Talking to your parents about their money is a conversation that is almost universally difficult because it involves a role reversal – you assume the parent role, and effectively put your parent in the child role. It’s also a very touchy subject. Even with the best intentions, its easy to be misunderstood and be seen as a money-grubbing kid just waiting for the folks to kick the bucket. And that’s not the least of the problems. Some people don’t like talking about or planning for the last part of life because they think it might invite bad luck.
Bottom line? There are a number of reasons why this is difficult. And if you boil it down there is really only one good reason to have “the talk”. And that reason is it gives your parents more control over their lives and their finances. Regardless of how hard it is to speak about these issues, this is the point you need to highlight if you really want them to get into a discussion about their assets.
How To Open This Conversation Up
I suggest you devote a specific time and place for this discussion rather then let it happen “naturally”. A good idea is to create your own financial plan before this meeting and then tell your folks about it. You might even share private details so they get comfortable opening up to you. Tell them you ran a financial plan because you wanted to make sure your family’s future was secure.
Then ask them if they’ve done or updated their financial plan and/or estate plan recently.
You Don’t Need The Details
If you parents have up-to-date plans and documents and worked with qualified people, they don’t necessarily need to share their plans with you. But if they haven’t done this, they set themselves up for unimaginable difficulty and you need to explain this to them.
The Problem With Not Having An Updated Trust Or Will
If your folks don’t have an updated estate plan they might lose control over what happens to all they’ve worked for all their lives. That could tie their assets up in court wasting years and years and enormous amounts of money in probate. The shame of this is that it’s completely avoidable. Also, since most estate plans include health directives, they could easily lose control over their own health decisions if this is left unattended.
If you really want to do your parents and family a favor, talk to them about plans. I imagine you might be reluctant for the reasons stated above. But they’ve given you a great deal and they deserve your best efforts despite the fact that your good intentions might be misconstrued.
Start this process by running your own plan first. Then, become familiar with the risks your parents take by ignoring their own estate and financial planning and explain this to them. What they do from that point on is beyond your control. But at least if you take these steps you’ve done the very best you can.
Have your parents discussed their plans with you? Were they or you hesitant? What was the key factor that got them engaged in the conversation?