How to Support Aging Parents with Their Finances
Discussing your finances can be difficult. Giving away or sharing control of those finances can be even harder, bringing on feelings of anxiety, frustration, and helplessness. As your parents age, there may come a time when they require support with their various financial tasks. Here are a few key tips to help make sure that you and your parents are on the same page and that you have a plan in place to support them with dignity and respect.
Start the conversation early
Ideally, you’ll want to establish a plan while your parents are still able to make their opinions and wishes clear. Putting plans in place early allows the conversation to be more rational than emotional. It also ensures that arrangements are in place should there be an emergency or a quick decline in health.
Work with them and respect their decisions
The idea of giving up control of your finances is scary. Your parents want to know that they will be taken care of, but not taken advantage of. When you start the conversation early, you also have the opportunity, together, to meet with a professional advisor and ensure that your parents’ wishes are respected and that they are involved in the planning.
Locate important documents
Knowing where important documents like your parents’ wills are located is imperative in the case of incapacity or death. Your parents may want to use a Record Keeper to note important locations of documents and assets, and passwords for online subscriptions. Keeping track of these documents and credentials in one place is convenient should they need to update documents along the way or consult documents in case of emergency.
Get access to financial accounts
While the first three tips are fairly general, this one focuses on a more specific task. Getting access to your parents’ bank accounts requires advance planning and probably some specific paperwork. Financial institutions have strict rules about who can access accounts and under what circumstances.
Even if you already have a Power of Attorney, many financial institutions have their own forms that need to be filed. Before signing paperwork or getting joint access to any accounts, consult your advisor to ensure this is a necessary step.
Prepare for the future
If your parents don’t already have wills or estate plans, encourage them to start the process today. End-of-life plans are integral as they affect how your parents’ assets are distributed when they pass away. Powers of Attorney and living wills are also important documents because they allow you to step in quickly during an emergency.
If you are also the executor of the estate, you will have an even bigger checklist to consider, so planning early is key.
The bottom line
The most important thing to consider is your parents’ feelings. Be sensitive to their changing needs and the inevitable emotions that come with learning to share control of their finances. Finances are a major part of life, and everyone reacts differently to feelings of loss of independence. So, start the conversation early and consult your Assante advisor to discuss your family’s unique needs.