What would happen if you unexpectedly needed to take over your aging
parents' finances? With people living longer, adult children are increasingly
tasked with caring for aging parents. Are you prepared? If the answer is no, do
yourself a favor and get a handle on the paperwork before an emergency strikes.
This round-up of advice will help you, and your aging parents, navigate the
The Talk: The first step in providing
assistance is to get all parties to agree that help is needed. Open,
compassionate communication is essential. Speak candidly, but kindly, to your
parent about why you want to get involved in managing their finances or
paperwork either now or down the road. Listen actively and carefully to their
concerns so you can better assuage any fears. Make clear that you want to work
with them as partners. For more tips on discussing sensitive issues, read the
advice in How
to Talk with Elderly Parents about Tough Family Issues.
Must-Know Facts: Money talk is often considered
an impolite subject but in order to help your parents, candor is required. Plan
for a time when you aren't hurried or distracted to have a frank and thorough
conversation about your parents' finances. For starters, where do your parents
keep their financial records? Are they working with a financial planner? Do
they have a durable power of attorney to manage their finances should they
become incapacitated? Ask for a thorough inventory, or create one of your own,
that identifies crucial financial accounts, insurance and passwords or keys to
access online documents or safety deposit boxes. For more ideas of what you
need to know to be helpful, read 10 Things You Should Know About Your Parents' Finances.
Tax Man: Tax season means paperwork. Help
your parents greet the tax man with the advice in Your Aging Parents and Tax Season: A
Getting-Started Guide. The article has useful advice on determining whether or not your
parents even need to file (many seniors have income that falls below the IRS
threshold) and tips on how to claim your parent as a dependent.
Bill Paying: Keeping up with monthly bills is a big job. Let your parents
know you can help pitch in or take over the job entirely. Get started by
assessing their annual income and monthly expenses. Then, you can help your
parent write the checks, or if you have power of attorney, pay the bills
directly from their accounts. Keep in
mind that unless your parent is totally incapacitated, that it's still their
money and they should choose how and when to spend it. But keep an eye on credit
card statements and the bottom line; the elderly are often scammed by telemarketers
or are taken advantage of by friends, family or caregivers.
Helpful Tools: Taking on your parents' finances and paperwork in addition to
your own can seem daunting. We've rounded up some useful tools to keep all the trains
running on time. For the caregiver who prefers old-fashioned papers to digital,
The Senior Organizer is a handy workbook designed to
assist in gathering crucial personal, medical, legal and financial information.
For smartphone-savvy app lovers, elder-care website AgingCare.com http://bit.ly/49NVi has a useful article on apps to help
with all your elder care needs: 12 Handy Apps for Caregivers.
Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates
passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization. Believing in "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.