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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Makrugin

Four Conversations to Have with Aging Parents

Few of us discuss financial or health matters with our parents. It is an uncomfortable conversation, and we usually try to avoid it. However, as more and more of us find ourselves with aging parents, these are exactly the conversations we need to engage in. While we are grateful to have our parents/grandparents around, as they age, we may feel an added layer of responsibility for their personal and financial well-being. The following are four tips that can make things much smoother for both you and your parents as you navigate this era of your lives: 

  • Ensure that each of your parents has a financial Power of Attorney (“POA”) drawn up by a lawyer. (This is usually completed alongside their Will.) The POA may provide limited or general authority for an appointed person to act on their behalf in financial matters. Remember that the POA must be signed while one still has their full cognitive capacity, so delaying can result in extra costs, hassle, and the need for legal involvement.   


Note that a POA does not come into effect until it is “enacted”.  The exact enaction method is specified in the POA,  but it usually involves a letter of opinion from a health care professional such as a family doctor or geriatric psychiatrist.   


  • Have your parents complete a Personal Directive. This document authorizes someone to make decisions about their personal care in case they become incapable due to illness or injury. 


  • Suggest that your parents place Green Sleeves on top of their refrigerator. A Green Sleeve is a (you guessed it) green folder that contains one’s Personal Directive and a Goals of Care form. This form outlines the degree of medical intervention one would want, based on various scenarios, and is completed by the family doctor after a thorough discussion.    Knowing this information takes potentially difficult decisions out of the hands of loved ones.  In Alberta, EMT’s know to look for the Green Sleeve on top of the fridge when responding to an emergency call.  As an aside, many retirement communities require a Green Sleeve to be completed prior to moving in.  


  • Encourage your parents to appoint a Trusted Contact Person(“TCP”) on their financial accounts.  This is a simple safeguard to protect their interest or financial assets in response to possible financial exploitation or concerns about mental capacity. The TCP does not have any authority to make investment decisions or transact on the account but is simply someone the financial institution can contact if they see any unusual behavior. It is often suggested that your TCP be a different person than the one named as your POA.  


All these suggestions can be arranged early on to avoid pressure situations in the future. Having these four elements in place ahead of time will help your parents feel more prepared and in control and can provide clarity for you when it is most needed. 

At Cumberland, we believe in excellence in our wealth management and overall client service with an educational aspect. If this is of interest to you, we can help; please contact us for an introductory meeting. 


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