Four Guidelines on Managing Your Aging Parents’ Money
Managing a lifetime of earnings and investments is complex for anyone, but can become unmanageable for the elderly. Consider ways you can step in to help your parents hold onto the money they worked hard to accrue as they get older.
1. Generate a list of all your parents’ accounts
It can be difficult to keep up with all the places you may have money saved or have open lines of credit, and even harder as you age and your health deteriorates. While your parents are well, sit down with them and their financial records to generate a list of all of their various financial instruments, and locate important documents relating to those accounts. You may find it helpful to use a recent tax return to identify all accounts.
2. Watch for indications that your parents aren’t keeping up
Sometimes diminishing mental acuity can happen right away with a bad fall or stroke, but more often, it’s a gradual process over years, which you may not notice occurring. However, one in ten Americans over age 60 will be subjected to financial abuse, and scam artists will seek out the vulnerable elderly as marks. If you begin to see bills pile up in your parents’ home, if creditors are often calling, if expensive purchases begin to appear in their home, or if they seem to struggle with tasks like balancing a checkbook, it may be time to discuss assuming more responsibility over your parents’ finances.
3. Have copies of bills sent to you, and manage your parents’ bill payments
The ability to remember routine tasks can slip as parents age, and they may begin to let bills slip by unpaid. Along with your parents, talk to their financial institutions and utilities about sending you copies of their statements and bills each month, so that you can ensure that payments have not been missed, or so that you can simply pay the bills on their behalf.
4. Explore the option of obtaining power of attorney
Though an unpleasant thought, health can fail suddenly, with a bad diagnosis or traumatic fall. Before your parents are not capable of carefully considering such matters, discuss obtaining a power of attorney which will give you legal authority to manage your parent’s finances when they aren’t capable of making those decisions on their own.