Breaking The Barrier Of Silence Discussing Money With Your Aging Parents

Many of​ us are in​ the​ “Sandwich Generation.” we​ belong to​ the​ wonderful group of​ families that are still in​ the​ process of​ raising children and we​ have the​ added responsibility of​ caring for elderly parents. Most of​ the​ time this is​ not an​ issue until the​ subject of​ money or​ health care comes up. Usually when money comes into the​ conversation it​ is​ due to​ a​ financial disaster or​ a​ health crisis that will force us to​ delve into our parents’ checkbooks in​ an​ attempt to​ sort situations out.

Do you really want to​ wait for such a​ crisis to​ develop before initiating the​ conversation of​ money? or​ would you rather wait until your parent is​ mentally incompetent to​ discuss financial strategies. Most of​ us would answer with a​ big,​ healthy,​ “No!” However,​ starting a​ conversation about money with a​ parent can be frustrating at​ best. Most of​ the​ time parents think they are helping by not burdening you with their problems. Frequently,​ when I approached my folks about money their comments were; “Don’t worry about us. We’re fine,​ kid.” “We got it​ all handled,​ you just worry about your own family.” Stuff like that. it​ was maddening.

My father only opened up about finances after the​ death of​ my mother. it​ took that traumatic experience for him to​ realize why I needed to​ know certain things about his finances and how he wanted his estate to​ be handled upon his death. I waited for 18 months after my mom’s funeral before I sat down with my dad and asked him what he wanted done. He was resistant at​ first,​ but finally understood that I was asking out of​ respect for him and his wishes. it​ took another 6 months after that before he sent me copies of​ his will and a​ list of​ people were various items were to​ go upon his death.

I watched a​ similar situation occur with my husband and his parents. Both of​ his parents are still alive,​ but I watched my husband and his brother spend 3 years every Thanksgiving and Christmas trying to​ get their parents to​ create wills and living trusts so that the​ rest of​ the​ family wouldn’t be burdened with choices that really belonged to​ the​ parents. I thought,​ “There has got to​ be an​ easier way to​ handle this!”

Then I read an​ article in​ “How to​ Get Your Parents to​ Open Up About Their Finances.” the​ Bottom Line Magazine(March 2007) it​ was written by Dan Taylor who is​ an​ attorney who specializes in​ elder-care issues. I recommend that you go to​ his website at​ and look over the​ articles and questions that he has set up to​ assist the​ sandwich generation talk to​ parents about issues of​ health care and money.

He recommends six critical conversations that need to​ be discussed.

1-The Big Picture Conversation (What do we​ want for our long-term care?)
2-The Money Conversation (What do we​ have,​ where is​ it,​ how do we​ get to​ it?)
3-The Home Conversation (How much is​ it​ worth,​ How do we​ use it,​ How do we​ leave it?)
4-The Property Conversation (What do we​ want to​ keep? What do we​ want to​ give?)
5-The Care Conversation (Where do we​ go,​ What do we​ need,​ who provides it?)
6-The Legacy Conversation (How will we​ be remembered,​ who will remember us,​ and when do we​ talk about our memories?)

I highly recommend that anyone who has living parents have these discussions with them. They are productive and managed to​ make the​ transition of​ life stages much less painful as​ your parents’ age. if​ you want more information on​ this topic you can read Dan Taylor’s book,​ the​ Parent Solution: a​ Legacy of​ Love.

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