Talking about finances can be daunting, and even downright uncomfortable – but it is a necessity for seniors. Generationally, talking about money may be foreign to our seniors, but just like physical fitness, there’s always room for improvement in financial fitness. Here are some tips and considerations that can make the conversation a little easier.
Start early: Don’t wait until a big decision must be made. Putting these conversations off until a medical emergency or stressful moment will just make them harder. Establishing an open line of communication earlier will benefit you and your loved ones in the long run.
Assess the assets: Knowing exactly what your seniors own and the status of those assets is very important. What houses, properties, timeshares, etc. do they own? What still might be owed on these properties? Find out about any potential issues before they become real ones.
One major benefit to living in a senior community is that you have one less home to worry about. All the upkeep and maintenance is taken care of, so you don’t have to worry about inclement weather, appliances breaking down, etc. By taking these responsibilities off of your loved one’s plate, you’ll be ahead of the game.
Count the accounts: Find out exactly what accounts are in your senior’s name, and where they are. These can be bank accounts, life insurance, retirement accounts, health savings accounts, etc. Listing them out (together with a list of logins and passwords*) is a huge help to anyone that might need to access those accounts at a later time. *Don’t forget to keep these in a safe and secure spot!
Call in the experts: There’s no shame in asking for help! Estate planners and financial advisors are specifically trained for these conversations and can ease the burden of taking them on yourself. Not sure who to hire? Ask around: word-of-mouth recommendations can be very helpful.
No matter how or when you start your conversation, the most important thing is that your senior’s wishes are heard and respected, so be patient and listen. Finances can be a tricky topic, so give yourself (and your senior) some grace. Speaking about this topic early and often will help set you and your senior up for financial peace of mind. Remember, financial fitness is important – and achievable – at any age.