Have you had "the talk" with your parents yet? I'm talking about the conversation or series of conversations that will help you help them secure their financial future. Do they have enough money to see them through a long retirement? Life expectancies have gone up, way up. Unless a person has a strong genetic or other reason to believe their life will be short, they should plan to live to be 95, even 100, years old. Do your parents have the medical or disability insurance they need if one of them gets sick? Do you know enough about their wishes to make sure they get the sort of care they would want if they're no longer able to communicate in the traditional sense? And what happens in an emergency?
Believe me, talking to your older parents about their finances is as hard for you as talking to you about sex was for them, but it's every bit as important. Almost half of adult children with a living parent hadn't discussed financial issues with that parent, according to the Phoenix Fiscal Fitness survey, and a full third said they had little to no knowledge of their parent's financial situation. Yet 35 percent believe they'll support that parent financially at some time in the future. If that happens to you, you don't want to be hit with any surprises.
Legally, parents have no obligation to tell their kids anything about their money—and emotionally they may not be inclined to either—but consider this conversation nothing more than fair trade. The more you know now about your parents' financial situation, the better you'll be able to help them age gracefully into the future.
Here are some tactics and strategies that may help you get your parents to open up about their finances.