A guest post from Tim Prosch, author of The Other Talk.

One of the great tragedies at the end of life is that parents and kids often find themselves wiped out financially.

In fact, one of out every three bankruptcies in America is caused by late-stage medical expenses.  There are three main drivers to this fiscal Armageddon:

  1. You approach the last chapter with a set of expectations that doesn’t reflect reality, then fail to adjust before it’s too late, according to a TIAA-CREF study:The Other Talk, 0071830987, 9780071830980, Prosch
  2. The bulk of the spending on your health care is likely to occur in the last 12 months of your life which you didn’t account for in your retirement planning.
  3. You neglected to have an open and honest discussion of your financial situation with your children for any number of excuses:
    • Social impropriety: It feels inappropriate or oversteps the bounds of privacy
    • Loss of independence: You aren’t comfortable ceding control over decision-making
    • Embarrassment: Your potentially inadequate savings portend a looming financial crisis for the children
    • Lack of confidence: You aren’t convinced your kids are capable of managing a financial plan/details

To avoid any of these three scenarios from happening to your family, two critical components of the other talk are:

  1. Review all available assets with your kids now, since your financial reality will eventually end up in their laps anyway
  2. Design a retirement plan that answers this fundamental “reality question:” What is the life you want, the life you don’t want and the costs of each?

Or as Sheryl Crow reminds us,

“It’s not having what you want.  It’s wanting what you’ve got.”