Talking To Your Aging Parents About Finances: 7 Things That May Help

Discussions about money are always difficult to have with the people who are closest to you.  Most people avoid talking about money because it can often be controversial and divisive.  The situation can become even more contentious when you are having a conversation with an aging parent.  Parents see themselves as the head of the family in many cases and it can be hard for them to accept help or even realize that they need it.

According to an article from Business Insider, a study from the Insured Retirement Institute showed that nearly 45% of adults ages fifty-seven and above have little to no savings. 

While talking to your parents may be difficult, it is something that should happen, so they can be more prepared for life as they transition to retirement.  Levin Law Group wants to help families find ways to have these conversations in a way that is constructive and helpful.  So, we have gathered some tips you can review that will help you talk to your parents about their finances.

1. Make A List – Before talking to your parents, you need to know what to talk to them about.  It may be helpful to make a list of the topics you want to talk to them about.  Some specific items you will want to discuss include:

  • Discussing how far retirement realistically is
  • Listing ways that your parent has saved for retirement (401k, pension, etc.)
  • Listing all of your parent’s debt and devising a way to pay it off
  • Finding out if they have life insurance and how that can be utilized
  • Discussing will and estate planning

2. Set a Date

It may not seem like this step is important, but it is!  Your parents may be putting off this conversation and not setting a date to do so can make it feel as if it is something that is continually looming over them.  Setting a date can take the pressure off of them (and you), so they no longer have to think about when it is coming.  This can also help them prepare themselves to have answers to your questions.  If you believe your parents are comfortable, it may be a good idea to share the list of questions you came up with, so that they have the time to get some of the answers before your meeting.  It helps to understand that this initial meeting is just the start of the conversation.  This should be an ongoing discussion you have with your parents until everything is finalized and it may take more than just one meeting to resolve this.

3. Make Them Part Of The Plan

One of the best things that you can do is help your parents understand that they are still in control of things.  You are simply there to help them figure things out for themselves.  They are still in the driver’s seat.  Assuring them that you are not trying to take their lives over may be a good way to ease them into the conversation.  Remember, even though you are an adult and have your own life, your parents may still have the sense that they are the head of the family.  Assure them that you are there to help and guide them along the way.

4. Talk To Them About Your Plan

Help them realize the things they should be planning for by speaking to them about the ways you are planning for finances in the future.  Let your parents know the things you have learned along the way that may be helpful to them.  Talk to them about the goals you have for retirement and beyond and how you intend to get there.  Discuss whether or not you have a financial adviser that is helping you prepare.  Sharing with your parents about what you are doing may make them feel more comfortable talking to you about things.  This could be the catalyst that helps your parents open up about the topic and reveal whether or not they are on a solid foundation or that they actually need some assistance.

5. Use Current Events To Help Them Understand

Whether they are happening in the world, or things are happening in you or your parents’ lives, a current story or event can help bring relevance to the conversation.  Chances are your parents may be watching or reading more news these days.  Find a story or article that can help your parents understand the gravity of the situation.  Perhaps something on how successful adults have been once they have a financial plan.  Maybe you can talk to them about a relative, friend, or colleague and how their planning, or lack thereof, affected them.  Obviously, you do not want to focus on the bad things that could happen to them, but it is still a good idea to keep them grounded in reality.  They should understand how things could play out during and after retirement, and how they can affect YOU too.

6. Be A Helping Hand

One thing that may help you get a better picture of the finances of your parents is to help them with their current financial situation.  Offer to help go through their bills and find ways to adjust their budget.  You may be able to help them find ways to save money and cut costs.  They may not know about certain features like online banking or paperless billing that can help cut down on clutter.  Perhaps you could help them with gathering documents they may need to do things like file taxes.  Anything you can do to take a task off of their hands could make them feel more at ease.  This is a great way to be of assistance to your parents and gain some understanding of their finances.

7. Be Prepared To Talk About “What If”

One of the things that may be contributing to your parents putting off this discussion is end-of-life topics.  Preparing for scenarios where your parent is incapacitated or passes away may be difficult, but should happen nonetheless.  You should talk with your parents about things like whether or not their spouse, you, a sibling, or another family member should be listed as Power of Attorney for their finances.  It may also be a good idea to talk with them about their living will and other medical matters.  Of course, no one ever wants to lose a loved one, but sadly it is inevitable.  It can be hard to start a dialogue about this topic and many people put things off until it is too late.  We can work with you and your family to discuss probate and estate administration to make things as smooth a transition as possible in these difficult times.

These are some of the best ways that you can talk to your aging parents about their finances and how to plan for things moving forward.  Levin Law Group also wants you to know that we can assist with all of these things and more if you ever feel overwhelmed.  Our attorneys are very experienced with elder law and have helped many families over the years. 

Call us today at 1-800-517-5240 to get a free consultation to see how we can be of assistance to you and your family!