Guide to Difficult Conversations for Children

Money, aging, and end-of-life planning are topics most people put off having discussions about.
It can be especially uncomfortable for a child to broach the subject with their parents, since you don’t want to make them feel like you’re fishing to find out how much money they have or insinuating that they are approaching end of life.

However, having these uncomfortable conversations can often save you a lot of stress during an already difficult time and gives the elder peace of mind that their wishes will be carried out. This guide is designed to provide tips for making the discussion a little less awkward.

You can tell your loved one that your Financial Planner recently brought up the topic and it reminded you to have a conversation.

You can say/text/email something like:

Hey [Mom/Dad/etc.],
How’s it going? My Financial Planner was just telling me a story about what a headache he had handling his grandmother’s final wishes and estate. Not to be morbid or stick my nose where it’s not wanted, but it got me wondering if you had done any planning. Maybe we should talk about this stuff soon. I’d want to make sure [I’m/we’re] able to carry out your wishes the way you want. Again, sorry if it’s out of the blue. The story just really made me think. Love you!

This helpful document while lengthy, details just about everything someone needs to organize to ensure that loved ones won’t have unnecessary hurdles to overcome in the event of their death or disability.

The guide can be given to your parents to reinforce the message of how important it is to collect this information. It doesn’t have to be completed in a single day but if you work on it together, it’s more likely to get done. We also have a legal checklist that you can share which details the critical information a person should review with their attorney.

You can say/text/email something like:

Like I mentioned, I was thinking it would be smart for us to do more financial planning as a family. My advisor gave me this guide that details everything someone should organize and a legal checklist of things to discuss with your attorney. I know it’s a lot but I think I’m going to complete one for myself, and I’d be happy to help you work on one too.

Encourage your loved ones to have a formal will drafted. It will eliminate the stress of probate and frozen assets and gives them peace of mind that their final wishes will be followed, rather than having the courts decide.

You can say/text/email something like:

I feel like we’ve made really great progress on all of this planning stuff. Are you going to see your attorney to have a formal will drafted? If you want, there’s even websites you can use to easily create a will. Let me know if you want help with that.

Having a map for where to begin collecting critical information in the event of a loved one’s death or disability is often the key to easing administrative burdens.

If your parents don’t use a password management tool, we recommend encouraging them to set one up. This will improve the security of their important information while allowing you ease of access to it.

The guide referenced in this document includes space to note the locations and passwords for important documents. If your parents choose to use the guide, be sure it is kept in a safe and secure place. Regardless, all important documents should be stored securely. A waterproof and fireproof file box or folder would do the trick.

You can say/text/email something like:

I’ve heard from friends who’ve lost parents that the biggest administrative headache was knowing where all of the important documents were and how to access accounts. Would you be comfortable outlining all of that stuff and putting it somewhere safe? I don’t even need the info right now. I’d just want to know where I could find it if I needed to. Password managers are great because they actually help keep all your accounts more secure and make your life easier with strong passwords you don’t have to memorize. Want me to help you set one up?

If you’ve managed to start these discussions, kudos to you! While no one looks forward to having these types of conversations, you’re doing a favor to your loved ones when you have them. You’re giving them peace of mind that their final wishes can easily be carried out and they won’t leave their grieving family with administrative hardships or difficult decisions to make.