How to Help Elderly Parents With Finances

Knowing how to help elderly parents with finances can be a tricky subject and one that can cause hurt or embarrassment if not handled delicately. If you go about it with discretion and respect, though, you can trudge through ironing out your parents' bills, insurance policies and other financial paperwork to ensure that they have pre-planned for their retirement, their funerals, as well as possibly sharing their wealth when they pass away.

Steps

  1. 1
    Begin your money discussions with your parents when they retire.
    • Discuss where their sources of income are coming from (e.g. pension checks, annuities and/or Social Security), and ask them to keep an up-to-date document with this information.
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    • Find out what institutions are holding the money.
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    • Ask them to sign power of attorney documents.
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    • Make sure to have this discussion early enough, if you are unable to catch them at retirement age, that their memory capabilities are still intact. Otherwise a large amount of time will probably be spent piecing together the parts of your parents' financial puzzle.
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  2. 2
    Automate your parents' regular transactions so as not to lose checks or forget to pay something.
    • Set up their Social Security and other income checks to be direct deposited into their bank.
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    • Sign up elderly parents to have utility payments debited from their account.
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    • Reconcile their lists against past tax forms to confirm that you are accounting for all of the income.
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    • Review the bank statement every month to ensure that you understand and are tracking how much money goes into and comes out of the account.
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    Use a financial service provider that will either send duplicate copies of statements to you or allow you to view the online statements. As parents age and their mental capacities diminish, if you do not intercept their mail, important documents may be thrown away before you have opportunity to see them.
  4. 4
    Don't forget to review your parents' insurance.
    • Meet with your parents' insurance provider, and with your parents' permission, discuss their policies and make sure that payment of those policies is being covered. It is a shame for a policy that has been paid on for decades to lapse, and the children lose all death benefits, because the parents mismanaged the paperwork.
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    • Look into Medicare and/or supplemental benefits that may have been offered by former employers and/or look for long-term care policies that may be buried in the paperwork. Policies like these will help ease your and their financial burden in the event of having to put a parent in a nursing home.
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    • With your parents' permission, seek copies of all policies for your records.
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  5. 5
    Research if your parents are eligible for state or federal benefits.
    • The National Council on Aging website at http://www.benefitscheckup.org can help you find out if your parents are eligible for discounts on their property taxes, health care or utility bills.
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    • The Administration on Aging website at http://www.eldercare.gov can provide you information on social services available for the elderly, including health care information by county.
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    Speak with a professional about your parents' investment portfolio and make any necessary decisions to ensure that they will be well taken care of for the rest of their lives.

Tips

  • Keep an eye out for signs of dementia; this is a signal to start taking great control of your parents' assets.
  • If you are working with your parents' finances, be sure and keep siblings informed in writing. This will help alleviate any tension about financial matters when your parents pass away, as that sibling or those siblings will be well aware of what the state of your parents' finances are.

Warnings

  • Educate your parents about scams. Request that they not mail any large payments to anyone for any reason without discussing it with you first.


Article Info

Categories: Aged Care