Time to talk with the folks

Maybe you’ve already had The Talk with your kids. Well, now’s the time to have The Talk with your parents.

Maybe you’ve already had The Talk with your kids. Well, now’s the time to have The Talk with your parents.

The anxious moments and uncomfortable feelings may be the same but the topic is decidedly different. You need to talk to your parents about their health and financial issues now before a crisis occurs that can reduce their estate planning options and increase costs.

While their health allows it, your parents should be involved in making decisions regarding their living arrangements, level of care, and estate planning. Your role is to be a supporter and information gatherer.

Here are some tips to get The Talk going:

Offer an opening – your parents may be waiting for an opportunity to have this discussion; you can provide it.

Use ice-breaking strategies like offering help with their estate and retirement planning.

Keep in mind that your parents want and need to maintain their independence and dignity.

Listen – try to understand their fears and anxieties.

Here’s what you should include in the discussion:

Sources of income – including any changes in monthly income should one of them die.

Investments – as well as beneficiaries for their registered investments.

Expenses – will their income (including government aid) cover their expenses as they are likely to escalate with age?

Insurance – what coverage do they have; are there holes that need to be filled?

Existing wills – have they designated personal representative (executor/liquidator) to wind up their affairs and distribute their assets according to their wills?

Enduring powers of attorney for property (in Québec, mandates in anticipation of incapacity) – be sure they have appointed someone to make financial decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated.

Powers of attorney for personal care, living wills, health care directives – be sure they have appointed someone to make personal and health care decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated

Location – know where their wills and other legal papers are kept; know the location and content of their bank accounts and safety deposit boxes.

Having The Talk with your parents can be difficult but the benefits of knowing their wishes can be extraordinary. There are many financial and estate planning strategies available to your parents.

A professional adviser can provide a valuable outside perspective and help sort out the details and ease the awkwardness of The Talk.

J. Kevin Dobbelsteyn is a certified financial planner with Investors Group Financial Services Inc. His column appears every Wednesday.

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