What is it about our presence in the doctor’s office that brings comfort to our parents? Whether they are dealing with the ongoing struggle of a long term illness, or faced with a sudden health crisis, we are with them to share their anxiety, ask the right questions and pay attention to the answers, take notes, and later remind them of the doctor’s recommendations and next steps.
Have you thought about taking part in your parents’ next meeting with their financial advisor?
Running out of money is the biggest fear our elders have. Not always a rational fear, but in my experience it’s felt almost universally, regardless of someone’s current financial circumstances. What is the number two fear among elders? Becoming a burden to their children.
It’s crucial, in this arena, to think in terms of collaboration. This isn’t about asking your parents to give up control or their financial independence. So it’s not “Here, let me do this for you, don’t trouble yourselves about your investments any more, I can take over that responsibility.” Best to look for openings. Maybe you could just ask: With the dour economy and difficult choices investors are making now, is there any way that you can help with these decisions? Do they want you to go with them when they visit their “money doctor”? Are they feeling pushed to make larger gifts to the charities they have supported for years? Has their financial advisor invited them to bring family members into the conversation? Or, another option is for you to go first yourself. Ask your parents for their advice, or tell them how you’ve handled your own estate planning and ask their opinion. If the right time presents itself, ask if you can help make sure what’s important to them gets done.
Check in with your siblings, too. Money can be emotionally charged, and what looks like an obvious offer of help to you, could be seen as a power play by your brother or sister.
If you don’t get an enthusiastic “yes!” at first, don’t promise yourself you’ll never bring it up again. And when you reach “a certain age” yourself, give your own children the gift of an easy conversation around money.
Susan Talton is a Client Advisor and CFP® professional at Laird Norton Tyee, with over 25 years of wealth management experience. She is also a member of the Financial Planning Association. Susan enjoys writing about the life transitions that women often are very likely to face. She also frequently writes about retirement, a big transition in itself.