How to talk about finances with your aging parents

Heritage Woods - Talking with a Parent about Finances

Discussing finances with your aging parents doesn’t have to be awkward or emotionally draining.

Finances can be a sensitive topic that many people avoid, but when it comes to aging parents, it’s an important and necessary conversation. If you avoid discussing legal and financial discussions with your parents, you may find yourself in a difficult situation if you eventually help manage their money or take over the decision making entirely.

An overwhelming majority of adult children – 73 percent – have not had detailed conversations with their parents about their finances, according to a survey by GOBankingRates. One of the primary reasons why survey respondents said they haven’t had “the talk” yet with their parents is because they don’t know how to have the discussion.

Ideally, you want the conversation to happen when your parents are in good health, are mentally alert, and aren’t an emotional mess (nor are you) because a crisis has struck.

Timing is important. Initiate the conversation when emotions are not running high. Don’t expect to start and end the conversation in the same sitting. Plan to have several smaller conversations to ease into the discussion and start with big-picture topics.

If your parents are reluctant to open up, ask them for advice with your own financial matters such as retirement plans, life insurance or a living will. The goal in asking your parents to give you advice is to get them to open up about the financial and estate planning they have done.

Ask ‘what if’ scenarios and encourage your parents to share details about their final wishes.

If your parents are already beginning to struggle with managing their finances, offer to lighten their load and provide assistance like setting up automatic bill pay or tax preparation.

Remember to remain calm and respectful. You’re more likely to have a productive conversation if you’re talking together, and not talking at them.

Heritage Woods of Minooka, an Assisted Lifestyle Community for the Older Adult, 701 Heritage Woods Drive, Minooka, IL, 60447, 815-467-2837, www.gardant.com/heritagewoodsminooka