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Helping Aging Parents’ with their Finances: When to Step In

Jun 29, 2017

There may come a time when your parents can no longer handle their own finances. They might be hesitant to ask for help when that time comes, so you might need to step in and offer your assistance. Here are some tips that may help you with that.

Helping Aging Parents with Finances

As much as you might not want to think about it, there may come a time when your parents can no longer handle their own finances. They might be hesitant to ask for help when that time comes, so you might need to step in and offer your assistance. This needs to be handled delicately and gradually to make the process as comfortable as possible for your parents. Here are some tips that may help you with that.


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Start The Conversation Before There is a Problem

The best way to begin the conversation about money management with your parents is to bring up the subject before any problems arise. You might not think it will make it much easier, but it will give your parents some time to think about the situation and get used to someone else handling their finances. You may also need to get your parents' advanced written permission to take over their finances, since privacy laws may prevent you from handling their money when or if they start to have problems. Make sure to keep the rest of your family in the loop as well. Your relatives can be a great source of support for yourself and for your parents.

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Start Slow

You don't need to take over your parents' bank accounts right away, nor should you. Increase your support little by little by starting out offering help only when you and your parents think they'll need it. Go over their finances with them, and always let them have a say in how their money is being spent. It is still their money, and they deserve to maintain control over as much of it as they can as long as it is safe for them to do so.

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Help Your Parents Get Organized

A good first step when helping your parents with their finances is to organize all the information they might need and put it someplace that is easy to find. This includes a list of important contacts, account numbers, and important legal documents such as birth certificates, insurance policies, and wills. Make sure all the information is up-to-date, and place it in a secure location that you and your parents can find.

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Keep Things Simple

When it comes to managing finances, it's best to keep things as simple as possible. Take a look at your parents' sources of income such as retirement or savings accounts and switch them over to direct deposit whenever possible. This will ensure that there will always be money in their bank accounts even when they cannot make a deposit themselves. Next, go over your parents' household budget and streamline it to make it as easy to follow as possible. You might even want to consider an automatic bill pay service if their bank allows it as an option.

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Know the Signs of Financial Problems

While you should speak with your parents before they begin to have problems, you should also know the signs of trouble when they arise. Look for unusual purchases that don't fit your parents' usual spending habits, piles of unopened mail, or signs of memory problems. All of these are indicators that you might need to step in and provide some assistance with your parents' finances and spending habits.