Do your aging parents find it difficult to discuss money and their personal finances with you?
Many older people don’t like talking about anything financial because they were raised to believe that personal finance is too private to discuss with anyone – even with their own (adult) children. Some folks are sensitive about money because of emotional baggage associated with their past. Parents may also feel that discussing their finances with their adult children will decrease their independence.
How to put your parents at ease when you discuss money
Despite the awkwardness, it’s important to discuss your parents’ finances with them as they get older. As their health and cognitive abilities deteriorate due to aging, they may no longer be able to handle these issues on their own. They are also more vulnerable to fraudsters who may take advantage of their declining abilities and alertness.
Here are some ways to help your parents feel more ready to talk about their finances:
- Raise the topic at a time and place where your parents feel most comfortable. For example, if they are most alert in the morning and feel most at home, this is when and where to do it. Alternatively, if you feel the discussion would go better in a neutral environment, take them out (after corona restrictions are lifted).
- Address your parent’s insecurities. Reassure them that you only want to help. They may need to know that you are not trying to take money away from them or seize control of their lives.
- Explain your concerns. Tell your parents that you know they are vulnerable to financial abuse, especially if they are living alone, and you want to make sure that their wishes in terms of elder care and their estate are met.
- Keep calm in what could be a potentially emotional situation. Losing your temper will only cause more problems. Remember that this discussion shouldn’t be a one-time talk. Helping your parents is a process.
For a more in-depth discussion on how to help protect your senior parent’s finances, watch a 12 minute video: Profile-Financial.com/letting-go
Douglas Goldstein, CFP®, is the Director of Profile Investment Service, Ltd., which specializes in helping people who live in Israel with their US dollar assets and American investment and retirement accounts. He helps olim meet their financial goals through asset allocation, financial planning, and using money managers.
Published August 20, 2018. Updated April 2021.