Lending a Hand with Aging Parents’ Finances
If your parents are getting up there in years, you may be wondering when and how to start managing aspects of their life that they can no longer handle on their own. It is especially important to begin preparing to take a role in your parents’ financial affairs while they are still sufficiently independent to help you answer questions and gather materials. Below are some guidelines on managing your parents’ money as they age.
- Gather important documents, and create a map of your parents’ finances. Take the time to create a centralized list of all institutions where your parents may have different accounts, and gather all statements and originating documents which identify the account numbers. Having this information in a single, organized location will be invaluable should your parents’ memories begin to fail. Using a recent tax return will help you know what documents and accounts you should be looking for among your parents’ records.
- Look for signs that your parents are not keeping up with their finances. When you see your parents often, it can be difficult to identify subtle changes in their capacity to manage the household. Nevertheless, the elderly are frequent targets of scam artists. It is important to keep vigilant for signs that your parents are no longer as sharp as they once were, or that they have already been victims of fraud. For example, if you’ve noticed that bills have begun to pile up in the home, that simple math or checkbook balancing appears challenging, that creditors are regularly calling your parents, or that expensive new purchases are suddenly appearing in your parents’ home, it may be time to take more control over their financial lives. One good first step is to, along with your parents, request that any utilities or financial institutions mail copies of your parents’ bills to you each month. This will allow you to confirm that the bills are being paid, or to simply take charge of paying them yourself.
- Discuss the option of obtaining a power of attorney. Have a conversation now with your parents and a lawyer about obtaining a power of attorney. While they may not need you to make decisions on their behalf, an incapacitating event can occur in the blink of an eye, and you may wish you had the documents in place to stand in their shoes legally in front of financial institutions.
If you would like to discuss late-in-life financial matters, wills, or creating a power of attorney, contact the experienced Hudson Valley trusts and estates lawyers at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello for a consultation at 845-331-4100 for our Kingston office or 845-236-4411 for our office in Marlboro.