5 TIPS FOR HELPING YOUR AGING PARENTS WITH THEIR FINANCES
As aging seniors get older, managing finances becomes more and more of a burden for them. Sifting through documents, managing investments, paying bills, and keeping track of spending can cause high levels of stress. On top of that, elderly people are often targeted for financial fraud and abuse. If your parents or loved ones are aging, it’s best that you help them out as early as you can.
One common way of helping out is to take over the finances of your parents. The Consumer Financial Bureau states that about 22 million people age 60 or older have a power of attorney who makes decisions on their behalf. If your aging parent is considered mentally competent, then obtaining financial power of attorney is definitely the smart way to go. This is typically accomplished with the help of a lawyer, who can help you make stipulations specific to your situation. Here are a few specific tips regarding helping your aging parents with their finances.
1) DISCUSS A PLAN IN ADVANCE.
Even if they don’t yet need help, you need to be prepared. Ask them if they have money saved in order to handle health care costs. Ask if they prefer to live in a home or an assisted living center. It’s a good idea to talk about the difficult topics when your parents are healthy. Just make sure you approach these topics with sensitivity. Many parents will at first resist the role reversal of the child helping the parent.
2) ACT ON THEIR BEHALF, NOT ON YOURS.
It’s not your money, so try to involve your parents as much as possible. If they have difficulty communicating, try your hardest to do what they would want. Also make sure you read the power of attorney document with care to ensure that you are abiding by the policies.
3) MANAGE YOUR PARENTS’ MONEY AND PROPERTY CAREFULLY.
Once you’re the agent for an aging person, you will have a series of new responsibilities. These responsibilities include making purchases, paying taxes, overseeing bank accounts, obtaining insurance, managing investments, paying bills, and much more. When you have so much responsibility on your hands, it’s crucial to use your best judgement. This includes keeping your loved one’s money and property separate from your own.
4) STAY ORGANIZED.
When you’re handling someone else’s finances, you can’t afford to be disorganized. If you forget to make a payment or lose an important paper, something could go seriously wrong for your loved ones. When you start out, you’ll want to write a detailed list of your loved ones’ money, debts, and property to help you keep track. As you take care of the various duties, you’ll also want to keep records of everything.
5) MAKE SURE YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, TOO.
When you are taking care your loved ones, you can get very consumed with making their life as easy as possible. It can take a toll on your personal health and your own sense of identity. Make sure you are eating, sleeping and exercising enough. Try to schedule breaks into your week, and if it seems like too much, feel free to hire people to help out with tasks like yard work and cleaning the house. It’s also a good idea to keep working if possible. If you stick with your job, you can bring in income in order to lessen the financial strain. You can also keep an identity that you can go back to after your duties as a caretaker end.
Helping aging loved ones with their finances is no easy task. But if you follow these tips, you’ll be able to keep everything under control. Just remember to be prepared, organized, and careful, all while acting in the best interest of your loved ones.