Money can be a difficult topic for anyone to bring up with a family member, let alone if you are trying to discuss finances with your aging parents. For starters, they are the people who gave us our first allowance and taught us how to save instead of spend. Now that the tables are turned, how can adult children respectfully discuss money issues with their elderly parents? Here are some tips to help you get started:
Tip #1 Begin the conversation using generalizations, don’t dive into a conversation about money with a statement such as, “I need you to sign power of attorney.” Use more subtle questioning tactics. Ask them if they have a plan when it comes to money. Putting statements in the form of a question to get your parents’ feedback is a great way to begin the conversation in a very respectful manner.
Tip #2 Mention some methods of getting finances in order that other family members (including yourself) have recently implemented. For example, “Uncle Bob has just had a will drawn up naming all his beneficiaries as well as assigning exactly who he wants to execute his finances if and when the time comes that he’s unable, what are your thoughts about doing something like that?”
Tip #3. Ask if there are any tasks your parents would like help with, such as balancing the check book. Getting feedback and information on where they stand may end up getting the job done without having any type of power struggle. Your parents may already be thinking along the same lines as you are, but are afraid to bring up the topic. They may feel ashamed that they are having trouble managing the finances. When the topic is approached in a matter of fact, non-shaming manner, it may just open the flood gates.
Tip # 4. Ask your parents to make a list of things they feel they may need help with, such as getting documents together for tax preparation or paying monthly bills.
Tip #5. Bring in the experts. Arrange a meeting with the family accountant-with your parents’ input of course or hire a financial planner to help approach the subject of what decisions need to be made in the future. Bringing in an expert may help take the heat off your shoulders while getting expert advice on topics you may not even be aware of when it comes to financial planning for elderly folks.
Tip #6. Don’t try to take on every issue at one time. Start to broach the subject of finances slowly and ease into the more difficult topics-such as assignment of a power of attorney.
Tip #7. Keep the topic of discussion focused on concern for the family. Most parents think about the well-being of their children even when they get sick or face end of life decisions. Proper estate planning will help protect the entire family from losing their loved one’s life savings.
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