MICHELLE PERRY HIGGINS: You don’t need to walk on eggshells or feel it is not your place to bring this subject up. I often see people wait too long or never have the talk at all, then when they should be mourning the loss of a loved one they are scrambling to find essential documents. If you are the trustee of your parents’ estate, it is critical for you to have a strong handle on their financial, estate-planning and personal affairs. A common response I hear in my practice is, “I don’t want to upset my parents by bringing up this topic,” or “My parents will think I am trying to take over their finances prematurely.” You can minimize problems by approaching the subject in a delicate, loving, and respectful manner. Follow these five steps when having the “finance talk” with your parents.
Ask your parents to schedule a date and time to have this talk so you are not competing with Mom doing the dishes or Dad watching his favorite TV show. I urge my clients to say something like, “I just met with my financial planner (or estate planner) and she brought up a few questions about my own estate that made me wonder if you also have these issues. I would appreciate your insight on these issues, and I also want to see if you need help in any of these areas. Can we sit down and talk about this on Tuesday at 6pm?”