If you know you should discuss money, financial planning and inheritances with your family, but shy away from having “the conversation” — you’re not alone. Various studies have found that, while an overwhelming majority (89%) of Americans feel that parents and their adult children should talk about money and inheritances, more than half (57%) say they find it difficult to raise such issues. Sounds like the agenda items that are constantly tabled at board meetings, doesn’t it?

Studies have found that families fear discussions about money and the future because they raise difficult emotional issues such as aging and mortality. However, studies revealed that families who discuss these issues are better prepared for their financial futures. The best time to initiate a discussion of family money and inheritance is when parents and adult children are healthy and in good spirits. Similar to board meetings, it is easier to discuss stressful items at the beginning of meetings when everyone is fresh and relaxed, versus later in the meeting when everyone is ready to retire.

Some Suggestions to consider when introducing the topic to aging parents are:

  1. Clear your thoughts of any resentment or expectations. You’re opening the discussion because you care about your parents’ future.
  2. Put yourself in your parent’s place. How would you like your children to approach the subject if you were in your parents’ shoes?
  3. Plan ahead. Think about what you want to say and how you’ll say it.
  4. Find a reason to introduce the topic. Articles such as this one can help you bring up the subject of retirement planning, health care and inheritance. This article is a good example, especially since your home or condominium may be one of the largest assets in your parents estate.
  5. Offer a rationale for the conversation. Suggest that often in the day-to-day rush, we don’t always look ahead. Explain how careful planning will benefit the entire family.
  6. Introduce possible scenarios. Present various situations to your parents, beginning with the least threatening view of the future. Discuss issues which may affect them in the coming years, such as the need to secure a financially solid and healthy retirement. You might ask your parents if their savings and pension plans will provide adequate income for the next 20 or 30 years.
  7. Remain neutral if controversial issues surface. If the conversation becomes too emotional, postpone it for awhile or consider including a Financial Advisor. Sometimes, the presence of an unbiased or neutral “outsider” can keep the discussion objective and less emotional.
  8. Make arrangements. Once you have discussed your parents’ current financial arrangements, you will need to address the tougher issues that may arise should one or both of your parents experience a period of ill health.
  9. Complete four legal and financial tasks: A durable power of attorney; a legal will; a health care proxy statement and a list and location of assets.

Taking care of these practical considerations can help ease concerns and fears.

Consult an attorney to assist you in the preparation of these documents since they may advise you of other alternatives that may fit your particular situation.

Above all, remember that open and honest discussions about money and the future can ease parents’ unspoken concerns about growing older and help prepare them adequately for their retirement years. 

Helping Helping You Build a Firm Financial Foundation For Your Future

Nico F. March is the Managing Director for The March Group, LLC. He has worked with Community Associations since 1974 and has served on several Boards, including the Board of Directors for the Community Association Institute (CAI), San Diego Chapter. His team has specialized in Corporate Cash and Association Financial Management since 1982 and has assisted over 1000 Associations, Nonprofits and Timeshares invest over $4 Billion in reserve, operating and reconstruction funds. Nico and his team work out of their San Diego and Wyoming offices and may be reached at 888.811.6501 or email [email protected] for further information and consultations.

The March Group is not a tax or legal advisor. We will be glad to work with your professional CPA and Attorney to help you with your financial goals. Neither the information contained herein nor any opinion expressed shall be construed to constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any securities mentioned herein. Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.

Content in this material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.


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