Chances are good you will be spending some vacation time this summer with older family members. If so, take the opportunity to have "the talk." There's never a good or easy time to talk with older parents about their finances and estate plans. But taking advantage of a relaxing moment -well before problems arise - can improve the odds of success.
Many times the adult children have very important roles in the lives of their parents. These roles can range from hands-on caregiving to serving as agents or fiduciaries as part of their estate planning. One of the most difficult roles any adult child can play is as the "conversation starter" when it comes to the finances and estate plans of their parents.
So, how do you get the conversation going? How do you initiate "the talk"?
Actually, every family and family dynamic is different. It really is more of an art than a science. Two recent sources of guidance come to us from The Wall Street Journal in an article titled "Have 'The Talk' With Mom and Dad About Their Finances", and from MarketWatch in an article titled "Estate planning at the beach house."
Both articles stress the need for respecting the dignity of aging parents and going slowly. In addition, talking about one's own morbidity and mortality is not on anyone's "top ten topics" for casual conversation.
It is difficult enough aging, let alone realizing that your own children are "parenting" you. Nevertheless, one of the best and least threatening conversation "starters" is to share with your parents what you have done in your own estate planning and why. Be transparent with your parents.
One conversation is often not enough; you have to keep the talk moving and ensure that everyone is on the same page and plans have been made.