Personal Finance Topic #202 – When is the right time to talk to your parents about money?

Filed in Gather Money Essential by on March 18, 2011 0 Comments

When is the right time to talk to your parents about money?

What questions should you ask about their money situation

If you are 40 or older, and your parents appear to be having some trouble with money, it’s time to have that talk.  Of course, money is an emotionally charged issue.  Money is the most common issue to start fighting about in some families.  Adult children are worried that they may eventually need to support the parents financially. At the same time, parents don’t want to lose control of their money.

Here are few tips to start the finance discussion – if you haven’t done so already.

  • Talk about their hopes and expectations and how they intend to get there
  • Be empathic, and assure them that you are not trying to take their money away.  It is important to convey that you want what’s best for them.
  • If Mom or Dad is uncomfortable talking about money, ask for her/his cooperation individually. 
  • As an adult child, ask about assets/liabilities, and will they outlive their assets?  If they have substantial debt, ask how they intend to eliminate it.
  • What is available among children to support parents.
  • Where is the money?  Have them provide bank account, investments, and insurance papers.
  • Check to see if they have debts
  • Determine how accessible their funds are when they get sick or disabled
  • Ask if they have done their will, durable power of attorney, and living will
  • If parents refuse to talk, assure them that you are ready to talk anytime
  • If they are already misbehaving with money, do not enable them when they come asking for money help.
  • At retirement, they should NOT be creating more debts.  It may be best to have them stop using credit cards and switch to debit card.
  • If they are ready to talk about it, ask about burial arrangement

Be sensitive to their needs.  It may take more than one or two meetings to pull them out of their shell. Don’t create friction, or they may not open up.  Be caring.

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