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How to help your parents?

May 23rd, 2016 at 05:10 pm

I'm at an awkward age of wanting to help my parents but them being cognizant of what's going on and refusing. I hate the fact that in our society we aren't allowed to be transparent about money. I hate the fact that we have to "hide" until death how we spend and what we save.

My parents are absolutely the worse. The pieces they reveal make me upset and it's never revealed until it's too late. I am writing this under tremendous stress and guilt because I just don't know how far to let this go on or what to do or how to push. My DH handles his parents and I handle mine. We decided this long ago and said we would never interfere with the in-laws. So it's entirely on me. Neither parents should need financial help but mine in particular are very, very bad with money in many, many ways. Background they are 64 and 85 and my mom has a pension and my dad still works. Money is not an issue for them, hence why my mom constantly uses the phrase "i don't ask for money so don't ask or tell me what to do."

Until the crap hits the fan. My parents condo they owned flooded and they have the worse condo insurance and my mom and dad have no understanding of how insurance works. They lived in a small town and bought insurance from a broker who sold them a policy. My mom's copy is apparently from 2008 and they have no idea who the insurer is and no electronic copy to send me.

I have tried to set up electronic accounts for some banking and retirement stuff so I can periodically track stuff and help when issues arise. Well now I'm in a pickle. My mom has been working with the adjuster whose screwing her over and she's taking it and crying (yes literally crying over it on the phone) that they didn't buy enough insurance, she has no idea who the insurer is and the other party is refusing to pay.

So they have a $25k policy and the people above their unit washing machine broke and their insurance company is refusing liability. When I questioned my mom and explained it like a car accident she said that's all they get. She's not sure what to do and keeps talking about how they have to pay out of pocket. I questioned how are they getting money from the insurance company when the adjuster says it's a curtesy claim and not going against her policy.

I'm also worried now that my parents have used this friend for years and have no idea what sort of home insurance they have on their primary residence.

In case you were wondering I also have no idea where their wills are or how anything is set up. I honestly am not sure my parents are really savvy to set anything up. They tend to listen to other people and make bad financial decisions. Thankfully they've always outearned stupid and been high wage earners and never overspend.

I ended up asking them to fire their financial planner over 15 years ago when I found out my parents were invested entirely in C shares of mutual funds with Merrill Lynch. They refused because they thought the FP knew better and stayed until she retired. Then it turned into Raymond James and the same thing happened.

Because of this I decided I would have to stop worrying about it until my dad dies and then i'll take complete control of the train wreck. I am pretty sure at that time my mom who admits for the past 25 years since they've been married she's been a stepford wife who has just nodded and literally assumed everything was taken care of. She hadn't a clue that my dad had no idea what sort of condo insurance they bought.

I am frustrated and unable to know what steps to do or I can take. I mentioned today that they refuse to listen to any advice. Or let me sit in and start to have some input. I'm not perfect but honestly I think I'm savvier than the average financial planner. I'm well versed in dealing with condo insurance having owned and been on the board for nearly 15 years and running an association and doing taxes and dealing with others. I've also seen policies and dealt with shopping around. I also manage our investments with DH and we're pretty good, especially for our ages.

But I don't know what to do. I know my DH knows his parents are fine and a little too financially savvy. But mine? I can't deal with them. What am I going to do?

Is there anything that can be done until my dad passes? I know it's a generational thing about not sharing any details but I'm frustrated and I know that they are wasting a ton of money and I am worried about the organization period of their finances. For reference I'm 36 and longevity runs in the family. My grandmother is still alive at 88 and my great grannie lived to 101. My dad's mom lived to 95.

I don't know how to help or more likely take over. I mean my mom literally only pays credit card and utility bills. But she has no idea how the taxes are or anything else. I mean they don't even have a copy of their insurance policy!!

Off to chat with my mom.

4 Responses to “How to help your parents?”

  1. Laura S. Says:

    If they are part of a condo association, I would recommend talking to the manager. I did condo management for a short time last year and the condo docs varied widely. You never know if the association docs might offer them some coverage. The other owner may have more liability than what the insurance company says.

  2. ceejay74 Says:

    That is tough. We're having some trouble with AS's mom, who asked for another "loan." We said we'd give it on the condition that she send us documents showing what's going on with her financial life. We still haven't gotten them but she did send how much she's bringing in (disability and alimony) and her rent, and it looks like her rent is about half her income. Not good. Depending on what her other expenses are though it might not be terrible. Unless she has a bunch of CC bills. AS is dealing with her directly, but of course I have to figure out how to make these loans work in our budget. I really hope we don't end up having to set up a regular monthly payment to her. Parents are tough.

  3. Carol Says:

    Parents are tough. Laura S. has a good idea. Is it breaking your deal with your husband to talk it over with him? He, at least, knows them and may have a sense of how to approach them. For this condo instance, could you go and try to help on site? In the end, try not to let it make you crazy, as frustrating as it is. Best of luck.

  4. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    My mom is very stubborn person and doesn't often listen. When I ask questions she shouts back at me and gets defensive. I pointed out that I wasn't understanding why she only had $25k to work with for repairs. Why was the other party not liable and she shouted she should have bought more insurance. I'm honestly not even sure what sort of coverage they have because when I pressed her about the documents she said she had no idea.

    I also asked about condo documents and asked if they had them and she said she had no idea. The condo manager said that they would dig up documents and give to them.

    She's always flustered and unable to really manage well these sort of things. Her excuse is that my dad handled it for 25 years and now he can't and she is doing it all. Yet she refuses to listen or accept help.

    She just is being very stubborn and honestly I'm not sure she's really able to handle it.

    Carol, I'd have to fly to hawaii which I considered doing this weekend to look over all the papers. But right now we aren't trying to spend money and my DH did say I should go but I'm not sure my mom would be willing to start turning things over and letting me handle going through all the paperwork.

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