Don’t wait to talk to your elderly parents about their financial well-being. This is one of the best tips I can offer, both as a financial advisor and as an adult child who has been “there”.
In the world of financial planning, it’s called “30/60”: if you’re 30 or your parents are 60, you should have this interview. Therefore, the time to “talk” is much earlier than any health-related emergency. If your parents do not have a permanent power of attorney, health care attorney, or other relevant legal document in place, you may face a complex legal process to ensure that their wishes are met in the event of something like a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
Although care and finances go hand in hand, many adult children have not yet had this discussion with their parents. The burden of foster care has also increased since the pandemic began, according to the National Surveillance Alliance and the AARP.
Many caregivers still have children at home, putting them in a difficult position to pay for summer camps, college and swimming lessons, while parents protect how they will pay for their long-term care.
In my experience advising families, adult children are often faced with a couple of different scenarios, each with its own set of emotional and logistical challenges. The first group includes parents who need additional emotional and financial support. Second, there are parents who are financially secure, but who are reluctant to disclose their entire situation and whose gifts are effectively channeled while protecting their heritage. In both cases, care is still being taken.
Preparing for a conversation with your parents
If you have siblings, try to make sure they are on the same page. Coordinating with them can help reduce any resentment and ensure a better outcome. Ask a person to start a real conversation to make things easier, but make sure you let your parents know that you are all ready to help when you need them.
Cameron Huddleston, author of “Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk,” recommends finding the right environment for this conversation, in which your parents will feel more comfortable and relaxed to stay open. Holidays, which can be the most stressful and emotional time of the year for families, may not be the best place for this conversation, especially if they bring in extra people who don’t need to attend.
Accept that you will probably have more than one conversation with your parents. With a topic of this complex, there will probably be check-ins and follow-up interviews.
Make sure your parents are in the driver’s seat. As long as you are there to provide help and support, remember that these options are ultimately their decision.
To start the conversation
Remember to pay attention to your parents’ health, not potential inheritance, and how you can help. Here are some good ways to get the ball rolling:
- “Mom and Dad, have you thought much about your retirement?”
- “My mother and father took such good care of me when I was younger. I want to be able to give the same attention if needed. Can we talk about how I can help? ”
- “Mom and Dad, I’ve been thinking about my retirement. I’d love to hear from you on how to plan ahead. “
- “If something happens to you, do you have a will or a health directive? Where can I find these? ”
The keys to success
Although it can be difficult, don’t push. Some parents aren’t ready to talk, and that’s okay. Remember that your parents may have trouble opening up to you and your child. They may not feel comfortable when you are in a precarious situation or want to worry about you, especially if they are not fully prepared for retirement or any health-related emergencies.
If this is the case, you can still ask them if they would be more comfortable talking to someone they trust, such as a clergyman, a good friend, a lawyer, or a financial advisor. Also ask them to put the pen on paper and write down things you (or someone else you trust) need to know, such as where to find their will and other important legal documents, financial account details, and who to contact just in case. of a health-related crisis.
While these conversations may be tough, they are an important part of protecting parents and protecting their heritage.