Five Tips For Taking Over Elderly Parent’s Finances
One of the most delicate issues to navigate in senior care is taking over elderly parent’s finances. Personal finances are both exceedingly personal and a representation of our self-sufficiency, and adult children specifically may be met with resistance when stepping into the financial arena with their senior parents.
Yet for many reasons, like the mounting incidence of senior scams and cognitive decline, it is necessary to make sure that the resources our senior loved ones have accrued throughout the years are secure, and that expenditures are paid correctly and also on time. It is a concern that needs to be managed delicately and with diplomacy. Try these financial tips for seniors for a smooth transition to assisting a parent with finance management:
The introductory conversation. Approaching a loved one about the importance of assistance with personal finances can be complicated. Maintaining respect for the older adult through the process is vital, making it obvious that your intentions are not to “take over,” but to work together with the older adult to come up with an approach for successfully managing finances.
Organizing documents. When you’ve established a workable financial plan with your loved one, collect copies of all relevant documents into one easily-accessible location, including bank/brokerage statements, insurance plans, mortgage/reverse mortgage paperwork, Social Security payments, wills, etc.
Accessing accounts. Work with an established and trusted financial planner or elder law attorney to obtain access to your loved one’s financial accounts to enable you to write checks on his/her behalf and carry out any other necessary transactions.
Including other family members.Frequent meetings with other family who may have a vested involvement inthe senior’s financial matters ensures everyone is up to date and on the same page, and can help alleviate problems with future conflict. Identify someone to take notes about any decisions made, and present each member of the family with a copy.
Planning for the future. As your loved one’s health or cognitive ability change in the years to come, it will likely be important to have a strategy set up for additional actions that may be needed, such as becoming Power of Attorney for the senior, as well as for end-of-life decisions, such as asset distribution.
If the senior loved one is resistant to your assistance with his or her finances, it may sometimes help to bring in a reliable third party professional, such as a financial advisor – and on occasion even the older adult's primary care physician –to help your parent be aware of the value of getting financial affairs in order now. You might also need to shelve the conversation for awhile and revisit this issue down the road.