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Helping Aging Parents With Their Money

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Many of us will have to care for aging parents at some point in time. For some, that will mean managing your parent’s finances as they deal with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. For others, it may mean helping support your parents financially or physically.

Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk (Book Cover)

Some reading this are parents who want to make their wishes known and minimize burdens for their children. Others are simultaneously in the position of concerned parent and child.

Talking finances with family can be hard, regardless of your situation. When mixing family and finance, money is only one piece of the actual conversation.

We need to have better conversations to be prepared before adversity strikes.

I recently began helping my parents with their finances, primarily with managing their investments. We’ve also had discussions about estate planning.

It has gone well to this point. But some topics remain sensitive. And I want to be sure that I’m covering all the bases for them and doing it well.

So I was immediately interested when Doug Nordman recommended Cameron Huddleston’s Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations with Your Parents About Their Finances as one of the best books he’s read this year.

The book is not yet released so I reached out to Huddleston with an offer to review an advance copy on the blog if I felt it would add value for our readers.

Truth be told, I reached out for selfish reasons. This sounded like a book I needed, and I didn’t want to wait.

Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk will be released next Tuesday, June 25th. Read on for my full review and learn how it will help you deal with this difficult topic better.

Don’t Wait to Talk

Huddleston wrote a compelling introduction explaining her motivation for writing the book. She began helping her mother, who later was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, by doing simple tasks like paying bills and balancing her checkbook after her mother began showing issues with her memory.

Huddleston became her mother’s primary caretaker before having to eventually move her into a nursing home. Despite her training as a financial journalist, Huddleston admits she was unprepared for the tasks and responsibilities that she had suddenly inherited.

She emphasizes that there is never a good time to have conversations about aging and death. But not having had them, she described the challenge of figuring out her mother’s finances being “like trying to put together a puzzle without knowing what the final picture was supposed to be.”

Huddleston effectively uses stories of others she’s met in her career as a financial journalist to highlight challenges they’ve faced. Two that stood out were those of Doug Nordman and Ryan Inman.

Nordman is a respected personal finance writer at The Military Guide. Inman, who I interviewed last fall, is a fee-only financial planner and consumer advocate.

Despite their expertise in personal finance, each faced serious challenges when they began dealing with their parents’ finances. The financial pieces are relatively simple, but getting all parties to talk about them and then implement a plan can be challenging.

Huddleston’s story and other cautionary tales she highlighted demonstrate that not having these uncomfortable conversations now only leads to bigger problems in the future. This can include a lack of authority to help parents when it is needed, unnecessary additional family stress at the worst possible times, and the caretaker taking a financial hit.

Breaking Down Barriers

In order to have better conversations with your parents about money, it’s important to understand the factors that make it so challenging. The author does a great job of identifying these issues and suggesting strategies to deal with them.

As I read through some of the challenges, I realized how lucky I am. Money is not taboo in our family. My parents, my brother, and I are all financially responsible and self-sufficient. We all trust one another.

Still, these are not easy topics to talk about. Huddleston points out that parents have a strong instinct to care for their children. That instinct does not disappear when the children are grown. It can be hard to see the roles reversed.

As parents age, they don’t want to give up their independence and many are afraid to face the reality of their mortality. Some parents may be afraid you’ll judge them for the financial choices they’ve made or the way they manage their money. Others fear their children may not be happy with their final wishes.

So they simply avoid the topic.

I’ve experienced some of these challenges since I began having these conversations with my parents. I look forward to sharing Huddleston’s book with my parents and my brother to incorporate some of the author’s strategies, introduce overlooked topics, and help us continue to have better conversations.

Stacking the Deck

Some of you may face more challenging circumstances. Huddleston cites troubling statistics demonstrating that many older adults haven’t drawn up a will. Many more haven’t established durable power of attorney or a health care power of attorney.

Once someone begins to experience cognitive decline, it may be too late to do these important tasks. You may have to take legal action to get the authority to do necessary tasks to assist your parents. And you may have to assist them without knowing their wishes.

Many people under save for retirement and are woefully unprepared to pay for long term care. This can place incredible financial and personal stress on adult children forced into the role of caretaker.

Maybe finances are taboo in your family and your parents are unwilling to broach the topic. Or you don’t have good family dynamics.

Many families have dealt with death or divorce of a parent followed by the widowed or divorced parent remarrying. This can leave adult children with blended families, further complicating family dynamics.

Huddleston interviewed many experts and outlines strategies to address these and other challenges to help improve the odds of having better conversations under challenging circumstances.

She devotes full chapters to talking to your siblings, what not to say, and conversation starters. She also provides a step-by-step approach to have successful conversations.

Covering Your Bases

The first half of the book emphasizes how to have these difficult conversations. The second half is packed with detailed planning information to help you once the conversations start.

I found the chapter discussing estate planning documents particularly informative. The author went in depth on each of the documents that are imperative for an estate plan.

Huddleston provides a concise and clear explanation of the differences between wills and living trusts. She also provides key details about the practical implementation of estate planning documents that I hadn’t thought enough about.

For example, I sat down with my parents and their attorney to establish a will and living will when we all lived in Pennsylvania. However, the conversation needs to be ongoing.

Now that I live in Utah, we need to verify if I can be executor of the will (I learned some states require the executor to be a resident of that state) or if it makes sense for me to continue being their health care power of attorney.

Chapters on long-term care planning and talking to your parents about when it’s time to move out of their home effectively combined having conversations about these sensitive topics with covering different options and how to pay for them.

Having witnessed my parents in the caretaker role with each of my grandparents, I appreciate the need to discuss the financial costs of being a caretaker. The emotional and time challenges it creates in caring for yourself also must be taken into account.

Another chapter deals with talking to your parents about scammers. Seniors are frequently targeted and lose billions of dollars each year to fraud. Huddleston provides signs we can look for to help protect our aging parents as well as tips to help them protect themselves.

Pay It Forward

Huddleston clearly identified her target audience as people like herself; adult children who are helping, or in the future may have to help care for aging parents. After spending the whole book discussing how to get your parents to talk about their finances and help the reader be prepared to help them when needed, she flips the script.

The final chapter challenges readers to make sure we have our own estate planning documents in place. We have to get our own financial houses in order so as not to be a burden on our children. We must prepare for our own long-term care.

It is an effective plea to not repeat the cycle of avoiding these difficult tasks and being afraid to talk about them.

Critiques

I only write overall positive book reviews. This is because it doesn’t serve me, readers of the blog, or the author to waste my time to finish a book I don’t like or to write a review if I don’t think a book will add value for readers of our blog.

It is important to point out parts of books I disagree with or think are ineffective. My critiques of Mom and Dad We Need to Talk are minor.

My biggest criticism is that the book is repetitive at various points. This was particularly true toward the end of the book in Chapter 14: If at First You Don’t Succeed. . . and Chapter 15: Getting Through to Reluctant Parents. I skimmed both as they mostly rehashed ideas already presented in earlier chapters.

The other thing I don’t care for is the author using scare tactics and justifying white lies to try to get parents to start talking. In fairness though, a big theme of the book is getting people to start conversations and breakthrough to parents unwilling to talk to their adult children about money and estate planning.

These are challenges I don’t have to face. Particularly in cases where parents are placing themselves in physical or serious financial danger, the ends likely justify the means.

Caring for aging parents can create substantial financial, physical, and emotional burdens for the caretaker. Those who may be thrust into these roles deserve information that enables them to be prepared.

These tactics and ideas that felt uncomfortable to read may be necessary evils. Again in fairness, they likely are better than the alternative of not having these important conversations at all.

My Recommendation

I got tremendous value out of this book. I recommend Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations with Your Parents About Their Finances to anyone whose parents are still living or to anyone with kids of their own who want to start or improve these difficult conversations and learn how to take action once you do.

I’ll personally be buying a copy for my brother. Then I’ll ask him to pass it along to my parents when he’s done with it. Mom and dad, we need to talk some more.

Win A Copy

If you would like a free copy of the book, leave a comment below. I will select a winner on Wednesday 6/19.

You do not have to share any information publicly, but you will need to enter a valid email address so I can contact you to get your shipping information if you win a book.

If this is your first comment, it will not display until I moderate it. Please do not leave multiple comments.

Thank you and good luck!

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[Contributing Editor Chris Mamula used principles of traditional retirement planning, combined with creative lifestyle design, to retire from a career as a physical therapist at age 41. After poor experiences with the financial industry early in his professional life, he educated himself on investing and tax planning. Now he draws on his experience to write about wealth building, DIY investing, financial planning, early retirement, and lifestyle design at Can I Retire Yet? Chris' writing has been featured in MarketWatch, Doughroller, Business Insider and RockStar Finance. He is also the primary author of the forthcoming book Choose FI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence. You can reach him at chris@caniretireyet.com.]

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Comments

  1. Thanks for posting such topic.
    This is really important. We are currently dealing with this and for us, having parents overseas make it even more challenging.
    Looking forward to read this book

  2. Thanks. Having lost a parent earlier this year and helping the other one with finances is tough to navigate. Hopefully, this book will help.

  3. Jerome Levine says

    So good to see books like this appear and not just ones telling you how to save and invest.

  4. I’m in the midst of this right now! Mom with dementia, Dad had a recent health problem (unfortunately) that (fortunately) revealed a need to cede more information and control to his heirs. Thanks for the post – if I don’t get the book through the drawing, I’ll seek it out at the library.

  5. One thing I’ve noticed with both my family and my wife’s (both of which have 4 children)- one child ended up carrying the majority of the load. In talking with other friends we found this to be common. Sometimes the reason is proximity, whomever happens to be closer, however even when more than one are in equal proximity there tends to be one that takes on this task willingly – at least at first. Over time, this can cause friction between the siblings especially if the financial responsibility is more of a burden to some. Getting your siblings to talk openly about the situation can be as challenging as the conversation with your parent(s).

    Now that my wife and I are in our 60s and our children in their 30s, we have discussed this topic many times. Both in the context of the challenges with our parents and our plans to hopefully prevent those same problems for our children. I view this as even more important than a Living Will. Letting your family know what your hopes and desires are will help set everyone’s expectations.

    Thank you for helping bring this topic ‘into the light’.

  6. Elizabeth Fairbanks says

    I wish I had had such a book when my brother and I were dealing with our father’s dementia and nursing home stays, our mother’s physical decline, but mostly importantly, our disabled brother’s decline and recent death. In retrospect the financial aspect of our parents’ decline was easy as our mother had everything organized and told us multiple times where everything was, down to funeral plans. We appreciated all this even more as my brother declined and refused to write a will, express his wishes (except for manipulative purposes), or even give medical power of attorney (we finally got this only within the last year). Dealing with his affairs, including the family house, which we all inherited and he lived in until his last four months of life, has been much harder than it had to be. I wonder if this book has suggestions for how to handle those talks we tried to have with him but failed.

  7. Gary Witthoefft says

    Thanks for the review; I will probably get a copy of this book to use in putting together some ongoing Family Meetings for my three adult children. I retired last year and want to start the two way conversation now about our finances and wishes for their kids, our philanthropic desires and the like so they feel informed and don’t have to figure everything out on their own when the time comes.

  8. Alex James says

    I’m also lucky my parents are ahead of the curve on this topic. They’ve communicated their high level legal structure, but we need to talk in more detail – and I need to equip myself with the knowledge to hold that conversation. Communication is a two-way street and I think it’s important for both parents and children (all of them – not just one parent and one child) to understand the plan details and consequences to avoid confusion and mistrust further down the road.

  9. Timely topic. We need to do this with our parents.

  10. LouAnn Kane says

    My husbands parents don’t feel they have need for these documents, based on their financial situation. They live with my sister-in- law. I hope to read this and get my husband too also so he can hopefully use information to help his sister with their parents.

  11. Great post Chris and this is a hugely important topic. I’ve struggled with this with my Mom and it’s mostly because of her life experience. She was born in 1929, literally 5 months before the market crashed and great depression started. The first decade of her life was one of deprivation and extreme poverty. So she has always had a severe distrust of the stock market because that’s what she was taught.

    Recently we finally sold the house I grew up in in Baltimore and got her moved out to a safer place. She owned the house, but being Baltimore it sold for well under $100,000. Still, the cash she got form the sale is a good chunk of money and I’ve been trying to get her to put it in the market. She’s 90 after all and knows she can’t take it with her. But she still won’t do it.

    • Mary Sherwin says

      Dave – Lighten up on your Mom. 🙂 My Dad is also 90. Still mows his lawn and snow blows the driveway as well as managing his relatively straightforward finances on his own. I do his federal tax return which gives me a chance to look things over. I gave up trying to get him to invest in anything beyond bank certificates of deposit years ago. It’s beyond his risk tolerance and he needs to be able to sleep at night. He managed to save a small nest egg over the years by having a decent pension, working until he was 84, and being frugal to a fault. These days I’m always telling him I hope he spends his last dime on the day he dies because he can’t take it with him.

      Chris – With regards to the book being reviewed. I hope there is a mention of planning funeral arrangements. Just recently my Dad and I visited his choice of local funeral homes together to get on paper what he wants done when he passes. As expected he wanted as little as possible spent – no calling hours, no funeral. I had to negotiate a couple items with him so we could at least have calling hours.

      • Mary — I don’t go to deep into planning funeral arrangements aside from saying it is something you should discuss with parents. However, I do tell readers they can go to my website – cameronhuddleston.com — to get a free fill-in-the-blank financial inventory they can give their parents to fill out, and there is a big section on funeral planning and end-of-life wishes there.

      • I hear ya Mary and I agree, thanks 🙂 I have lightened up on her about it over time. I just hate to think about the money she could have made in this 10 year bull run. But you’re right, I don’t know what’s it’s like to go through what she did either.

  12. Michael Rayburn says

    Good review of an important topic. My wife and I have experienced the issue of parent dying with no will and also dealing with dementia and finances.

  13. Sam Brown says

    My wife is currently helping her father care for her mother in a memory care facility. Looking forward to the book coming out

  14. Ken White says

    Thanks for bringing a book like this to our attention. My mother is 84 and in good health but my brother and stepsister know we need to have these conversations with her now and have been struggling to get started. I’m also in a blended family situation with my wife and her kids/my kids. A book like this can hopefully help us navigate some tough discussions with our children. The division of our assets when we are gone will be tricky at best

  15. Tha is for the review and thoughts on such an important topic! Is there much in the book on strategies for scenarios where one parent may not have a great financial standing?

  16. Dealing with the “Greatest Generation” will test our patience with our parents. They tend to be stubborn and I have found irrational about money. They have their first nickel, still worry about a depression coming, yet will drop a couple hundred at the casino. Drives me crazy!! Yet they love and care about family and will come around to reason! Have patience!

  17. I’m not looking forward to this. Between a strained relationship with my sibling to money being a taboo subject in my family, this isn’t going to be easy. I think this will be mandatory reading.

  18. If you have a parent falling into the vortex of dementia, immediately get a P.O.A. signed (and sent to all banks, doctors, etc.), Advanced Directives, access to IRAs, bank accounts, etc.. If you wait until they’re not of sound mind, you’re out. The only way in at that point is with a horrible, expensive and legal “Conservatorship” with should be avoided if possible.

    As far as money for Assisted Living etc., this is not a do-it-yourself project; there are huge traps when it comes to Medicaid and taxes; all of which can be avoided by scheduling a consultation with a qualified elder attorney in your own State.

  19. Having gone through this with my parents, I know how much more difficult it can be if all estate planning documents aren’t prepared before their passing. And don’t wait to get it done for yourselves! It will he the best gift for your own children.

  20. Rosemarie Campbell says

    Thanks so much for this. I plan to read this as my siblings and I are now transitioning to the caregiving role for our parents.

  21. Jenny Chen says

    I am now a caregiver and I am glad to learn that there is a book out to help me with this touchy subject.

  22. Randall Springstead says

    As my parents age, I do recognize how difficult it can be to steer and get understanding to aid in their finances. Look forward to a copy of your book to help us with this.

  23. Thank you for exposing this topic.

  24. John J Lacek says

    Chris, thanks for this post, a very interesting and important topic. As I read your introductory comments, I immediately said to myself, I need to get this book for my oldest son, who we have designated as our Executor. I am toying with the idea of buying 3 copies, one for each of my grown children and then having a sit down with them, sharing our wishes with them, along with where we stand on issues related to the estate. Providing them their own copy will hopefully enable a common understanding of our wishes and the tasks at hand.

    I was the executor for my parents and learned a ton through that process. I then took those learnings and started to do things that would make the Executor job for our estate to be a little easier. There are topics you point out in the review that I may not have thought about, so i am looking forward to reading the book myself. (Well, that may mean 4 copies).

  25. Thorough and informative review. I’ve started but haven’t finished my will. I need to get off my lazy butt and take care of my financial legacy. I’m not doing anyone any favors right now. I’m still relatively young but everyone knows that unexpected things happen in life.

  26. Liz Daly says

    A valuable topic worth exploring earlier rather than later.

  27. Barbara Thompson says

    Thanks for the review. Very timely subject that is often taboo. Sad to say we all can make it difficult to discuss but very necessary to discuss before health changes make it much harder to unravel finances.

  28. Kirk Snyder says

    Timely article, and book. While I am dealing with my own financial issues I am often consulted and compelled to assist and intervene with my parents and children. The issues confronted are different in all cases but have at their base a need for rational financial approach and advice.
    I appreciate the analysis and the thoughtful perspectives of this blog as it helps me to hone my financial philosophies and approaches and aids me in offering much needed guidance and help to those I care about. Keep up the good work and keep looking for applications of sound financial logic.

  29. Thanks for addressing this important topic both from the financial as well as the emotional perspective. Our parents are now deceased but we both were the point of contact for the heirs. Our parents were born in the mid-1920s so tge if experience from the Depression were ever present. I would be most interested in the chapter challenging us to take care of our estate for our kids. A secondary issue is the SO for each of our kids who have parents still living. Great subject!

  30. I agree with Tim O’s comments earlier. Both myself and my partner had the primary responsibility for our Mom’s financial and health care as they aged (my Dad passed in 1997 and her Dad passed in 1998) even though I had 3 siblings and she had 3 also. Both my Mom and Dad were eventually sent to a Nursing facility and my partner’s Mom was also sent there. It was a tough situation because it seemed like it was there last stop before passing. Both of our Mom’s had to go through the spend down process before the State of CT would allow any help. Private pay for Nursing facilities in CT averaged around $12,000 per month. The paperwork required was enough to drive you crazy and the frustration and anger towards your family made it worse as they had no idea on the hours you spent helping your parents. Its a rude awakening and I did hours of research regarding it. To have dealt with this before our parents became to old to remember or understand why it needs to be done would have been a huge benefit. My best advice to anyone is if you have the chance to speak to an aging parent and they have the resources to prepay for their funeral arrangements, it was one of the best things I did because my Mom had a say and what she wanted and when she did pass, it was a relief that everything was in place and we had nothing to worry about except for saying goodbye which was hard enough.

  31. thanks for such important info

  32. Dan Ensign says

    A grandparent from both sides of my family just passed away withing the last two months and they were very well prepared for their deaths. Will be talking to my parents and sister about this soon. Thank you for the review!

  33. Susan T. says

    Having lived through this a few years ago (widowed mother with Alzheimer’s) I think it’s great that someone wrote this book. Sounds like she’s definitely on the right track. I would add that it’s important to have these conversations early, while the parent still has good judgment and is able to be a participant in the decisions. Watching out for scams is important. Mom was sending checks to every organization that sent her a request. Not all scams but she wasn’t in a financial position to do that. Even the bank talked her into an investment that wasn’t appropriate. And talk to the bank about how financial power of attorney works. I learned after her death that power of attorney is not valid once the person dies. Fortunately we were able to work that out but it could have made things really difficult as I dealt with her estate.

  34. One more thought. Turning over the financial tasks doesn’t have to take place all at once. Giving up control a little bit at a time may be less upsetting. Let the aging person continue with whatever they’re able to still do.

  35. Jane Dickinson says

    Thanks for a helpful review – we will be buying this book to get the conversational ball rolling with our kids, 25 and 30 years old, as we plan for the next couple of decades.

  36. Brad Walker says

    Thanks for the timely review. My mother recently passed away and my father refuses to make a will. It looks like this book can help.

  37. Richard Delaney says

    Thanks for the great points you made. My mom was very difficult to talk with – depression era and very close mouthed about money. We feared she would run out and never knew the facts. Discussions are critical to help everyone. My mother-in-law is now at that point where conversations are very difficult since she is not able to follow the logic of a conversation about money, her health, etc. It is a drain on everyone since she lives in a different state as well.

  38. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I can’t wait to get the book. This topic is very real for me. My Dad is especially reluctant to talk about anything that relates to his death or my mom’s…so, for the most part, we’ve avoided it. I sense it’s time and would appreciate any help we can get.

  39. This looks like an interesting book, one I will surely buy and read. I find myself in the interesting situation of helping to care for my mom (who is 90) along with my brothers, while at the same time occasionally assisting my children. I’m the poster boy for the “sandwich generation.” I find that whatever it is I am learning from dealing with my parents’ finances (which were actually quite minimal, as they were strictly pensioners in the classic sense) I am trying to put into use in getting my own financial house in order for my children. Hopefully this book will help me a little in managing both ends against me in the middle.

  40. My mom turned 90 this year and in good health. Planning a surprise party with grand and great grand kids attending. She’s been pro-active, moving herself into a senior CCR residence and having me manage her finances. But I’m sure a book like this may help with some details we might have missed. She fell for some medicare phone scam a few months back but immediately called me to complain how stupid she felt about giving info over the phone. So we locked down her credit, but it was not an easy just make a phone call or go on line process. She is not in my will and I’ve promised I will not pre-decease her, but I’ve set up a separate account where she is a secondary in case I get run over by a bus.

  41. A. Sever says

    I am going through this now with my mother, whose husband passed away two months ago. Because he often talked “investments”, she, my siblings and I thought she was better off than she actually is, with most money being tied up on their house/property. As is common for many women her age (73), she was hands-off from the household finances and he, unfortunately, made some poor choices. Even with downsizing, she will not have the senior living arrangement she had hoped for. With any luck, and a restructuring of her finances, she may be able to get there in her later years.
    I had given her a similar book years ago, so at least I believe HER will is in order. I’d like to read this one, as well.

  42. Great topic, and will look for the book once it’s out. Being an only child, 500 miles away, and both parents in their mid 80’s, this is something my wife and I are concerned about, and making sure those estate planning documents are in place.

  43. We just moved to Southern California from Indiana to be closer to our daughter and grandchildren. The timing of your article and the book was spot on. I remember how very difficult it was speaking to my parents about their finances. It was basically taboo and you were thought of being greedy if you inquired. Thank you.

  44. Connie Sawyer says

    Will definitely read this book. My Mom has dementia and I am gradually having to take on more and more of her care. I have her legal documents taken care of and handle her finances. I am interested in if I have missed anything else I need to do that the book may mention. Thank you for bringing this book to my attention.

  45. Greg Sedlock says

    Thanks for the review. I’m looking forward to reading the book whether I win the drawing or not. My wife and I, both retired, are in great financial shape. My interest in the book is how to deal with my adult children – how much should I tell them about our finances and who should be the executor of our estate if I pass first since I’m the major money manager in our house. Should I pass first, I want to make sure that my wife leads a life where she can reasonably spend what she wants. Once our kids find out our financial details, I’m concerned that they’ll think we’re spending “their money” since they will get most of it when we both pass.

  46. Thanks for the review and the chance to win a copy!

  47. Hi Chris! I find this article to be well written and helpful, just as I do most others you have shared. While I have already experienced this with my parents who are both gone, it is a valuable tool for myself to visit and revisit these topics. I will look for this book when it is available next week. ~smile~ Roseanne

  48. This book looks interesting. I’m the adult child who is closer in proximity and the amount of care for my elderly parents is increasing. We’ve had a lot of the conversations, but there are some really big areas (savings? long term care?) that just aren’t happening. I’ll put the book on my to be read list.

  49. Thank you for the review. Mt wife and I haven’t thought enough about the topic and how it will effect our early retirement next year. Clearly my wife and I need a better understanding of how to handle the complications of our aging parents. Once we successfully push the last kid out next year I guess we will need to revisit our position with our parents before retiring.

  50. I’m one of six kids and while my parents are gone now, I am so very grateful that they set things up in such a way that two of my siblings could have power of attorney & be financial decision makers for them. Tim O is right that usually one sibling is the primary caretaker, and for us it was the one closest geographically, but we did all work together during their last few years. One very fond memory is of all six of us gathering at our parents’ house of 40-plus years and cleaning it out before putting up for sale. I’m also grateful that my mom told us years and years ago that she would be so mad if we ever fought about things or the process, before or after they died. So we all learned to compromise (not easy! so we had help) and are still close.

  51. Daphne Kelly says

    Thank you for article, this is a conversation I am dreading to have. DK

  52. Pamela McNerthney says

    Fortunately my husband have talked to 2 out 3 children regarding our financial situation. I pray that my husband and I can stay financially and physically sound. My biggest fear is becoming a burden to my children. Thank you.

  53. This topic is definitely relevant to my sisters and I. As our father’s health declined, our mom also started exhibiting Alzheimer’s symptoms. We were able to convince them to sell their rural home (with grounds they could no longer keep up), and move into an assisted living facility near one of my siblings, where she could visit regularly to help with their care. We got a Durable Power of Attorney for my sister to manage my mom’s affairs, as she quickly became incapable of doing so on her own – though we have found that this document is not always immediately accepted by some financial institutions, so it’s an on-going struggle to manage all of our parents’ financial accounts (Dad died two years ago, so all of their joint accounts now belong to my mom, but there’s not much we can do about them until Mom passes, too). We are very lucky that finances weren’t a taboo subject in our family, and my siblings and I have always been on great terms and see eye-to-eye on most money topics.

    We also need to flip the script and talk about our kids – who are at, or approaching, the age of majority, but have some mental health issues. As my wife and I engage regularly in adventure travel, we long ago set up wills and guardianship documents for our kids, in case we didn’t come back from a trip, but we still need to complete our estate planning. Because of our kids’ challenges, we plan to have our financial assets go to a trust to provide for their benefit, instead of having them inherit everything immediately.

  54. Probably in the book but through my personal experience, I strongly recommend that anyone who needs to do this START EARLY/NOW. Especially if your aging parents reside in CA. Even in the best case where your parents are of clear mind and there are no family conflicts hindering their wishes, this stuff takes time to take care of (we’re coming up on year 3). Getting a will in place is a great starting point but there can be lots of follow-up activities that need to be done/verified/tracked before the estate plan is completely implemented. Various people will likely drag their feet all along the process.

  55. I am currently helping my parents out with their day-to-day finances. My father’s cognition is declining and although my mother’s cognitive function is fine, she is losing her sight to macular degeneration. I spend at least 1 day a week at their house helping with shopping, etc. and while I do this willingly, I am starting to resent the non-participation of some of my siblings (as Tim O also commented). Looking forward to reading the book…

  56. I’m really interested in this book. My husband and I were just talking about his parent’s financial plans and it’s very apparent the conversation is going to be tough. This book might help guide the conversation.

  57. Thank you for writing on this topic and providing this book review. This book sounds like an excellent read as my wife and I both have aging parents. It will be a good resource for ideas on bridging the the talk with parents

  58. Great article and recommendation! I’m going through this with my mother now. She just lost her 2nd husband and dealing with his adult children has been a total nightmare. She wants nothing to do with the financial aspect so she’s expecting me to take care of everything for her. I look forward to reading this book… I’ll take all the advice I can get!

  59. Farley Dave says

    This is a very timely book for me. I am the power of attorney for my mother who was recently diagnosed with dementia. She also had a fall which has led to her move from independent living to assisted living. Because her resources are not that substantial, the financial burden with the more expensive assisted-living has caused tension between us. The topics you outlined that are covered in the book would be extremely beneficial to me because the family dynamics are not that good and attempts to start conversation with my siblings and mother have not gone well. I am hopeful that the book would provide some insight on how to discuss these issues and to help all concerned help navigate these sensitive and difficult financial issues. Thank you.

    Dave

  60. My wife and I are dealing with this issue starting just last year. It’s going to be “fun.” So getting this book seems like a good idea.

  61. Linda Crabtree says

    This book sounds like it has what I need to talk to my kids! I especially noted the point that sometimes we don’t talk because we aren’t sure they will agree with our philosophies, this is one of the reasons I don’t talk to them. Maybe this will help me from the parents point of view.

  62. Sounds like a book I could use as I am executor for my 88 yr parents. Especially interested in chapter on talking to siblings.

  63. Thanks for the review, sounds exactly like what I need to get the conversation going with my mom and our adult daughters.

  64. What scares me most is that my mother is retired on a very limited income, and if she needs extended personal care, I’m not sure how we will finance that other than sacrificing my own retirement.

    • Mary Sherwin says

      Sammy – Please don’t sacrifice your retirement to pay for your mother’s care as her health declines. If you take on financial responsibility for your mother it is likely you will never be able to retire and you still may not have enough to cover her expenses. There are other options. Meet with a reputable eldercare attorney who is well versed in Social Security, Medicare, and your state’s Medicaid regulations. They can educate you on what’s available in your state and help you plan ahead so your mother will qualify for assistance when she needs it.

  65. J.D. Cunningham says

    I dealt with my family’s issues with improper estate planning 20 years ago and now have a mission to ensure my wife need not. Keep the conversation open.

  66. Hi Chris – I think I mentioned it here before, but I have been doing some work (I call it a side project) for a nursing home that is tied into our hospital system. It is outside of my wheelhouse but I have picked up a lot and some of the family situations have been awful. We are also moving into the Adult Day Center market, which is evidently becoming more and more of a demand as people need support during the day. It will be interesting to see how that model works, perhaps I will pick up a copy of this for the lobby area.

    Max

  67. Tina R Farthing says

    Appreciate the timely book review, my mother is 81 and still able to manage most tasks. But I know another phase is coming and my sister and I want to help but not intrude. This book will be read by both of us and discussed regarding Mom, but also prep our combined 6 adult children for the time down the road! Thank you I look forward to your posts! 1.5 years to go to retirement!

  68. Helping your aging parents financially is one thing and doing it without becoming broke is another. In case their retirement income will not be enough, they might end up moving with you or helping them with their finances, which can derail your own retirement plan. So, it’s important to start the conversation about aging and death to make sure that your aging parents can age the way they want in the future and they’ll be financially sound during their golden years. Some talking points that you can use include discussing their physical health, mental health, long-term care needs, retirement plan, living arrangement, expectations, end-of-life, and unfulfilled dreams.

  69. Thank you for your in depth review of this book, Chris. And Darrow & Chris, thank you for the wealth of information you have shared on all topics throughout the few years that I’ve been following you. You are making a difference! I learned so much when I helped my mother process my father’s estate a few years ago. Both he & my mother planned out as much as their financial knowledge allowed & it was a relatively easy process. Still, there were gaps that I had to help my mother navigate. My mother is now 90 & to the best of my ability, we have sorted through her financial life to ensure that no gaps exist & that her wishes are being followed. This generation does have a very different perspective on finances & it’s important for us to respect their comfort levels, their quirks, and their autonomy to the level which is safe. Hopefully our children will do the same for us. I will be ordering this book…to make sure that I have covered all bases for my mother but also to ensure that I have covered all bases for my own children.

  70. I find it to be hard emotionally to deal with my mothers needs. To even start a forward march towards what needs to be done, and on an on going basis is paralyzing. I don’t know how people do this who are hours away from a parent in need. You can have a parent who is mentally sharp as a tack when conditions are ideal. Then add in the reality of poor nutrition of prepared meals in a senior living center, lack of regular exercise programs, a lack of available, responsible persons to organize multiple drug prescriptions. And it all falls apart. And this is even at an expensive living facility. This is the reality that I know, and my Mother lives every day.
    -Thank you for helping us with the parents that we love. -JW

  71. Ajayi Peter Oluwaseun says

    I live in a less developed country and I usually envy the health insurance plans available in the developed countries. I care about when I become aged and will like to have a plan on ground to cater for myself and spouse. Reading this post made me think more of my mum. Whatever I am able to do to make better her finances will bring great delight. But I must do it the right way. So, the need to get book.
    Thank you.

  72. Greg Davidson says

    We are in the middle of updating all of your future planning as well. Are children are all in their 20’s and we are currently retiring. Our own parents have always been secretive of their own plans which is sure to cause many problems I. The near future and already is causing some. We do not want these same problems for us and our children. We want to share our financial situation with them. Hopefully this book would help us with that sharing, especially as responsible millennials they are not used to thinking of their parents as even needing help. They last thing we would ever want is to cause any sudden and unexpected burden on them with our health. That is why we want to prepare them early.

  73. It is very difficult to have not only the initial meeting but ongoing meetings. I am not looking forward to the day I have to give “control” over to my daughter but I am sure it will eventually happen. Anxious to read the book.

  74. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic. My parents recently retired and paid off their mortgages in full. Even though they live very frugally, I do worry if they have enough. I started blogging on FIRE to teach others the path to financial independence and this post made me think I should probably educate the ones around me first. Will also need to set aside time with my insurance advisor to review the policies I have for my parents!

  75. Thanks for the chance to win the book!

  76. Judy in NC says

    I too have been blindsided by this – a much younger sister w early onset ALZ. Making and executing a plan on the fly isn’t pretty. I look forward to gleaning tips from this book to make this less stressful.

  77. David Ockene says

    I’m the parent, but I think it would be useful from my point of view.

  78. I really am interested in getting a copy of the book as I am the executor of my Mom and husbands will. I am also a nurse and more than likely it will be instead of my other 2 siblings taking care of them, even though I am the youngest sibling. My Mom’s husband had 2 children and I am certain that they will not be involved much. I hope I win it!

  79. Chris,

    Thank you for posting this honest book review. This is a topic I had to confront with my parents as my father was facing his final days about a year ago. It is so important that people have this conversation with parents as they age, and also to have with yourself (and partner) to ensure your own financial affairs are well cared for as we ourselves age.

    Mark

  80. This happens to be one of the most difficult topics to have with parents, some take it very negatively and may lead to deppression on both parties.

  81. Mike Stubbers says

    I appreciate the helpful article and look forward to the book. I found the comments about considering your parents in your will and the difficulties of planning to hand over your own finances to your children challenging thoughts and helpful.
    Thanks
    M

  82. John Hiiva says

    Working with both older widow mother 82 out of state and mother in law 80 with dementia Alzheimer’s and soon difficult care decisions thrust upon us and she is unwilling.
    The sandwich generation sucks we have 2 children of our own 25 and almost 23.
    We need guidance instruction as we take baby steps in right direction.
    John

  83. M.K. Whitmer says

    Chris,
    I have been reading your ideas for several years without comment. THIS topic is one I dread. My parents are very elderly and, especially, my dad is reluctant to discuss any of the steps for being prepared. I don’t even know if he has a will. I look forward to the publishing of this book so I can have an excuse to get him to talk a little bit. (On the other hand, my mother is very willing to talk but won’t ‘betray’ dad’s desires.)
    Additionally, I am interested in the book (too late for the ‘lottery’, but waiting for publication) to use as a conversation starter with my own adult children. They probably feel a little nervous about the circumstances and I hope to eliminate some of the fear. Thanks for the post and recommendation.

  84. Thank you for this review. I’m actually the parent and need my children not to be afraid of talking about these things!

  85. I have seen money issues between parents and children also break up sibling relationships, when siblings can’t agree on what course of action to take. Another angle is navigating the career management issues of balancing elder care with current job responsibilities. I’m a career blogger, and I had a reader ask me if she should quit her job to care for elderly parents. Another angle is socio-cultural. Some cultures are more inter-generational than others and expect the young to take care of the old. Many times elder care falls on the daughters over the sons. There are a lot of angles to this. It’s an important topic to shine a light on!

  86. Thanks for the review. We are a couple in our early 70’s who have done all the right things. Our kids are very hesitant to talk about the topic. This might help break the ice with them.

  87. My husband and I have recently been thrust into the role of helping my mother navigate financial waters following the death of my father who had handled everything to do with investments, pensions, etc. Added to the usual concerns is the fact that I have an adult sibling with special needs who will need my mother’s estate for living expenses someday. It’s almost a race against the clock now to make sure things are properly in place before she is unable to understand or participate in the process. Thanks for a timely review. I think this book covers an extremely important subject.

  88. My spouse and I are checking out solutions to maintain my parent living in her home with out having to be troubled too much concerning her being on her own. My brother and I are about sixty minutes away from Mom’s place. Mom is in rather great health at this moment but getting older. My father has passed away and she is coping alone and prefers to continue being in her place of 32 years which actually we can appreciate. We looked at medical alarm buttons but they seem outmoded with all of the innovative technology in existence. Is anybody employing the Alarm.com Wellness solution or at the least have any opinions? It seems to be fairly reasonably priced and could possibly do just fine maintaining a watch over Mom who simply just won’t don an emergency button!