As your parents’ age and approach retirement, they’ll probably need your help managing their finances. While it’s great to have elderly parents, it’s hard when the roles begin to shift. And that role change becomes even harder when you’re unsure about when it’s the right time to step in. In case you’re constantly keep thinking: “How can I help my parents with money?” this article is for you.
Why Your Parents May Need Help
Roughly 92% of caregivers in the U.S. provide financial help to their loved ones. They pay bills, file taxes, handle insurance claims, and manage their investments.
There are many reasons why your parents may need a hand with their investments, including fraud. Each year, millions of seniors fall victim to financial scams. The elderly are a major target because they tend to be polite and trust quickly. Anyone, however, is susceptible to fraud, and the best way to prevent this is awareness.
If you let your parents know that you can handle their finances, you might be surprised how much you’ll be able to take off their plates. While bringing up the topic can be a challenge, you can work with your parents gradually and make the process as comfortable as possible.
When Should You Step in?
Knowing when it’s appropriate to jump in and offer help can be tricky. However, there are many signs that your parents may be starting to lose track of their finances:
- Memory lapses: When parents begin to forget easily or have difficulty remembering things, such as where to write the dollar amount on a check, this can be an early sign that you need to step in and help.
- A chunk of unopened mail: A pile of unopened mail can be another indicator that your parents are perhaps receiving lots of emails from creditors, making unusual purchases or falling behind on bills
- Always complaining about money: When parents start complaining of not having enough money, this could be a sign things are not right and they need a hand.
- Uncommon purchases: If you notice expensive new purchases in your parents’ house that don’t fit their needs, that could be a sign they may be entering sweepstakes or contests. Remember, older adults are vulnerable to scams, and you should intervene as early as possible.
- Physical infirmities: As parents age, they might have a fading vision or suffer debilitating conditions that may hinder them from reading emails, driving to the bank to deposit a check or consulting their financial advisor. Such physical setbacks may be a cue they need your help.
When it comes to helping your parents manage their investments, you don’t want to wait for signs they need your help to pop up. The earlier you step in, the better for both of you and your parents. Sit down with them and let them know you can manage their finances whenever they’re ready.
You’ll also need to discuss critical issues, including wills, trusts, and estate planning, and encourage your parents to include you or one of your siblings in their power of attorney. This will make the transition much more straightforward.
At this point, you may want to consider consulting an attorney who specializes in estate planning. Estate planning is one of the critical steps a person takes to ensure that their loved ones receive all their assets in the event of incapacitation or death. With the help of an attorney, you can discuss these issues and make plans to handle them.
How to Offer Financial Help to Your Parents
When it comes to how to help parents with financial problems, things can be pretty complicated. But the longer you wait to get involved, the harder it becomes to take control of your elderly parent’s finances.
Start the conversation early — consider talking to your parents about who will handle their finances if problems arise or when they’re unable to do it themselves. Bringing up the topic beforehand will give you a better understanding of their financial outlook. It will also make it easier for you to come up with the best way to offer help.
The sooner you begin to integrate yourself into your parents’ lives, the more comfortable they’ll be including you in critical decisions, and the easier it will be to take full control when the time is right. This is how to get your parents to trust you to manage their investments.
The need for managing your parents’ finances and assets can be highly stressful. But, if you approach it one step at a time, you’ll be surprised how easy the process is.
Consider Updating Investments
One important thing you’ll need to work on is to update your parents’ investments. The best way to do this is to hire a financial planner or advisor to go through your parents’ portfolios. These professionals will identify assets that are too risky and advise on the best way to diversify their portfolio to lower the risk.
If your parents have a large amount of money to cover for their care for years to come or a large estate, for instance, a financial planner might offer suggestions on longer-term investments designed to benefit their beneficiaries and younger generations. You can find a certified financial advisor through a registry like Paladin.
How to Locate Financial Accounts and Documents
Locating all of your parents’ financial accounts and statements can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t have a clue where to find them. Consider yourself fortunate if your parents file their bank and investment documents.
If not, your best bet is to look for their latest tax returns. If you think your parents worked with a financial advisor, accountant, or attorney, contact those professionals. They might help provide the financial information you need.
Either way, when bringing up the topic of helping your parents manage their finances, it will be best to ask them where you can easily locate their financial accounts and documents when the time is appropriate for you to take control of their investments.
How to Collect Their Bills and Pay Them
If you wait until some of the signs mentioned above before getting involved in your parents’ finances, collecting and paying bills may not be a simple task. You’ll need to have a list of all the bills from rent or mortgage, to utility bills and insurance premiums.
Paying bills is easier if your parents are on solid financial ground and can afford to pay the bills themselves. In this case, you will only need to come up with a plan on how to start paying for them. If you have no idea where to get started, consult a financial planner or attorney to help you prioritize what you should pay first and what can wait.
Be sure to document the bills you pay and keep detailed receipts on your parents’ behalf.
How to Open Your Parents’ Safe Deposit Box
A safe deposit box is undoubtedly the most secure place your parents can keep important documents, such as wills, power of attorney, contracts, and other sensitive documents. But, if you’re not listed on your parents’ safe deposit box account, you may not be able to manage their investments.
In such a case, your parents can authorize your access so you can get a new power of attorney form. A power of attorney is typically a legal document that allows you to take care of your parent’s finances and assets in the event of incapacitation or death. Otherwise, you’ll need a court order to open the safe deposit box.
When opening your parents’ safe deposit for the first time, be sure to have a witness with you. It will even be better if you have a video camera rolling to avoid the fight that often arises between siblings.
How to Become Your Parents’ Guardian
As parents age, they become prone to illness that may hinder them from managing their investments. When a parent develops a condition like dementia, they’ll need your help. This might mean becoming your parent’s guardian.
If this happens and they haven’t signed a power of attorney, you’ll need a court order before becoming your parents’ guardian. Since the process is lengthy and tiresome, you may need the help of a lawyer.
Consider Hiring a Financial Planning Team
You may want to consider hiring a financial planner (and perhaps an attorney and tax preparer), especially if you need long-term help. These professions will help you make sound financial decisions. Most importantly, they’ll help you avoid common financial mistakes, which can cost you a lot in the long run.
The Bottom Line
Helping your parents manage their investments is not what most people think about, but it’s one of the most vital steps to take as they age. While there’s no right way to take control of your parents’ finances, waiting too long to get involved can make things much more complicated. Stepping in early will make the transition a success.