Talking to Your Aging ParentIt may seem that “that day” will never come—until it does. “That day” is the day one or both of your aging parents requires long-term care. If you haven’t already had the important conversations about what this means and who will be responsible, it can be a much more difficult day than it needs to be.

Recent research conducted by the financial services sector surveyed adult parents and their children on the subjects of retirement income, eldercare, and estate planning. The findings, released in the report Family & Finance, demonstrated that conversations about these matters routinely don’t occur, or when they do, are frequently characterized by communication breakdowns that set up parents and children alike for significant emotional and financial stress.

Some of the findings are as follows:

  • Nearly two in five families disagree on the roles children should play in relation to their aging parents.
  • More than 90 percent of parents felt it was unacceptable for them to become financially dependent on their children.
  • 70 percent of children felt it was acceptable for their parents to become financially dependent on them.
  • Of that 70 percent, nearly one-fourth were actively making plans for their parents’ long-term care.
  • 90 percent of parents assume one of their children will be the executor of their estate.
  • 27 percent of children are unaware that their parents expect them to fulfill this role.
  • 75 percent of parents assumed one of their children would take on the responsibility of their long-term care.
  • Of the children whom parents named for this role, only 40 percent were aware of their parents’ assumption that they would be the one chosen for it.
  • Almost 70 percent of parents expected help from their children with managing investments and retirement finances.
  • Almost 70 percent of parents assumed their children would offer assistance with household expenses, budgeting, and bills.
  • 36 percent of children didn’t know their parents expected them to handle investments.
  • 44 percent of children were unaware their parents expected help with household budgets.
  • Nearly half of parents said that they hadn’t had detailed discussions with their children about long-term care and eldercare.
  • 23 percent said they had never broached these subjects with their children.

In short, the survey showed that parents and children often have very different assumptions about the roles children should play in their parents’ long-term care needs.

In and of themselves, these differing assumptions are not the root of the difficulty. Rather, the root of the difficulty lies in the lack of detailed conversations about long-term care. These discussions can help identify, explore, and clarify differing assumptions in order to align expectations and move productively forward.

Especially in families in which open communication about difficult subjects has not been part of the “family culture,” conversations about long-term care can feel daunting to everyone concerned. Having these conversations ensures that the best interests of all parties are considered. In fact, the financial services research survey found that families that held detailed discussions about these matters were more secure both emotionally and financially than families that didn’t.

If in the course of these detailed discussions you discover that your parent is facing an urgent need for care, or other pressing expenses that exceed their financial capacities, you may want to explore the option of a life settlement.

A life settlement essentially allows your parent to liquidate their life insurance policy by selling it to a licensed buyer for more than the policy's cash surrender value but less than the net death benefit. Under certain conditions, this may be a best-case scenario in making cash available to better support the needs of your parent while he or she is still living.

If you or your parent are struggling with questions about how best to afford long-term care or other expenses, Ashar Group can be part of the process of determining whether a life settlement makes sense for your situation. We’re secondary market and valuation specialists whose experts adhere to the strictest of ethical standards, and we invite you to contact us today.