Money tends to be a sensitive topic that most people avoid discussing. Generally, it’s the polite and uncontroversial thing to do. But when it comes to adult children and aging parents, this is a conversation that simply must happen. Failing to talk about legal and financial matters with your parents could put you in a very difficult position should you ever need to help them manage their finances or take over these decisions entirely.
Financial talks with your aging parents don’t have to be awkward or emotionally charged one-time events. Ideally, they should be a series of ongoing and informative conversations that give you both added peace of mind. If you’re struggling to get started, try using these tips to ease into discussing money and aging with Mom and Dad.
- Strike up a conversation about current events
You may find your parents are spending more time tuned in to news channels since they’ve slowed down or retired. News stories and ticker updates about the economy, health care and politics can provide a valuable jumping off point. Try striking up a conversation about loosely related current events and finding a way of turning the attention to Mom and Dad’s situation. This can be as simple as asking their opinion on a particular matter or how a certain development may or may not affect them legally and/or financially.
- Discuss your own legal and financial planning process.
Adult children usually discuss recent projects and emerging goals with their parents. Sound legal and financial plans are important for your own future as well, so feel free to mention these objectives in regular conversations about what you and your family have been up to lately.
- Caution against failing to plan.
Most parents want to continue living in the way they are accustomed for as long as possible and leave a legacy for their children and grandchildren after they pass away. However, a surprising number of older adults are resistant to working with a financial advisor to create a retirement plan or an estate plan.
- Keep some topics off limits.
Always be respectful of your parents’ privacy and independence and try to make sure your questions and comments are appropriate. Sticking to the pertinent facts reduces the likelihood that you might come across as prying or self-centered. Although it may be frustrating, speaking in generalizations can still be beneficial.
- Try talking to your parents one at a time.
While it’s ideal to sit down with both parents to get a complete picture of their preparations and goals, addressing them one at a time can be effective. Speak with the parent you think will be the most receptive first. He or she may be able to convince their better half to join in these important discussions.
- Respect their wishes
Talk to your parents about how you want to make sure they are able to continue along the financial roadmap they have created for themselves. Make it clear that you want their wishes to be respected in life and in death, but you must have a precise understanding of what their preferences are in order to follow through on this promise.