If you have elderly parents who need help managing their finances, it may be time for you to step in. This process can be difficult for both parties, especially if your parents have medical conditions or are too stubborn to ask for help. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Be Understanding and Patient
Remember, your parents have been handling their finances since before you were around. If you notice they are forgetting to pay bills, confused about their accounts, or are making unwise purchases, it may be time to become involved. It may be tough for them to let you help, especially if they think you are trying to take control of their assets. The role reversal is difficult for independent seniors.
A gradual transition works best if it is possible. Review their tax returns before they file them. That way, when you decide to take over their tax preparation, they are accustomed to having you around at tax time, and you are aware of their income sources.
Learn About Your Parents’ Health Insurance Policy
Medicare provides health and financial benefits to 60 million older people and younger people with disabilities. Your parents are probably part of that statistic. Know what sort of health plan(s) your parents have. Medicare has different plan options, and some people qualify for different ones. Don’t let your parents’ insurance plans renew automatically every year. Their situation may change, or policy premiums may change. The best choice for this year’s policy may not be the best choice for next year’s policy. You may want to research prescription coverage, available coupons, and money-saving tips for medicines.
Speak With an Elder Law Attorney
Meet with an elder law attorney licensed in the state where your parents reside. The attorney can help you learn about Medicaid and may know some money-saving tips in that state. An elder law attorney can help plan for assisted living costs, help with wills, trust documents, and patients’ rights issues. The lawyer may bring up issues unknown to you. Many lawyers provide a free consultation, allowing you to meet with them without obligation.
Locate and Safely Store All Important Financial Documents and Records
Know where your parents store their important documents. Ensure you know where they keep copies of their final wills, living wills, and power of attorney directives. Compile a list of any bank accounts, investments, pensions, retirement accounts, and annuities. Make sure titles and deeds are in a safe place.
If your parents do not have living wills, suggest they consider writing them. Although it is a difficult subject to discuss, it is an important one. Otherwise, you and your siblings may find yourselves in an unexpected and unpleasant situation. Currently, a minority of seniors have written advanced health care directives. In fact, in case of a sudden illness or incapacitation, only 37% of American seniors have advanced directives for end-of-life planning. Obtaining a living will is easy. Many websites offer free preparation. The process involves answering a few questions online and printing the document.
Discuss Long-Term Care Options
Each year, almost 31 million Americans move to a different residence. However, the thought of moving can be overwhelming, especially for people who have lived in their homes for a long time. Discuss long-term care options. Your parents may already have a facility in mind. Explore options that are close to at least one child. A close location is for your benefit, not just theirs. You may want to consider placing them in a facility where they already know some residents. Some people may want to remain at home as long as possible, which may be possible with home health care if finances permit it. Long-term care is an important decision, so take the time to research your options.
Work Together As a Family and Financially Prepare for the Future
Let other family members know you are starting to help your parents manage their finances. Also, let the family know of any long-term care plans. All siblings should be aware of the potential cost of assisted living or long-term care. Keep the entire family informed of changes in your parent’s decisions, financial status, and health.
Helping your parents with their finances as they get older can be difficult. To make it easier on you, enlist the help of professionals and other family members. Find ways to cut costs so that you’re not in a financial blunder, too.