This is an article from a monthly newsletter Jay and I write for BirkeConsulting.com that I thought might be helpful for adult children with ADD (or any adult child dealing with money-related issues with parents) or parents wishing or needing to talk with their adult children.
Failure to talk about money while your parent is cogent can be very costly-both financially and emotionally. Before I worked as a financial behavior specialist and family wealth consultant, it didn’t occur to me to help pave the way for my clients to talk with their parents. Unfortunately, many of my clients had compromised emotional and financial well-being because they never had “the talk”.
Having the “Talk”
I admire adults who have the courage to talk with their parents, and parents who have the foresight and willingness to talk with their adult children about money. These sometimes difficult conversations are crucial to reduce stress in the parent’s later years and to smooth the inevitable transitions, as well as the passing of assets to the children.
Here are some tips:
• If you wait too long, your parent may become incapacitated-Unforeseen emotional burdens and financial stresses may be thrust upon on you because you don’t know enough about their financial situation. Questions to pursue include whether there’s a financial planner, a will, enough money to fund their post-retirement years.
• Prepare ahead because the conversation can be awkward-Money is a tough topic to broach. Many of my clients need a meeting or two with me or another professional to figure out how to prepare for the conversation.
• Have a professional present for the discussion-A financial behavior specialist, wealth counselor, attorney or coach who is versed in money and psychology can help give a reason for the conversation.
• Be transparent with your family-“I’ve been reading about how important it is for us to talk about money together. I feel awkward because I know this has been private, but I’d like to try. Would that be okay with you?”
• Start slowly and don’t spring a big conversation out of the blue-Start while your parent is cognizant and can tell you what s/he wants. Some soft openings might be:
o “My financial planner suggested I get long term care. Do you guys have that?”
o “My attorney said we needed to update our wills. I’ve never asked: Do you have a will?”
o “I know you’re worried about running out of money, can I help research some options?”
• Ask vs.Tell-Respect and more respect sets the right tone. The goal is help your parent keep as much control as they want/are capable of.
o “How would you like this bill paid?”
o “Would you like me to call the attorney or would you like to do that?”
My clients are relieved to finally be able to have these conversations. One of them said it best, “I was so worried about seeming greedy, intrusive, or having my parents think I was materialistic and all about their money, that I kept procrastinating so I could avoid their judgment and the overall awkwardness. After you and I practiced, I felt ready. The kicker: My parents thanked me because they said they wanted to bring this up but didn’t know how and didn’t want to burden me.”
What a great outcome.
If you’re having trouble getting started, call or email so we can help you craft a conversation that fits you and your situation. Whether it’s about inheritance, health, staying at home, talking about legacy or family business concerns, a liquidity event or retirement, we’re experienced in helping people talk about money. We can help make these awkward conversations and transitions more comfortable.
Call 978-446-9600 or email us to begin the conversation.