Aging Parents? 5 Tips to help you transition to helping them with finances

There comes time when roles are reversed.  No longer will mom and dad be telling you that you can’t buy something.  Instead, you will be keeping an eye on them and their finances.  Here are five tips that will help make this transaction go smoothly:

  • Watch for red flags.  Families are unique, and so are the situations that they live in.  But when your mom or dad stops taking care of themselves, it’s time for adult children to speak up.
  • Start small.  As your parents get older, they are going to act like teenagers at times.  You can’t tell a teen what to do, and they will not want to be told how to handle their finances.  Ask for permission to see if your parents will give you access to copies of bank statements or set up online banking and automatic bill pay.  Most important, make sure you are showing your parents that you want to help, not take over.
  • Stay in touch with people in your parents’ lives.  You can’t be there all the time, especially if you live in another part of the country.  But, you can stay in touch with the people that your parents will see on a frequent basis, whether it be neighbors or friends. Also, if they have one, meet their financial advisor to build trust.  The advisor will then know that you want to help and can keep you in the loop about what mom and dad are doing.
  • Keep siblings in the loop.  Sharing responsibilities can cause friction in some families, especially when concerns over inheritance come into play.  Try delegating different tasks to different people.  For example, your sister living across the country from your parents could monitor finances online.  Since you live down the street from your parents, you can help with the in person tasks like doctors’ appointments.
  • Set up a power of attorney.  This legal document authorizes an agent to make financial decisions on behalf of the grantor.  If your parent is willing to sign and notarize one, it could give you greater oversight of their finances.  This can be a touchy subject, but is highly recommended so that should your parent become incapacitated, someone else can still access their finances.