I listened to a podcast[i] last week about difficult finance conversations we should being having with family and loved ones. The purpose of the discussion is to have some general understanding of the retiring family’s financial picture if their financial plan doesn’t come to fruition.
If their plan now changed because ‘the worst of the worst happened,’ how does it now effect the parents and the family.
The obvious answer is the kids will help take care of the parent. Well, how are the kids now going to focus on their accumulation/savings if they now have another person or two to take care of? And to what end?
(Every day in the United States, 10,000 people turn 65, and the number of older adults will more than double over the next several decades and represent over 20 percent of the population by 2050.)
There are a lot of ‘what if’s’ that we can plug in, but I will stick to some ideas that can spark the conversation between siblings, in-laws, and the parents.
One sibling can help with the expenses while the houses in the parents. There is an off set of help, which could help each sibling during the short term until a better solution.
The other idea, alternating living situations. Part of the year the parents stay with one kid and then with the other the next part of the year (yes, I understand this is a lot of moving. The talking point is the parents get to spend time with the grandkids and can help with childcare expenses for part of the year).
What does downsizing look like (selling of the primary residence as an asset to help, if possible) and relocating for a period.
I realize I am throwing out ideas, but this is better than not thinking about it.
Our parents made some form of sacrifice for us to either ‘grow-up and figure out who we want to be’ or paid for our college tuition. Whether by time or money, they sacrificed something for us along the way. Helping our parents during their time of need during their retirement phase is us paying them back.
We all hear of a friend, or a friend of a friend, having fallen on hard times because of a family member: cancer, Alzheimer’s, disabilities, health care/long-term care needs. But have you ever considered the impact not on your daily life, but your long-term financial goals? Contributions lowered, emergency fund depleted, and discretionary spending reduced.
Some parents will always say, ‘don’t worry, we are covered.’ Or ‘we don’t talk about finances with kids.’ Ok. This is the time to try and gently peel the onion, ‘can you at least let me know if all your finances are consolidated in one place for the estate?’
It isn’t the answer you want, and it will take time, but with persistence they should realize the gravity of it. You can get them thinking of consolidating their assets on a printed excel spreadsheet locked in a safe. The last thing grieving family members want to do is drive to every bank in town asking if there is a CD here.
This topic hit home for me because my family has a fun dynamic. My parents live in Southern California with no immediate family members there. My brother is married, with three kiddos, and his wife is in the military. So, they move every two to three years on average (all over the world). As for myself, I live in the South, with my wife and newborn, surrounded by her family and friends. Not to mention our son’s godfather and godmother. I can say, with some certainty, my brother and his family are not moving to So Cal. And I am never moving back to So Cal (watch it now happen). Both of my parents are in the early retirement age years, but still working. Do we have a plan? No. We haven’t even had a conversation.
Point is, in the industry, this is a topic that can be overlooked or not considered. We often start with, ‘can we have an introduction to your kids so they know who we are in case something happens.’ It is a great start, but that can be where the planning ends with Family Succession Planning (Not Just Your Assets).