May is National Older Americans Month, which is a good reminder about the importance of discussing finances with your parents or other older adults in your family. Talking about personal finances with anyone, let alone your elders, isn’t always the easiest conversation. But with elder financial abuse and exploitation continuing to grow, the dangers of not having the discussion far outweigh the discomfort.
What's more, if your parent or grandparent has a sudden health issue, you may have to make quick decisions with little or no knowledge of their financial, medical, or legal information. Being prepared can help you feel a lot more confident in making the right decisions when the time comes.
Here are 4 tips for making this difficult discussion a little easier:
Make time for the discussion.
It can be during a family event (so everyone is present) or even a holiday. The important thing is to set a time now before it is too late.
Make it a family affair.
Make sure your siblings or other important members of the family are involved so everyone can be on the same page.
Be considerate and compassionate.
This is a private and often emotional issue, so express respect for the status of your parents or grandparents. Acknowledge that while the topic may be a little uncomfortable, you have their best interests at heart.
Know what information you need to gather.
Many of us often don’t know much about the finances of our parents or other older adults in our family. Among the things you should know are:
- The name of their financial institution(s)
- The type of account(s) they have
- A list of all monthly and annual expenses as well as income sources and how bills are paid (check or automatic bill-pay).
- Life insurance policy information
- Mortgage company information
- Retirement accounts
- Accountant information
- Tax return information
- The location of important documents, such as deeds, wills and/or trusts
- The name of their lawyer if they have one
- Health insurance policies, including long-term insurance policies to cover nursing homes or assisted living
This can also be a good time to discuss their medical history, healthcare directives, and any funeral arrangements or wishes.
Want to learn more about helping your loved ones with finances?
Check out one of our upcoming virtual seminars on transitioning to retirement, navigating social security and more!