For some provinces, Monday is Family Day. It's the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones, go skating, maybe watch a movie — and then talk to them about estate planning and debt.
We're being serious. Financial conversations could bring you closer to your loved ones.
We asked Robert Kerr, founder of Kerr Financial Group and his daughter, Krista, who is the company's CEO, to identify five money topics to discuss with the family.
1. Broach the subject of estate planning with your parents. This is often not the easiest conversation to have. “You don't want to seem like you're interfering in your parents' affairs,” Ms. Kerr says. “You don't want to seem like you're counting their money and you also don't want to think about the scary idea that they might not be around.”
She suggests that you be upfront about your fears and start with questions such as: Do you have a will Do you have a financial advisor that you are speaking to Have you made any funeral arrangements Who have you named as an executor of your will
“Sometimes, it's your own fear about talking about these matters more than it is the father or mother's fear,” Mr. Kerr says.
2. Talk to your adult kids about your estate plans. Assure your children that you've made some preparations and explain your choices. Tell them about your charitable bequeaths. “There have been a number of cases in estate planning where children have been upset by the fact that they didn't know that charitable gifts were being made,” Ms. Kerr says. “If there are trusts, help the children understand why they're in place and it's not that you don't trust them with the spending necessarily.”
If you have a blended family, an estate plan discussion can avoid future conflict. “Those are the ones that end up in challenges and only the lawyers make money in those cases,” Mr. Kerr adds.
3. Raise the issue of capacity. Have your loved ones ever given thought to what will happen if they ever become physically or mentally disabled and are not able to make medical or financial decisions “[Ask them:] do you have powers of attorney in place If something happens and it's hard for you to take care of yourself, what is quality of life to you Do you want to remain in your home or do you want to go somewhere else They're important conversations to have and they're easier to have before you're in a crisis,” Ms. Kerr says.
4. Discuss debt. “If you have a child or a family member or a sibling in [financial] trouble, the instinct is to help them pay things off,” Ms. Kerr says. “That can be problematic. Sometimes you can enable the problem if you just keep giving money; but if you try to preach to them…that can be very difficult too.”
Try not to be judgmental and tell your loved one that your intention is to help them. Bringing in an independent advisor might neutralize the situation.
5. Talk about your money values. What values were passed onto you from your parents and your grandparents How have you dealt with money in your past “There's a lot of history that doesn't get passed on to children,” Mr. Kerr says. “You are passing along values that people can think about and they don't feel like they're being preached to — they're just hearing a good story.”