About 64% of us feel stressed about money, according to a recent study by the American Psychological Association. Anxious feelings about money do not necessarily diminish as we reach retirement age. Along with the pressure of dealing with your own finances, you may be facing difficult financial discussions with your aging parents. This article offers some tips and strategies for getting started.
Assess your relationship with your aging parents. The comfort level you share when discussing difficult topics could help as you plan this discussion.
Consider the time and place. Abruptly starting the conversation over Easter dinner usually is not the best plan. Instead, think of a convenient time and a comfortable, private space.
To ease your parents into the discussion, let them know you need to speak with them. Consider sending a text, email, or letter. This method gives them time to read your request and think of a response.
Once you settle on a time or place, there are several ways you can begin the conversation.
The Direct Approach
Maybe you and your aging parents have always been ‘upfront’ with each other. If so, your job is a little easier. Just let them know you are asking about their finances because you are concerned about their future.
Open your conversation with a subject that is related to finances. For example, you could mention their retirement plans, then steer the conversation toward more detailed money-related matters. Just asking about their retirement plans might get them on the right track with little encouragement from you.
You Go First
Your parents might appreciate hearing about your finances first. In fact, this strategy could reassure them that you are not just interested in their money. You could even ask them for financial advice, then ease into a discussion about their finances.
Storytelling Might Help
Share a story about financial matters. It could be about your own situation, a friend-of-a-friend’s parents, or even a news story. Estate-planning-gone-bad scenarios are sometimes useful also.
For example, maybe your best friend’s dad has been married several times. When the dad passed away, his finances were a mess. He had not included all his children and his current wife in his current estate plan. Not only will the family be put under a great deal of pressure, but they might end in a years-long estate contest. Simple financial and estate planning could have provided a smoother transition.
Your Own Experiences Could Help the Conversation with Your Aging Parents
Talk about your own financial planning. What are your current and future financial goals? What keeps you up at night? You might be surprised to learn that your parents have gone through the same situations in the past and have the same concerns for the future.
Events Can Provide Excellent Launch Pads
Current events could underscore the importance of financial planning. You might hear that many retirees are underfunded or that identity theft is on the rise. Bringing up topics like these could be the segue you need to talk about your aging parents and their financial matters.
Likewise, events closer to home can bring money matters to the top of everyone’s to-do list. For example, a new baby brings dreams of college funds. A relative’s funeral can bring home the message that we don’t have forever to make our plans.
“What If” Scenarios Can Pave the Way
Sometimes introducing a “what if” question will get your aging parents to think about their own financial and estate planning. Asking how your parent’s bills would be paid if they were incapacitated or deceased is not morbid. You’re not anticipating anything or hoping this will happen. You and your aging parents are just preparing for possible events.
Offer to Help
Sometimes you can assist with simple tasks like setting up automatic bill payments and updating beneficiary designations. Your aging parents might really appreciate your taking financial tasks from their shoulders.
Elder Law Attorneys Can Assist with Estate Planning and Medicaid Planning
Attorney Robert Slutsky was one of the first lawyers in Pennsylvania to focus on elder law issues. Since 1992, he has helped countless people successfully plan for their future, set up proper estate plans, plan to protect assets and care for their loved ones and apply for Medicaid.
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