As they age, our parents may find handling money to be more challenging. Sometimes the signs are obvious, such as falling behind on their bills.
This could merely be a “senior moment,” or the onset of something more serious, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Whatever the reason, be prepared to gracefully step in and help without being too intrusive.
Remember that not too long ago you were the one asking your parents for financial advice and now the roles have reversed. Here’s how to ease into the conversation about their finances:
Ask how you can help in a financial emergency. If your parents already have a financial planner, ask to sit in on their next financial review. Make it clear that you do not want to intrude, you just want to help.
Open up about your own finances. Telling your parents about your financial situation may warm them up to start talking about theirs.
Hire professional help
If you don’t feel qualified to take over your parent’s financial affairs, offer to pay for a session with a financial planner. Perhaps your parents remember how they bailed you out of a financial mess and may have serious doubts about whether you could handle their money.
Look for a Certified Financial Planner™professional (CFP)
Look for someone with experience, qualifications and the right personality to work with your parents. The CFP should be well versed in financial issues of the elderly and possess the financial equivalent of a good “bedside manner.”
Areas of expertise to expect from a CFP
A qualified, professional financial planner can provide your parents with guidance in these specific areas:
1) Synchronize their savings with their spending to make sure they don’t outlive their savings.
2) Check their current investment mix to make sure it is appropriate for their needs and risk tolerance.
3) Review their insurance policies (mainly life, long-term care and liability coverage) to ensure they have the right type and the right amount to meet their needs. This is especially important with seniors who have very old policies. They need to understand what they have and what benefit their surviving spouse would receive, and verify that named beneficiaries are still correct.
4) Scrutinize their estate planning documents to make sure their property is distributed according to their wishes and that proper instructions are in place regarding their desired end of life medical care.
Arm yourself with the right legal paperwork
Have a special power of attorney drafted to enable you to act on your parent’s behalf if they no longer can. Without this legal document, your parents would have to be declared incompetent before you could become their legal guardian.
The bottom line: Despite their new circumstances, never forget that they are your parents. The conversation will go more smoothly if you show them the respect they deserve and acknowledge their need for independence.
Don’t wait until there is a crisis to have this conversation. Early planning and open communication is vital to foster trust and help your parents feel more comfortable about relinquishing control over their finances.
By: Denisa Tova
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