About 1 in 10 U.S. parents with children under the age of 18 also care for an aging adult, usually a parent. It can sometimes be uncomfortable talking with aging parents about their needs as they age, especially when the topic turns to finances, but it’s better to have these discussions before a crisis arises. Prepare yourself with an estate planning checklist and a few questions to ask yourself as you approach a conversation about money with your parents.
What topics do you want to cover?
Before considering how to talk about money with your parents, think about what information you need from them. You’ll probably want to discuss their current living expenses and how those costs might change in the future. Consider who will be providing care for your parents and get a sense of their preferences for care-giving options and other health care-related options. For example:
- Are they open to eventually moving to a retirement community or an assisted living facility? In their minds, what would the circumstances look like leading up to this?
- Are they on Medicare and are there any gaps in their coverage?
- Do they have long-term care insurance?
You’ll also want to discuss legal provisions, such as whether they have an estate plan or a living will.
When is a good time to talk with aging parents?
It might feel like the right move to bring up estate planning at the next family gathering when everyone is together, but that may not be the best time. Instead, find a time with few distractions when everyone is feeling relaxed. Keep in mind that it may take more than one attempt for your parents to open up to you about their finances.
How do I start the conversation in a non-threatening way?
You could start the conversation casually by sharing your own estate plans and soliciting their input. You could also offer to help them with financial tasks, such as setting up automatic bill payments or gathering tax documents. This could open the door to learning more about their finances and understanding how you can help.
Discussing money with your parents can stir up uncomfortable feelings, but having these conversations sooner rather than later can help you prepare to support your parents as they age.