When your parents get older, it can be harder for them to keep track of certain things, including their finances. Of course, money is always a sensitive issue. And it can be hard for older parents to admit they need their children’s help with anything. This difficult topic is one you’ll have to approach as sensitively as possible. And to do that, you should already have a plan in place for how you can assist your older parents with their finances. Read on for some helpful tips.
- Consolidation Is the Key
To start, see if you can get all your older parents’ financial information in one place. This is really something people of all ages should do, as anyone can make the mistake of having important financial information scattered among various locations. You want to make sure they can easily find what they’re looking for. And this helps them to remember where everything is, so they won’t have to search all over because they forgot where a very important legal document is stored.
These important documents can include mortgage paperwork, deeds, insurance policies, Social Security payments, wills, and bank statements. Even if some of these documents are rarely if ever used, knowing exactly where they are can really help in case of emergencies.
In addition to filing important documents together, see if you can create a single document with financial information all in one place. This can include bank account numbers, insurance policy numbers, insurance providers, the name of their insurance agent, and sources of income. And it can be a way to keep track of all the payments your parents need to make, such as bills and mortgage payments. It can even include passwords to online accounts, as long as you make sure it’s secure enough not to get into the wrong hands.
If your parents have a bunch of different accounts, see if you can also consolidate them. The fewer the accounts, the easier managing their finances usually can be.
- Make Sure All Financial Information Is Up-to-Date
Check that everything, especially all of their financial information, is current and accurate. This is something that older parents can often overlook when it comes to their finances. Confirm that names and addresses are correct, for example.
Updating financial information includes making sure your parents have named a power of attorney, whether it’s you or someone else they trust. This allows a person your parents trust to write checks, withdraw funds, and make financial decisions for them if they’re unable to. Confirm the documents for power of attorney are durable and completed as well. Also, check that your parents have named healthcare proxies.
You should also consult with a financial planner or elder law attorney to look over everything. An expert will notice concerns you and your parents might easily miss. A tiny inaccuracy could lead to unfortunate, and very costly, consequences.
- Make Your Parents Aware of Scams Targeted Toward Older People
There are, unfortunately, scams that people of all ages fall for each year. The most common are calls that request bank information, usually by people pretending to be the IRS or Social Security. Make sure your parents know the IRS doesn’t call people to ask for their bank information, no matter what.
Another scam specifically targeted at older people is one that claims their grandchildren are in trouble. Inform your whole family about these types of scams. And make a plan. If a caller insists a family member is in trouble, tell your parents to call that family member instead of giving their financial information away. A very helpful resource to keep track of scams and fraud aimed at the elderly is AARP’s Fraud Watch Network.
- Consider Their Emotions
Be considerate of your parents’ wishes, and also those of your other family members. If your parents wish for a certain trustworthy person to be in charge of their finances, don’t challenge them. If your parents are still well enough to handle finances on their own, then let them do so instead of taking over just yet.
Even if your parents are struggling with memory loss, you should still keep them informed about their finances. If you have siblings or other family members who are concerned about your older parents’ finances, make sure to keep them in the know too. Regularly update them and even consider having family meetings about your older parents’ finances to make sure everyone is on the same page. These kinds of open conversations will prevent fighting over finances in the future.
- Create a Plan for the Future
It’s absolutely essential to make sure your parents have a will that reflects their wishes. If they don’t have a will or estate plan already, set up a meeting between them and a lawyer to get one put together. It will give your older parents peace of mind to know that their finances are set in order in case they pass. In particular, having the power of attorney set up already will always pay off down the line.
Also, make sure your older parents have a living will. This states what medical care they do or do not want to receive. Having this prepared when they’re in a state to make these decisions could be important to have down the line. Everything will be in order in case of an emergency. If you don’t plan ahead and take your older parents’ wishes into account, you might end up having to ask a court to appoint a conservator. This can be a very difficult and complicated process.
Beyond finances, if your older parents are no longer in a condition to care for themselves, it may be time to start looking into assisted living. Places like Solterra Senior Living also offer respite care. Respite care is an option if you or another family member is a caretaker but needs to take a break for whatever reason or if your loved one is recovering from surgery or an illness and only requires care for a limited time. You can find more information about Solterra Senior Living, including a closer look at each of our different communities, on our website. We also have information about different financial assistance options if needed.