Given the current state of politics in America, the holidays will no doubt result in some uncomfortable, if not downright contentious conversations between millennials and their boomer parents at the holiday dinner table. Over the coming weeks, you will likely see countless articles about how to talk with family members who disagree with you politically.
While millennials and boomers can agree to disagree on uncomfortable topics like politics and religion, there is one important topic which should not be ignored, despite how uncomfortable it is, money.
It’s tempting to avoid financial conversations altogether, because, let’s face it, nobody wants to feel like they are prying into their parents’ business, and most parents don’t want to take financial advice from someone whose diapers they’ve changed countless times. But as uncomfortable as it is, the consequences of avoiding this topic can be costly.
Here are 5 important financial conversations that you would be wise to have with your loved ones:
- Healthcare: Many millennials and gen Xers have boomer parents approaching 65. While they’ve no doubt been bombarded by mail soliciting medicare supplement plans, it may be a good opportunity to make sure they aren’t hit with additional costs if they miss the 6 month window around their 65th birthday to sign up to avoid a late enrollment penalty.
- Social Security: The rules around social security are incredibly complex, but if you have relatives approaching age 62, it’s worth making sure they have a plan in place. Many married boomers born before 1954 may be leaving money on the table if they aren’t taking advantage of the “restricted application” rule. The restricted application rule allows you to claim some of your benefits while continuing to delay taking other benefits. This allows your delayed benefits to potentially increase. You’ll also want to let them know they may have their benefit reduced if they exceed the annual earnings limit before their full retirement age.
Every situation is different, but your relatives my want to consider the benefits of delaying taking their benefit until age 70 if they can afford to, in order to take advantage of the delayed benefit credit.
- Long term care: This is one of the more difficult conversations to have with a loved one because it involves acknowledging the aging process. But for folks turning 65, they have almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services and the annual cost for a nursing home stay is $82k and $44k for an assisted living facility. Understanding your parents’ long term care needs and how they would be paid for are key topics for you to discuss with aging parents, because the costs of both time and money spent may fall on you as their child if proper planning isn't done before they need care.
- Retirement topics: Most our friends and family who are 70 ½ years old already know that they need to take required minimum distributions from their retirement accounts. However, if you know if they are also charitably inclined, it may be a great idea for them to consider a qualified charitable distribution to help reduce their income tax liability while supporting the qualifying charity of their choosing before the 12/31 deadline.
- Legacy Documents: Perhaps the most uncomfortable conversation to have with our loved ones is about death. Though it is uncomfortable, it is necessary. A 2017 survey showed that only 4 in 10 American adults have a will or living trust. While 58 percent of boomers do have estate planning documents, it’s at least worth asking because the consequences of not having a will can be financially and emotionally significant.
In addition to actually executing the estate planning documents, it’s a great idea to let your trusted loved ones know where to find important financial documents: wills, powers of attorney, passwords, final expense instructions, etc. so they aren’t burdened by trying to find it all while they are in the midst of grieving your loss. To learn more about additional estate planning tools, please click here to listen to the “Letter From the Heart” episode of our podcast.
None of these conversations need to take longer than 5 minutes. The main thing is to make sure your friends and loved ones are aware of these important, often time-sensitive decisions that need to be made, even as uncomfortable as it can be to broach the subject. Once that’s done, you can get back to watching football, enjoying good food and the holidays with your family!
The content in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute investment advice or an offer to buy or sell any security. The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the time it is distributed and may become inaccurate or outdated with the passage of time. You should contact your financial advisor or CPA professional before making any tax or investment-related decision. Past performance does not guarantee future results. All investments may lose money.