Talking about money isn’t always a comfortable experience. However, having these discussions with aging parents can be even more challenging. But given the importance of finances as we age, having these talks with your parents is vital. After all, you want your loved one to live a stress-free life without struggling in the confusing world of finances.
To have effective financing discussions with your aging parents, follow these 6 tips below:
Talk About Scams & Financial Fraud
Unfortunately, we live in a world where people try to take advantage of the elderly. Scammers will often call an aging individual and ask for money. They may even threaten the person in order to get payment or steal an identity. As this is a growing concern around the country, make sure you talk to your loved one about this reality.
Since many elders aren’t familiar with these scams, making them aware is very important. Tell them to never give out payment or personal information over the phone, and encourage them to be cautious while using the internet. Also, try to understand more about their finances, and let them know you're a helping hand if they suspect any fraudulent activity. While senior finances can be challenging enough, dealing with a scam or identity theft can be devastating. Having these discussions is extremely important!
Speak with Their Financial Planner or Accountant
If your loved one has a financial planner or accountant, getting in contact with them should be a top priority. This is especially true if you or your loved one feels uncomfortable having these discussions. Since these professionals talk about this stuff for a living, they can offer tons of help. But before speaking with them, make sure your loved one gives professional permission. It’s also a good idea to bring a set of questions to ask during the meeting. Make sure you do research to determine the right questions to ask.
Get on the Do Not Call List
As an adult, how many random calls do you get in a week? If you’re like most people, you probably receive at least a few. While some of these are from legitimate organizations, most of them are telemarketing scams, trying to get your money one way or another. However, while we all receive these calls, the elderly may get more of them. This is because many elders still use landlines, which makes it easier for scammers to track them down. To limit these annoying calls, make sure your loved one is on the government's Do Not Call Registry. While this doesn’t guarantee scammers will never contact them, it can prevent a lot of unwanted calls. This is one important way to keep senior finances in check!
While you never want to stress your loved one out regarding finances, you still want to be honest. If you totally avoid an important discussion, that will only make the problem worse. For instance, if you know your loved one has an outstanding medical bill that's far past due, you’ll want to talk about it. When being straightforward with your loved one, kindness is vital. As this may be a stressful experience, you never want to overwhelm them. Simply explain what you need to say and inform them you’re always here to help.
Ask the Right Questions
While many adults with aging parents understand the importance of senior finances, many of them don’t know the right questions to ask. This is especially true if you’ve never done this before.
Not sure where to begin? While your specific questions may vary, here are some common options you can try:
- Did you choose a financial power of attorney?
- Do you have a will? If so, where is it located?
- What is your total income every month? This includes investments, pensions, and social security.
- How many bills do you have? Are they paid automatically every month?
- Are you in debt? How are you paying it off?
- Who handles your taxes?
- How much do you have in savings?
Before asking your loved one these questions, make sure they feel comfortable. If they feel a little stressed, don’t ask all of the questions at once. Ask a few questions one day, and a few more the next. And make sure to always be gentle and kind!
Explain Your Intentions Upfront
As you understand the importance of senior finances, you never want to just bring up these questions out of nowhere. That said, make sure you clearly explain your intentions before diving in. Tell your loved one the reasons why you two are having these discussions, and make sure you’re both on the same page. Explain how you genuinely care about their health and well-being, and that you’re looking out for their future.