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Military Finances 201: How to Talk to Aging Parents About Their Finances Thumbnail

Military Finances 201: How to Talk to Aging Parents About Their Finances

Estate Planning Managing Your Finances

As our parents age, we often find ourselves stepping into new roles. One of the most challenging and sensitive discussions to have is about their finances. While uncomfortable, this conversation is crucial for ensuring their well-being and making informed decisions. Here, we’ll explore why this conversation is important and how you can approach it with empathy and respect. We will also provide tips for a productive dialogue.

Why You Should Talk to Your Parents About Their Finances

Many aging parents might be hesitant to discuss their finances. They might feel it’s a private matter, fear losing their independence, or simply find it overwhelming. However, there are compelling reasons to initiate this conversation:

  • Planning for the Future: Understanding their financial status allows you to plan effectively for their future needs, such as healthcare expenses, assisted living, or estate planning.
  • Preventing Financial Abuse: Seniors are often targets of financial scams or abuse. Being aware of their financial activities can help protect them from potential exploitation.
  • Avoiding Surprises: Unexpected financial issues can arise, such as debts, inadequate retirement savings, or lack of insurance. Knowing early allows time to address these challenges.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing their wishes regarding inheritance, end-of-life care, and funeral arrangements can ease stress during difficult times.

How to Talk to Your Parents About Their Finances

Broaching the subject of finances requires sensitivity and empathy. Here are some tips on how to have that conversation:1

1. Choose the Right Time and Place
Find a quiet, comfortable setting where you can have a private conversation without interruptions. This should be done at a time when everyone is relaxed and not rushed. As an Active or Retired Military Member you're likely to live a distance from your parents. Make sure you plan out the time and place and don't wait until the last minute of your leave/visit.

2. Start with Open-Ended Questions
Begin the conversation with open-ended questions to encourage sharing. For example, “I’ve been thinking about our family’s future, and I’m curious about how you’ve planned for retirement. Can we talk about it?”

3. Express Concern, Not Control
Frame the conversation around your concern for their well-being. Avoid sounding accusatory or authoritative. Use phrases like, “I want to make sure you’re taken care of,” rather than, “You need to show me your finances.”

4. Be an Active Listener
Give them space to express their feelings and concerns. Active listening shows respect and helps build trust. Repeat what you’ve heard back to them to ensure understanding.

5. Share Your Situation
Sometimes, sharing your financial plans or challenges can make them feel more comfortable sharing theirs because it creates a sense of mutual understanding.

Tips for a Productive Conversation

Once you’ve initiated the conversation, here are some tips for keeping it on track and productive:

Gather Necessary Documents
If possible, have them gather financial documents, such as bank statements, investment accounts, insurance policies, wills, and any debts they might have. These can help provide a clear picture of their financial standing.

Focus on Specific Topics
Rather than overwhelming them with a broad discussion, focus on specific areas, such as retirement savings, healthcare costs, or estate planning. This makes the conversation more manageable.

Be Patient and Respectful
Remember that this conversation may be difficult for them. Be patient with their responses and avoid pressuring them for immediate answers.

Involve Trusted Professionals
If needed, you may suggest involving a financial advisor, accountant, or lawyer. These professionals can provide expertise and an objective viewpoint.

Follow Up
This conversation is likely not a one-time event. Follow up regularly to review and update their financial plans, especially as circumstances change.

Despite your best efforts, your parents might still resist discussing finances. If they’re uncomfortable sharing specific details, respect their boundaries and focus on the importance of having a plan in place rather than the specific numbers. Alternately, consider including siblings or other family members. Sometimes, a group discussion with siblings can make the conversation less intimidating.

Talking to aging parents about their finances is crucial in ensuring their future well-being. While it can be a sensitive and challenging conversation, approaching it with empathy, respect, and patience can lead to a productive dialogue. By initiating this conversation, you demonstrate care and commitment to their happiness and security as they navigate their golden years.

Military Finances are Different

As mentioned earlier, as a military member or retiree, we think you're more likely to live farther away from your parents than your civilian counterparts. That's not the only way your life and finances are different than a civilian. That's why we think Active and Retired Senior Military Officers and NCOs should work with a financial firm that deals with your unique military lifestyle each and every day. If you'd like to find out how we work with active and retired military members like you, use the button below to schedule a free initial consultation.

If you found this article useful, you might like the following blog posts:

Retired Military Finances 301: Should Mom (and/or Dad) Get a Reverse Mortgage?

Military Finances 301: Mom (or Dad) Missed Her RMD. Now What?

Retired Military Finances 301: Medicaid Annuities

  1. https://www.guardianlife.com/retirement/aging-parents-finances

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