Family financial matters are often a forbidden topic, and the root of many different disputes, enhanced emotions, and misunderstandings. And for a good number of today’s older adults, who maintain a “Depression mentality” from years of saving for a rainy day and learning to “waste not, want not,” it can be difficult for them to grant access to finances to adult children, and to acknowledge the need to spend some of those personal finances on caregiving needs.
Speaking with an older parent about finances is most effective when started before the need develops, understanding it may take numerous conversations until an understanding can be reached. These discussion starters can really help:
- “Dad, sooner or later, we are going to need to make some decisions with regards to the future. Now may be a good time to take a moment together and go over your wishes, and the financial side of making sure we can abide by those wishes.”
- “Mom, I know you’re managing your finances just fine now, but what if something were to happen to your overall health that stopped you from paying your bills on time? It might be good to have a backup plan ready to go. Let’s take a moment and devise one.”
- “Mom and Dad, you’ve always been so competent at handling your money and providing for us while we were growing up. We want to be sure to carry on that legacy, as well as to understand how best to help you both meet your monetary obligations if the time comes that you might want some help with that.”
It’s also useful to share real-life scenarios of a relative or neighbor who was exploited by identity theft, or a story from the media concerning the changing economy, stock exchange drops, modifications to tax laws, etc. This tends to jumpstart a discussion regarding your aging parents’ own retirement plans and any financial fears for the future, enabling you to come to a mutually agreeable resolution, such as talking with a financial advisor together.
First and foremost, be sure to maintain a sense of respect, never seeking to “take over” your parents’ finances, but to offer the reassurance and peace of mind that their financial matters will continue to be managed effectively. Ask your parents for advice, including them in the decision-making process. Daniel Lash, certified financial planner at VLP Financial Advisors, suggests, “Tell them what you’re thinking about doing so you give them the power to tell you what they think you should do. It’s like they’re giving you advice because that’s what parents are good at – giving advice.”
Generations at Home offers an in-home consultation that can help aging parents to know their choices for care, and to help mediate stressful conversations such as those related to finances. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 for in-home care for Tarpon Springs and the surrounding areas.