Finding Financial Balance Between Parents and Children

A friend recently lamented about his dilemma of choosing between continuing financial support for his aging mother or helping a daughter in Texas who’d just become a single mom. My friend isn’t alone in dealing with the cost of caring for an aging parent or getting nervous about the prospect.

financial balanceAccording to the Pew Research Center, 75% of adults say that adult children have a responsibility to provide financial assistance to an elderly parent in need. By contrast, only 52% say parents have a responsibility to do the same for a grown child who needs it. The real dilemma comes when both the aging parent and grown child need the help!

Of course, a general solution is planning in advance for both situations. It’s important to have “the talk” with both generations. Does the parent have long-term care insurance, and if not, how do they plan to pay for nursing home or in-home help if necessary? What assistance can be handled through Medicare? Has the child made arrangements for day-care and does she have a job lined up for after the baby’s birth? What paternity has been established to secure the child’s financial support?

One way to break the ice with these discussions is to make it about you, rather than them. Tell both of them that you are thinking about doing estate planning and wondered what financial choices they have made. The important thing is to talk openly and honestly about their financial situations and yours. Putting everything on the table removes anxiety and can bring all three generations closer as a loving, supportive family.