Financial Planning for Aging Parents: Dividing Responsibilities Among Siblings

One of the primary stressors that come with caring for aging parents is that it can be challenging to divide up the tasks required in their care. Let’s walk through how to start the conversation with siblings (or other family members), and keep your parents’ quality of life as your primary goal.

Understanding Responsibilities

When it comes time to care for your aging parents, the laundry list of responsibilities that need to be taken over can feel overwhelming. Many of the tasks may be administrative (taking care of prescriptions, making sure a CPA helps file their taxes, etc.). Others might be more hands-on (having mom or dad move in with you, helping them run errands). 

The first step in dividing responsibilities is to have a full understanding of what care of your aging parents entails. It can help to sit down and write out all of the primary tasks that need to be done. Then, after a few weeks or months of care, revisit this list with your siblings to add any unexpected care tasks that cropped up, or were added to someone’s plate. This can help you all to have visibility to the work one another is doing while also working to divide tasks as fairly as possible.

Starting the Conversation

It can be uncomfortable to speak with siblings about dividing care for aging parents, especially if there are different opinions about who should do what, or what tasks need to be taken over. One suggestion is to start the conversation as a scheduled family meeting. Having a dedicated time to discuss your parents’ care, and knowing that the time will be complete in an hour or two, can help everyone focus and get on the same page. 

Not sure that the conversation will go smoothly? Speaking with a counselor, or asking a family therapist if they can act as a mediator, can be extremely helpful. Seeking family therapy with siblings may seem uncomfortable, but having a neutral zone to talk through how you want to care for your parents and to make sure everyone has their best interests at heart can move the conversation forward. It’s also useful to have an impartial third party to offer up ideas and information where necessary.

Being Cognizant of Your Own Limits

It’s important to understand both the limitations of your siblings and family members, as well as yourself. No one person can be expected to completely take on the care and responsibility of aging parents, especially if they’re still caring for older or young adult children. 

Be honest with yourself about the time and energy you have available to dedicate to the care of your parents. You should also be aware of what skill sets you possess that can benefit them - and what tasks may be better suited for another family member. For example, if you’re financially minded, you could:

  • File their taxes
  • Create a retirement budget
  • Research long term care insurance and funding options
  • Help them update insurance policies
  • Act as a Durable Power of Attorney
  • Connect them with an estate planning attorney

Delegate When Possible

Of course, even if all family members and siblings involved are very focused on helping their parents transition to this new season of life gracefully, that doesn’t mean it’s possible to accomplish everything on the to-do list. In some cases, outsourcing or delegating may be worthwhile. Tasks you can look to delegate or outsource might be:

  • Home care for your parents
  • Yardwork or gardening
  • Help cleaning their home (if they still live at home)
  • Hiring a tax professional 
  • Having their groceries delivered
  • Signing them up for a meal delivery service to avoid cooking
  • Having medications delivered

You can also delegate the management of your parents’ finances to a fee-only financial planner. This person could help both you and your parents coordinate a financial plan that prioritizes their quality of life throughout retirement. Want to learn more? Reach out to us today. We’re here to help.

Wood Smith Advisors, a woman-owned Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), is a fee-only financial services firm that partners with its clients to simplify their financial lives. We focus on women, entrepreneurs, and individuals with complex financial situations, providing objective and competent advice, education and services to help them develop and build their businesses and reach their financial goals. We can be reached by clicking here.

"Finance Made Simple" blog posts are intended for educational purposes and not for specific advice. Each person’s situation is different. Consult your financial advisor for advice relating to topics discussed.

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