Important Considerations For Family Members
Like it or not, other people have vital stakes in these new relationships. The children, grandchildren and other family members must deal constructively with their own attitudes about the new arrangement, even if there are misgivings, uncertainty, financial or emotional worries for the welfare of the older parent or other considerations.

But family members should also keep in mind what is most important to the aging parent. After all, human beings never grow too old to desire companionship and the comfort of a close relationship, and the new person in their lives shouldn’t threaten the relationships older people have with their children. The kids and relatives should be “curious, not furious.” The more they can put themselves in their parents’ place and remain open-minded and considerate, the more likely they’ll continue to enjoy a trusting, loving and respectful relationship with their moms and dads.

But it’s important for adult children of aging parents in new relationships to take several things into account:

• They must think about their loved one’s long-term-care expenses, preferences, resources and options.
• They must plan for their parents’ ongoing money management.
• They have to think about selling or keeping the family home.
• They have to account for estate planning documents like trusts and wills.
• They have to make final arrangements, anticipating what happens when their parents pass on.

The key for the children is to be as involved as their parent wants them to be, while remaining as diligent as they need to be. The kids have the right to express their concerns, but they also have to be willing to acknowledge their parents’ choices and needs.

And, of course, there are a few things that the adult children of repartnering parents should definitely not do:

• They should not launch an intervention or open communications that feel like interventions.
• They should not involve unnecessary parties (for example, they shouldn’t discuss “Dad’s new girlfriend” at the Thanksgiving table).
• They should always aim to listen more than they talk. It’s no good if they fail to listen half the time.
• They should not focus on finances more than they do on people.

Instead, there are three elements that should guide every conversation:

1. Shared values. (“We matter to each other because …”)
2. Communication. (Family members should build bridges, not walls.)
3. Agreement on financial policies. (Parents and children should map the desired route to the parents’ financial destination together.)

Some things can be expected to remain constant: the human desire and need for companionship, the bonds between parents and children, and the mutual caring that families and loved ones provide for each other. Those things could become more complicated now that we’re living longer lives.

Financial advisors have to take all these financial and emotional aspects of aging into consideration. Our guidance should be informed by a thorough understanding of not just the financial implications of our older clients’ situations, but also knowledge of their priorities, goals and core values.

In these situations, as in most circumstances of life, relationships are paramount.

Kimberly Foss, CFP, CPWA, is the founder and president of Empyrion Wealth Management. Catherine Seeber, CFP, CeFT, is a vice president and financial advisor with CAPTRUST. Foss and Seeber will discuss the subject of divorce at this year's Invest In Women conference on November 10-11.     

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