Like any tough topic for families, listening without being judgmental is a big part of a success. It is also important to remember that your parents have worked hard to earn their retirement. Respect that.
Discussing retirement and estate planning is not as much fun as planning a multi-generation vacation, but the conversation is very important, as noted in a recent article from Motley Fool, “3 Tips for Talking to Your Parents About Retirement.”
A 2016 Fidelity study found that 38% of parents say they don't talk to their adult children about retiring, because the conversation never comes up. The survey also found that 93% of adult children and 95% of parents had greater peace of mind, after having "any" detailed conversation about the parents' estate planning.
These conversations can be difficult, but here are a few ideas that may help when talking with parents.
Listen First. Some families still see conversations about money as taboo, and some parents may not think they need to discuss their finances with their adult kids. It is, therefore, important to listen to what your parents are saying when they do talk about the subject. Try to listen first and figure out what they want. Sometimes, they want input on their decisions. There are other times when they just want to let you know what decisions they've already made.
Research. If your parents talk to you about their retirement plans, it can be tempting to immediately offer your opinions. It’s quite possible that your parents and you need to do some more homework before finalizing any retirement plans or offering advice. It’s also possible that they have done a lot of research on their own.
It's Their Money, Not Yours. Remember that you can't dictate how your parents spend their money. If they want to blow their retirement savings on big vacations or assisting family members to their own detriment, it’s their decision.
This definitely gets more complicated, if you're the one who might end up financially supporting your parents as they get older. But you can't and shouldn't be trying to control your parents' financial decisions.
The family should also have respectful conversations about parent’ estate plans. If you learn that your parents do not have an estate plan, including wills, advance directives and other necessary documents, encourage them to see an estate planning attorney. They may feel more comfortable using the same estate planning attorney that you or another family member has worked with.
Reference: Motley Fool (March 31, 2018) “3 Tips for Talking to Your Parents About Retirement”