As you were raising your children, there were conversations that you knew you needed to have with them at various times through the years. When the kids were really young, they were usually instructional conversations about how to act and what to do but as the kids grew, the conversations became a little more complicated.
The ‘Sex Talk’ is a conversation that many parents dread. Some feel awkward talking to their kids about this topic; agonizing over what to tell, how much to say and how detailed to become. Kids sometimes dread these conversations as much as the parents do! But it really is a conversation that can’t be ignored. To refuse to confront the fact that your children are growing up is a mistake you cannot afford to make as a parent.
There is another conversation I feel has every bit as big of an impact on how things may go in your future.
That conversation is the one that needs to happen between adult children and their aging parents. The conversation about what the parent’s plans and wishes are for the years when the aging parent may need help from the kids. This is a talk that few really to want to have; but, I truly believe that you are in denial if you don’t face the fact that those times eventually come. The one certainty in life is that, at some point, it ends.
I live in Pennsylvania Dutch country and one thing that people do not want to talk about here, is their money. Many people are very private about what they have and don’t want to go around sharing that with others.
And that’s fine. You don’t have to pass out a spread sheet to all of your friends and neighbors, but you might want to consider sharing some things with your kids. Aging parents who expect, or hope, that their kids will help them to manage when they need help, need to share information about their finances and consider setting up some mechanism for access. It does not mean you need to sign your money over, but if, at some point, decisions have to be made on your behalf, it is best for your family to be able to make an informed decision based on accurate information.
You should consult with an Elder Law Attorney about how to set things up to protect yourself while providing some path for your kids to help you should the need arise.
If you have a child that you trust, set them up to handle your affairs; if you don’t have a child or do not trust them to act in your best interests, find somebody else to do this for you (an attorney can help with that as well).
Once these decisions have been made and plans put into place, you must then share it with those who need to know!
Don’t hide information that may be important. Organize the finances and share the location of the information with your appointed trustee. Give them a general idea of the scope of assets, if you feel that you can, so that they will be able to make good judgments about what you may and may not be able to afford at any given time in the future.
My father was well into early dementia before the finances were handed off to my brother (who helps my mother) leaving my brother in a position where he was constantly discovering new things! My father had long ago lost the capacity to handle things with the accuracy that they required even neglecting to begin taking mandatory distributions from some of his retirement funds which now may require that they pay a penalty.
If the conversations had been welcomed and initiated by my father (my mother would not have hesitated) years before, many hours spent addressing complications could have been avoided.
Parents frequently say that they do not want to become a burden on their children. But by not having these conversations, that is often what happens in the end. The time and frustration that the caregivers exert figuring out and then straightening out the situation when it becomes necessary, becomes a burden to them.
So, if you are the aging parent, make this conversation a priority; it is your responsibility.
And if you are the adult child, share this article with your parent and ask for that conversation. Express to your parent that having this conversation would help you minimize the stress and strain, of what might already become sad and stressful time, in the future.
Communicate. Work with an Elder Law Attorney to get the proper framework for your family situation set up.
Then, it can be filed away for the day when you might need it.
On the journey with you…….Kathy