last policy is a ton of it, you can Google it. But what they allow you to do is to store a document, they call it an emergency kit. Okay, so this is a physical document that you can print with the process to gain access to your password manager, and you want to store that in a safe with your copy of your will to say then when I pass away, you can reset my password gain access to my password manager that will allow you access to the emails to the social network to maybe even your bank account. Yes, there’s still a risk that someone gets that document and resets the password, but the risk is lower than you just writing it down on a piece of paper. What practically happens is that you have to submit a letter of executor ship and the death notice to the social media companies, let’s say Facebook or LinkedIn. And you then have to say as the next of kin what should happen to that account. Once again, it’s not a decision Don’t you want to be making when you’re grieving, because you might regret it, you might regret seeing the Facebook posts or the messages that other people leave when you just rush in and close it. So my advice would be get a password manager, it’s really good practice from security, and then have a safe place where you can put that emergency kit so that someone can access that off to your desk.

Maya Fisher-French
And I was I was laughing when you talked about Password Manager, because you know, how many times have to update my passwords, because then their Facebook says, no, no, you need to redo this, whatever you supposed to, I’m never going to remember to go back into it. So I reckon this is just going to be a mess. And no matter how much you prepare for it, you’re gonna forget some password that you haven’t updated. So it’s interesting, I didn’t know that, that you could actually send something to the social media platforms to ask them to to deal with it. I think that’s probably a useful one to know as well. Although again, they must also go through some security checks to make sure you’re not just somebody. So that can be quite, quite tricky. And just to you know, we we’ve spoken about, you know, how people wind up their affairs and there but, you know, in a great world, there is some money, but what happens, you said don’t act suddenly. But when there is no money, you know, you probably don’t come across it that much. Because you’re you’ve got your clients all organized. But what do you do? The spouse dies, and other than the income? There is very little How does you know, what do you need to sell houses do unit? How does one navigate that space?

Louis van der Merwe
That is very, it’s a, it’s a very relevant question, because I think there are so many what we call insolvent estates. So that is really where your liabilities, so the amount of money you owe, is more than your assets. So what you have plus the insurance that’s paid to these things, in those scenarios, the executor has to start selling assets to pay off these creditors. So once again, you want to pick an executor that you trust, and that will run through this process with you. If you are appointed as the spouse or family members appointed, get an agent, get an attorney, get a chartered accountant or trust company to help you through that process. Because number one, you’re dealing with this person that has passed aways acid, and then the other part of it is saying well, what other resources do I have? Are they family members that can maybe support me, we have a pro bono client that we’re helping that lost her job, and she’s got a disabled child. And she managed on I think it’s called BackupBuddy story campaign where people provided money for her to be able to pay a medical aid, there’s always options, even when it feels like there’s no options, I can guarantee you communities come together in time. And so my advice would do would be to speak to someone that can help you figure out what other options they might be that you’re not considering. Because if you’re only looking at this estate, and you say, is no money, how am I going to pay the bills, you can get into a stage of anxiety and fear. And that can be paralyzing it, most of the time, it is paradises, and someone just taking your hand saying, let’s figure this out together, let’s figure out, do we need to sell something? Do you need to maybe generate a second income? There’s many options they do, you need to ask for the help of family members or friends or the community? I think when there’s options, there’s hope. And, you know, we can maybe get a short term solution, and then you can start thinking about what’s the longer term solution.

Maya Fisher-French
And I think, you know, just to sum it up, though is is this event will happen so planned for it. And I must say our family we we’ve we’ve discussed it, we’ve even told our children what is in our world, they know what will happen to them. And it was actually driven on miss tilly by my son at the age of six, he was really asking mom, what happens if something happens to you and dad and to try and avoid those conversations is not a good idea. Being able to tell them there is a will, there are there is money there is this as your guardian will be though, you know, to me, you just alleviating all the anxiety from your children as well. So that is very important. And I must just tell you, that what I do with our every year I do a net asset value update my spreadsheet, so on there as absolutely every account I have, and my husband and the kids and basements are all there with the count numbers. And which is a really quick, you know, overview of of what your current assets are. But then I realized that because I’m a journalist, and I’m always in interviewing people and finding out new products. I have a lot of small investments like 1000 Rand here 1000 Rand, they’re in odd stuff, I own some cattle, I’ve got some crypto, I’ve got some blueberry bushes, and I suddenly realized I hadn’t put any of those on because it’s so small. I’m putting them on a piece of paper and I did last week I thought I better put down those account numbers and where they were. Yeah. And so when you’re doing the process, it’s actually just good housekeeping as well. I think we should probably all just it’s good housekeeping. Irrespective of, of how you feel about it. Just having your admin an auditor probably a good idea.

Louis van der Merwe
Your executor will thank you when they’re dealing with that. But don’t let that be the enemy that don’t let perfect be the enemy of good start with just a small step you don’t have to list the list everything. I also enjoy dabbling in these different things. And that made me think, Oh, I haven’t listed stocks is it’s a wonderful place to start listing these things and just start having these conversations. Start taking ownership, I guess.

Maya Fisher-French
And I think it is have the conversation because it’s not an if it’s a win, and you know, if you’ve got problems with death, go seek counseling or something, but it’s gonna happen. So at least make sure that that that the way you leave the world is the way you want to.

Louis van der Merwe
Absolutely thank you for that.

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