By Laurie E. Ohall, Florida Board-certified Elder Law Attorney
Conversations with aging parents about finances can be challenging. Over half of adults would rather talk to their children about sex than their parents about aging, according to PBS NewsHour. Although difficult, talking with aging parents about their finances is an act of love and can facilitate better plans for the future while helping aging parents maintain their independence.
A recent survey by GOBankingRates found that 73 percent of Americans haven’t had in-depth financial planning conversations with their aging parents. Many people were hesitant to approach their parents about finances for the following reasons:
• They didn’t know how to start the conversation.
• They were afraid their parents would think they were being nosy.
• They were afraid their parents would think they were motivated by money.
Financial planning discussions should not focus on how much money is at stake. Instead, conversations should focus on plans for the future and whether aging parents will need help financially or otherwise. Your goal should be to focus on your concern for your parents rather than on how much money there is. Demonstrating your willingness to support your parents’ plans for their future can help the tone of the conversation remain loving and collaborative.
Understandably, some people are concerned that they are being nosy by asking their parents questions about their finances. However, children should be involved in planning for their parents’ future because many adult children need to provide financial support to aging parents. An AARP survey found that 32 percent of midlife adults, ages 40-64, provided regular financial support to their parents in the past year,
You can encourage your parents to create a plan for making financial and health decisions for their lifetimes and to decide how they want their assets distributed after their deaths. A Tampa estate attorney can help by creating the following documents:
• Will and/or trust. A will governs the distribution of your parents’ assets after they die but does not avoid probate, whereas a trust could be established for managing assets during your parents’ lives and transferring those assets after your parents’ deaths. Trusts can also be written for specific needs.
• Power of attorney. This document grants the temporary or permanent authority for someone else to act on your parents’ behalf in specific circumstances.
• Health care directive. This document spells out your parents’ health care wishes and appoints someone who can communicate with doctors in the event of the parents’ incapacity.
If parents feel nervous about signing over any of this authority, they can maintain control by working with an attorney to draft a document that meets their specifications. An elder law attorney can assist with planning for your parents’ future.