A couple of months ago I had an interesting conversation with an exciting younger client. She expressed concern about who would provide care for her aging parents and how that could be paid for. She and her siblings all live in different states and her parents have repeatedly told them “don’t worry about it.” That talk brought to light the importance of having family conversations about financial and planning issues.
You may not want to be thinking about the “what ifs” in life around the Holidays, but as we gather with our loved ones this time of year, it’s an excellent opportunity to communicate with them about hopes, wishes and goals. Below are some tips to help ease you into those conversations that are far easier to have than they are to start:
TIP 1: Start it with a question. “Mom, we love you. If it becomes difficult for you to cook, clean, remember your pills and things like that, what would YOU like to see happen?” She may respond with “If something happens to me, what would worry you the most?” and the conversation begins.
TIP 2: Listen when your family answers. Be willing to moderate the conversation and keep it positive. “Sweetie, I want to stay in my home. I don’t want to talk about sticking me in a nursing home.” “Mom/Dad/Sibling, I don’t know what I would do if something happened to you, the whole thing scares me.” You get to say “That’s why I brought it up! Is it ok to talk about our hopes, wishes, and goals while we are all together?”
TIP 3: Begin with a statement that acknowledges what they just said then ask more questions. “Mom, we’re not talking about sticking you in a nursing home. How can we (your family) best help you live your life the way you want?” “I get that it’s scary and I want to talk about it because I love you. What can I share with you to ease those fears?”
TIP 4: Don’t be afraid to share what’s important to you. “Mom, I want to be sure you’re safe, happy and healthy.” “Family, I want to die with a dollar in the bank and be sure I have done everything in my power to help you be the very best you can be.” Allow others in the conversation to do the same.
TIP 5: Take notes. Everyone will have their own thoughts, feelings and… yes, fears. Memorialize them, because the first family conversation isn’t going to address them all. Be prepared to keep the conversation going.
TIP 6: This may be the most important one. End it on a positive. “I want to thank you all for being open to talking about these things. I know it can be difficult. But I feel so much better to have it out in the open. Do you?”
Coffee and pie time is the best part of family Holiday gatherings. Using that time to create a positive environment to share hopes, wishes and goals doesn’t have to be “difficult”. Good luck and feel free to reach out to the Emerge Wealth Strategies team any time of year to help guide those conversations. Happy Holidays!
This is meant for educational purposes only. It should not be considered investment advice, nor does it constitute a recommendation to take a particular course of action. Please consult with a financial professional regarding your personal situation prior to making any financial related decisions.