When and how to bring up this delicate subject

Talking to Aging Parents about Finances

by Paige Estigarribia

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Have you ever wondered what would happen if your aging parents could no longer manage their own money or affairs? When should you consider bringing up money management with your parents? And, how do you broach the subject? To help us understand this delicate subject, we reached out to Kimberly Howard, CFP and owner of KJHFinancialServices.com.

Q: What's the best time to talk to parents about helping out with finances?

Kimberly: The timing of a conversation about your parent's finances is a tricky thing. You must understand that your parent wants to remain independent; yet they may need some help. First, try asking them about some new financial scam you have heard about (IRS scamming calling people). See how they respond. Do they know about it? Are they concerned it might happen to them? The first step is the hardest, and the process needs to be in small steps.

Q: What are some clues to look for that would let you know it's time for a third party to step in?

Kimberly: It's time when they talk about bouncing checks or someone is calling to collect money. Another key could be they are talking about someone who has been really helpful, and they want to repay them, but the payment does not seem to line up with the type of work.

Q: How can you broach this topic gracefully with aging parents? Without offending them or hurting feelings?

Kimberly: You must let them know you are trying to help them and not trying to take over control or get their money. Start by telling them about an elderly scam or someone you heard about who had some financial problems. Let them know you are concerned and do not want it to happen to them. The process could take years and a lot of small conversations.

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at the wrong time? Find out.

Q: What's the first step to take if you want to start managing an elderly parent's finances?

Kimberly: Understanding what they own and where the money is.

Q: What's something that most children forget when they are taking on this responsibility?

Kimberly: When you put your name on their checking account, then the money is yours. If there is a large sum in the account, then it is considered a gift with potential gift taxes due.

If you're facing the task of talking with aging parents about their financial situation, or even if you want to get a head start on discussing these issues, these tips could be great ways to get your thoughts and ideas headed in that direction.

Reviewed July 2017

Kimberly J. Howard, CFP®, CRPC®, ADPA® is a fee-only financial planner working to help clients achieve financial security at www.kjhfinancialservices.com. You can follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Paige Estigarribia is a writer for The Dollar Stretcher who enjoys writing about food, frugal living, and money-saving tips. Visit Paige on Google+.

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  • If you are helping an elderly parent with their finances, make sure they have this financial paperwork and information on hand.
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