Having a Conversation … With Your Parents

Having a conversation with your parents about their finances is not only essential but it can be a rewarding experience for everyone involved.

52% of 60-something women didn’t know how much they would need to support themselves through retirement1.
It’s all too easy to avoid speaking with your parents about money. It may be hard for you and them to think about if they’re unable to handle their finances alone or later in life. In turn, they may have reasons for resisting a discussion, such as:
  • I’m not sure I’m ready to turn over control
  • How do I know who I can trust?
  • I’m uncomfortable talking about inheritances
  • I’m embarrassed that my finances aren’t in good order
  • What if my health changes? I don’t want to have to depend on others

Set the tone and take it slow
Make your conversations as positive and productive as possible by talking with your parents in person and not over the phone. Initiate the discussion while your parents are healthy and able to participate fully. Plan your talks for non-stressful times — not at holiday get-togethers. Also remember: you don’t have to do this alone. Talk with your siblings, keep your spouse or partner informed, and consider talking with a financial advisor if you don’t already have one.

Over several conversations, reassure your parents that you want to learn more about their plans for and concerns about retirement. And explain that you want to understand their wishes, not impose your ideas upon them. If something happens down the road, you want to be able to step in and help. Ask the right questions
  • Ask about their conversations. Find out if your parents have had conversations about their financial future and if they are both on the same page.
  • Review basic information such as the types and amount of bills they pay, their sources of income, and what types of insurance they carry.
  • Learn about their estate documents. Ask if they have a will, durable power of attorney, and health care proxy. Find out if the documents are up to date and where they’re stored.
  • Discuss their lifestyle and personal preferences. Discuss where they want to live, and what they’d prefer to do if they had to move. And ask if they’ve made funeral arrangements.
  • Ask if they are prepared for life changes. What happens if there are health issues? What would the days be like if they had to live alone? Has each of them thought about their own ability to maintain the household and manage their finances?
  • Involve family members. If you have siblings, ask your parents if they have spoken to anyone else in the family on this topic.

For more tips on talking to your family and friends about financial matters, visit Beyond Today or talk with your advisor.

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