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Parents and Money. How do I talk to my family about their assets?

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By Cassie Davidson

Awkwarddddd, am I right? This may be one of those uncomfortable conversations that is so important to have. It’s so much better to have these discussions with your parents well ahead while they are healthy, both mentally and physically. The problem is, oftentimes, children wait for the unfortunate circumstances of disability or death to occur before reaching out to their parent’s trusted professionals. Or even worse, they don’t know who those people are, and it takes them months to dig up some sort of phone number. Talk about awkward and stressful.

Let’s fix that. So, where you do you start?

There are many ways to start the conversation. One way is to simply just ask to be involved for reasons stated above. This rip the band aid approach may work, but may not. You know your parent’s personalities better than we do and can judge if this approach makes sense. Another (less abrasive) approach, is to share with your parents that you recently met with a financial planner and provide them with an outline of what they had you looking at. Transition by asking for their advice and ask for them to share what they have done with you? Remember, sometimes the numbers are an issue to parents. They just don’t want their kids to know how much they do or don’t have. Get over this hurdle by suggesting to help them make a list of advisors, estate document and life insurance locations, financial document locations, account numbers, etc. without adding in any figures (we tweeted a thread on fidsafe.com as perfect starting location. Contact us to get more details).

Is that it? No, but you’re getting there!

Don’t forget to chat about long term financial stability. Maybe there will be a point where your parents are still physically healthy and can continue to live alone, but they may be running out of funds to cover their cost of living. What will that situation look like? Will you be able to take care of them or will siblings have to help? How much will each sibling contribute? These questions are personal and may not be answered right away. Share that sentiment with your parents and just ask them to think about it. Revisit this discussion over time until you have an outline for how they see their lives. Most parents do not want to burden their children with taking care of them later in life, but how are they planning for when that happens? You can be a big help in helping them outline this process, and through that, learn a lot (see reference at end of article for more).

Finances can be scary, let’s fix that.

There are so many variables and items to address when planning for life events. Our best advice is to make a list and start small. Do not try to accomplish everything at once. When you do try the all at once approach, it becomes overwhelming to all parties and then nothing gets done. Thankfully, you’re reading this and your parents are very lucky to have smart, loving children like you to put them in contact with the right resources to get them back on track.

Speaking of resources.

We are happy to spend time with you and your family to discuss and help you with these matters. Our team knows how important family planning is and is aware of the emotional component that comes with it. We can help. Call, email, or DM us on Twitter or LinkedIn for further information and to set a time.

For your reference, we have highlighted some additional questions to help you help your parents and gather information below.

  • Do you have a will or trust?
  • Have you designated a POA or healthcare proxy?
  • Have you reviewed your retirement account beneficiaries lately?
  • Do you have any life insurance policies?
  • Would you want to move to an assisted living facility or live with me in the case you can no longer live alone?
  • If a nursing home is necessary, who and what is going to pay for it?
  • Ask for copies of any statements and documents and get contact information for all their trusted professionals (financial advisors, accountants, estate lawyers, etc.)

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