Posted on: December 5, 2019
One of the toughest struggles and care for seniors is acknowledging the necessity for help with financial matters. Personal finances are both extremely personal and a representation of our independence, and adult children especially can often be met with opposition when stepping into the financial arena with their senior parents. Yet for many reasons, like the growing incidence of senior scams and cognitive decline, it is important to make sure the financial assets our loved ones have earned over time are taken care of, and that expenditures are paid properly and on time. Protecting elderly parents’ finances is a concern that must be dealt with delicately and with diplomacy. Try these tips for a simple transition to assisting a loved one with money management:
- The first conversation. Approaching the senior concerning the importance of help with personal finances can be daunting. Maintaining respect for the senior during the process is vital, making it evident that your motives are not to “take over,” but to work alongside the senior to come up with a plan for thoroughly managing finances.
- Organizing documents. As soon as you’ve established a practical financial plan with your loved one, collect copies of all relevant documents into one easily-accessible location, including bank/brokerage statements, insurance policies, mortgage/reverse mortgage paperwork, Social Security payments, wills, etc.
- Accessing accounts. Work with an established and trusted financial planner or elder law attorney to get access to your loved one’s financial accounts to enable you to write checks on his/her behalf and facilitate any other necessary transactions.
- Including other family members. Frequent meetings with other family members who may have a vested interest in the senior’s financial matters makes sure everyone is well informed and on the same page, and can help alleviate problems with future conflict. Designate someone to take notes of every decision made, and present each family member with a copy.
- Planning for the future. As a senior loved one’s health or cognitive ability change as time passes, it’s important to have a strategy set up for additional action that could be needed, such as becoming Power of Attorney for the senior, as well as end-of-life decisions, such as asset distribution.
If the senior loved one is resistant to your advice about his/her finances, it can sometimes help to bring in a trusted third party professional, such as a financial advisor – and even the senior’s primary care physician – who can help your loved one comprehend the value of getting financial affairs in order now. You may also want to shelve the discussion for a little while and revisit the subject at a later time.