Amongst the most difficult to navigate issues for adult children are financial frustrations with senior parents. Finances are both exceedingly personal and a representation of your self-sufficiency, and adult children especially can often be met with reluctance when stepping into the financial arena with their senior parents.
However, for multiple reasons, such as the ever-increasing occurrence of senior scams and cognitive decline, it is important to make certain that the financial assets our senior loved ones have earned through the years are safeguarded, and that expenses are paid properly as well as on time. It is a concern which needs to be taken care of delicately and with diplomacy. Consider these tips for an easy transition to assisting a family member with finance management:
- The introductory conversation. Approaching the senior about the need for assistance with finances can be overwhelming. Maintaining respect for the older adult during the process is essential, making it clear that your objectives are not to “take over,” but to work together with the older adult to come up with a strategy for successfully managing finances.
- Organizing documents. As soon as you’ve established a viable financial plan along with your loved one, collect copies of all important documents into one conveniently-accessible location, including bank/brokerage statements, insurance policies, mortgage/reverse mortgage paperwork, Social Security payments, wills, etc.
- Accessing accounts. Work with a dependable financial planner or elder law attorney to get access to your loved one’s financial accounts to enable you to write checks on his/her behalf and perform any other necessary transactions.
- Including other family members. Regular meetings with other family members who may have a vested interest in the senior’s financial matters makes certain everyone is informed and on the same page, and may assist in preventing future conflict. Designate someone to take notes about any decisions made, and provide each family member with a copy.
- Planning for the future. As a senior loved one’s health or cognitive ability change over time, it’ll be important to have a strategy set up for additional action that may be needed, such as becoming Power of Attorney for the senior, as well as for end-of-life decisions, such as asset distribution.
If the senior is resistant to your help with his / her finances, it can sometimes help to bring in a trusted third party professional, such as a financial advisor – and sometimes even the senior’s primary care physician – who can help a senior loved one understand the importance of getting financial affairs in order now. Or, you may want to shelve the conversation for a little bit and revisit this issue later.
Contact Generations at Home for additional tips to help ease challenging conversations with the older adults you love, and to learn more about our dependable in-home care solutions for older adults.