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Cameron, welcome to the show. Cameron Huddleston: Hi, thank you so much for having me. Tim Ulbrich: So first of all, congratulations on the recent release of your book. But writing a book is no small feat, so congratulations on getting this book out there. Cameron Huddleston: Thank you.
Tim Ulbrich: So rewarding and difficult. So talk us through some of your personal story and the inspiration behind getting this book out there into the hands of others.
My father died when he was He was in his second marriage, and he died without a will. And he should have known better because he was an attorney. And of course, when you die without a will, the state decides who gets what. So your wishes are not expressed. And I make this point very clear in the book. At least, I try to. They are for anyone who has anything that they are going to be leaving behind, and they want to have a say in who gets what.
So my dad did not leave a will telling us who gets what. I was 35 at the time, I still had young children. And suddenly, I was thrust into the role of caregiver for my mother.
And my biggest regret is not talking to her about her finances before she started having memory issues. I had had a conversation with her when I had moved from Washington, D.
And by care, I mean care in an assisted living facility or nursing home. It even pays for care in your own home. She took my advice, looked into it, but could not get coverage because of another pre-existing condition she had. Then after that conversation I had had with my mother — and that was when she was in her early 60s — she ended up developing dementia.
And I was a financial journalist. I still am. It really is not easy. Tim Ulbrich: Yeah, and I think your story with your mom and with your dad really, to me, laid the foundation of the importance of this topic. And you have many more stories that you use throughout the book that I think do that as well.
But you know, when you talk about the situation with your mom and dementia and you as a financial expert and writer not having or pressing on some of those conversations, you know, I often feel that way often with my family as well. I think that speaks to how difficult these conversations can be and how necessary they are and often how emotional things can get. They can prevent some of these from happening. So one of the things you start with in the very beginning of the book, you outline — to the point we were just talking about — so well the fears that can present themselves when we consider talking about money with our parents.
So much so that you reference a — I think it was a Care. So what are some of these fears that are holding people back from having these critical conversations? Because after all, we know that they are essential ones to have. Cameron Huddleston: You know, I want to touch on this first because you said we know that these are essential conversations.
So that same survey found that people have a variety of fears about having this conversation. Cameron Huddleston: Because it is — because money is a taboo topic. I want to return that favor as you get older if you ever need help from me. And we need to discuss some things. In this chapter, specifically, you present some of those fears and then the realities.
And you have some ideas throughout the book about specific language, conversation starters, things people can do to initiate these conversations.
And in situations where they find themselves up against a reluctant parent, what are some strategies of how they do that. So I hope our listeners will take the time to get the book and read the book and really hopefully apply it with their own money — or their family situations as well.
I want to ask you, since you mentioned this concept of money being a taboo topic. Is that a generational thing? And then we know, as I think about myself with four young children, how can we reverse that trend? Cameron Huddleston: It certainly is generational. Money is certainly a taboo topic for them. And I feel like if I had tried to have a conversation with him when he was still living, he would have balked. My mother did not treat money as a taboo topic. I do feel like, though, the millennials are more open to discussing money freely.
I think too that my generation, Gen X, is starting to open up a little bit more because we are already running into those struggles of talking with our parents and realizing that we need to be having these conversations with our kids.
I have been having these conversations with my kids since they were young enough to talk. You know, of course when your mom is a financial journalist, and your dad is an economist — my husband teaches economics — you get it thrown at you all the time. And in either situation, it can be uncomfortable.
I think parents are particularly uncomfortable talking to their kids about money for a variety of reasons. What are some of the things that could go wrong? If you wait until there is a health crisis or when your parents are having memory issues, at that point, it can be too late. And the last thing your parents are going to want to do is discuss their finances with you. So waiting until that emergency happens is a terrible time to have the conversation because of the emotional issues that are going on.
But the even bigger issue is that things may not be in place to actually allow you to step in and start helping them. The biggest of these is power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney.
Both of these are legal documents, and you have to be mentally competent to sign them. So if you wait until you are in the later stages of dementia, it is too late. They think, well, you know, if Mom and Dad need help, I can just step in and start helping them. I can write checks for them and make sure the bills get paid.
I can talk to their doctor for them. I can talk to their financial institutions for them. No, you cannot. Not unless they have named you power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney.
No financial institution is going to talk to. Most doctors will not talk to you. You know, pharmacists should know this.
And so if you have not sat down with your parents to find out whether they have a power of attorney, an advanced healthcare directive that names someone to make healthcare decisions for them, and that spells out what their end-of-life care that they want is, if you wait until something has happened, it can be too late. And the consequences of that are a very lengthy and expensive court battle, basically. Tim Ulbrich: And you did a really excellent job in the book of outlining exactly what that could look like, the cost of it, the time of it.
And I think you outlined that well in the book that my wife and I just updated this for our own family and our process, especially now that we just added a fourth child to our family. I mean, you have to take action on these things. So what I want to transition to here are some of the common reasons that you outlined in the book that parents may be reluctant to have these conversations.
Because I think that if our listeners know what these are, then it can really help them frame what might ultimately be the right strategy. So what are some of the common reasons that parents may be reluctant to have these conversations with their children?
Cameron Huddleston: We hit on a big one already. The biggest is that they think money is a taboo topic. You want to talk about bigger picture issues. You know? So find another way, find kind of a big-picture issue that you can discuss that they might be more comfortable talking about than actually details about their finances. But like I said, the answers that they give you, the responses, are going to start cluing you in.
Ask more questions. Tim Ulbrich: And I think one of them that stood out to me was, you know, you had mentioned that they may be embarrassed about their finances. So I think really trying to understand why the reluctancy may be there would really help frame the strategy in which you approach it. And I think you did a really nice job of outlining those. You know, where do you start with this process?
I understand the problem, I understand the need, I understand there may be reluctancy, but where do you start when it comes to having these difficult conversations, especially considering how complex of a topic that this can be. And your suggestion is to start by talking to a sibling. So tell us more about why you think this is a good place to start and some of the strategies to do that. Cameron Huddleston: If you have siblings, you need to be sitting down with them before you even go to mom and dad.
And there are several reasons why you should do this.
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Biden's child-care plan may be the worst feature of his Build Back Better disaster What music videos were to the MTV of yore, programs about single teen mothers are to the MTV of today — a staple. It has given us such teen moms as Jenelle Evans, who alleged that her drug-abusing boyfriend beat her up, causing her to have a miscarriage. And Amber Portwood, who got out of jail on parole last year after serving time for drug charges — the latest in a string of troubles encompassing a suicide attempt and battery charges for allegedly beating up her boyfriend.
And, of course, Farrah Abraham. Her mother was charged with assault for hitting her. But never mind. For understandable reasons, the MTV franchise has been lambasted by cultural conservatives for glamorizing the lives of young women who have made desperately poor choices.
But along come a couple of economists with a new paper on the social effects of the MTV shows to tell us that that gets it all wrong: The programs actually led, by their calculations, to a nearly 6 percent reduction in the teen birthrate between June and the end of Almost all the fathers stay involved throughout the pregnancy, but by the end of the episodes, half the relationships are very strained or over.
There are two things to say about this result. One is that it vindicates the common-sensical belief that pop culture has an impact on how we live. If MTV has inadvertently stumbled on a highly credible way to make the case to teens that the life of a single teen parent is to be avoided, then surely there are other effective ways to spread the word about the struggles inherent to out-of-wedlock child rearing more generally. Teens under 18 account for less than 8 percent of all out-of-wedlock births.
As for MTV, it may create a mixed message. Share this article:.
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Her mother was charged with assault for hitting her. But never mind. For understandable reasons, the MTV franchise has been lambasted by cultural conservatives for glamorizing doc martin actor dies lives of young women who have made desperately poor choices. But along come a couple of economists with a new paper on the social effects of the MTV shows to tell us that that gets it all wrong: The programs actually led, by their calculations, to a nearly 6 percent reduction in the teen birthrate between June and the end of Almost all the fathers stay involved throughout the pregnancy, but by the end of the episodes, half the relationships are very strained or over.
There are two things to say about this result. One is that it vindicates the common-sensical belief that pop culture has an impact on how we live.
You want to talk about bigger picture issues. You know? So find another way, find kind of a big-picture issue that you can discuss that they might be more comfortable talking about than actually details about their finances. But like I said, the answers that they give you, the responses, are going to start cluing you in. Ask more questions. Tim Ulbrich: And I think one of them that stood out to me was, you know, you had mentioned that they may be embarrassed about their finances.
So I think really trying to understand why the reluctancy may be there would really help frame the strategy in which you approach it. And I think you did a really nice job of outlining those.
You know, where do you start with this process? I understand the problem, I understand the need, I understand there may be reluctancy, but where do you start when it comes to having these difficult conversations, especially considering how complex of a topic that this can be.
And your suggestion is to start by talking to a sibling. So tell us more about why you think this is a good place to start and some of the strategies to do that. Cameron Huddleston: If you have siblings, you need to be sitting down with them before you even go to mom and dad. And there are several reasons why you should do this. For starters, you want to get on the same page with your siblings.
Wait, why did you do this without me? What, are you trying to get in good with mom and dad so that you get everything when they die? They seem to be doing fine. Then you have to decide, OK, when are we going to do this? How are we going to approach this conversation? I can be the one who will make those decisions for you if you no longer can. But to do this, we need to get some information from you.
Tim Ulbrich: Sure. Cameron Huddleston: Actually, that can be very common. And what you want to do when you ask your siblings to have this conversation, beforehand, what would probably be a good idea is to actually make your own list of things you want to discuss so that you can kind of sort it out in your head. We want to look out for their best interests. And I think we can all agree on that. And so basically, you want to do — I kind of walk you through this process that you can use that was suggested by a financial psychologist.
You let everyone say, get a turn in saying what they want to discuss, how they want to go about talking to your parents, what they think is important. And you, as the person who calls the meeting, you go last. Tim Ulbrich: Oh, I love that. Cameron Huddleston: Everyone gets to say something. No one can interrupt. You go last.
You want this, I want that, and you want this. And always bring it back to Mom and Dad because in all honesty, they are your common ground. And hey, maybe you want to do this, but maybe our brother perhaps has a good idea about how to approach it from this other way.
Give everyone a chance to speak. You go last, and then find your common ground. Tim Ulbrich: So once the siblings hopefully are on the same page, there then comes this conversation, the conversation with the parents. So what is the best time, what recommendations do you have in terms of when to have or not have this conversation? Me and my siblings are on the same page.
Or maybe when not to have this conversation? Cameron Huddleston: Everyone is there together. If you and your parents and your siblings are only together, though, during these holiday times, at least wait until the next day. We should be celebrating. But we want you to know that we want to have this conversation. Tim Ulbrich: And I think this is an example in the book where you get very practical — and I hope our listeners will pick up a copy and read this — Chapter 7, you have 10 tried and tested conversation starters.
And I know, again, to my comment earlier, I felt like you were unfolding the text as I was wondering what could come next. And I think your 10 strategies is really helpful in doing that. One of the things I want to talk through briefly — I know we could have a whole separate episode, and we probably will at a different point — talk about in more details the estate planning process and documents. But I think you do a nice job in explaining these concepts in a very easy-to-understand way.
And you mentioned in the book that when talking with reluctant parents, one should start with the basics, essentially, the must-haves, and then work from there. And so I want to talk about these basics for a moment. Here, you have four things that you mentioned: will or living trust, power of attorney, advanced healthcare directive, and then the fourth being how do you pay for your bills.
Will or living trust, tell us exactly what is that document and why is it important? Cameron Huddleston: A will spells out who gets what when you die. You guys get along. So it might your spouse and your kids. And unless you point these things out to your parents, they might have no idea why a will is important.
A living trust is similar to a will, but what it does — again, it lets you say who gets what. But having a living trust helps you avoid what is called probate process. Tim Ulbrich: Right. Cameron Huddleston: Even if you have a will, you still have to go through court proceedings where everything is kind of sorted out.
You will probably not inherit their debt. Anything that they have left will help pay off those debts and so you go through this probate process. With a trust, it avoids the probate process. But a trust can be more expensive to set up, and you have to name a trustee. It can be a little more complicated. And so a trust is not the right thing for everyone, but it is certainly an option that your parents might be interested in, that you might be interested in.
But in general, the will and the living trust, they let you spell out who gets what when you die.
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Everyone needs to have one. Tim Ulbrich: Amen. And a special urgent call to action for those that have children and have wishes for where their dependents would go and what would happen with that situation, I mean, this is a must-have for everyone, but the sooner the better. And I can assure you as going through this process recently with an estate planning attorney, it is not as complicated as it may seem from the outside looking in.
And I think, again, to our listeners, you did a really nice job succinctly in this chapter outlining these different areas, these documents, what they are, that I think would be a great read before working with an estate planning attorney to understand exactly what would be out there. Cameron Huddleston: Right.
Without this, your family has to make that decision. Do we keep mom and dad on life support? Do we continue spending thousands of dollars? And so you want to let your parents know, I want you to make this decision.
I want you to decide. It can cost several hundred dollars, more than a thousand, depending on how complex your situation is, to have all three of these documents drawn up.
Those can cost tens of thousands of dollars, those court proceedings. There are fill-in-the-blank type documents that you can find online. Sometimes, your state bar association will have free wills available. Now, these do-it-yourself options are certainly better than nothing. So if you can afford to meet with an attorney, if your parents can afford to meet with one, I would encourage them to do that. And you might even offer it as a gift to your parents.
Tim Ulbrich: Yes. Think of it as a gift from me. Merry Christmas.
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Happy Hanukkah. This is my gift to you. I put those in that order from worst to best. And even if I could speak to for a moment, the DIY versus the estate planning attorney, not just the peace of mind of having the documents in place for your family but also what you learn through the conversations and the back-and-forth to the attorney. So we did — my wife and I did an hour video call with the estate planning attorney, then they drafted up the documents, and then we had a follow-up call as well.
So you know, certainly it was a cost.
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But I think you also have to factor in peace of mind into the process as well. And then I saw your list of, you know, how do you pay for your bills? And what are the sources of income, bank account access, household debt, monthly bills, insurance policies, investment accounts, real estate, final wishes, social security, Medicare account logins, like oh my goodness.
And so when they do die, you need to know what they have. I mean, they could have tossed that stuff out. And this happened with me and my mother. Cameron Huddleston: Yes. Tim Ulbrich: I remember, yes. And so I did get my mother in to meet with an attorney before her memory issues got to be too bad.
She was still competent enough to sign the documents, and that meeting with the attorney, like you said, was so good because we learned about other things we needed to be doing, like how I should go to the bank with her and get on her account as a representative payee, how we discussed Medicaid planning, which I kind of touch in the book, which is something you do need the help with an attorney.
Medicaid is the only federal government program that will pay for long-term care. Medicare does not. But I think as most of your listeners probably know, you have to be very low-income to qualify for Medicaid. And you can basically go through the process of transferring your assets so that you can qualify for Medicaid, but this is something you need the help of an attorney with.
This is something that my mother and I discussed with an attorney when we there. So meeting with the attorney opened our eyes to a lot of options that were available to us. And because she was starting to have memory issues, and as her memory got worse, and I was trying to figure out what accounts she had, there was one that slipped under my radar. I had no idea it even existed. Tim Ulbrich: Wow.