Remember the anxious moments and uncomfortable feelings you experienced when you had ‘the talk’ with your kids? Well, you’re going to have them again – even though the topic is decidedly different – because it’s time to have “the talk” with your parents. That’s right – you need to talk to them about their health and financial issues while their health allows it and they can be fully involved in making decisions regarding their living arrangements, level of care, and estate planning. Don’t wait until a crisis occurs that can reduce their estate planning options and increase costs – do it now! Here are some tips for getting “the talk” going:
- Offer an opening – your parents may be waiting for an opportunity to have this discussion; you can provide it. Your role is to be a supporter and information gatherer.
- Use ice-breaking strategies like offering help with their estate and retirement planning.
- Keep in mind that your parents want and need to maintain their independence and dignity.
- Listen – try to understand their fears and anxieties. Focus the conversation on your parents’ health and well-being and your love and concern for them.
Here’s what you should include in the discussion:
- Sources of income – including any changes in monthly income should one of them die.
- Investments – as well as beneficiaries for their registered investments.
- Expenses – will their income (including government aid) cover their expenses as they are likely to escalate with age?
- Insurance – what coverage do they have; are there holes that need to be filled?
- Existing wills – have they designated personal representative (executor/liquidator) to wind up their affairs and distribute their assets according to their wills?
- Enduring powers of attorney for property (in Québec, mandates in anticipation of incapacity) – be sure they have appointed someone to make financial decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated.
- Powers of attorney for personal care, living wills, health care directives – be sure they have appointed someone to make personal and health care decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated.
- Location – know where their wills and other legal papers are kept; know the location and content of their bank accounts and safety deposit boxes.
Having “the talk” with your parents can be difficult but it is also necessary. To be sure you take full advantage of the many financial and estate planning strategies available to your parents, suggest adding a professional advisor to your ‘planning’ team. Your advisor can also add valuable outside perspective as well as easing the awkwardness of ‘the talk’.
This column, written and published by Investors Group Financial Services Inc. (in Québec – a Financial Services Firm), and Investors Group Securities Inc. (in Québec, a firm in Financial Planning) presents general information only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any investments. Contact your own advisor for specific advice about your circumstances. For more information on this topic please contact your Investors Group Consultant.