As parents age, money can be a sensitive issue. But if you notice your parent struggling to keep up with their financial affairs like paying bills and keeping track of money in the checking account—or worse, making unwise financial decisions due to worsening memory issues or dementia—it’s probably time to step in. Here are a few easy ways to help:
- Get copies of statements. It’s a good idea for you to have copies of recent statements, and if possible, login and password information for your parent’s bank and other investment accounts. Monitor these accounts periodically for any abnormal purchases or other areas of concern.
- Confirm all legal documents are up-to-date. Offer to keep copies of your parent’s will, power of attorney, and health care proxy information. This will give you the opportunity to check whether these items are current—or whether your parent has them in place at all.
- Set up automatic banking and bill pay. Certain tasks like sorting mail and keeping track of bills can overwhelm older parents as they age. Offer to assist by putting a few systems in place that make things easier and ensure important financial documents don’t get misplaced or overlooked.
- Discuss financial scams. Sadly, millions of older Americans fall victim to scammers every year. Talk with your parent about the types of fraudulent situations to be aware of: people claiming to be calling from the IRS, the bank, the credit card company, or even the government, or people showing up at their front door asking for personal financial information.
- Sit down once a month. When all else fails, offer to sit down with your parent once a month to go through any piles of mail, review bank statements, and discuss any concerns. It’s natural that your parent might feel hesitant to give up control of this aspect of their life. Initially, simply offer to help.
Your obvious goal is to act in your parent’s best interest, but take a “baby step” approach. Assure your parent that your intent is to help and make things easier on them, not take over. If you need assistance, contact Moran & Long. We’d be happy to offer ideas and suggestions for how to start this important conversation.