Speaking with Your Adult Children About Your Retirement
Seniors who have been looking forward to a change in lifestyle or a move upon retirement may want to think about how this change may impact their loved ones. A discussion about retirement may be uncomfortable for parents. Some do not discuss the details of their finances with their children while others share information freely and even involve them in the process. If you assist your child or children financially, provide housing for one or more of them or help with child care for grandchildren, it may be clear that your retirement will have an affect on them. But even if you expect to retire in place and will be self-sufficient financially, it makes sense to discuss this change with adult children in advance.
The time to discuss your finances with your children should happen early. Certainly, you do not want to wait until you are experiencing any cognitive decline before you tackle this conversation. They may be gratified to know that you have things well in hand and expect never to need their help. On the other hand, if you expect that meeting your monthly obligations will be a struggle, this is something that is better to address sooner than later.
How soon before leaving the workforce should I have this conversation with my children? It probably makes sense to introduce the topic as much as five years in advance and then to remind them periodically. This is especially true if you assist them financially or plan to move. In preparation for retirement, you may need to stop providing financial support. It may be important to encourage a child to implement a strategy for making ends meet or curtailing his or her spending habits. You may need five years to get them off your payroll and/or out of the house.
An important discussion between parents and children involves what you envision as your “retirement lifestyle.” This includes your anticipated residence, which might change with the seasons, and whether your choice is based on proximity to children and grandchildren or a community rich in activities and entertainment for retired individuals. At the same time, you might also discuss long-term care and how you plan to pay for it.
In addition to discussing your finances and retirement you may also wish to discuss your estate plan. Talking with your children about your estate plan may help to minimize confusion and sibling rivalry in the future. The fact that you are thinking about this and implementing a plan may comfort them. Discuss which child will be executor, trustee, health care proxy or agent under the power of attorney. Eliminate surprises – yours and theirs! Share the names and contact information for your estate planning attorney, accountant, financial advisor, banker and any other professional with whom they may need to be in touch if something happened to you.
These discussions with your family are the best way to ensure future smooth transitions — when you retire and beyond.