Wednesday, 01 February 2012 00:00

Ways To Approach “Tough Conversations” With Mom Or Dad

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Many adult children realize that they have no idea where their parents stand in terms of having the right plans in place to protect their assets and wishes if something happens to them.  As this month’s topic is dedicated to raising awareness and promoting prevention of stroke and heart disease, it is important not to overlook the non-medical aspects of planning, too.  Preventing disease and proper financial and estate planning go hand-in-hand, and both can be touchy topics to discuss with an aging parent.

Logical Questions For Adult Children To Ask

• Do my parents have a will or trust and, if so, where are these and other important documents located?

• Should assisted living or nursing home care become necessary, what plans are in place to cover the costs?

• Will mom or dad have enough money after these costs to carry them through retirement?

Tips For Ways You Can Start an Effective Conversation

• Current events.  These often present the perfect opening – there is always some Hollywood legend or financial mogul who dies leaving a fortune for the heirs to squabble over giving you a chance to open the subject with your own parents or children.

• Another idea may be to relate to the personal experience of a friend.  For example, “So-and-so’s mother was admitted to the hospital recently and no one knew where to find her important papers.”

• No one wants to feel like they are being told what to do, and money matters are often emotionally charged conversations.  For some families, several conversations over a longer period of time might be a better approach.

Remember, advance preparations are in the best interests of the parents, so that their wishes can be carried out upon death.  Be sure to communicate this from the start to avoid your parents shutting down or getting defensive about the questions you are asking.

Long-Term Care

Finally, don’t forget to include the topic of long-term care. While no one likes to think about the possibility of becoming disabled or incapacitated, it does happen and it’s something that must be planned for well in advance.

If you start early, the right plan can be put in place to ensure wishes during incapacity are honored and that they won’t lose all of their assets in order to qualify for state or federal assistance.

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