Financial planning with parents in mind

Increasingly in client meetings, the discussion of plans for parents comes to the surface. It usually centres on how to factor needs and finances of the parents into the financial plans of the baby boomers who are now approaching retirement themselves.

It’s an emotional subject and, sadly, often avoided until a crisis occurs. That is a shame and can be expensive. The key is communication. Someone must start the dialogue, either the parents or the children.

Once communication is started, I suggest an agenda that covers three main areas: Physical well-being, emotional well-being and financial well-being.

Under the heading of physical well-being, you should talk about such matters as where the senior lives, what they need for comfort, how much and what kind of help is required. Will they move into the home of one of their children? Does that mean home renovations? How is that paid for and is any of it cost tax-deductible? These are typical questions that arise.

Discussions of emotional well-being must consider loneliness as a major concern. According to RCMP statistics, 78 per cent of telemarketing frauds occur to people over the age of 60. The victim’s loneliness is considered the main reason for this vulnerability. When discussing plans for seniors, it is important to consider the social value of their long-term relationships. Clubs, places of worship and community service organizations often rely on the wealth of experience a senior brings and the relationship is symbiotic.

Financial well-being cannot be left out of the conversation. The choices discussed above will directly impact the financial plan. Does the senior have enough money? How are government pensions factored into the talk? This heading should also address where is the will, when it was last reviewed, is the executor is still alive and able to assume that responsibility.

Who has power of attorney for property and personal care and are there pre-paid funeral arrangements?

Family members should know the name of the accountant, lawyer or financial adviser. Any one of these advisers can be useful in the discussion.

They would be trusted by the seniors, have a wealth of knowledge and be relatively objective.

Family members can sustain each other as parents get older and more dependent on support.  That support can come from within the family to the extent it is feasible and from community resources to the extent that is necessary. Proper planning allows you to determine which is which.