Preparing For Death, Bad Health & The Money To Pay For It All

Death, deteriorating health and money — these are some of the most uncomfortable subjects to discuss with anyone, let alone our parents.  However, when parents start to age, having challenging conversations about these topics are absolutely necessary. Statistics show 70% of seniors need some form of long-term care as they age. On average, their adult children contribute $10,000 a year to their medical care and living expenses. Unfortunately, nearly 85% of these long-term care choices are made during a medical crisis — not exactly the prime time to make financial decisions. You can avoid this same fate by starting the conversation early.

Prepare for the conversation by inviting your parents to bring key information. This data will serve as the foundation of your discussion.  Some of the information might include…

  • Personal information (SSNs, birthdates, etc.)
  • Important contacts (financial advisors, accountants, doctors, etc.)
  • Insurance policy information
  • Private security and access information (passwords, safety deposit boxes, etc.)
  • Financial information (bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, etc.)
  • Estate planning documents (wills, trusts, advanced medical directives, power of attorney, etc.)
  • Medical history & prescriptions
  • Funeral arrangements

Coordinate a time and place with parents and family ahead of time and let them know about the topic of discussion. Use a private, quieter setting where everyone will feel comfortable and can feel focused.

Ideally, all family members will be present.  This will help encourage all family members to respect and uphold the wishes of parents.  You will always want to strive for coordinated effort, rather than uncoordinated chaos, across the family.  It is not easy, but the benefits of good communication will be a great blessing to all family members – especially the parents.

Every generation (and every individual) has different perspectives on how money should be used – and why it should be used in a particular fashion. Understanding the reasoning behind your parents’ financial decisions can give everyone better insight into what they want for their future. You want your parents to walk away from the conversation feeling heard, understood and valued. If possible, you want them to trust they will be cared for in an agreed upon manner. What greater gift could you give them?

Regardless of how much we want to support our loved ones, we all have limited resources. Being honest about how much we can contribute helps parents and children stay realistic about plans for the future.  The reality is both your plans are linked together and both your expectations ought to be realistic.

Meetings like this usually do not happen in just one setting.  There are simply too many important subjects to discuss.  In addition, these conversations are emotionally draining so breaking up the conversation is not only important, but also necessary.  Record decisions and communicate updated plans at least annually – especially as situations and circumstances change.  If you would like further, detailed guidance, please reach out to a trusted Certified Financial Planner.

Written by: Joe Piscione

Joe Piscione is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP)™ and a Partner of The Helmstar Group in Boise Idaho. Joe and his wife, Emily, have three boys and one girl. They enjoy time together with each other, their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Most activities usually revolve around a great meal and a celebration! They look forward to their annual trips to Payette Lake in McCall. Time at Disneyland, Hawaii, upstate New York and Lagoon has helped create some of the most enjoyable family memories in recent years.

Joseph M. Piscione | Partner | The Helmstar Group®

T 208.429.0800 | F 208.429.0801

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