GUEST COLUMN: Having the talk

Discussing health and financial planning with aging parents.

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 another “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 – Include 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, which are likely to escalate with age?

Insurance – What coverage do they have, and are there holes that need to be filled?

Existing wills – Have they designated personal representative (executor/liquidator) to handle their affairs and distribute their assets according to their wills?

Enduring powers of attorney for property – 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.

Andy Erickson is the division director with Investors Group, Vernon. This article is provided for information purposes only. Please consult with a professional advisor before implementing a strategy.


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