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Supporting Aging Parents with their Finances

By Bennett Whitlock, CRPC®, Private Wealth Advisor

Keeping track of finances takes time, attention and energy at any age. In the case of older adults, health challenges, such as memory loss, can make it difficult for them to manage their financial obligations. Here are a few items to keep in mind that can help protect your parents from financial missteps.

Create a support plan

Ideally, it’s best to get mom and dad involved in creating a financial plan while they’re able to communicate their wishes. While this isn’t always possible, any preparations you can do before the situation is critical can help.

Start by reviewing your parent’s financial situation, covering all assets and liabilities. If he or she has a financial advisor, invite that professional to the meeting. Develop a strategy to make sure mom or dad is able to cover current expenses and prepare for future ones. The following checklist can help you get started:

  1. While many family members may want to be involved in making decisions, consider choosing one person as the financial contact. This person should make sure bills are paid on time, taxes are filed and keep track of mom or dad’s overall finances, looping in other family members as necessary. Meet with your attorney to discuss whether the designated person should seek legal financial responsibility as well by becoming a “power of attorney.”
  2. Ensure each asset is properly titled and has a beneficiary that reflects your parent’s wishes. Suggest a meeting with an estate attorney if you think your parent needs to set up or update his or her will, health care proxy or other estate planning documents.
  3. Establish automatic bill pay where you can. Suggest that your mom or dad set-up his or her account to receive emails when bills are due or paid so that there’s a paper trail to follow in case of confusion.
  4. Create a retirement income strategy for caregiver expenses. Caregiving costs can be significant, particularly if a higher level of care is needed. Explore now the options and costs for in-home and facility care and make sure you understand how your parent feels about them.
  5. If your parent is still fairly independent financially, remind him or her about the prevalence of money-related scams. Demonstrate how your parents can protect themselves against fraud.

If you are concerned about your parents’ memory issues, find time to develop a caregiving and financial plan of action while your parents are still able to be part of the conversation.

Bennett Whitlock, CRPC ®, is a private wealth advisor and managing director with Whitlock Wealth Management, a franchise of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Learn more at WhitlockWealth.com or call 703-492-7732.

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