the conversation that many families put off. And then
put off some more.
the talk between elderly parents and their adult
children about the parentsí finances. Itís a
conversation that every family eventually must have ó
and itís best to do it before a crisis hits.
is a taboo subject for families, but we do find that
silence can be costly," said Lauren Brouhard, a
senior vice president at Fidelity Investments.
company recently released a study that found that when
it comes to important but difficult conversations about
finances, many families struggle with the timing.
Intra-Family Generational Finance study showed that 64
percent of parents and their adult children differ as to
when detailed conversations on key financial topics,
including retirement preparedness, elder care and estate
planning, should take place.
parents would prefer to wait until after retirement,
their children want the conversations to take place well
before their parents retire or experience health
issues," Brouhard said.
study found that the top reason cited by parents for not
discussing their retirement plans or other matters with
their adult children is that they donít want them to
count too much on their future inheritance."
I understand where parents are coming from, their
reluctance is risky. Sooner or later, they will have to
have that talk, and it most likely will occur during a
is a difference between destiny and certainty,"
said Michael B. Cohen, an elder law attorney in Dallas.
"A failure of the family to communicate will lead
to mere destiny, whereas if there is a family
discussion, then a plan can be discussed for certainty.
If nothing else, there will be a better understanding of
what is truly important to the parent and what risks
they are willing to take, if any."
the best time to have that talk is now.
children can broach the subject by using another personís
situation. Perhaps a friend recently had the discussion
with his or her parents. You can use that as a bridge to
ask your parents whether they have the proper estate
planning and medical documents prepared, and whether
they have spelled out their desires.
need to know this so you can carry out their wishes.
the flip side, parents can also initiate the talk.
Knowing that theyíve communicated their wishes to
their family can keep them from fretting.
of peopleís big fears as they age is being a burden on
others," Brouhard said. "Taking the time to
have more detailed conversations can really dramatically
increase peace of mind and reduce anxiety for many
of having these discussions, there could be surprises
about a parentís wishes, what responsibilities a
parent may be assuming a child may or may not be willing
to take on ó important matters that really impact
everyoneís life in the family," Brouhard said.
example, the Fidelity study found a wide gap in
expectations about who will care for a parent if they
become ill. Of adult children surveyed, 43 percent
expect they or a sibling will need to handle caregiving
duties. Only 6 percent of parents expect this.
an adult child, itís important to remember that
decisions about their finances are up to your parents,
as long as they are capable.
it comes to finances, itís not a democracy,"
Brouhard said. "While different family members
should have a role in the planning process, ultimately,
itís going to be up to the parents to make the
important decisions that they have a right to make about
their future, as well as how they disperse their assets
and whoís in charge of what."