As we get older and hopefully wiser, more responsibilities fall upon us. We are often referred to as the Sandwich Generation, the ones in the middle, caught between our aging parents and our children.
We, as children of aging parents, have to look towards the future, and with that comes the delicate “talk with our maturing parents” (and/or senior relatives who may not have children or other involved family).
Brace yourself… this may not be easy for you to do or for your parents to hear, but to avoid serious issues in the future, which could make a difficult time even more frustrating, this talk is necessary. It goes without saying, this conversation should not happen at a family birthday party, anniversary, Thanksgiving, or holiday celebration. It is very personal and should be scheduled at a quiet time when you, your parents, and any siblings are all together.
Setting the scene
This is a conversation that comes from a place of love and caring. It is meant to fulfill your parent’s wishes for the distribution of their most valuable and precious belongings. In addition, it is so you can help distribute their valuables and sentimental belongings to whom they want, when they want, and in the manner that they want. The intention is also to create asset protection strategies so creditors and predators, as well as ex-family members, cannot get access to monies that your mom and dad have worked so hard to accumulate.
The “talk” is also to discuss the necessary procedures should you have to deal with a parent’s inability to take care of themselves. We are talking about not only the physical but also the mental situations that can sometimes happen suddenly as parents age, and therefore without plans in place can make it difficult to handle financial matters and personal wishes at that time.
Challenges You may Encounter
Sometimes parents do not wish to share their financial situation or even medical conditions with their adult children. Some even think they are going to be here forever…or at least for a very long time…which we hope is the case, but realistically know in our hearts can’t be. The issue is that many older people want to stay in control and are afraid this “talk” means they have to give up their independence. They need to be assured at the outset that this is not at all the case.
What is the Goal of The “Talk”
The primary purpose is to be able to maintain your parents’ way of life as long as possible. This is truly coming from a place of love to fulfill your parent’s wishes. You never want to look at your loved one(s) and have to ask a question that they’re unable to answer. That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place so that when changes need to be made you have the consensus of all involved and can arrive at amicable solutions ahead of the problem. You also need to know who are the executors, trustees, and beneficiaries of all your parents’ legal documents. You need the names and contact info of your parent’s trusted advisors such as an attorney, accountant, investment or wealth manager, insurance agents, doctors, and anyone else who is working with them on legal, medical, or financial matters.
Some of the subjects to be discussed at your “talk” should be:
- Living arrangements, including but not limited to, where they will reside, with whom they might live if necessary, whether an independent senior facility is a possibility at some point, the need for a companion, other special needs, do they have long-term care insurance
- Financial arrangements, including but not limited to, bank accounts, investment portfolio information, properties, LLCs or partnerships, safe deposits boxes
- Documents such as wills, trusts, titles for autos, deeds for properties, insurance policies, tax returns, Powers of Attorney, healthcare directives (e.g., DNR)
- Digital access – which are the passwords and logins for online accounts such as credit cards, investments, banks, social media, emails
- Distribution of family treasures which may include jewelry, artwork, furnishings, housewares, silver, china, crystal
- Charitable giving – hospitals, non-profits, universities, foundations, etc.
- Monetary gifting to children or grandchildren up to $15,000 per child, per year
- Provisions for children’s and grandchildren’s college & advanced education
- Funeral arrangements – what are their wishes
Perhaps You Need A Professional Quarterback
Depending on how many of these items your parents already have in place and how well organized they are, this can be an overwhelming task to pull everything together. For those who have little or no experience with financial matters, it would be a good idea to have an outside caring, qualified resource as a family “quarterback”. Here is how I help families go through this process.
By taking a 10,000-foot overview, I can facilitate this sensitive conversation with the family. When an outside authority is involved, parents listen and understand these issues differently than hearing them from their children and positive actions can be implemented.
Keep in mind, I am not looking to replace you or your parent’s advisors, I’m looking to be the coordinator and the quarterback for everyone. Often, I find missed financial planning opportunities and coordination gaps that could be costing families thousands or even millions of dollars depending on their net worth. If you think I might be able to help with this process for your family, please reach out to me for a no-obligation discussion.
I hope you will not consider all this information as only food for thought, but rather as fuel for action.
Having “the talk with your parents” doesn’t have to be difficult and is meant to give peace of mind to everyone involved. It will avoid any future family disagreements - we’ve all heard those horror stories of how a parent’s passing rips a family apart over something as trivial as a coffee cup – and I surely don’t want that to happen to you and your family.
Please feel free to share this with friends or other family members who might benefit from this information.
I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
Saul Simon is a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors.
Securities and advisory services offered through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a broker/dealer (Member SIPC) and registered investment advisor. Insurance offered through Lincoln affiliates and other fine companies. Simon Financial Group is a marketing name for business conducted through Lincoln Financial Advisors. Lincoln Financial Advisors does not provide legal or tax advice. CRN-3454195-021621