When it comes to the discussion of finance, takes a gentle touch and a respectful tone to facilitate a conversation. You can never have enough sensitivity when it comes to discussing the future of your ageing parent’s finances. The tact necessary for this discussion will stem from a supportive stance. It may be difficult to know when to initiate the conversation, however, it may be better to start the discussion earlier rather than later to set a foundation of trust before it becomes necessary. The following is a step-by-step guide on how to approach and navigate the conversation surrounding finances with your elderly parents.
Before the Conversation
Before the conversation, educating yourself around finances and what options are available for you and your elderly loved one will lead to a clearer conversation. It may be valuable to create an appointment with your bank or financial advisor before talking to your parents to educate yourself first. By educating yourself and knowing your options, you will be able to present the information to your parents in a more concise and accessible manner. Make sure you have done this preliminary research because it will set up your conversation for success.
This will be a long-term and ongoing conversation, so there is no need to rush the conversation along. Start by opening the topic up in a casual manner. If the family lives far away from you, then call before your next trip home. Centre the conversation around what you are thinking of your future financial plans rather than the pressure of them having to figure out the future of their financial plan.
Set the Tone
Start by creating a safe supportive space for your parents to discuss their finances and remain respectful and non-judgmental on their choices. Stay positive even if your parents seem hesitant or unsure. Present this as a means of making your life more manageable and exploring those options together. Let them know that you and perhaps their bank or financial advisor are available to help them when they need it.
Some families may be reluctant at first, this means you need to stay gentle but focused. Aim to accomplish at least one step at a time. Start by ensuring they know how to locate their main point of contact at the bank, who is their financial advisor and how they can get their financial documents.
Organization is key
Start by compiling an updated list of your family’s financial information. Thus, when they are ready to make decisions, you are ready to get started.
- Important documentation: will, certificates, records, titles, financial accounts, debts, tax returns, and mortgages.
- List of important contact information
- All health insurance documentation
- Banking and safety deposit box location
- Expenses and salary
These are preliminary topics to bring up with your elderly loved ones. Further into the conversation and if they are comfortable and open to share you can ask them for their opinion on caregiving options. What do they see their twilight years looking like? What options are available now to support them and what options will need to be planned for the future? By explicitly discussing these topics you can arm your parents with the knowledge necessary to defend themselves against potential financial abuse. While these conversations can be complex and uncomfortable at the beginning, it is well worth the awkwardness to ensure a healthy and supportive transition for your parents into their retirement.