When you start to notice that your parents are slowing down because of age or illness, talking with them about their future needs and plans can be difficult. Finances, estate planning, care plans, final wishes, etc. are complicated discussions. In our experience, we believe it is important to start these conversations early, before it is really needed, and definitely before a crisis hits.
- This is a big topic so it will take more than one conversation. Don’t overdo in one sitting.
- Make sure they know your intentions are loving and you are trying to help.
- Be a good listener. Hear them out and really try to put yourself in their shoes.
- Let your parents be a key part of the decision-making process and whenever possible, give them the control.
- Try to be as non-threatening as possible. Don’t walk in and start firing a ton of questions about their assets, savings, documents and final wishes. An opening we have seen work is to mention that you have been thinking about your own future financial plans and wanted to go over some matters that pertains to them too. Or begin with a story about a friend whose parent had a terrible fall, and now they are scrambling to try and find a care facility for him.
- Include all siblings and other family members who should be there. If possible, try to get on the same page before the discussion to avoid potential conflict. Elect the sibling who has the most open relationship with your parents to start the discussion.
- Be as organized as possible. Having an experienced Advisor with checklists and the right questions to ask can help.
Talking with your aging parents about these issues is not easy. However, if approached the right way, it can actually strengthen the relationship as well as set up a much-needed plan.