Today, I was listening to one of my mother’s favorite tunes, “Lake Shore Drive,” by the late Art Porter, Jr. Enjoying the fact that she so loves this great sax melody reminded me of a client who recently came into my office. As we talked I was struck again by the fact that if it were not for the sacrifices made by parents, many of us would not have the good fortunes that we have today.
Occasionally, individuals who understand this honour the sentiment by taking it to the next level with action. So listening today, I decided I’d pay it forward by providing 5 pieces of information you should have as you plan for your parents.
The difficult conversation should, of course, have taken place. After that, you should determine the following:
- What the estimated amount of need-based government benefits your parents will receive by the time your plan is scheduled to start providing for you or them. This amount will determine how much you can provide for them if their assets plus their benefits is insufficient.
- Who are their primary physician(s), life insurance agents, and other key contact persons. If you don’t know them already, schedule time to have a small chat with each of these persons and put them on notice that your loved ones are protected not only by their services and products but also by you.
- Where your parents want to live in the event one or both become infirm and unable to tend to each others’ basic needs, e.g., proper hygiene, nutritional maintenance, and medical treatments. Most folks say “my home,” unlike my mother, who sent me a link to her favourite cruise line.
- What their retirement and estate plans entail and if these plans reflect their current family and financial statuses. CAUTION! Sometimes parents don’t provide equally for siblings. This isn’t a smart parental move irrespective of the motivation, but it happens. So if you’re getting pushback, this may be the reason and may be a good time to try to avert a potential family feud.
- The nuances of how they handle finances. This may change over time but generally people are consistent in the way they manage their personal finances. For example, some folks are uncomfortable with less than $200 in their wallet; some withdraw cash from the bank at the beginning of the week that’s to last them until the next week; and some older individuals go a few times a week just because it gets them moving and, if it’s a local community branch, they get to see familiar faces.
If you plan to provide for your parents and discuss these matters now, all parties will be more comfortable and less stressed-out when the time comes for you to supplement or provide them with income. Even if you aren’t sure that you’ll be able to assist your parents, this information is still valuable in case they just need your help.*
Just like us, our elders generally relish their independence, so to lose some or all of that freedom can be kinda earth-shattering. If a loved one could make a possibly traumatizing situation for you less stressful, wouldn’t you want them to take the necessary steps to do so? I would. So take 5, play a little Art Porter – or The Stones – and sit down and listen, so you can pay it forward in the right key, when the time comes.
As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome…
*As seen in Crain’s Chicago Business.