June 2016
Talk to Your Aging Parents
About Their Finances
This is one conversation that calls for tact and sensitivity. When you notice that your parents are slowing down because of age or illness, it’s time to reach out to them and offer support.
You can initiate the conversation even if they seem fit and independent. The important thing is to discuss their finances, and caregiving preferences, as a family.
When to reach out. If you live far away from your parents, try having the talk during your next trip home. Consider a nonthreatening approach such as mentioning that you have been thinking about your future financial plans and want to go over some matters that involve them.
Set the tone. Be respectful and nonjudgmental. And remain so, even if your parents seem hesitant to talk. Stay positive. Present the discussion as a way of exploring together how to make their lives more manageable. Let them know you are available to help them when they need it.
One thing at a time. If they continue to be reluctant, you might want to try talking about one thing at a time, for example, knowing where to locate contact information and documents.
Get organized. It’s a good idea to make a list of the financial information you’ll need to gather in order to assist your parents. Then, when they’re ready to talk, you’ll know where to start.
Here's Where to Start: 
  • Know where to locate important documents such as a will, marriage and birth certificates, military records, titles to property, insurance policies, a living will, financial account information, mortgages and other debts, and tax returns.
  • Develop a list of contact information, phone and emails, for your parents’ advisors, such as an attorney, financial advisor, and life insurance agent.
  • Learn the location and contents of your parents’ safe deposit box.
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Tips for Managing Your Expenses While Helping Your Parents
Being a caregiver to an aging or ill parent either physically, financially, or both, is a compassionate choice that involves immediate and long-term financial planning.
It is important to understand all the expenses involved and what you can afford. Follow these tips to help trim expenses and keep your income while helping your parents at the same time.
  1. Make a budget. Help your parents list their living and medical expenses. Determine how much your parents, you, and/or siblings will contribute financially. If you live away from your parents consider travel expenses and time off work. 

  2. Cut costs. Start by researching and taking advantage of all available public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and state prescription drug assistance programs for income-eligible seniors. The website can help you find programs that pay some of the costs of prescription drugs, health care, utilities, and other essentials.

  3. Plan for long-term expenses. Three “big-ticket” financial issues related to long-term care of an aging parent are: a parent moving in with an adult child, moving a parent into an assisted living facility, and assisting a parent financially. Discuss the financial pros and cons of each of these options and develop a plan.

Read On
SAM is a resource of the National Endowment for Financial Education.
©2014, National Endowment for Financial Education. All rights reserved.
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