“Just mind your own business. I’ll be fine”, she tells you.
Her adult children are concerned and ask reasonable questions. One of them called you. Her son says she clams up, changes the subject and otherwise puts off having a conversation about finances when the kids raise it.
What is your client afraid of?
Seniors are often afraid of losing their independence and control over their lives if they reveal their financial situation to their adult children.
They are afraid of being put in a home. Their thinking seems to
be that if they can avoid talking about it, they can avoid the things they fear.
Some fear that if they tell their kids what’s in the bank and the parents have a lot of assets, that their kids will lose motivation to work. Some parents are afraid their kids will pressure them to give the kids money and it will be unpleasant or confrontational. Others are afraid that the kids will try to get control over the money.
They need reassurance.
One way to approach this and address a client’s fears about this kind of conversation is to have a family meeting, which you, the professional facilitate.
It can help to openly acknowledge the senior’s fears. For example, you can coach your client’s adult child to say something like this:
“Dad, maybe you think I want to know about your
finances because I have some hidden motive of trying to take advantage of you. I assure you, I don’t. I just want to be able to help you if you get sick. You’re (85, or whatever). You won’t live forever and I may be burdened with trying to help you when
I know nothing about what to do. Please let’s talk about this.”
Most reasonable aging parents will accept that they don’t want to
unnecessarily burden their children. This pitch can work. We also
acknowledge that some parents just don’t care if they are a burden and that this may not be successful for everyone. However, it is certainly worth try and we urge you to make the effort.
Your aging client and her family will all be best served if the subject of finances is dealt with openly. A concerned professional in the aging person’s life can lead the way to better knowledge about finances for the family.
Get a plan right now to help your senior clients communicate with their family members. We offer you a short eBook, How to Talk to Your Aging Parents About Finances, which you can download immediately. Pass it on to your Boomer aged clients and help them get the conversation going.