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It’s easy to avoid discussing money with your parents, and in some families, the subject is almost taboo. The topic doesn’t become easier to broach as parents and children age, but it does become more important. Adult children with their own financial responsibilities will have questions, including how well-prepared their parents are for retirement. Adult children also need to know at what point their parents may need help, either financially or with managing their retirement income.
Though parents may be reluctant to talk about retirement and money, it’s an important conversation all adult children can and should initiate. Here are six steps to having the retirement conversation with parents.
Money and aging are sensitive topics. Introduce the subject of your parents’ retirement at a time when you can have a peaceful, rational, and face-to-face conversation about their plans for the future.
Consider including siblings or other relatives — or at least telling them about your plans to gather the facts about your parents’ financial future. A trusted financial professional can also be an educated and unbiased resource to guide the conversation, diffuse any tension, and keep topics on track.
Tell your parents that you want to know about their plans in case they need help in the future. Your goal is to understand their wishes and resources, not to take control. Explain that you’re there to help — and acknowledge that the subject is sensitive.
The focus should be on gathering information, not giving advice. Instead of telling your parents what they “should” be doing, try framing statements with “I.” For example: “One of the things I’d like to know about ... ” or “I’m concerned about ... ”
Follow those introductory phrase with questions like:
Ask about your parents’ important documents, including where the originals are stored and if they are up-to-date (including beneficiary designations). Make a list of the following:
Ideally, this will not be a one-time discussion. The subject will likely become more comfortable for everyone. You can continue to provide your parents with information and ideas to help them manage their finances. Ask regularly about their plans and concerns, and tell them you’re available if they’d like help addressing certain issues. Keep a list of the things you know about your parents’ finances and what you need to learn.
Approach these conversations with love and respect, and the results may surprise you. You may even want to share some of your own plans so it’s not all about your parents.
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These articles have been prepared for informational purposes only and are not a solicitation or an offer to buy any security or instrument or to participate in any trading strategy. The accuracy and completeness of this information is not guaranteed and is subject to change. Since each investor’s situation is unique you need to review your specific investment objectives, risk tolerance and liquidity needs with your financial professional(s) before a suitable investment strategy can be selected. Also, since Wells Fargo Advisors does not provide tax or legal advice, investors need to consult with their own tax and legal advisors before taking any action that may have tax or legal consequences.
Retirement Professionals are registered representatives of Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC. Wells Fargo Advisors is the trade name used by two separate registered broker-dealers: Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC, Members SIPC, non-bank affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company. Discussions with Retirement Professionals may lead to a referral to Wells Fargo Advisors’ affiliates including Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Wells Fargo Advisors and its associates may receive a financial or other benefit for this referral. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is a banking affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.