Thursday, October 8, 2009

After you're gone - who cares?


I've been reading about the Tony Marshall case going on in NYC this week. Mr. Marshall was convicted of embezzling his mother's money, which included amendments to her will. As her only child, he is facing a prison sentence at age 85. The crime was committed while she lay bedridden and suffering from Alzheimer's and/or dementia. Mrs. Astor was a very generous donor to the Metropolitan Museum and many other philanthropic entities. One of her favorite sayings was from a Thorton Wilder play, "The Matchmaker", in that "money was like manure; it wasn't worth a thing unless you spread it around." Of course, a scandal of this size includes a grandson, who accused his father of not caring for his grandmother properly in her last years, nurses and household help with their own stories, a lawyer, also on trial, for helping him with the dastardly deeds. Not to mention a greedy third wife, on whose behalf he was supposedly procuring these funds. After all, what more do you really want to buy at age 85? (Except for that pesky yacht?)

All of this brings to mind the thought - who cares? I mean, should you care what happens to your money, once it is out of your control? Do you really want to spend your last years worrying about money, of all things? She had made the comment to one of her nurses that rich people were like poor people - they always wanted more. I'm not sure that's true. Maybe if you spent your life knee-deep in money, that could be the case. After all, you become what you focus on in life. But for most of us, money is not the most important thing in our lives, people are.

Of course, if you have a bundle, you would want to see your favorite charities endowed, but after that - why worry about it? I would like to think my children will look after me for my sake - because they love me - not because they want to manipulate me out of whatever I'm going to leave behind. It would be theirs anyway. After my needs are met, who cares what they do with what's left? Hopefully they are good enough people that they will do the right thing. Be charitable, considerate, kind, thinking of others and the future. And if they're not? Well, they will reap what they sow. It's only money, after all.

Nor would I think I was entitled to anything more than what I had given in my life. We all have emotional bank accounts. Back to the old "reap what you sow" adage. By the time you are really old, and fragile, it's too late to change the outcome of a lifetime of wrong thinking and behavior. Best do it now.

As for Tony, it doesn't sound like his son will probably spend much time worrying about his father, either. Dad didn't set a very good example on caring for the elderly.

I guess my point is that all of this revolves around money and control. Two issues I really don't want to worry about in my twilight years.

What do you think?

43 comments:

susan said...

Do you remember the very old television show, The Millionaire (back when that meant more money than most people could imagine)? Half of the programs were about people who fell to ruin through riches. That's how I feel about money. I agree with your thoughts on the matter.

Marlene said...

Hi Nancy! I have been thinking lately on this same subject...I have a friend that money means everything to them..security, self worth, happiness...from what I have heard seems like they always were like this..even as a child saving money and hiding it from the siblings...and all the siblings are really easy with money..not like that at all , 6 of them!!! I wonder if this is more a type of personality..not a learned behavior?? do we become like this or are we born with this
thing with money???

~JarieLyn~ said...

Nancy, I am very passionate about this subject. I am not rich by any means but sometimes I think people have a negative stereotype of wealthy people.

I read a quote from Kim Kyosaki, (wife of Robert Kyosaki who is the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad) and I have adopted it as my motto and one of my favorite quotes on money. It goes like this: Money is not the most important thing in my life but it affects everything in my life that is important.

Having more money makes you more of what you already are. If you're a selfish, greedy person to begin with, you will be more so with more money. If you are kind and generous person naturally, having more money will make you more generous and kind.

Money doesn't create the personality, the ego creates it.

Anyhow, regarding your original post, I actually agree with pretty much everything you said, and in the end money doesn't matter, it's the people we care about who matter.

Nancy said...

susan - Yes! I remember that program. Maybe it needs to be revived.

Marlene - I would say learned. But what about past-life issues?

Nancy said...

JeriLyn - Very good point. Money only enhances what we are on the inside.

Gaia said...

Hi have enjoyed reading your blog for sometime, now I am a follower. Thanks for sharing some very interesting subjects. Cheers

Brian Miller said...

money and control...sounds like the imputis for a lot of the worlds problems these days...i do agree with you as well.

Kathy G said...

We've been fortunate to have been gifted with small amounts of money when two of DH's relatives died.

Other family members spent their portion, quickly getting rid of it. We used it to make a larger down payment on our current house and to help our children graduate from college almost debt-free. I'd like to think we made the wiser choice.

Joanne said...

It seems people often use money as a form of control when they have great insecurities. I'd guess this stems from not having a life plentiful in the true riches, loves, understanding, welcome.

Melissa said...

"Nor would I think I was entitled to anything more than what I had given in my life."

... I really like what you wrote here. This is so very true.

lakeviewer said...

You hit all the right notes here. Money will never buy you the love of your children-love will.

DJan said...

Money, having it and the lack of it, I think is definitely a bigger deal for some people than others. Who knows if it has anything to do with past lives? I know when my grandmother died one of her other granddaughters ransacked her house before she was even cold. It sickened me to see how people can act like vultures, over STUFF. I guess rich people just want to have more stuff. I spend my time trying to get rid of it.

Some people are naturally generous and others naturally stingy. But everyone dies in the end, and you know that you can't take it with you.

The Good Cook said...

Money, money, money. Is it truly the route of all evil? I too have been following this case.

TBHITW and I have a few money rules:

We will spend all of our money as we see fit.

We will educate our children, feed them, provide for them in their youth. As adults they are responsible for themselves.

We will travel, give to our favorite charities when we can and live well - without debt.

We will provide for ourselves in our old age so as not to be a burden to the young.

If there's anything left - have at it. We used it when we needed it and we don't need it once we are dead.

harmony said...

Exactly...you can't take it with you once you are gone.
It always amazes me how people feel so cheated at readings of wills. It's pathetic that we are so absorbed with money, having more of it and getting angry when cheated out of it.
I believe there is more to life than money. It surprises me that we keep $$ to enjoy in retirement but there is no guarantee that we will enjoy it then or make it to retirement.
I believe in living in the moment, enjoying life as you see fit, but not obsessing over how much or how little of money you have. That creates way too much stress and negative energy in my book.

Ruth said...

Oh dear, we are going through something like this with our family cottage, the one in my recent post. How to pass it on to our children and grandchildren. Bleh.

Nancy said...

I agree, whats the big deal. I hope to leave my kids a little money and have them split it, and it will be very simple. I guess if your life is more complex, the division of your assets is too, but mine will not be that hard thats for sure!

JC said...

I've always thought that parents don't owe their children anything.

When my parents were both gone. I did get a bit of $$. My sister needed it more than I did so I gave her some of it. Mom would have wanted me to.

I think if you get a gift ... that's fine. To expect it .. says something about your character.

When my Mom was older, I was on her accts. Never ever would I have thought of running off with her $$ ... some people do though ... isn't that sad.

Nancy said...

Gaia - Love your moniker! Thanks for following - I'll come visit you.

Brian - So true. Money is the focus of so many - and the root of all of our problems because greed is it's partner.

Kathy - Your choice will help the future. I worry about all of these young people with a mountain of debt when they graduate. And paying more on your house is a great idea. Owning free and clear is such a relief.

Joanne - Exactly. They worry more about their money than the people in their lives - then are shocked when money is all that is left at the end of their lives. Money can help give you good care, but it's people who will make sure it is delivered well.

Melissa - There is never any guarantee that at the last part of your life you will have loving people to take care of you. But giving as much love as possible, to all that we encounter, goes a long way to ensuring "like attracts like." Don't you think?

lakeviewer - I watched Nightline last night and Barbara Walters (a dear friend of Mrs. Astor) said she was always distant from her son - almost as if he disappointed her. How sad to live your life feeling that you were a disappointment, despite being a decorated war vetran and diplomat. Mrs. Astor received what she had given, I think.

DJan - We have had people in our family like that, too. And I agree with you, I'm trying to get rid of "stuff"!

Good Cook - You and your husband think just like we do! We also like cooking - wish you lived closer.

harmony - And then it becomes all about something that is mercurial. Money comes and goes - a life well lived is forever.

Ruth - Hopefully you can figure it out because I'll bet they will appreciate it! Usually one will emerge that takes more responsibility then the others, but if they are good at sharing, it can still work. Our friends have a family cabin where they do most of the work, but the others help in other ways.

Nancy - Much the same here. Our girls have always shared well, so we expect they will continue to do so. If not, then that's their problem.

JC - The same thing happened when my dad died. I was in charge and just shared everything. We all have a good relationship now because we didn't squabble over what he left behind. It is just not that important in the whole scheme of things. I feel sorry for people that feel otherwise.

Deboshree said...

The saddest part is that people do care about money...hehe..most of the people only think about money..strange how these pieces of paper can govern our lives.
It is difficult though to get over the temptations which can b fulfilled only through money. But let's not lose hope..there are people who try to go deeper and somehow they do end up going deeper.Let's just believe that there are enough people who are willing to try.

Thanks for your warm words Nancy.Thank you for always being there.
Love
Deboshree

Meeko Fabulous said...

That just saddens me. My grandmother left a small, modest inheritance behind and it has become such a hullabaloo with my aunts that were not left as executors of her will. Argh. Oh well. I loved my grandma no matter what and I didn't expect to get anything from it. I did end up getting one of her rings and that means so much more than any dollar ever will.

Nancy said...

Deboshree - I think our attitudes need to change. I would like to see a "sharing of resources" become the norm, and then money loses its control.

Meeko - I am always amazed at how families fight over this stuff. I agree, that ring will be a wonderful reminder of a loved grandmother. My grandmother knew this would happen after she died, so she bought me a little tea cart a few years before. I hated that she spent money on me, when she had so little, but it was her way of giving me something to remember her by. As if I needed anything to do that!

Phoebe Miriah Kirby said...

I completely agree...
I cared for my grandfather until he died, and then for my grandmother. When they died, they left me nothing. I was was so angry, so full of hatred. They left their life savings and home to my father, whom I haven't seen in 12 years.

It tore me a part... And then I realized that it never mattered. I loved them unconditionally. I was rich with their love.

Now my dad drives a brand new scion and he is still miserable. It tells me something...

Nancy said...

Phoebe - You are rich in so many ways that has nothing to do with money. But I can't imagine not taking care of a loving grandchild.

Sylvia said...

Wills always mean trouble. I really don't understand what they are good for.

Pat said...

Money is the root of all evil. Sure, I'd like to win the lottery, but I don't have to win the bazillion dollar one. Just enough to pay off my credit cards! LOL! I hate to hear when ONE person wins the 248 million dollar jackpot. Why not 248 people winning one million dollars?

Nancy said...

Sylvia - I guess because people are not good at sharing. :-(

Pat - You need to watch Chris Hansen on how certain people in several states are winning - over and over! And they are all related, or own the retail places where the tickets are sold! http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/33119055#33119055
I smell a rat here...

Cubil said...

I took a moment to read this story this morning. I am where you are. Mom, should have say where her dough goes, and how. But in the strict sense of practicality, it doesn't mean a hill of beans.

Nancy said...

Cubil - Not really. Not in the whole scope of things.

robert said...

A subject which is closer to me than you might know. With a grandfather, being a multi-millionaire, who passed away last year, leaving less than a tenth to his sons, and a time, when I had to wear a pair of shoes, found in the streets, as he wouldn't care about us throughout his whole life, money has become as 'unimportant' as possible to me.
Maybe time that mankind re-learns to look at what really is important.
Thank you for that post of yours, as it might help to reach that.
A life-rich weekend for you.

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

I totally agree with your thoughts. When it comes to money, it spreads problems all over the whole family as evidenced by this trial. Of course, the upbringing plays a major part in how our children care for us. Even though the Astor family was big into donated etc, I sometimes wonder how much time was spent on family, nurturing what was most important? We'll never really know but what goes around, comes around..another great adage.

Nancy said...

robert - I continue to be amazed at how selfish some people are with their money. Unbelievable.

Alicia - 20/20 is doing a show on them tonight. My guess is that Tony was not very important to his mother for most of her life.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

My husband says that money is the lubricant of life, and I believe that's a good way of putting it. But if you make it your gasoline, you will be sorry. It's necessary but should not be the foundation of your life. I've seen greed turn people into monsters. You should have seen my step-brother when my dad passed. So ugly. I walked away from the situation. Money's not that important to me.

Nancy said...

Elizabeth - Money as a lubricant - don't make it your gasoline - well said.

Reya Mellicker said...

I think wills are important because if you say how you want your money spent after you're gone, you relieve your children, etc. from having to figure it out among themselves.

Greed is a part of being human. When someone dies, it tends to bring out a very needy part of the survivors that often gets twisted into a fight over inheritance. It happens even in really good families.

Oh dear!

Thanks for this thought provoking post!

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Great post and much food for thought here, Nancy. Madeoff is another good example.

Synchronistically, the word that came up in the verification box is:sneaque (sneaky?)

Cheryl Ann said...

I just want enough money to care for my horses so that my kids don't send them to slaughter. After all, I RESCUED them all from slaughter! I don't want clothes. I don't want a yacht. All I want is a decent life for them, free from fear that they might end up on somebody's dinner plate. And that's that!

Nancy said...

Reya - I believe in wills, just not in raising a family where they compete for resources. In this man's case, is mother told him, and everyone else, that he was not an Astor, and would not inherit the Astor fortune - which probaly fueled his desire for control, once she was out of control - does that make sense?

Trish & Rob - Love the verification code!

Cheryl Ann - A very noble desire!

GYPSYWOMAN said...

well, i grew up in wealth - a lot - and i've been married and had the big house on the hill and everything money could buy - and i've also been a single mother with small children working my way through college holding down two jobs simultaneously and receiving nothing from anyone but myself - and let me just tell you, the poorest i've been i've had the one thing i had never had before - and that was peace of mind - and money can't buy that - now, that is not to say at all that it is not possible to have money and maintain peace of mind - however, my own experiences with money have centered around that - money - there's always been a bigger house to buy - another car for the garage - a larger faster boat - even an island to buy [my own parents] - and while i do agree that the individual morality is the key to all this, it just seems so easy with money for it to not be enough no matter how much one has - all of which also has ties in this capitalist society where one's own worth is measured not in good deeds but in the amount of money in the bank -

great post, lady!! great dialogue!

California Girl said...

how upset can I get about these people?

Nancy said...

Gypsy - Wow - an island? No wonder you are so multi-layered! You've lived a lot in this lifetime. I think that's the problem with money - it tends to be something that never is enough - no matter how much you have. We really need to change that somehow. A society based on sharing of resources?

California - Yeah, it does seem a little far removed, doesn't it.

GYPSYWOMAN said...

well, nancy, truth be as it is, i am probably more socialist politically than anything - even from earliest memories i've never understood the social and cultural inequities in this country - beginning with the savage taking of this country from its original inhabitants - and of the ongoing pillaging slavery and murder [enroute from england here and here] to build a society built upon those tenets and capitalism -

Nancy said...

Gypsy - You might like Crow's latest post on phantsythat:
http://phantsythat.blogspot.com/

GYPSYWOMAN said...

thanks for info on crow's place - already checked it out - really quite interesting - thanks again!