It isn’t something we like to think or talk about, but a day may come where your parents, or other close relatives, are no longer able to manage their own financial responsibilities. It is usually quite difficult for someone who has been independent their whole life to admit that they need help, and it can be just as difficult to broach the subject. However, if approached sensitively, you can work alongside your parents gradually and make what can be a tricky process more relaxed and more comfortable for everyone involved.
Here are some tips to help you.
Bring up the conversation before issues arise.
Waiting until the issues rear their ugly head can make it a lot more difficult and complicated. While it might be some time before your parents actually need the help, it is important to start talking about it as early as possible. Slowly and surely, they’ll be able to come to terms with it, and you will be able to put plans into place and take all of their wishes on board. It also makes sorting any difficulties that you didn’t know about a lot easier.
Bring it up by asking them who will handle their affairs if problems arise. Ask them to give advance written consent to a designated family member so that person can discuss the parent’s personal matters with the essential people, such as lawyers, insurance companies and doctors, and they may need professional fiduciary services for more advice. Without this written consent, privacy laws may prove a huge obstacle in the future.
Keep the rest of the family up to date.
Even if you have taken on sole responsibility, it is vital that you keep the rest of the immediate family informed and in the loop, especially siblings. Not only can they be a crucial source of support, but keeping an open line of communication on what can be a pretty sensitive topic can reduce the risk of misunderstandings and hard feelings in the future.
Encourage your parents to get organized.
The last thing you want to be doing is struggling to find the vital information or locations of where your parents have kept their money when they are no longer in a position of being able to help or tell you. While they still can, help them to make a list of contacts, account numbers, passwords, and where they keep all of their important legal documents such as wills, birth and wedding certificates, deeds and insurance policies. Make sure that everything is still valid and up to date.
Keep a close eye on any signs and symptoms.
It is essential to be able to recognize when the time is near to take control. This may include memory problems and physical setbacks such as not remembering account numbers or not being able to write checks or get to the bank. Other, more subtle signs may be them complaining they have no money, piles of unopened mail or unusual purchases. If you have already started the conversation and helped them to get their finances in order, you will know what to do if and when these signs begin to emerge.