What to Do When Dad’s Ability To Manage His Finances Begins To Slow Down
May 27, 2011
One of the most difficult aspects of caring for an elderly parent (or helping an aging parent who lives far away) is keeping one step ahead when that parent begins to lose the ability to manage his or her own finances. Many seniors can be very resistant to discussing what they feel is an extremely private and sensitive topic. Furthermore, according to this article in AgingCare.com, “for many elders, being able to take care of their own finances is an important symbol of independence and self-worth,” and one that they are not likely to relinquish easily.
Unfortunately, an elderly parent’s ability to manage their own money may cease before they are willing to ask for help. In these cases, it may be up to their children and loved ones to step in and help as best they can. What follows is a list of some non-invasive, non-offensive steps adult children and caregivers can take to help aging parents manage their finances.
- Ask for a list of important people and information you might need in case of emergency. This list would include contact information for an attorney, financial advisor, primary care physician, and insurance agent.
- Ask where your parent keeps important documents and how an executor or advisor could access those documents upon your parent’s death or incapacity.
- If your parent is willing, discuss their estate plan with them, including who they have chosen as their agent or executor, and what you can do if something happens.
- Ask your parent to make a list of monthly bills, expenses and account numbers. Although your parent may not want to hand over this information right away, the list should be stored with other important estate planning documents so that it can be accessed in case of emergency.
- As you keep track of your own financial deadlines (tax filing deadlines and the like) set up reminders for your parent as well.
- Ask that your parent list you as an “emergency contact” with their utility services, so that you would be informed if your parent’s service is in danger of being terminated.
- And finally, talk to your parent as often as you can. Keeping open lines of communication is the very best way to stay informed about the abilities and well-being of your aging parent.
Simple Steps Now Can Help Your Executor Later On
May 8, 2011
Being named as the executor of the estate of a deceased loved one comes with many challenges, including dealing with the probate system. But one of the most difficult (and least discussed) challenges is sorting through the plethora of paper and information that people collect over the course of a lifetime.
You can save your executor (and your family) time and money later by organizing your important documents and finances right now. If you’re not sure where to begin, or what information an executor would need to know, we’ve assembled a list of information and documents an executor might need quick and easy access to if anything were to happen to you:
- Instructions and letter to trustee: Contact information for your attorney and trustee(s), instructions on how to begin the process.
- Minor children: Information about your minor children, nearby guardians or relatives, medical and health insurance information.
- Personal Information: Birth and marriage certificates, passports, family, friends and contact people.
- Estate Planning Documents: Trust, wills, any amendments, personal property distribution memorandum.
- Employment/Business Information: Contact information for supervisors; client information if you are a small business owner.
- Real Estate and Tangible Property: Deed to your home, mortgage information, homeowners and fire insurance, vehicle records, artwork and antiques.
- Bank Accounts and Investments: Account numbers and locations, contact information.
- Monthly Expenses and Bills: A copy of one monthly statement for each.
- Information about recent Taxes
- Retirement Accounts/Government Benefits: Account numbers, beneficiary information.
- Life Insurance: Account numbers, beneficiary information, and copy of each policy
- Memorial and Burial/Cremation: Preferences, pre-paid arrangements, phone numbers.
- Memberships/Secured Accounts/Passwords
Once you are organized, keep your information in an accessible place and make your executor aware of the location. This simple act of organization will not only benefit you right now, it will save your family and your executor much time, money and frustration later on.