Talking to Elderly Parents about Money
It’s one of the most difficult conversations you can have with your parents. And it’s not about the birds and the bees.
Talking to your elderly parents about their finances not only requires them to disclose details about their personal lives they may feel should be private, but it can also dredge up uncomfortable family dynamics. No wonder our first instinct is to try to avoid it.
Cameron Huddleston, personal finance journalist and author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk, says, “It’s a taboo topic.”
Yet as uncomfortable as it is, the longer you wait to talk about money with your parents, the more difficult it may become.
Carolyn Rosenblatt, an attorney who specializes in issues surrounding aging, says that the biggest problem isn’t the dollars and cents but rather the unvoiced expectations of various family members.
One recurring theme she sees is the parents who simply believe their children will take care of them when they run out of money. However, she writes, “since most parents do not want to be a burden to their children (that’s what they say anyway), they may be embarrassed to reveal that they have little saved or that they have debt.”
It’s generally a good thing for siblings to discuss what needs to be done about their parents’ finances. But if they agree on a course of action and present it to their parents as a united front, the parents can feel like they’ve been ganged up on.
A better option would be to get the insight of a knowledgeable third party. Engaging with an experienced resource who can facilitate the discussion and offer independent advice outside the family dynamic may provide the best path to a consensus. Getting guidance from someone who is viewed by everyone as a neutral authority can also help minimize some of the otherwise awkward conversations.
We have helped many other families work through similar situations and can help your family find the course of action that best meets their financial needs.
So instead of having a confrontation with your parents about their finances, you can accompany them to a professional assessment where everything from assets to expectations can be laid out on the table in a more positive, neutral environment.
Any financial discussion with your parents can be stressful. But constantly avoiding the topic can lead to a crisis many times worse. You don’t have to go it alone. Taking action today is part of showing how much you really care.
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