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The Essential Guide to Helping Mom and Dad Navigate the Finances of Retirement

by Jeff D. Opdyke

Pub Date: June 21st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-135820-3
Publisher: HarperCollins

Talking to elderly parents about managing their finances can be an emotionally charged task—especially if they are hesitant to relinquish information and control—but Opdyke (Piggybanking, 2010, etc.) offers sensitive, user-friendly advice for adjusting to those stressful parent-child role reversals.

The author, the man behind the Wall Street Journal column “Love & Money,” guides adult children through the many issues involved with juggling an additional household budget, from accessing bank accounts and safe-deposit boxes to obtaining forgotten CDs or pensions. Making parents’ money increase through investments or by finding banks/credit unions with higher interest yields is beneficial. For times when withdrawing from their nest egg becomes necessary, Opdyke discusses several scenarios—e.g., a Prudential Insurance study showing how, because of tax rates, it is cheaper over time to draw on an IRA instead of taking early Social Security. The author also digs into the morass of Medicare and Medicaid, including explanations of terms, such as the simple “benefit period” or the more complex “Medigap coverage,” detailed in simple language and illustrated with an intelligible table. Opdyke also provides a variety of resources and information for those debating home care versus assisted living or nursing homes—and suggestions for how to navigate the tricky terrain of that conversation. Regardless of the issue at hand, the author provides several respectful conversation starters for each step of this difficult process. He’s also wise enough to caution readers against what they shouldn't say. Phrases like “you don’t understand” and "if you had listened to me instead of..." have offensive implications and can only complicate an already overwhelming process.

A solid, informative reference.