As an adult child, you think you know a great many things about your parents. They’ve taken care of you your entire life.
Then all of a sudden, you start a journey you always thought would happen “someday”. In truth, you thought – hoped – it was a long way off. Now you find yourself in a caregiving role, and every day is a new experience.
Occasionally, it’s all on your shoulders. You have to ensure things get done. You have to take control. But have you ever stopped to think about just how much power you really have?
Ask yourself a few questions.
Do my parents have estate documents for when they pass away?
When was the last time my parents updated wills and living trusts?
Do I know the content of wills and trusts?
Where are their documents stored? Do I have access when I need them?
Do you see yourself in these questions? Have the answers made you a little nervous? Maybe it’s time to have a conversation with your parents.
According to a Fidelity study, 69 percent of elderly parents expect their kids to help manage their investments and retirement finances, yet more than a third of these kids have no idea of their role.
It’s been a common theme throughout our society – we don’t talk about death and finances. It just “gets done” somehow, some way. Unfortunately, that puts hardship on everyone. Silence can lead to all kinds of problems, from having severe financial crisis, to having adult siblings fight and no longer speak.
Want to change that?
Start by requesting a conversation. Be patient. Your parents may still subscribe to the “not for proper conversation” mentality. If so, explain your intentions, and consider finding articles and reports to back you up.
Go into the meeting by focusing on what your parents want. This isn’t about you. This is just a way to get a better understanding of their wishes and desires.
Communicate carefully. Again, this is all about them. Listen and repeat to ensure you understand. This may be a time when you have a mediator or an outside party at hand to keep things from going awry.
Go in with a checklist – not demands. If your goal is to understand what documents they have in place and where they are kept, it should put you in a different frame of mind then demands for why certain things are the way they are. If documents are missing – a living will, for example – you can talk about its importance. But again, this is all about your parents’ wishes. If you discover documents are missing, see if they are ready to schedule an appointment with a lawyer to close the gap.
Also, use this as your own look in the mirror. Do you currently have your paperwork in order? If you’re facing hardships with your own parents, don’t follow in their footsteps and provide the same headaches for your own kids. Put everything you’re learning into your own life as well.