Tips on Money Management for Aging Parents
When your parents enter their old age, they may become unable to manage their property and financial accounts without your help. Having these conversations with your parents can be challenging, but don’t let these questions slide until your parents lack the mental sharpness to have a thoughtful conversation on these important issues. Before something catastrophic happens, create a plan for how you can assist your parents in managing their finances as they age, and speak with a seasoned wills & trusts attorney about creating the end-of-life legal documents you and your parents will need.
Get your parents’ financial affairs organized: Sit down with your parents and create a list of all the savings or investment accounts, loans, credit cards, securities, or other financial instruments your parents have accrued over the years. Be sure you know where to find important documents related to these accounts in the event that you will need to contact the institutions after a death, or to obtain statements on your parents’ behalf. Be sure you can also locate any recent tax returns and, most importantly, a copy of your parents’ wills.
Keep an eye out for signs that they have become overwhelmed: Should a parent suffer a stroke or debilitating fall, the inability to manage personal finances may happen abruptly. Typically, however, the process is more gradual, requiring you to remain alert for signs that your parents are no longer able to manage their money without help. If you notice that bills have piled up unopened, that creditors contact your parents often, or that uncharacteristically-lavish items begin appearing in your parents’ home, it may be time for you to take over their money management. About 10% of all Americans over 60 will become the victim of financial abuse, so be aware that lapses in the ability to handle money management could result in your parents becoming the victim of scammers.
Discuss the option of obtaining power of attorney –If your parents’ health or mental acuity does fail suddenly, you may need to take over their finances right away rather than gradually over time. In order to be prepared for this possibility, it may be wise to create a power of attorney that will grant you the authority to make financial decisions on behalf of your parents when a debilitating event occurs. Creating a power of attorney can also save you from the hassle of seeking these powers in court through a guardianship proceeding.
For assistance with the creation of trusts, estate plans, and other end-of-life legal issues in New York, contact the knowledgeable and seasoned Poughkeepsie estate planning attorneys at Van DeWater & Van DeWater for a consultation, at 845-452-5900.