The Color of Money

Before helping parents, get a picture of their finances

During a recent online discussion, one reader titled his post “Big, big problem.’’ It was not hyperbole. And his problem is one being faced by many adults. They are finding that their parents’ finances are a hot mess. Equally frustrating is the realization by these adult children that they don’t have enough money to fix it.

Here’s the situation with my reader: His parents are in their 70s. They want to sell the family home. But it turns out they owe $230,000 on a house with a market value of about $280,000. They bought it in 1979 for $100,000. Clearly, it should have been paid off.

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