Not only do you need to plan for your own future, but chances are good you also need to plan for your aging parents' futures as well. It's never easy to sit down and talk about the subject of aging and necessary end-of-life decisions. When you add finances to the mix, it may add a different level of discomfort that results in procrastination about even starting the conversation.
The parent-child role reversal during these talks can feel awkward—for both you and your parents. Inviting a trusted financial professional to join the conversation may help ease the tension. Often, more than one conversation is necessary to get all the needed information and develop a strong financial plan. Here are some tips to help the conversations go smoothly:
1. Timing – Make sure any conversation happens when you aren't rushed and have the time to devote to a meaningful discussion. If other family members need to be involved, set a date and time when everyone is available.
2. Be respectful – Many aging parents carry an attitude of secrecy about the details of their financial situation. Try to be respectful of this mindset and provide assurances that you aren't taking advantage or taking control.
3. Show empathy – Acknowledge your respect for your parents and that this may be a difficult conversation for them to have. Express your desire to help them maintain their independence by planning ahead.
4. Accept differences of opinion – Not everyone in the room will agree on every decision that's made. Be open to possibilities that may be different from what you envision for your aging parents, or what they envision for themselves. Work together to find solutions.
5. Listen carefully – During emotional conversations, it may be difficult to stay focused on the listening process. Be engaged in the conversation through active listening before responding. Give yourself a chance to understand and evaluate what your parents and other family members have to say.
6. Find humor – Stressful situations can often be eased with a little humor. Sharing a laugh can help reduce the tension and also build closeness during a difficult discussion. Remember, laughter is the best medicine.
Beyond the financial considerations, there are several additional elements to discuss with aging parents like durable power of attorney for finances, estate planning, wills and trusts, medical and/or long-term care insurance, healthcare directives, income and expenses, and where and how to access financial records.
Not sure how to get the conversation started? The experienced and knowledgeable team at Orange County's Retirement and Investment Services can provide trusted guidance as you plan for your parents' future. We're with you all the way. To learn more, contact us at (888) 354-6228, ext. 7599 or send us a meeting request.