How to Talk About Finances with Your Aging Parents

It’s a difficult thing to think about, but one day you could be taking care of an elderly parent who’s in declining physical or mental health. Whether or not you work with your parents in a family business, it’s important to recognize the financial stress and list of “to dos” that come with the emotions of this phase of life. By taking steps to make ensure finances are in order now, you’ll be more prepared to handle those matters down the road. In turn, you’ll have the ability to focus on the health and quality of life of your parents as they age.

While your parents may be reluctant at first, it’s important to talk to them about their financial affairs. Knowing information such as where important documents are kept and the name of their accountant will better equip you to help them settle their affairs.

To open the conversation with your parents, here are a few topics to discuss:

Basic Information & Assets

Find out where your parents keep the following records:

  • Social Security cards
  • Driver’s licenses
  • Passports
  • Marriage or divorce records
  • Family birth certificates
  • Military service records
  • Pension records
  • Mortgage records
  • Deed to their house or other property
  • Vehicle titles
  • Any other asset documentation

Financial and Insurance Records

Make a list of these items and review them with your parents:

  • Financial assets
  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Investments
  • Designated beneficiaries
  • Safe deposit box location and box number
  • Accountant information
  • Copies of tax returns
  • Home, vehicle, health and life insurance records

Estate Planning

Find out if your parents have these planning assets. If they don’t, talk to them about how you can support them in putting these plans in place:

  • A will or living trust
  • An attorney
  • A power of attorney
  • Special wishes for bequests in writing
  • Directives for medical care (otherwise known as living wills)

Income and Expenses

Learn about your parents’ current financial situation, including:

  • Income
  • Monthly expenses
  • Financial planner and accountant

At Cray Kaiser, we recommend keeping all of this vital information in a Crash Card. You can learn more about Crash Cards and download a template here.

Don’t worry about gathering every bit of information in one sitting. Rather, think of this list as a starting point for a series of conversations. Wherever possible, involve your parents in putting their own affairs in order. If you’d like additional guidance on how to start financial conversations with your family, contact us today.