Conversations we loathe: Telling a spouse that it's over. Explaining sex to our kids. Asking our elderly parents about their finances. How do you broach that last subject without sounding greedy? It's an important conversation to initiate, experts say.
“It's not a question of age,” elder law attorney Danielle B. Mayoras says. “Whether you're 30, 50 or 90, no one is promised tomorrow. It's important to have these conversations sooner rather than later.”
Early in the year is a good time to start fresh, Mayoras says. She is well-versed in the subject: She co-wrote an estate planning guide, “Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Hunts,” with husband Andrew Mayoras, a probate lawyer. The book uses well-publicized courtroom battles to illustrate the bitter clashes that often follow the death of a parent.
You can avoid such wrenching problems by persuading your parents to plan ahead, she says. And there's no better time to start than the present.
You never know what you might find when you start asking questions. I found that my parents had more than $120,000 — a huge chunk of their savings — stashed away in a checking account drawing no interest. I talked them into visiting a financial counselor with me, and eventually my father moved the money into low-risk investments. It marked the beginning of a long-range plan that eventually kept their estate out of probate court.