Five Conversations To Have With Your Aging Parents In The New Year

by Hank Coleman

Worried about aging parents financesI don’t know what is going on in my family lately. Maybe it is the realization that we are all getting older. All of the children have finally graduated from college and started their careers. So, now my parents and even my in-laws have taken it upon themselves to begin sharing with my wife and me what they want done at the end of their lives. My mother wanted me to be sure that there was a transition plan for her beloved dog, and my in-laws wanted us to know where they hid the jewelry and the bars of silver (under the bed in shoeboxes, of course). But, seriously, as our parents’ age starts to catch up with us all and the realization hits that they are not getting any younger, it is time to sit down and have a few frank financial discussions together as grown ups.

Five Conversations To Have With Your Aging Parents

Where Are All The Financial Documents?

In the past, I have discussed the importance of your loved ones knowing where you keep your important documents such as your last will and testament, financial papers, loan documents, and the like. Adult children need to have this conversation with your aging parents as well. Also, you may need to ask important questions about where your parents have hidden all the family jewels or where is the key to the safety deposit box?

Where Do You Want To Be Buried?

I was blown away the other day from learning that my father-in-law wants to be cremated. My mother is very vocal about her wishes in this regard, but it was the first time that I had heard such a comment from my wife’s father. It is a great relief knowing what my parents and in-laws want at the end of their lives, and it is a huge help to be able to discuss these things openly as adults before we will be unable to do so. Do not wait until the end to have important conversations with your parents.

Do You Have Long Term Care Insurance?

I love my mother very much, but she is not coming to live with me in her old age. She’s needs a plan. That’s is where long term care insurance can come into play. Do your parents want to live at home with a live in nurse during their final years? Or, do they want to go to a retirement home to be with their friends and play golf every day? Both options are not cheap, and long term care insurance can become rather expensive if your parents wait much longer to purchase the insurance.

Do You Have A Durable Power Of Attorney For Healthcare?

Who is going to make decisions for your parents’ healthcare should they become incapacitated? Do you know what your parents’ wishes are with respect to their medical care? Do they want to be left on a ventilator? A durable power of attorney for health care and an advance health care directive can help your parents guide their loved ones in these tough decisions.

Do You Need Help With Managing Your Finances?

This one will be the hardest question to ask. Dave Ramsey calls it the powered butt syndrome. People who have powdered your butt or changed your diaper do not want to receive financial or any other type of advice from you. But, if you approach the topic carefully with compassion and caring, you can have a frank, adult conversation about these important topics. My grandmother is 84 years-old, and my aunt is listed on her checking account. But, my grandmother has full rights to write a check without my aunt knowing. As soon as I started receiving rather large checks in the mail, I immediately called my aunt. Thanks to some foresight and prior thinking, my aunt is in a great possession to help my grandmother with her finances when the time comes.

It is a difficult thing to talk about what is going to happen when someone dies. It isn’t a pleasant conversation, but it is one that needs to be done. There are certain wishes and important information that surviving adult children need to know, and trying to find out the details while you are grieving is not the time to try and find the answers to your parents’ wishes. Ask these five critical questions before it is too late.

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

fern January 7, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Your father is probably just trying to make things easy on you and his other children, because the cost of cremation is a fraction of what a full burial would be.

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