Livens & Reed, PLLC

Estate planning may require sharing of financial information

When children have to confront a developing medical condition or other incapacity in an elderly parent, they should promptly try to have a frank conversation with that parent prior to a worsening of the situation. Unfortunately, human nature often makes parents unwilling to share their financial information. An aging person, whether located in Texas or another state, may be ultra-conscious about retaining a position of strength and may resent any attempts to suggest estate planning, elder law planning or even just the sharing of financial information.

That may not be a problem for many families where openness and sharing of thoughts is the cultural norm. But for a significant number of situations, the children will have to tip-toe over eggshells to handle the communications. Despite the need for delicacy, however, a lack of action may leave family members with a physically or mentally incapacitated parent and no legal direction or authority to act. These are the most difficult scenarios in that they can cause excessive stress to surviving children who are in effect left to struggle in the dark.

That predicament may be costly and emotionally draining to resolve. It may be necessary to get court approval and ongoing court supervision over a guardian or conservator appointed to carry on the aged parent's affairs. For those who may have difficulty in discussing the subject with a parent, there are a few common techniques that may be attempted.

One good way to break the ice is to mention someone who recently passed away and to relate the troubles that the family had due to having no information on the parent's finances. This may be combined with a gentle suggestion that the parent share information so one does not end up with the same problem. There are workbooks and registers that are distributed by national aging organizations that can assist the aged person in making a record of all of the necessary actions and documents. In Texas and elsewhere, it may sometimes be necessary for the parent to meet with an experienced estate planning and elder law attorney – sometimes the strongest impulse to act comes from knowing the mandates of the law.

Source:, "How to Talk About Money With Your Aging Parents", Cameron Huddleston, July 19, 2015

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