With your… PARENTS
No one wants to think about something bad befalling Mum and Dad, but it’s even worse to have to deal with paperwork and lawyers—and confusion—if they become incapacitated or die, says Sydney-based financial planner Claire Mackay.
That doesn’t mean spending Sunday lunch hashing out who gets Mum’s china, though. “You don’t have to talk about what’s in their will, but you do need to know: is there documentation in place, (like wills and power of attorney), where is it, who do you want putting that in place and what’s the gist of your intentions,” she says. If these things aren’t prepared, Mackay warns, you could be hamstrung by a stressful legal process.
If these things aren’t prepared, Mackay warns, you could be hamstrung by a stressful legal process.
Michelle Tate-Lovery, a Melbourne-based financial planner, encourages her clients to get organised. “You might find you have power of attorney, but you have no idea where their bank accounts are, what the situation is with their property or assets, and where estate planning documents are—and it’s too late to ask,” she says. “If it feels like an awkward conversation, try modelling. Giving them a list of important numbers to call if something happens to you, tell them where your will is kept, the lawyer you see—you’ll likely uncover their own preparations, or prompt them to do something about it.”
With your… PARTNER
“No one wants to address the money side of things because it’s unromantic,” says Tate-Lovery. “But it should happen as early as possible.” Sure, working out how much to spend on the weekly grocery shop might be boring—but you can keep things positive by also working out what your goals are as a couple, she adds. “Ask them what their ideal life is. Have fun talking about the big things—travel, a home, early retirement—and what life might look like. Then, because there’s usually a price tag associated with every goal, discuss your priorities and how you’ll make it happen.”
There’s usually a price tag associated with every goal, discuss your priorities and how you’ll make it happen.
Mackay suggests agreeing on a stash of spending money that’s separate to the team effort, too. “Some people like to have an amount to spend on whatever they want without having to justify it. That takes away that guilt, gives a degree of freedom and flexibility and cuts out resentment.”
With your… FRIENDS
It’s the last taboo, but there are benefits of talking turkey with your mates. “You don’t have to talk numbers, but you should to be honest about your financial goals without any shame,” says Mackay. “You’re saving up for travelling, you’re focusing on your mortgage at the moment, or you’ve just come back from a great holiday but you have to now pay off your credit card—and that’s why you’re staying for drinks but not dinner, or you’d rather organise a picnic than buy tickets to that gig. You have to be a bit vulnerable, but you’d be surprised by how supportive they’ll be.” And don’t be scared about asking for advice, she adds. “Simply saying, I’m struggling a bit with this, how do you manage it?” isn’t inappropriate and might reveal some helpful strategies.”