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Role reversal: When should children talk to parents about money?

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As baby boomers grow older—and presumably wiser about financial matters—more are finding themselves in the position of caretaker for elderly parents. If this is your situation, you may find that raising the topic of money with parents can be difficult. But with the right choice of words, timing and tone, you can open the door to a meaningful conversation.

SELECT A REPRESENTATIVE

An initial conversation about finances should be done one-on-one. Involving too many people can be overwhelming and appear threatening. If you have siblings, select one—perhaps the oldest, the most financially knowledgeable or the one with whom your parent(s) feel most comfortable—to lead the way. Remember, this is about your parents’ money, not about yours or your children’s.

With any conversation about money, be sensitive to the fears and concerns your parents may harbor about their possible loss of control or independence.
—Wealth Management Systems Inc.

BE SENSITIVE

To some extent, our financial lives influence how we view ourselves as independent human beings. For many, old age is a time of coping with a series of physical and emotional losses: hearing, eyesight, mobility and memory as well as friendships. With any conversation about money, be sensitive to the fears and concerns your parents may harbor about their possible loss of control or independence.

BREAK THE ICE SKILLFULLY

A subtle opening could involve an anecdotal story about a person you both know, a news article found or even some revelation about yourself:

  • I need help with my will. Whom did you use?
  • How’s Aunt Mary doing since Uncle Joe passed away?
  • What was it like for your parents during the Great Depression?
  • Did you watch that TV special on hospitals last week?

START SLOWLY

Don’t commence a dialogue during a crisis situation or try to resolve all details in one meeting. Raise questions that your parents can consider for a follow-up conversation. You could try something like: “I’ll stop by for coffee next week, and we can continue our talk. Maybe you’ll have those papers by then?” Your parents may actually enjoy the attention.

After several informal conversations, you may want to consider the help of a financial professional. For more information, contact the National Council on Aging (www.ncoa.org) and AARP (www.ncoa.org). If you’d like to learn more, please contact Jay Canell or Neil Canell.

Article by Wealth Management Systems Inc. and provided courtesy of Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors. The author(s) are not employees of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan Stanley”). The opinions expressed by the authors are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Morgan Stanley. The information and data in the article or publication have been obtained from sources outside of Morgan Stanley, and Morgan Stanley makes no representations or guarantees as to the accuracy or completeness of information or data from sources outside of Morgan Stanley. Neither the information provided nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation by Morgan Stanley with respect to the purchase or sale of any security, investment, strategy or product that may be mentioned. Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor(s) engaged Worth to feature this article. Jay Canell and Neil Canell may only transact business in states where they are registered or excluded or exempted from registration [[http://www.morganstanleyfa.com/canell/]. Transacting business, follow-up and individualized responses involving either effecting or attempting to effect transactions in securities, or the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation, will not be made to persons in states where Jay Canell and Neil Canell are not registered or excluded or exempt from registration. The investments listed may not be suitable for all investors. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC recommends that investors independently evaluate particular investments, and encourages investors to seek the advice of a financial advisor. The appropriateness of a particular investment will depend upon an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.

© 2015 Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC. CRC 1212009 06/1.

This article was originally published in the August/September 2015 issue of Worth.

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Family Matters

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