When is the right time to have “the talk” with your aging parents regarding their financial affairs and health care issues? In this now-common role reversal, adult children find that they must step up to “parent the parent”. This can be uncomfortable for everyone but is critically important for protecting assets and ensuring access to quality health care. To ease the discomfort, consider this conversation during the holidays when everyone is together in a joyful, family-focused mood.
It’s critical for your aging loved ones to prepare and plan now for their future care, including asset protection planning, designating decision-making proxies and advising family of their wishes as to health care treatments and even living arrangements. Such conversations must be had before a crisis occurs. Once these decisions are made, all family members will have peace of mind.
First, you want to pick the right time and place. If there is more than one child, all of the siblings should agree as to when and how to have “the talk.” Depending on the family, perhaps one or all will be involved with this conversation.
Your communication style will make a difference as to whether your loved ones will be receptive to delving into the subject. Remember to put yourself in their shoes and speak in a compassionate manner when asking questions and offering recommendations. Listen to their thoughts and feelings so you can respond appropriately. Let them know you are there to help them make the best decisions but not to take over control. Think of yourself as a mediator, not a lecturer.
Perhaps start by telling your loved ones that you are putting your own financial affairs in order and explain what is involved and the documents needed. Then you can bridge to their situation and ask if they have done any planning for themselves. You can also give an example of a friend’s parents who planned in advance and highlight the positives, such as preservation of assets or seamless health care decision making.
You should find out where your parents keep their bank statements, tax returns, life insurance policies, wills, power of attorney, living will, health care proxy, investments, etc.
For more information on easing the elder care conversation call 631.390.5000 to request our free tip sheet: “Elder Care Conversations: Speak With COMPASSION”.