How to start the talk about money with your parents without being a jerk


Most Australians report preferring to talk to their parents about sex, rather than money

When it comes to the reality of talking with our parents about money and aging, there is never really a right time. But there is probably a better time - and this is what you can do about that.

If you're part of the Sandwich Generation, there's a good chance you’ll become part of the growing number of adult children who will have to get involved with their parents' financial lives as they age.

Yet, the overwhelming majority of adult children – have not had detailed conversations with their parents about their finances, their estate wishes and plans.

Jump Ahead

Shared experiences and shared conversations

Often the best conversations have their beginnings in shared experiences and values.

Many clients have said getting their own key financial affairs in better shape was the trigger that naturally allowed for beginning a shared conversation with their parents about their own potential situations and opportunities to ‘keep the ball rolling with the family’.

Waiting for a time when you're forced to have such conversations is probably too late

Such conversations can be emotionally charged, but they can be overwhelming if you’re having them during a time of family emergency.

  • Waiting to talk to your parents until they’re having problems can leave you with fewer options to help them.
  • Waiting to talk to your parents about their estate planning can even lock you out of being able to help when actually needed.
  • A proactive approach is your best approach.

Start the process in your own life first that starts the broader conversation

A conversation about life insurance beneficiary nominations and modern estate planning, by its design, usually trigger questions that involve other people.

Questions like;

  • ‘who should stand in for you if you are temporarily unable to make decisions yourself,’ and
  • ‘who would you want to rely upon to make key decisions about emergency healthcare for you’ and
  • 'who might be suitable Guardians for any children’ and
  • ‘Who should be the Executor of your Will
Making a Power of Attorney and a Will is very much like piecing together a patchwork of care and protection for a family. Each piece is in itself intended to join to another's modern estate plan and set of decisions. This process naturally triggers conversations about shared experiences and conversations.

It starts with you today so put your own oxygen mask on first

If you've ever boarded a plane, you would have been required to watch multiple Aircraft Safety Demonstrations that inevitably reinforced the importance of always putting your own oxygen mask on first, before helping others if needed.

First, get your own Life Insurance Nominations sorted

This is a task you can start today.

  • If you have life insurance, make sure your nominated life insurance beneficiary for the policy is clear and up to date. If you’ve had a change in relationship or need to make a change in your life insurance beneficiary nomination, get in touch and we’ll help you update that today.
  • If you have life insurance paid out of your superannuation fund, make sure you have your nominated super beneficiary properly documented. Most Superfund Trustees will require the original ink on paper super beneficiary nomination form, to be returned to them for storage.

Get in touch and we’ll help you get all your nominations sorted.

Be sure to review these nominations every three years (or as needed) with your Sapience financial adviser. We can even contact you bi-annually and check-in just to remind you to check your insurance beneficiary nominations are still current.

Next, get your own Estate Planning sorted

This is a task you can start today.

  • By documenting your wishes in key legal documents now, in the event you’re later unable to make decisions yourself, a person you nominate today can hold a Power of Attorney for you and be legally able to make decisions on your behalf.
  • In the unlikely event of you passing away unexpectedly, your wishes can also be made known in your Will and your wishes for nominating Potential Guardians for your Children can be made clear too.

Modern estate planning is about preparing for living, so start this process today.

Pro Tip: Special considerations for Co-Parenting.  If you’re in a same-sex relationship and you co-parent you’ll probably want to name your partner as the personal guardian of the children. Because courts may be unfamiliar with your family structure, consider making this clear in the Letter of Wishes to accompany your Will, to fully explain to the court why it is important for your partner to be your children's personal Guardian.

If you would like to learn more about our Modern Estate Planning Service, here’s our fun Modern Estate Planning explainer video to help bring you up to speed fast.

What to do with Siblings?

Encourage your siblings to start the process of getting their own Life Insurance Beneficiary Nominations and Estate Planning sorted.  This may naturally come out of the initial conversation you'll have with your financial adviser when you begin your own journey to document your own decisions about these matters.

Then, share your progress with your parents.  You can use this as the ideal opportunity to ask them if they have their own Life insurance Nominations and Estate Planning up to date, where are the documents safely stored and when were they last reviewed.

Pro tip: Make it clear you're not interested in who gets what, just that there are legal documents in place and stored with a professional.

Putting your own mask on first will help you get the right personal mindset to seek to help and understand the process that your partners may be facing.

Taking about sex or money - there are no easy options

Before you have any conversations with your siblings or your parents - check your own feelings and motivations first.

When having a conversation;

  • Lead by example and share your own journey about Life Insurance Nominations and getting your own Modern Estate Planning sorted
  • Keep the conversations brief
  • Be specific about your concerns and why
  • Aim more for progress over time, not instant perfection

For an independent second opinion why not chat with a Financial Counselor?

If you or someone you know is experiencing a difficult financial time, why not reach out to the National Debt Helpline for free anonymous financial counselling.

  • Call the National Debt Helpline — 1800 007 007
  • The free National Debt Helpline is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.
  • When you call, you'll be transferred to the service in your state.

Contact us today and see if we're the type of people you'd like to work with.

Drew Browne

Drew specialises in helping people protect and provide for what matters most in their lives. He's an award-winning writer, speaker, financial adviser and business strategy mentor. His company Sapience Financial is committed to using business solutions for good in the community, and in 2015 certified as a B Corp. In 2017 Drew was recognised in the inaugural Australian Westpac Businesses of Tomorrow National Awards. Drew writes for successful Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs at Smallville, his blogs can be read on and you can connect with him on LinkedIn.

Any information provided is general advice only and we have not considered your personal circumstances. Before making any decision on the basis of this advice you should consider if the advice is appropriate for you based on your particular circumstance.

drew browne pic

Drew Browne

Sapience Founder & Director.
Simplifying Financial Complexity

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