Talking With Aging Parents About Finances

Personal Finance September 14, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

At some point in their lives, parents and adult children will face the challenge of talking about the financial issues associated with potential chronic illness, disability, mental incapacity or death. Rationally, we may know that the best way to minimize feelings of helplessness and stress is to plan ahead. Emotionally, however, we may find it difficult to talk about these issues. The situation can be more complicated if there have been years of underlying tensions or misunderstandings among parents and their adult children.

This fact sheet provides strategies to help overcome barriers that often hinder conversations with aging family members about money. It also explores alternatives to consider if a parent is healthy but needs assistance with finances, and examines legal options if one or both parents should become incapacitated.

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Authors: Marsha A. Goetting, Ph.D., CFP®, CFCS, Extension Family Economics Specialist and Professor, Montana State University, Bozeman, and Vicki L. Schmall, Ph.D., former Extension Gerontology Specialist and professor, Oregon State University, Corvallis