8 Things You Need to Know About Your Parents' Finances
Ask 'em now
OK, it’s not the easiest subject to bring up. But talking to your parents about money will give you a better understanding of their goals for the future, something that helps both you and them. That’s why we checked in with Priya Malani over at Stash Wealth, a financial-planning firm, and learned eight questions that are super-important to ask.
1. Are You Planning to Relocate in Retirement?
You always thought your parents would be nearby to help with child care. But turns out, they’ve been eyeing a place in Boca Raton. Find out now if they’re planning a move to somewhere sunny and warm so that you have time to make alternate financial plans to cover a nanny or other child-care costs.
2. Do You Have Enough Saved for Retirement?
Don’t bring this up at the next holiday dinner, but over time, uncover what shape your parents are in for retirement. A recent study found that 20 percent of millennials are supporting their aging parents. A good entry point for bringing this up might be “If something happened to Social Security, would you be OK financially?” Then go from there.
3. Do You Have a Power of Attorney to Handle Financial Matters?
A tough conversation, but in the event that something happens to one of your parents and they are unable to make financial decisions (including paying bills, making bank deposits or selling property like their car or house), a person should be appointed to handle their affairs on their behalf. A spouse doesn’t always have complete authority, so it’s good to go through the details to make sure everything is covered.
4. What About a Living Will?
OK, another toughie: A living will is a document in which you get to say what sort of medical care you do or don’t want to receive in the event of a life-threatening illness or if you are incapacitated. Having this document on file can prevent family fights down the line. Talk about it once, get the living will drafted and you don’t have to think about it again. (Also important: Know where the will is located in case of emergency.)
5. Do You Plan to Contribute to Our Kids’ College Fund?
This is the jumping-off point to a larger conversation about your own family finances. Your parents may want to help fund the grandkids’ future college costs. Bring it up by mentioning that you are budgeting for the future and working on a 529 plan for the kids. It’s a natural entry point for them to highlight any assistance they would like to provide.
6. Where Would You Like to Live When You Can No Longer Care For Yourself?
You and your spouse need to have a heart-to-heart about what will happen if your parents are adamantly against living in an assisted-living center. Older people have very strong opinions about where they want to live their final years. Some prefer the independence and don’t want to be a burden on their children. Others prefer to live with family. Have this conversation with your partner first and then with your parents.
7. Do You Have Any Insurance Policies We Should Know About?
If your parents listed you as a beneficiary on any of their retirement accounts or insurance policies, find out which institutions they are with so you can track them down if something happens to them.
8. In Case of Emergency, Who Should Take Care of Your Pets?
Pets are essentially family members, so having a plan for who will take care of them once your parents are no longer able is a smart idea. A little peace of mind goes a long way.