It’s hard to realize that your parents are not superheroes. When you were a child, they were all- knowing and were the center of your universe. Now, you’re an adult, and your parents are aging, and you see them struggling with simple things like writing a check. It’s a complex subject to discuss, but how do you know when to step in?
Financially speaking, “the money talk” must happen before your parent(s) cannot make decisions on their own. Communication and organization are essential to simplifying your parent’s lives. First, take inventory of important documents. There are plenty of stories of children rummaging in dusty attics for tucked-away wills or trust documents. Take stock of all the legal documents and put them in a safe place so you can access both physical and virtual copies. You should also create a detailed list of all your parent’s important advisors: attorneys, insurance agents, and financial advisors.
You will want to start organizing and understanding their financial assets, liabilities, income, expenses and insurance policies. Ask if you can speak with their advisor or ask if your own advisor is willing to help. Often times a stock broker will only be familiar with the one account they are managing but a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM will take the time to organize their entire financial lives. By looking at the entire picture and not looking at their assets in a vacuum, a good planner will help you uncover estate planning mistakes (such as assets not titled properly and being subject to probate) or tax savings opportunities. This exercise can save you and your siblings hours of stress and arguments down the road.
Your goal is to make things easier for your aging parents. So taking over their daily financial duties can be something you take on. If your parents still handwrite checks, then it’s time to set up their bills on autopay. But it’s not enough to set it and forget it. There are so many cases of elder financial exploitation. You must be diligent in checking their bank statements.
HAVING THE CONVERSATION
As far as broaching the subject, it can be tricky, but don’t be nervous. You can do this. You can tackle this conversation in many ways. For example, bring up news events, like Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos and worth $850 million, died tragically without a will, and “Black Panther,” Chadwick Boseman didn’t have one either. If you and your parents talk about news, events, and pop culture, this could be a good segue to their estate plan.
Another entre into “the money talk” is asking them for advice on your finances and see where the conversation takes you. You may not get all the details in your first conversation, so ask open-ended questions to cover big picture topics for now.
THOUGHTFUL AND SUPPORTIVE
And this one is obvious but still bears repeating. Be thoughtful and supportive. Put yourself in their shoes. Letting go of parts of your independence is frustrating and can be psychologically painful, so take it slow.
Talking to your aging parents about how to organize and take on more responsibility is a long-term process, so be patient. Create an intimate setting to have the conversation. The Thanksgiving dinner table is no place to have “the money talk.”
If you need support and encouragement, I’m always here as a sounding board, and I am ready to make suggestions that can help you with the talk.
THE VALUE OF WORKING WITH A FINANCIAL PLANNER
Financial Planning is not just about managing investment portfolios. More importantly, it is about having someone you trust to guide you when the unexpected occurs and to make sure your family has a trusted resource to rely on. At Abel Financial Management, we are local, family-oriented, and truly independent financial planners with a mission to help you make smart decisions with your money. If you or someone you know faces decisions like these, we invite you to have a conversation with us.
At Abel Financial Management, we are local, family-oriented, and truly independent financial planners with a mission to help you make smart decisions with your money. If you or someone you know faces decisions like these, we invite you to have a conversation with us.