As your parents or other relatives age, complex tasks like managing finances can become more difficult to tackle on their own. Sorting through bills, bank and credit cards statements, and investment summaries can be stressful, taking a toll on a person’s overall well-being. But without help managing financial matters, your relatives could face trying times, and open themselves up to fraud and financial abuse.
If you’re concerned for the security of an aging relative’s finances or want to find ways to help them manage their money, this guide can help you offer your support — if and when your loved ones need it.
Start a conversation about finances and offer your help.
Asking for help can be difficult, even from a close family member. Although it’s never a good idea to assume someone wants your help, it’s also important to let your elderly loved one know that you’re there if they do need your support with their finances. This can be as simple as starting a conversation. Just be open and honest with each other. Offer your help in navigating what can be a very complex situation, while explaining why and how you can assist them.
Gather necessary account documents.
Once you’ve talked with your loved one about helping them manage their finances, start by getting a clear picture of their current financial situation. This will help you minimize surprises along the way. Begin by compiling your relative’s statements, tax filing forms and any other important financial documents. You’ll need to know where their accounts are held, who they have loans with, what kind of investments they have, details on the properties they own, etc.
Sort through outstanding and recurring bills.
If you suspect that your loved one might have put off paying bills because of the overwhelming nature of the task, it’s time to get everything back under control. Sort through any bills you can find and sign up for email alerts on upcoming bills whenever possible, so you are reminded when payments are due. You can simplify things even further by automating recurring monthly payments like utilities, mortgage payments and more.
Consider getting power of attorney or living trust documents.
When it comes to managing finances, it’s all about being prepared. This includes securing any documents you’ll need to gain access to your loved one’s accounts and other confidential information, including power of attorney or living trust documents. Once again, this process starts with a conversation. Talk to your loved ones about appointing you to be a voice for their best interest, and what that will entail. Work with an attorney to begin the paperwork process.
Consider hiring outside help.
Managing anyone’s finances can be complex. If you find you’re getting overwhelmed by the responsibility, it might be time to bring in outside help. Particularly if the relative you’re helping has significant wealth, investments or assets. A financial planning professional can work with you to ensure those most important to you are well taken care of.
Having the support of family, friends and loved ones can mean a world of difference for elderly individuals in need of help managing finances.