Talking to your parents about their financial status can be touchy, but it’s an important conversation to have, nevertheless. Just as you’ll want to take care of your parents’ health and safety as they get older, you’ll want to do the same when it comes to their financial needs—before financial problems arise. It’s important to broach the subject gently and respectfully so that your parents continue to feel a sense of independence and control over their money matters.
Here are eight financial issues to address with your parents:
- Cover their assets: With their help, make a list of all your parents’ assets, including savings, investments, real estate, and other property. Then, add up your parents’ monthly income from Social Security, pensions, retirement accounts, and investments.
- Tally up their expenses: Figure out how much of your parents’ income goes toward monthly expenses, including rent or mortgage payments, utilities, property taxes, home maintenance, all insurance premiums, food, clothing, medical bills and prescriptions, auto maintenance or transportation, entertainment, and travel. Then, decide if the income is covering all their expenses, if you need to sell some assets, or if you need to introduce some cost-cutting measures.
- Examine their insurance policies: Are they adequately covered for health insurance, beyond Medicare? Do they have sufficient life insurance? Or a long-term care policy? It’s also wise to make sure your parents aren’t paying for policies that are duplicative.
- Ask about locations, locations: Find out where your parents’ insurance policies, wills, trust documents, bank and investment records, tax returns, and other important financial documents are located and whom you should contact about these holdings, in case your parents are incapacitated.
- Set up automated options: With your parents’ help, create automatic payments from their accounts for mortgage or rent payments, insurance premiums, credit card payments, and other fixed expenses; this will relieve your parents of the bill-paying responsibility and ensure that all payments are up to date. It’s also wise to create automatic deposits for Social Security and pension checks to make sure these checks end up in the right accounts.
- Talk about goals: Discuss your parents’ financial goals with them. Do they want to put aside money for a retirement or vacation home? To help pay for their grandchildren’s education? Or do they have other financial priorities in mind for the future?
- Find out how they need help managing their finances: Do they have an accountant to advise them on tax issues and help prepare their taxes? Do they have a financial adviser to help them manage their financial affairs? If not, seek recommendations from trusted friends and family members.
- Review the financial situation regularly: Discuss the importance of revisiting these subjects every six months to a year to make sure all your parents’ financial and health needs will continue to be met.