5 Financial Questions to Discuss with your Aging Parents

By: Michael J. Searcy

Being prepared for the unexpected may not be high on your priority list. There are people who would have trouble locating their breaker box if the power went out, the fire extinguisher if cooking dinner took a wrong turn, or the car jack if they popped a tire. However, these situations produce immediate emergencies that could easily be overcome with a little preparation. The same goes for health or other issues that may affect the financial situation of your aging parents. These 5 questions can help you when approaching your parents about their financial well-being and discussing their wants and wishes.

1. Would you feel comfortable talking to me or a financial professional about your finances so that we are prepared in the event of a health crisis?

By giving your parents the opportunity to speak openly with you or an independent professional, you are helping them get started based on their comfort level. Whether they choose to speak with you, another sibling, or a professional, at least someone will be able to help them develop a plan and understand their situation. Make sure they are comfortable being open and honest with the person they choose. Their dignity may feel threated when having conversations about financial matters, so a protected and comfortable environment is necessary.

2. Do you have any of the following estate planning documents in place: a will, durable power of attorney, or health care power of attorney?

These documents will help determine your parents’ wishes on matters such as asset distribution and end-of-life requests, and names someone to make decisions if they are unable. If they have been developed, make sure they are up to date and reflect any recent changes in their lives. If they haven’t started, work with an estate planning attorney to get the documents in place.

3. Where have you stored your estate planning and other important documents/items?

Knowing where your parents store important documents is just as important as knowing they have them prepared. You should also know where they store keys to safety deposit boxes, insurance policies, investment accounts, original certificates and passwords for their digital accounts and assets.

4. Do you currently work with any professional advisors? Have you given them permission to speak with specific family members?

Developing a relationship with, or at least knowing the contact information for your parents’ advisors, will be helpful in the event of a crisis. These professionals can help you locate documents and understand the wishes of your parents that have already been discussed. If they do not currently work with a financial advisor, consider working with one who incorporates the entire family into financial planning discussions decisions.

5. What concerns do you have about aging and being prepared in the event of an emergency?

This last question may or may not result in an answer related to finances, but it could be some of the most valuable material your parents share with you. Knowing their concerns and discussing ways you can best comfort them or help them during a time of need can be emotionally helpful for your parents and yourself. In the event that they are unable to communicate with you in the future, you may find comfort knowing you are carrying out their wishes.

As originally published in Johnson County Lifestyle Magazine

Please remember that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product made reference to directly or indirectly in this content, will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), or be suitable for you or your portfolio. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter (article) serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Searcy Financial Services, Inc.

The content of this letter does not constitute a tax or legal opinion. Always consult with a competent professional service provider for advice on tax or legal matters specific to your situation. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed in this content, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.  

Published for the blog on December 12, 2014 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.