Talking to Aging Parents: Tips and Strategies

If you’re a baby boomer, have you had “the talk” with your aging loved ones about getting their ducks in a row?

That talk involves a frank discussion with loved ones about financial arrangements for the end of life. The discussion should include where they want to live, how they want to be cared for, how they want their money managed, and what legal preparations could help them with this important planning.

The holidays and new year can be a good time to start thinking about having a conversation with your loved ones about their financial affairs. You need to remember, this might not be an easy conversation; your parent, for example, is probably used to taking charge and caring for you, not vice versa.

Here are some strategies that we recommend:

  • Start the conversation: Use your own planning, or a friend’s or relative’s illness or death, as an opportunity to start a discussion. Rather than focusing on the parent or other family member’s current or possible future physical and mental decline, it often works better if you start the conversation to focus on your own concerns. You can talk about how you’re nervous about being able to care for your parents if the need arises. Often parents won’t take measures to protect themselves, but they never stop being parents, and will respond to a call for help from a child.

  • Be direct and honest.

  • If your loved one(s) are unwilling to disclose a full list of their assets, perhaps they would be willing to write down account numbers without balances or make a list and tell you where the list is kept.

  • Set up a meeting with a law firm to review their situation. Often, having a third party involved can ease the tension. We welcome helpful family involvement in these meetings, but ultimately, our potential client (your loved one) will call the shots as long as they have capacity to do so. We always take time to meet with them alone for the first part of the meeting, as we respect their independence and individual goals and concerns.

  • Attend one of our free webinars or in-person events with or without your loved ones to learn more about planning to be better prepared for the conversation upcoming events

  • Don’t wait to have this conversation. Certainly, if there is an illness or medical emergency, that can serve as justification for beginning the discussion, but it is ideal to act now! schedule a session

Author Bio

Margaret Barrett is the Founder and Owner of Safe Harbor Estate Law, a Saint Paul, MN, estate planning law firm she founded in 2013. With almost 15 years of combined experience in litigation and Minnesota estate law, she is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of estate law matters. Her practice areas include estate planning, asset protection, elder law, and more.

Margaret received her Juris Doctor from the William Mitchell College of Law and is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association and the Ramsey County Bar Association.

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Avvo | Google