Supporting The Elderly And Finances
Help Older Friends and Family Make Sound Financial Decisions
Ways You Can Help:
- Start Talking About Money
- Organize the Paperwork
- Make a Plan
- Think About Financial Advice
- Extra Help
Start Talking About Money
Most people don't want to talk about money or admit that they're struggling with money. Older people may become worried about becoming less independent, or be afraid that they could be a burden if they need help to make this type of decision. If someone you love may need help as they age, it's important to start the conversation early. The longer you put it off, the harder the process will get, especially if their health declines as they age.
It's important that you stay calm and non-judgmental when you're talking to another person about their finances. Take a look at these tips:
Be sure to only ask for relevant information. Avoid interrogating them about irrelevant personal information.
Ask them about the plans they have for the future, as well as any worries that they have. They may be worried that they can't afford elder care, for example. Knowing what they're worried by may show you where to start looking for necessary information.
Share your concerns, and be sure to tell them why you'd like to have this talk with them. You could explain, for example, that if their health gets worse someone will need to make decisions for them. You could suggest that they give some thought to who they'd like to make these decisions if they weren't able to make them on their own.
Organize the Paperwork
One crucial step towards helping your friend or relative make good financial decisions is to work to get a clear picture of where they stand right now. This means working out what their assets and debts are, as well as where they keep their important paperwork so that you can get it organized.
Here are some things to suggest they do:
- Analyze their current finances and work out their debts and assets.
- List out their important documents and where they are, such as their birth certificate, marriage certificate, power of attorney, deeds, titles, bank account info, and more.
Store All Documents Securely: Be sure to teach them to keep their documents in a safe place, either a secure online file or a locked cabinet. Only the person who's managing their estate should be able to get to these files as necessary.
Plan for the Future
Nobody wants to think about possibly dying, or that they may not eventually be able to make decisions on their own. If the person you love dies without a will, or if they're unable to manage their own affairs, decisions could be made on their behalf that they wouldn't have wanted.
Be Sure they Have a Current Will
If the person you're helping doesn't have a will, they should set up an appointment with an attorney to write one. A will lays out what they'd like to happen to their assets, like money, property, vehicles, and more, after they die. It may also detail instructions for their funeral.
If they have a will that's out of date, it may be time to update it. If there have been major changes in their life, like the death of a partner, or any new children or grandchildren, the will should be updated.
Appoint a Power of Attorney - VERY important!
When you set someone up as a power of attorney, they will be giving that person the authority to look after their affairs after their death.
The three main types of power of attorney are:
General Power of Attorney: You select someone to make the legal and financial decisions for you, typically for a specific period of time. The power becomes invalid if you become unable to make decisions on your own.
Enduring Power of Attorney: You select a person to make legal and financial decisions for you if you are no longer able to make your own decisions.
Medical Power of Attorney: This individual can only make medical decisions if you become unable to do so on your own.
Encourage your loved one to think about who would be a good person to take these roles.
Encourage them to speak with their family about the process, as it may help avoid conflict down the road.
Think About Financial Advice
Professional financial advice can help your friend or family member to create a financial plan and set goals. Different types of advice are available for different situations.
You may also want to speak to the social service agencies in your area or ask at the local library for references to free or nonprofit financial companies that work with the elderly.