ATLANTA - There are a few things you don’t talk about over the holidays: politics and money. But this year make an exception. With the family together again it's a good time to talk about finances.
So many of us have lost people to COVID-19, and we know the pain of friends, families, and co-workers who died unexpectedly. And you may know of people who struggled to pick up the financial pieces in the aftermath.
Well this year, with everyone together, you might want to think about gently bringing up the topic: What are our family plans if one of is to get sick or pass away?
Gregory Phelps, a financial advisor with Griffith & Werner Inc., says you might be surprised at the good reception to this topic this year.
"We all know those natural moments when we say, ‘Ya know what, listen, little awkward with everything going on, but what would we do if?’ Just bring it up in question form. What would happen? If you’re the parent, ‘What would happen if something happened to me and I just was not able to take care of my financial affairs for a short period of time?’"
Just casually get the conversation started. Find a natural spot in the family gathering to bring it up. Here’s a guideline for things you’ll want to discuss.
Estate Planning. Everyone has an estate in the eyes of the law. So whether it’s millions or your 401k, even your furniture in your apartment, get a will. Make sure everyone knows who your attorney is.
Long-Term Care. There are 53 million caregivers in the US who spend more than $7,000 a year out of pocket. Who will make your medical or financial decisions if you can’t? Different siblings may be good at different things. Talk it out.
Retirement. What’s it look like for you? The kids might think you plan to keep their childhood home. But maybe you're thinking about a small mountain house instead. Talk about it with your loved ones.
As Gregory Phelps explained, these family issues are a team sport.
"Any time anyone passes, it is just an emotional bomb, and in that chaos of grieving, that is not when you want to try think out critically financial problems. What’s best is before that emotional bomb goes off."
You’re not going to solve the whole thing in one day. And if it gets heated, back up, try again later. But get the conversation started.