GUEST COLUMN: Talking to Older Relatives about Finances
Updated: Oct 6, 2022
By Marci Lobel-Esrig
Discussing finances with elderly loved ones is rarely easy. However, these conversations are essential. They give you an opportunity to talk about where older relatives may need help as they age.
Starting these conversations can be challenging for anyone, especially in our independence-loving culture. Few people look forward to the day when they need others to help them manage their finances. However, with the right preparation, a conversation with your elderly loved one about financial management can be very productive. Here’s how to get ready.
Plan the meeting ahead of time
Invite anyone who might be in a position to help your loved one with some aspect of their financial life. This makes it possible for everyone to share their input and agree on a plan. Make a list of all the topics you want to cover, including things like paying bills on time, handling taxes, and managing investments. If you expect conflict, consider hiring a professional mediator to make communication more efficient and ensure that all important information is covered.
Prioritize conversation instead of criticism
Instead of starting the conversation by critiquing a loved one’s financial choices, talk instead about the importance of certain financial choices they will have to make. Avoid dictating what actions they should take. There’s no faster way to provoke a confrontation. Always communicate with respect.
Identify and discuss areas where help may be needed
An elderly family member may not need help with every financial decision, at least not right away. This is why it’s important to consider each aspect of their financial life separately. Your goal is to identify areas of need while enabling your loved ones to continue managing the things they can handle.
Why having a financial independence conversation is important
Scams are everywhere these days, and older adults are most at risk. Family involvement in an older relative’s finances can help reduce the chance that the elderly loved one will be victimized by a scammer. It can also help the elder avoid simple financial mistakes and make it easier for them to attend to other important aspects of their life. If you have an older family member who is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, you will definitely want to step in to help.
Marci Lobel-Esrig is Founder, CEO, and General Counsel of SilverBills, a company that helps individuals outsource the job of managing household bills to trusted, vetted professionals with whom they can form personal relationships. The firm offers a high-tech solution to household bill management, empowered by professional account managers whose activities are monitored using robust A.I. fraud detection, and audited by licensed CPAs. Contact Marci at firstname.lastname@example.org or (877) 733-1689.