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How to (Gently) Help Your Aging Parents Manage Their Money


“You can offer three names, and then leave it with the parent for a while,” Ms. Locker said about choosing the third person. “The parent needs to process and not feel pressured to do something.”

Of course, it is not a surprise that certified financial planners would suggest hiring a planner, but “you definitely want someone who has expertise in this,” said Ms. Weston, who has written books on finance, but does not see clients. “The financial planner has hopefully been through this a lot and may have thought of scenarios you haven’t thought of.”

And financial planners often hold meetings jointly with the children and the parents, finessing the situation. For example, Ms. Alonso said, her father worked at General Electric, and all their stocks were with that company.

“My dad was a G.E. company man to the T,” she said. “My mom felt if she sold off the stocks, it would be crushing the memory of my dad.”

But then Dr. McClanahan, who was the financial planner first for Ms. Alonso and then for her mother, “gradually got her to understand diversifying and how the stock market has changed since the ’70s.”

Dr. McClanahan added that, in an ideal world, people will not wait until their declining years to bring their children into their financial picture; she co-founded, Whealthcare Planning, with the idea of helping people plan for the financial challenges of aging. Among other things, it provides interactive assessments of one’s knowledge of their own finances and helps evaluate those at risk for poor financial decision-making. The cost starts at $39 annually.

In some cases, knowing more about finances can help alleviate an anxious parents’ fear that they will run out of money or will not be able to leave an inheritance. In other cases, it can stave off disaster.


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