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Talking to Your Parents About Their Finances

November 19, 2013

Asking parents to explain their finances and to make sure they get their affairs in order is always a touchy subject – but, if it isn’t done, things will be more difficult when they are no longer around or if they are around but unable to care for themselves.  It is reality and must be dealt with.

I believe a direct approach is the best approach.  Here is a possible conversation:

YOU:      Mom, I think we should talk about getting your affairs in order.

MOM:   Why, everything is in order?

YOU:      Well, can you show me what you have?

MOM:   Why, you don’t trust me?

YOU:      It has nothing to do with trust.  Things happen and things would be much easier if I know what you had.

MOM:   I think that is my business.

YOU:      Mom, someday you might not be able to take care of yourself and we would need to use your money to give you the right care.  How can I make arrangements if I don’t know where everything is and how much you have and what you would want me to do?

MOM:   What could happen?

YOU:      You could have a stroke and not be able to handle your finances.

MOM:   So, you could take my money and put me in a nursing home?

YOU:      Not so.  Maybe you need to go to a rehab facility and there is a nice one near where I live and a crappy one not close.  If I don’t know what you have and can afford, you might end up in the crappy one.  I only want the best for you.

MOM:   Well, your wife would want the crappy one so she could get more of my money.

YOU:      Absolutely not so!  You know how she feels about you, and she is the one that always calls and brings you with us.

MOM:      I always sit in the middle in the back of the car.

YOU:      We always ask if you want to sit in the front and you say no.  We have you sit in the middle between the two boys so they won’t fight.  And besides, you always end up talking to each of them during the ride and you like that, and so do the boys.

MOM:      Well, I am always squeezed in.

YOU:      O.K. Next time you’ll sit in the front.

MOM:      I don’t like the front in case there is an accident and the seat belt is always too tight.

YOU:      Mom, this has nothing to do with getting your finances in order.  We really need to sit down and discuss it.  I am not asking you to sign anything over to me, just show me where you keep things and let’s make some arrangements for temporary funds in case there is an emergency.  Also, I need to know that everything is in order.  I need to check your will, health care proxy, power of attorney and living will.  This is important stuff and if we don’t do it orderly, it will be a mess should the worse happens and then things may not be the way you would want it.  I am concerned about what’s best for you, also, if we don’t work things out extra money will go to taxes and lawyers’ fees, and delays and wasted efforts and possibly fighting between your children.  Let’s do this next Tuesday.  I’ll come over for dinner and then we’ll start going over things.

MOM:   I’ll make you lamb chops.

It needs to be done – do it soon, be direct and get it behind you and your parents.  Also, my experience indicates that your parents will feel better sharing their information and getting this over with.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Robert Nagler permalink
    November 19, 2013 4:58 pm

    Hi Ed This really important for the parents to talk to their children about their
    estate this to stop problems that could come from not planning

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