The holidays are coming to an end. A new year beckons. Resolutions will be made and broken. What does the new year hold for you? What does it hold for your family?
If you’re a retiree or someone planning on retirement, the questions and concerns that you have about this upcoming year will be many. Most will focus on issues of finances, healthcare and health. For the family members of those retirees or soon to be retirees, their concerns will more than likely become your concerns as well.
Those in the sandwich generation are not only dealing with their own needs and the needs of their children, but the needs of their parents as well. Questions and concerns about end of life care, social security, medical decisions, wills, trusts, and estate planning are hitting many adult children sooner than they planned because they have to play a role with their own parents to address these questions.
If you’re in this situation, it’s important to begin “the talk” about these matters with your retired or retiring parents as part of your plans for this new year.
Although the foundation of this talk will be around the financial matters, it should not be limited to these points only. In future articles we’ll discuss how and what to discuss around all aspects of the talk — financial, health, mental attitude and involvement.
A necessary beginning step of the talk is to work with your parents to gather all current financial information and identify all of the points of contact for their accounts such as any names of advisors, accountants, etc. Any work already done regarding estate planning considerations such as trusts, wills, etc. should also be included.
In order to ensure that you get off on the right foot with these discussions, here are some of the questions that you should be asking of your parents at this early stage of the talk:
1) Do you have a will? If so, when was it last updated?
2) Have you established a trust or done other more extensive financial planning?
3) Do you have a current list of assets, passwords, and important documents and where they are held?
4) Do you have a thorough financial plan in place outlining your financial needs, goals, and strategies throughout retirement? And, most importantly, when was the last time that your reviewed it?
6) When is the last time you updated the beneficiaries on your retirement accounts, annuities, life insurance, etc?
If your parents have a trusted advisor that they work with, you may want to involve them in these discussions as well. They can often be a vital intermediatory during these discussions or they can be a valuable resource after you’ve gone through this information with your parents.
I often advise advisors to ask the following question of their retiring or retired clients who they sense have not had the necessary intergenerational talk:
“Have you discussed your wishes with the executor of your estate?”
The answer to this can either lead to a joint discussion involving that executor and their parents or it can lead to the necessary discussion that needs to take place with that executor.
Either way, it’s a question that can lead to having“the talk” and if you’re an advisor, I recommend asking it of your clients who are retired or retiring.
If you’re a retiree or soon to be retiree, ask yourself that question and get the ball rolling on initiating the talk. It’s not important who begins it, just that it happens.
If you’re an adult child of a retiring or retired parent, I hope that you’ll put the talk on your list of New Year’s resolution.
Better yet, just do it and get the ball rolling now. It’s not just for your benefit but for those you love as well.