Starting to talk about finances

Most people say it's important to talk about finances but put off actually having those conversations with family or others close to them. Discussing finances early can increase peace of mind, as you understand needs, options and plans.

Before you talk with the older adult, ask yourself:

  • What are my specific concerns about the older adult's current finances, financial decisions or future plans?

  • What have I seen or heard that makes me have these concerns?

  • What don't I know? What assumptions might I be making?

  • What might be important to the older adult that I haven't considered?

  • Am I trying to convince the older adult to do what I think is best? Am I open to other possibilities?

Set a small goal for your first conversation. For example, your goal could be to learn about the older adult's bank and credit card accounts, or to find out if the older adult has a financial advisor.

Good conversation starters include financial-related facts, friends' or family members' experiences, or news stories. For example:

  • "I heard that Lucas died without a will and it caused a lot of issues for the family. Have you drawn up a will, or thought about it?"

  • "I read in the news that financial exploitation of older adults is on the rise. Does your bank send alerts about suspicious account activity?"

  • "Aunt Sarah said talking to a financial advisor really helped her. Are you interested in doing that? Should we ask who Sarah went to?"

Be honest about your reasons for wanting to discuss financial issues with the older adult. Acknowledge that the older adult might see the situation differently.

During the conversation, focus on understanding the older adult's point of view. Don't push for decisions or actions right away. Don't try to cover too much in your first discussion.

Try to end on a positive note. If you can, agree on next steps with the older adult, like having another conversation or going over documents together.