Many people have been taught that money matters must always be strictly private. Of course, there are certain exceptions. Parents may be expected to discuss a minor child’s finances, but not those of an adult child. In other families, parents may be expected to offer advise to their offspring, while even adult children may not discuss the parents’ finances. Often, the taboos are not clear, and everyone just knows it is not comfortable to discuss anyone’s finances other than perhaps between spouses.
Silence regarding money can lead to serious problems. Imagine that children know nothing of their parents’ finances or estate plans. In the event of the death or disability of one or both of the parents, it would be difficult for the family members to offer assistance to the surviving parent or make decisions regarding long term care if needed. Parents may be struggling to make appropriate decisions beyond the time when they are able.
It is probably not a good idea to call a meeting with your parents and announce that you want to know how much money they have and what they plan to do with it. It may be better to talk first about what expectations your parents may have regarding money matters. You ask what sort of place they would choose if they needed long term care. The important thing is to keep the focus on how you can honor their choices, but make sure that together you cover as many situations as possible. The best way to approach this may be by example.
You may be more conscious of the need for your parents to be prepared for incapacity or even death, but adults of every age are at risk and should be prepared. You may or may not have an estate plan in place. If you do, review it. If not begin thinking about what your own choices will be. Either way, share your thoughts about your own plans with your parents. “I thought you would want to know…” is a good place to start. After you begin the sharing, it is only natural for your parents to talk about their own plans.
Parents may also need to be wise when approaching the topic of estate planning with adult children. Whether you are talking about your finances or theirs, it is important to be aware of good boundaries. You must not assume that you know what’s best for them (even if you are sure you do). Nor should you be reactive if your children don’t agree with the decisions and plans you have made. In such a case, listen and agree to consider their opinion. You can indeed consider their input later and decide how you want to handle things. With regard to their own plans, be sure to respect their decisions while also gently offer any suggestions you may have.
Who Gets Your Stuff When You Die? 14 Secrets for Protecting Everyone You Love & Everything You Own! is my book that was just released on May 1, 2017. It has lots of information that may aid family discussions. It may also be helpful in starting estate plans for both generations, or in reviewing existing plans to see if they need to be updated. The book is available at leighhilton.net/book