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Family Financial Planning: Money Discussions with Your Aging Parents

Picture of Randall E. White

Randall E. White

Explore approaches to family financial planning with aging parents. Learn how to navigate financial conversations that can help reduce future stress.

As your parents age, the dynamics of your relationship may shift, especially when it involves assisting them with daily tasks and their financial management. Navigating the changing roles from child to caretaker in family financial planning can be challenging. It’s not uncommon for adult children to feel uncomfortable discussing finances with their parents, who may be reluctant to acknowledge their need for help. However, having open discussions about financial planning is crucial to prevent future stress and financial strain. Here are some strategies to help initiate these important conversations with your aging parents.

Be Clear About Your Intentions Early On

Talking with your parents about their financial situation and estate plans can bring about heightened emotions for everyone involved. Before beginning the conversation, take the time you need to process your personal emotions on the matter so that you can enter the conversation with a clear head. Whatever emotions you’re struggling with, know that it’s normal to feel negatively or to struggle with your emotions as your parents age. By accepting difficult feelings up front, you’ll be able to keep better control over them when it comes time to begin having conversations about family financial planning.

Choose the Right Time and Place

It may be tempting to initiate a conversation with your parents during the holidays or a family dinner where everyone is together but try to find a quieter time instead. You don’t want to have a lot of distractions around when you begin discussing these critically important issues. And while you may be ready right away, keep in mind that your parents may need time to adjust to the idea of having these conversations, so try to give them some notice so that they can prepare for the discussion as well.

SEE ALSO: Loving Your Golden Years: How to Cultivate Your Retirement Mindset

Aim for Clarity

You may have concerns to bring up with your parents, and it’s important to be specific. Go into the conversation with a list of any questions or worries you have that you’d like to go over with your parents. This could be concerns you have about their estate plans, worries about any vulnerabilities they may have, or questions about what they want out of their healthcare plan. Be sure to frame your concerns with compassion and understanding and be specific about the cause of your worries. From there, your family can make a plan about how to address these concerns as you move forward.

Take it One Step at a Time

Once your parents agree to have a conversation about their finances, it may be tempting to bring them all your questions and concerns at one time. However, you don’t want to overwhelm or bombard your parents before you even begin. While you may have had plenty of time to work through your emotions and prepare for these conversations, chances are your parents are also struggling with a lot of their own feelings regarding their aging, loss of independence, and the changes in your relationship. Give your parents time to adjust and try to keep your conversations brief and frequent rather than long and taxing.

SEE ALSO: Navigating Financial Stress During Life Transitions

Give Control to Your Parents Whenever Possible

The process of aging impacts not only your physical health but your mental health, as well. There’s a sense of losing control of oneself as you slowly begin to need more help with things you used to be able to handle on your own. Despite knowing logically that they may need more support, elderly parents may struggle to fully accept that fact. As you begin talking about their finances, be sure to reassure your parents that you’re not trying to take over their life, but simply offering them help whenever needed. Try to keep decision-making in their hands for as long as possible, allowing them to decide for themselves how they want to plan out their estate and how they wish to be taken care of as they continue to age.

Focus on Slow and Steady Progress (Not Perfection)

Having money conversations with an aging parent isn’t going to be a one-time discussion, but rather an ongoing conversation that will evolve as they continue to age. Taking care of your aging parents is a journey that is going to require patience, energy, and time. While having these family financial planning conversations, try to remember that perfection isn’t the goal. Rather, focus on helping to support your parents in any way they might need, making progress one conversation at a time.

Is Family Financial Planning on Your Mind as You Care for Your Aging Parents?

Discussing finances can often be a sensitive topic, particularly if such discussions are not common within your family. Yet, engaging in these conversations is crucial for effective family financial planning and ensuring that your parent’s needs are addressed in the future. It’s beneficial to start these talks early, ideally while your parents are still in good health and can participate fully. This proactive approach allows you to gain a clear understanding of their wishes and plans, providing a solid foundation to support them as they age.

If you think you or your parents could benefit from speaking with one of our professionals about your family’s financial plans, please contact us today. At TriCapital, we know the importance of communicating honestly and clearly with your family about important financial matters and we can provide assistance as you navigate these conversations. We look forward to hearing from you!

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