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Are your clients prepared to have “the talk” with their kids? No, I’m not talking about the birds and the bees — I’m talking about encouraging your clients to kick-start an honest conversation with their children about their wishes as they get older and how all of it relates to their journey through retirement.
 
I know first-hand that figuring out how to broach the topic is really difficult, even when you have a fantastic relationship with your parents. As much as my brother and I knew this talk needed to happen, we didn’t know how to bring it up or the right questions to ask. I do know for sure that it would have been a lot more comfortable if my parents were the ones who brought it up first. I’m also confident that if you, as the trusted advisor, encourage these conversations, your clients will feel both empowered and prepared.
 
On the short list, here are a few questions you can use to get your clients thinking about what they want to communicate. You can even role play to help get them comfortable.
 
Have you thought about talking with your kids about your plans in and though retirement? I have a few questions you can consider…
 
Warm-up Questions
 

  • As you transition into (or through) retirement, have you identified new opportunities or set any specific goals you’d like to achieve over the next five, 10 or 15 years?
  • What aspects of your life do you find most fulfilling now and do you anticipate changes or shifts in those aspects as you move through retirement?
  • What are your needs, wants and wishes for the next five, 10 or 15 years?
  • Where do you see yourself living in the next 10 years?
  • How would you like to be remembered and honored?

The more open ended questions above can lead into the more specific — and sometimes uncomfortable — questions below and help create a to-do list that can be managed in bite-sized pieces.
 
Tactical Questions
 

  • Do you have a consolidated list of your preferred healthcare professionals that includes insurance information?
  • Do you have a list of medications that you take and what they are for?
  • Do you have long-term care insurance or another plan if long-term care is required?
  • Do you have a durable power of attorney?
  • Do you have a will, living trust and/or a living will?
  • Are these documents up to date and together in one location? (A local estate planning attorney or online resources can be a great starting point for the documents.)
  • Are your financial accounts consolidated and/or easy to locate (pensions, IRAs, checking/savings, annuities, etc.)?
  • Is the beneficiary information on your accounts up to date?
  • Are your passwords stored and accessible?
  • Do you have a summary of what you owe and are your bills easy to find?
  • Do you have an address book with contact information for all your friends and family?
  • Is there anything else we are missing?

Although the list above isn’t exhaustive, it may also be too much for some. Depending on the relationships, dynamics and personalities, your clients may choose to reveal only certain things and reserve others. However, any conversation is a step in the right direction to help ensure everyone is on the same page.
 
Once you’ve run through this list with them, you can work to consolidate the information so they can share it with their kids. By the way, encouraging “the talk” leads quite nicely into advocating for a family visit to your office so you can help guide these conversations and get to know the whole family.
 
As my brother and I discovered, it becomes more important to talk to your parents as they get older but it is never easy. The key is to make it easier by coaching your clients on how to have this kind of conversation in a mindful, proactive and graceful manner.
 
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