Discussions about money and eldercare should begin well before a crisis — such as the death of one parent — occurs, says Alain Quennec, financial advisor and director with Rogers Group Financial Advisors Ltd. in Vancouver.

Adult children are often in denial when their parents enter their frail elderly years, adds Mara Osis, president of ElderWise Inc. in Calgary: “They’re feeling a sense of loss, because they’re losing the parent they knew. Many complain about having to ‘parent’ their parents, but this reversal of parent/child roles doesn’t result in good problem-solving.”

Finances may be an especially difficult subject for many children to raise with their parents. Says Quennec: “People born in the 1920s and ’30s are often quite private, and initiating a discussion of their finances may not be easy.”

In some cases, your client will need to bring in someone who has more influence with the elderly person, such as a family lawyer or another sibling.

And if a parent is adamant that he or she doesn’t want adult children involved in his or her financial affairs, Quennec suggests, have your client say: “Just tell me if you’ve written a will; if you’ve named an executor; if you have power-of-attorney documents for finances and personal care in place; where you’d like to go should you need long-term care; and where you keep your important documents.” — ROSEMARY MCCRACKEN