Do you know the commercial of a family at a restaurant and both father and son reach for the check.  Then the voiceover – He is doing well, hope he is saving, Hope he saved enough…..

Fianacial FraudIt is poignant because it shows that both adult children and older parents are thinking about finances. Money is a tough topic to discuss, but it is a critical topic to communicate with each other about so that meaningful planning can occur.

Of course you don’t want to upset your parents about discussing finances but if you all ignore the topic, that elephant can come back and crush you. The reason to discuss the finances is not to take over from your parents but to share concerns should illness occur or care is needed or the possibility of moving from their current home. Finances must be discussed in order for all involved to formulate practical plans.

Approach the subject of finances in a calm, respectful and loving way. Explain your concern and reasoning for this conversation. Relate an appropriate anecdote and try to put your folks at ease.

Tips for Discussing Money with Your Parents:

1. Speak to your folks about scheduling a date and time to talk – when they are available and can concentrate on the discussion.  Be direct; ask for a specific day and time. You can introduce the request by stating that you recently met with your financial person who brought up some interesting questions which you’d like their input about.

2. Keep you kids, and even spouse at home. This talk should involve only the people your parents are comfortable with, and with no distractions. You have a purpose in scheduling this time to talk with your parents.

3. Come prepared. Bring a list so that you won’t get distracted. If an item meets with a lot of resistance or discomfort, move off of it to the next item which is less threatening.

4. You may bring a prepared form to leave with them to fill out later. Keep it simple. Some of the information you need from each parent is: Legal name, Date of Birth, Medicare and Social Security Number. At least last 4 digits of Social, their financial planner, lawyer name and phone number, Insurance policies, including Long Term Care Insurance, Funeral Arrangements, any debt, banking info, safety deposit boxes.

The reason for all of this is because, in a crisis or at end of life, it is much easier for your parent, you and siblings to have this basic information instead of scrambling during a very stressful and emotional time. Many parents say they “don’t want to be a burden to their kids” – this is a wonderful way for them to help you, to help them and NOT be a burden.

5. Pay attention to how they are doing during your meeting. After half an hour, they may be spent – too tired to concentrateor  get frustrated. You may end the meeting then. Say this is a good start and later on schedule a follow up meeting or proceed later less formally. The important thing is that you have begun the dialogue and can continue over time