How much do you know about the financial planning and preparations your parents have completed? It can be an uncomfortable conversation, but making the effort NOW can pay off for you and them!
When my father was diagnosed with advanced cancer in 1997, we did not have a lot of time to discuss his financial picture. In fact, I had a total of one lucid morning in the hospital with him to get as much information as I could. I needed social security numbers, Quicken passwords, insurance policies, scattered investments, and even where his legal documents were. Not the best way to handle such important matters!
As a recent Forbes article reminded me, talking with parents about their financial decisions, learning what they wish to see happen with their assets and personal belongings, and meeting their financial adviser can all make the aging process easier on everyone involved.
If you make the opportunity to talk this holiday season, keep these things in mind:
- It should not be an interrogation. If you have not spoken on these matters before, do not expect to learn everything you want to know right away. It is OK for this to merely start the dialogue. Let your parents know that you are interested because you want their wishes to be honored and to minimize the need for help later on in life.
- Have a game plan. It can be difficult to know how to start the conversation. Get some ideas on what to ask (including this AARP article, this Yahoo Finance article, or just Google “talking to your aging parents about finances”.
- Know who gives them guidance. Who prepares their taxes? Who advises them on their investments? Who prepared their wills? These people are familiar with your parents’ situation, and you know who to talk to if there are questions.
With a little effort and a little planning, you can avoid my experience and make their lives (and yours) more fulfilling!
Who do you know that is spending time with aging parents this holiday season? Be sure to share this with them!