Talking Finances With Aging Parents
Regardless of whether you and your parents have always talked freely about money or have never discussed the subject, there are several considerations you may want to address with them as they grow older.
These six questions may help you think about — and plan for — that conversation.
- Have you thought about how you will approach the subject? When you do decide to touch base, tactfully make clear what you’d like to discuss, but also let your parents know you respect their privacy.
- Are you confident that they are staying on top of things? Are bills getting paid on time? Are investments being monitored? Maybe you have already raised these topics with your parents, but it has been a while since you’ve checked in. If you think they might appreciate a follow-up, then it may be a good idea to talk to them again.
- Are they taking advantage of banking conveniences, such as direct deposit and online bill payment, to simplify their financial life? If your parents aren’t comfortable with the computer, offer to assist.
- Do your parents have an estate plan and is it up to date? At a minimum, they should have a will. An effective will should do a few basic things. It should name an executor (or personal representative) — the individual who will administer your estate after death. It should also spell out how you want your property distributed as specifically as possible. If you die without a will, your estate will be divided according to the laws of your state — not your wishes. Besides a will, there are other planning mechanisms that may be appropriate for their needs. Be sure they consult with a qualified legal professional to discuss the specifics of their situation.
- Do you and your parents understand the potential benefits of a durable power of attorney document? A durable power of attorney is a legal document that designates an individual to make financial or legal decisions on behalf of another individual. This document can become very important should an aging senior become ill or incapacitated.
- Should they consider a long-term care insurance policy? With the average cost of a private room in a nursing home now exceeding $92,300 per year depending on where you live, you can see how such expenses could put a tremendous financial strain on a family.1 That is why many people consider long-term care insurance to be a sensible addition to a financial plan. For the most part, nursing home and assisted-living costs have limited coverage under Medicare. And, for most people, qualifying for Medicaid requires individuals to first exhaust their own assets. For more information about long-term care insurance, speak with your financial advisor.
1Genworth 2016 Cost of Care Survey, April 2016.