Tips For Having “The Conversation” With Your Parents

Chances are good you will be spending some vacation time this summer with older family members. If so, take the opportunity to have “the talk.” There’s never a good or easy time to talk with older parents about their finances and estate plans. But taking advantage of a relaxing moment –well before problems arise – can improve the odds of success.

Do you remember the first time that your father or mother had “the Conversation” regarding the birds and the bees?  The “conversation” was probably more difficult for your parents than for you.  Well, as you become an adult, you need to have “the Conversation with your parents. The topic is not the birds and bees but topics such as hands-on caregiving, serving as agents or fiduciaries as part of their estate planning, or their finances. This is one of the most difficult conversations that any adult child can have.  What is a good “conversation starter” when it comes to the finances and estate plans of their parents?

Actually, every family and family dynamic is different. It really is more of an art than a science. Two recent sources of guidance come to us from The Wall Street Journal in an article titled “Have ‘The Talk’ With Mom and Dad About Their Finances”, and from MarketWatch in an article titled “Estate planning at the beach house.

Both articles stress the need for respecting the dignity of aging parents and going slowly. In addition, talking about one’s own morbidity and mortality is not on anyone’s “top ten topics” for casual conversation.

It is difficult enough aging, let alone realizing that your own children are “parenting” you. Nevertheless, one of the best and least threatening conversation “starters” is to share with your parents what you have done in your own estate planning and why. Be transparent with your parents.

More often than not, one conversation is often not enough; you have to keep the talk moving and ensure that everyone is on the same page and plans have been made.

Reference: MarketWatch (July 15, 2013) “Estate planning at the beach house

The Wall Street Journal (July 14, 2013) “Have ‘The Talk’ With Mom and Dad About Their Finances

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