Adult children often need to become involved in their parent’s finances, yet a GoBankingRates survey shows that 73% have not discussed the matter with those parents. For most California senior citizens, personal finance is a sensitive topic, and adult children often put off talking about it because they have no idea how to begin. Fortunately, using experts’ tips makes it easier to broach the topic. With some preparation, it’s possible to get a clear picture of your parents’ plans without creating unnecessary tension.
Choose the Best Time
The time you decide to talk to parents about their plans is as crucial as how you approach the subject. For example, it’s best to begin the discussion when everyone is relaxed and there aren’t a lot of distractions.
Holidays or other family gatherings may seem like a logical opportunity, but they can present problems. Relatives or guests might overhear personal details. There may be children who could interrupt, and family members could be drinking.
Choose the time of day carefully, especially if one or both parents have health issues. It’s best to have a conversation when everyone is alert and feeling their best. You could be discussing complex topics, such as whether seniors want to move to an assisted living community, which requires alertness.
Ask Parents for Advice
Kiplinger financial experts recommend asking parents their opinion about your retirement plans to begin a discussion about their finances. Parents are used to giving advice, so taking advice from their children can feel awkward.
You might comment about your plans and then ask their opinion. For example, mention that you could use advice about estate planning now that you have a family.
This type of conversation can prompt them to talk about their situation as an example. They might suggest you contribute to a pension fund because they’ve done that for years and now feel secure about retirement. It’s an opening to ask whether they’ve made other plans, like downsizing and transitioning to community living for seniors.
Keep Conversations as Brief as Possible
Once you get a chance to talk to your parents about their plans, you are likely to have dozens of questions. However, it’s best to keep conversations short and to the point rather than bombarding them with inquiries.
PBS experts recommend giving Mom and Dad time to mull over issues before discussing them again. Keeping discussions to approximately 30 minutes helps ensure everyone stays focused, rational, and calm.
Make Sure Parents Stay in Control
Many people fear losing their independence as they age, so older adults may be uncomfortable with someone else making critical decisions for them. However, reassuring them about your intentions makes it easier for parents to open up about their plans.
Let them know you feel it’s crucial to understand their arrangements so you can ensure their wishes are always respected. Explain that your primary concern is safeguarding their preferences regarding life and death.
Be Patient with the Process
You are unlikely to get a complete picture of your parent’s finances in one or two discussions. Understanding, discussing, and ensuring older adults have secure plans is a process that requires time and patience.
For example, parents may not have considered where they want to live if they eventually need help. You can broach the subject of senior living options, but they will need time to think about the idea.
Include Other Family Members
In most families, one sibling is closest to their parents and easily communicates with them. Ask that person to begin the conversation about your parent’s plans and bring in other family members later.
It’s best to gather siblings together to discuss your parent’s future. Estate planners and attorneys are constantly dealing with issues caused when one sibling makes arrangements with parents, then other siblings show up and second-guess the arrangements.
Questions about who will care for older parents, their financial situation, and inheritances can cause friction. It’s wise to discuss estate and care plans as a family to ensure everyone is aware and agrees. Keeping everyone involved helps prevent hurt feelings and resentment.
Talking to older parents about their finances and estate planning is usually awkward for adult children, but it’s an important conversation. Children must be clear about their parents’ situation to ensure they are cared for and their wishes are respected. Choose the best time for this kind of discussion and ensure Mom and Dad stay in control. Get other siblings involved, and be patient, as having those discussions can be a long process.
Sundial Assisted Living is a Redding, CA, community offering seniors a vibrant lifestyle. The staff strives to ensure each resident is well-cared for and enjoys a full menu of first-class amenities.