Have “The Talk” With Your Parents

Planning |

Have you talked to your parents about their finances and legal affairs?

 

It’s awkward, of course. If your parents are healthy and fit, it’s easy to put off “the talk.” But life is unpredictable, and in a stressful situation, it’s much more difficult to piece together the crucial information and documents you need.

It’s best to start small. Be gentle and respectful.  Ask them whether they’ve reviewed their legal documents lately, and where they’re kept. If they don’t have the basics – a will or trust, health care directive, or financial power of attorney – you can help them get started. The American Bar Association has some great tips for finding an attorney.

 

Need an easy conversation starter? Tell them that you’re reviewing your own affairs. Many of us who have a will just file it away with relief and then ignore it for far too long. 

Circumstances change. Marital status, the birth of a child or grandchild, a significant change in personal finances, moving to a different state – changes like these all merit an update to your documents. 

 

The most important thing is to keep the trust in the family and preserve the relationship.  Don’t be condescending. Ask your parents what they want. Don’t issue any ultimatums. Let your parents know that you are there for them, no matter what happens. 

At the same time, it’s also OK to express your worry that inaction would have a serious impact on your life and the lives of your siblings. 

 

When you do have “the talk” with your parents, you might offer to help in the future as needed in ways everyone would be comfortable with. Perhaps you would help oversee and pay bills, take care of household maintenance, or manage doctors’ appointments. Chances are your parents will be relieved to hear that you’re willing to assist them in practical ways.

If you don’t live nearby, or don’t have siblings or other trusted family or friends to help with these kinds of things, you’ll likely need to hire help. Ask your parents to consider what they’d prefer. Do they want to stay in their home? Many organizations serve the needs of seniors, from transportation and shopping to socializing and exercise. Would they prefer to move to an assisted living community? Look at what’s available locally and become familiar with costs, amenities, and the application process.

 

Throughout all of these conversations, be sensitive to your parents’ privacy. For instance, these conversations may go more smoothly if spouses are not included.

 

When you’re ready to organize the details, www.willandaway.com can provide a convenient, secure interface for your parents – with you, or with your sibling, their executor, or another trusted individual.

You can do this in person, or from afar with a voice or video call. Grab your laptop, create an account, and simply ask the questions presented. You can do this in small phases or all at once. Additions and updates can be made at any time. 

It’s impossible to know when life will take an unexpected turn. Helping your parents prepare, though, will bring greater peace of mind for all when it does.

Life is uncertain. Gain a little peace of mind with Will and a Way.

Information shared here is not to be taken as legal or financial advice. Suggestions and resources are presented for your consideration and may or may not apply to your personal situation. Please consult your advisers.

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