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Discussing Finances With Aging Parents

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) — Discussing finances with aging parents is not easy and it turns out, most of us don’t do it. A recent study found 94 percent of Americans have not had that crucial conversation. “Too often I think we’re afraid to approach our parents with this,” said Lois Wagh Aronstein of the American Association of Retired People. “It’s denial,” she added.

Dan Kadlec gained national attention for an article he wrote giving advice to his daughter about money. It was not as easy to talk to his mom about her finances. “The problem that I had is that she wanted to talk, but she didn’t really want to act,” he said.

WBZ-TV Paula Ebben reports.

As difficult as the conversation might be, it is important to have it early when your parents are healthy and can voice their own concerns.

“Approach it from a point of view of asking for their wishes,” Aronstein suggested. “They need to make the decisions. They need to maintain control of their own legacy.”

Experts say there are many ways to begin a conversation so that it is not threatening.

  • Talk about your own retirement. If you bring up your own savings strategy, it can be a great opportunity to ask you parents about their savings.
  • Mention a friend or relative. If someone they know is struggling with their finances it could be an opportunity to see the situation from an outside perspective.
  • Bring in a trusted friend. If your relationship with your parents is strained, a friend, relative, financial advisor or even doctor may be able to help you bring up the subject.
  • When all else fails you can always try humor. “It’s about as awkward as the conversation they had with you about sex,” Kadlec said, “but it’s just as important.”

You should also make sure someone knows where your parents’ important papers like wills, titles and insurance policies are kept. You may need that information if your aging parents are no longer able to make decisions on their own.

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