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Discussing finances to aging parents can be difficult. We know women tend to be caregivers … of our children, of our spouses, of our parents. While the timing of the caregiving varies, most of us will be responsible for taking care of others at some point in our lives. This caregiving can be physical, financial, or both. As people live longer, and their resources are expected to last longer, we frequently have to have conversations with our parents about how they want to be cared for, how much money they have, how they want to pay for their care, and how their assets will be distributed after their deaths.
These are difficult conversations. Some families don’t talk about money. Others talk about money freely. Some families don’t talk about illness or death, while others do. Every conversation (and every family) is different.
6 tips to talk to aging parents about finances
Objective communication and education are the best tools to break these patterns. Time and patience are essential, to allow the families to accept the situation and try to find a way to agree upon, then carry out a plan that works for them. It may be imperfect and may require compromise, but any plan is better than no plan. Here are some methods to use when looking to discuss finances with aging parents:
1. Communication. Express why lining up finances is important. If it helps, use a story to showcase the importance of discussing finances “before it’s too late.”
2. Help from siblings. Coordinate with siblings if you have them to work together to discuss finances with parents. Having support from your siblings can help.
3. Discuss your own financial situation. It can help a parent to open up if you share what you’ve done to get your finances in order whether that’s working with a financial advisor, writing a will, or creating a financial plan and sharing it with a trusted person like a spouse or sibling.
4. Discuss your parent’s future. It can be difficult for parents to talk about planning for when they are not around and some families are more open about discussing their future plans. Ask probing questions like, “are you looking to downsize your home?” “what type of care would you like when you’re older or if something happens to you?” Then you can start asking more direct questions like, “what legal documents do you have for your finances,” or “what documents do you feel you need to get to prepare for retirement or if something happens?”
5. Ask if there’s anything you can do for your parents. Asking if there’s anything you can do to help them enjoy life more – not necessarily money related. In time, your parents may be more comfortable with you helping them with their financial planning and discussing finances.
6. Get professional help. If you’re like many families, sometimes parents just aren’t willing to talk with you financially and it can be for many reasons. If you find that you can’t discuss finances with your parents, perhaps you can suggest meeting with an elder law attorney, an aging life-care professional, or a financial advisor. Most professionals will encourage your parents to discuss important financial information with you.
When is the best time to discuss finances with aging parents?
The best time to discuss finances with aging parents is as soon as possible. Once our aging parents begin to lose their rational decision-making capacity, it can be very hard to communicate objectively, and the window for planning can slam shut.
Having trouble discussing finances?
If you’ve tried some of the methods above and are still having a difficult time discussing finances with your aging parents, give us a call and let us help 216-373-0808. Or leave a comment below with how you’ve dealt with discussing finances with aging parents.