40-70 Rule

July 8, 2021   ·   0 Comments

“Dear Money Lady,  

I have told my husband to have a talk with his parents that are in their 80’s about money and care, but he still refuses to bring up the subject.  He thinks it is too difficult.  Could you write an article that he could read to know that this really is important.” – Jessica.

Yes, I can Jessica.  You are right to feel this is important.  It is not something your husband should feel is an invasive topic to discuss, but rather it should be done because you truly care about your parent’s well-being.  

Money and healthcare are usually near the top of the list of challenging subjects for adult children to broach with older parents.  This will likely be a situation that you may need to “bite the bullet” and just talk about it openly.  Advisors usually revert to the 40-70 Rule.  If you are in your 40’s and/or your parents are in their 70’s, it’s time to start observing and gathering information carefully and thoughtfully.  Many small issues brought about by aging can be solved by providing parents with the support they need to continue to maintain their independence.  If you notice a change in your parent’s behaviour, physical appearance or condition, this could possibly indicate a larger issue.  Always try to find solutions that provide the maximum amount of independence for an older person.  Remember you are talking to an adult, not a child.  Patronizing speech will put older adults on the defensive and may convey a lack of respect.  Try and put yourself in your parent’s situation.  If your parents acknowledge that they may need assistance – ask them what they think would be a good solution?  Here are some suggestions on how to approach discussions with your aging parents.

1. Start with a list.  Sometimes before having conversations with family members about sensitive subjects it is a good idea to write down the items you want to discuss.  What information do you need to know?  What information do you need to share?  Who should be involved in the conversations?

2. Acknowledging that some topics may be difficult to discuss.  This helps people relax.  Invite other family members to do the same.

3. Frame your discussions.  People are more likely to engage in a conversation about sensitive topics if, along with acknowledging that it can be difficult to discuss certain issues, you explain why you believe it is important.

4. Give it a time limit.  Some people will be very comfortable with long conversations about sensitive topics, while others may do better with several shorter discussions.  Be sure not to overwhelm each other.  It is better if you are prepared and feel comfortable with the subject being discussed.

5. Sum-it-up.  At the end of the conversation, summarize what was agreed upon and determine those items that need to be completed or require future steps of action.  This is also a good time to set a time to have a followup conversation again to check in with each other.

Open dialogue and discussions are at the core of effective and successful estate planning.  Open communications among everyone involved is always necessary to ensure there is an understanding of the parent’s intentions and wishes.  

Good Luck & Best Wishes,

ATML – Christine Ibbotson

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