Talking to parents about finances and planning can be awkward for adult children, but it is crucial to ensure they have the future they want. Failure to have this sensitive conversation could leave adult children in a problematic situation where they must manage their parents’ affairs or make decisions. While some older California adults have carefully planned their finances and futures, many have made no provisions. Tactfully discussing these matters with parents gives children a clear idea of the circumstances and makes it easier to create the future older adults want for themselves.

Timing Is Everything

As with most things, the time you begin a discussion about finances can make a huge difference in how it is received. Even the time of day can matter.

It may be tempting to begin a talk when most family members are gathered together, but that’s not always the case. People may be drinking, small children could be around, and guests who should not hear the discussion could be near. It’s best to choose a time when parents are relaxed, and there’s time to talk.

Use tactful conversation starters such as telling a story or mentioning a related incident. For instance, you might comment that your friend’s family was caught off guard when her parents decided to sell their home and move into a senior living community. Consider their health, and select a time when they are not tired.

Enlist the Help of Siblings

In families, siblings are always closest to one or both parents. Principal financial advisors suggest asking this person to be present when discussing your parents’ future and financial arrangements.

Let that sibling begin the conversation privately. You can invite others to join the discussion and go over details later.

Begin with a General Conversation

It’s a good idea to begin your conversation by discussing broad topics such as retirement plans. You might ask whether parents want to remain in their home or downsize and transition to community living.

Inquire about the care they want if they become ill or need the help of professionals who provide memory care for seniors. Starting with general subjects is easy and can give you an idea of their situation.

It isn’t necessary to dive in and begin talking about money. Ask whether you can help with grocery shopping, yard maintenance, or income taxes. Many older adults are happy to let someone else take over their taxes; if you do, you can get a clear picture of their finances.

Refer to Current Events

Seniors are often aware of what’s on the news because they have the time to watch it on TV. That can work in your favor when you must turn the topic to their finances.

The beginning can be as simple as discussing the country’s general economic situation. You might discuss a story and then ask whether that will impact their finances. Kiplinger professionals suggest commenting on current events such as tax laws, the stock market, or health care reform.

Opening a conversation with this kind of general topic makes it easier to discuss various issues. It’s less jarring than starting with questions about their legal or financial situation. Casual discussions may open the door to other topics and make learning the details of your parents’ situation easier.

Talk About Your Financial Plans

Discussing your efforts at financial planning can be a good jumping-off point for a talk about your parents’ situation. You can chat about why you feel making these preparations is essential. Mention that you created a will and let your parents know how to access it if anything should happen to you. This may prompt them to discuss their will or plans to create one.

Mention your discussions with a financial planner and how valuable the information was to you. Consider asking how they feel about that and whether they have a financial planner.

Let them know that you want to ensure their wishes are carried out, but it might not be possible without a plan. For example, if they become ill and cannot make decisions, you and your siblings must undergo a complex process to be granted guardianship.

Discuss that, without financial planning, parents could reach a point where Medicaid would need to pay their expenses. If they should die, their assets might be heavily taxed, creating issues for the family.

Talking about financial and estate planning is crucial for the adult children of older adults but can be challenging. It helps if children begin conversations by discussing broader topics or their own financial planning. They can also ask a sibling to start the discussion, emphasizing that planning ahead is vital.

Summerfield of Redlands is an elegant senior living community offering memory care for older adults. The compassionate, skilled staff is available 24 hours a day to provide personalized care. The community offers a wide range of amenities and a vibrant social life.