Retirement is a major transition for a family. As an adult with parents who are retiring soon, you may not think the change will affect you much, but it may. Your parents' retirement may come a shift in responsibilities for you and your siblings, and your parents may or may not be ready.
Here are a few tips to help both you and your parents make a smooth passage into their retirement.
In a 2016 study, Fidelity found that 40 percent of families disagree when it comes to adult children's roles and responsibilities as their parents age. Depending on where your family stands, you'll be able to get ahead by communicating now and not waiting for retirement to happen.
For example, it's possible that your parents are planning on depending on you and your siblings financially. They may also want to spend more time visiting your home than you might like. Sit down with your parents and get an idea of what their expectations of you are once they retire. The more you know, the less likely you'll be surprised by a major responsibility down the road.
2. Make sure their finances are in order
Not everyone retires when they're ready. According to Merrill Lynch, some reasons include health problems, job loss or the need to provide care for a loved one can force an early retirement. As your parents come closer to that day, talk to them about their financial standing. Ask who is managing their investments and what their plan is for distributing their money.
Depending on how old they are, ask when they plan to opt to receive Social Security income, if applicable. The more you know about your parents' financial security in retirement, the better you can prepare yourself to potentially need to assist them in the future. It'll also help you understand whether that need is still years out or immediate.
3. Help them consider a reverse mortgage
As the name suggests, a reverse mortgage functions in the opposite way of a typical mortgage loan. Instead of taking out a loan to buy a house with a typical mortgage loan, your parents would receive payments in exchange for the home's equity with a reverse mortgage. Depending on your parents' financial stability at retirement, they may want to consider this route.
In general, Sabra Richins of FSI Mortgage says, "a reverse mortgage is for anyone over the age of 62 who has sufficient equity in their home and who 1) no longer wishes to make a monthly principal and interest payment, or 2) wishes to access this equity without the requirement to make a monthly principal and interest payment."
Reverse mortgages aren't for everyone, though, so you can provide an objective perspective as they consider it. There are certain eligibility requirements to get one, and you can also help your parents assess their long-term financial goals to make sure it's a good decision for them.
4. Have a plan for caregiving
Even if your parents seem spry for their age, it's likely they will need caregiving in some form somewhere down the line. Many parents expect that their children will provide caregiving when the time comes, but you may or may not be able to provide it. Depending on the scope of their needs, your job and financial resources may make it impossible for you to take care of them.
Talk to your parents about how they want to be taken care of when they can no longer do it for themselves. Do they want to sell the house and move in with you? Do they want to move into a senior community? Get together and make a plan that gives them the care they need while avoiding a major negative impact on your own family.
The bottom line
Retirement is generally an exciting time for those who are making the transition. It's important, however, to understand the impact retirement has on the whole family, not just the retirees. Sit down with your parents as soon as possible to plan their next steps and understand how you can best help them make the change.