How to Help Your Senior Loved One With Finances
As we age, most of us will need some type of help. Paying bills and managing money is important and it’s good to know when to help an older loved one. YourFFJ.com invites you to read on to learn what you can do, and how to determine when to do it.
Signs That Your Loved One Needs Help
Difficulties with the activities of daily living such as eating, dressing, bathing, food preparation, taking medication, and housekeeping often coincide with decreased ability to manage money. AgingCare.com notes that any noticeable decrease in ability in one area may be accompanied by a loss of proficiency in other areas, such as finances. Unopened mail, unpaid bills, bounced checks, and calls from creditors indicate that a person is not doing an adequate job with their finances. Memory and vision loss can exacerbate these problems.
How You Can Help, Including Finding a Nursing Facility
As US News & World Report points out, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with your senior about financial matters before they need help. Let them know that if they need help in the future, you’re available and you want to know their wishes so that you can act in accordance. Find out what bills they have, how they pay those, what their insurance policies cover, what their investments and sources of income are, and if they have appointed someone to act on their behalf, with a power of attorney or POA. You can offer to set up automatic bill payments for them and help them balance their checkbook. Offer to help them estimate monthly expenses and budget for these.
If your loved one’s living situation calls for moving to an assisted living facility or nursing home, you can also help with the transition and strategize how to pay for it. Start by researching what facilities are available in the area, preferably nearby so you can visit on a regular basis. When looking around, inquire about the level of care that each place provides, and ask about what sorts of social services or physical therapy may be included. There are plenty of options in the Los Angeles area; there are nearly 80 skilled nursing facilities located around the city.
You can educate your loved one about avoiding scams. Help them sign up for the Do Not Call list. Encourage them to set up direct deposits for Social Security and any other income they receive. Help them avoid solicitation scams by requesting information on the organization seeking contributions, the person calling, the phone number, and the business license number. Ask them to pass the information along to you so that you can vet the organization before they contribute. Above all, make sure your senior knows not to give out any personal financial information to callers.
Keep It Legal
Even if your senior loved one is doing well living independently, it’s a good idea to have power of attorney in place, for matters both financial and medical. Financial power of attorney is created with a legal document that allows a designated person to make decisions about your money for you, and to carry those decisions out. This could cover paying bills, donations, collecting debts owed to you, applying for benefits in your name, such as Social Security or Medicare, and generally managing your finances.
If there are strained relationships in the family, you may want to consider elder family mediation, in which the goal is to find the best solution for all involved, rather than fighting a battle where one party wins and another loses. Such mediation is best done by legal professionals and can help resolve conflicts about expenses of caregiving, daily living, housing, insurance, medical costs, as well as inheritance disputes and similar matters.
What About a Business?
The pandemic may have negatively impacted your career and your family’s finances, but thankfully, there are plenty of If your loved one owns a business and is no longer able to run it properly, you may need to help them sell it. There are many steps required to do this in a constructive way. Begin by getting a professional valuation of the business, including all its assets. You’ll probably need to consult the attorney and the accountant who work for the business. Laws vary by state, so you’ll need to consult the Secretary of State in your area for guidance, too.
Make Sure to Document and Communicate
If you do need to assist your loved one with financial matters, be sure to document every action you take related to their finances. If there are other concerned family members, keep communication with them open, and when possible consult them in decision making. Retain copies of tax records, bank, medical, and insurance statements, as well as all legal documents. If things become contentious with other concerned family members, don’t hesitate to call in an expert.
If you do need to assist your loved one with financial matters, be sure to document every action you take related to None of us want to think about our loved ones becoming unable to manage their own finances. However, as we age, this becomes a possibility, and it’s good to have conversations and make plans for it before you reach the critical juncture. If things are complex, including the need to transition to a nursing facility, you may need attorneys and accountants to help you get it organized properly. Don’t hesitate to ask for the help you need.
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Guest Post by Katie Conroy
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