Thanksgiving: A Time for Family Planning

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November is the time of year where we think about all that we are thankful for; a time to gather with friends and family to share a meal and some precious time together.  It is one of the few times when all familial generations are together.  While you are gathered around the table with your loved ones this year, think about starting a conversation regarding some important financial topics – elder care planning and financial education.

Most of the younger generations categorically lack the financial education necessary to make smart wealth management decisions.  Time and again, we have been told by our clients, both young and old, that they wish they had learned more about financial subjects in High School or in College.  These topics aren’t taught as a general education, and yet they are a NECESSARY component to understanding the key ways to protect, grow and transfer your wealth.

How financially savvy is the younger generation in YOUR family?  How comfortable are they with managing their finances so that they are adequately prepared for their future?  Now may be the best time to start that conversation.   And if they need some assistance, WealthEdge® has a new “Education” section on our website, covering a multitude of pertinent financial topics for EVERY generation.

As we gather with our family, we realize how quickly time flies.  None of us are getting any younger and unexpected events can certainly affect our decisions.  A proactive approach to aging issues helps to lessen the stress of these events BEFORE they happen.   As the rate of life-expectancy continues to grow, our generation is left with the task of helping our parents and grandparents establish THEIR wants and needs as they move into their elder years.  And whether we realize it or not, the reality is that more and more people will need some sort of formal elderly care – whether that is home nursing care, assisted living or a full-service nursing home.  Having a plan in place is paramount to address these needs and to ease a caregiver’s burdens.

So how do you begin to have this difficult conversation? Start by having all parties available (perhaps while sharing a large turkey dinner?)   Keep it very simple.  Discover what priorities your loved one has about their future.  (For example, do they want to remain in their home for as long as possible or would they prefer the socialization of a retirement community?   Would they like to travel? Do they have their financial and legal documents up to date (such as wills, trusts or insurance policies)?  Do they want to leave a lasting legacy through philanthropy and charitable donations?)

Next, begin to GENTLY express some of your concerns and how your loved one wants to address them.  (For example, “Dad, I realize that there are a lot of steps in the house to the laundry room, have you thought about other options if they become too difficult?”)  Leave your concerns open-ended, don’t forcefully give your opinion; let your loved one consider options and all possibilities.

Use the Thanksgiving season as an opportunity to leave the conversation open and make sure that everyone involved has a chance to be heard.  Make sure that aging family members are involved and agreeable to every step of the plan.  Treat them in the manner that you would want to be treated – with dignity, care, and respect.  (After all, your children will be having a similar conversation with you someday.)

Even in the closest of families, there can be obstacles to engaging these types of open conversations, especially regarding aging issues.  Use this time to express to your loved ones that you are truly thankful for their presence in your life and offer to help with all stages of their financial planning process – from the early stages (through financial life education and preparation) to later ones (through a complete aging plan).

 

Then, kick back, watch the parade, have a second helping of pie and enjoy the football games!