Money and an aging population
Managing personal loans, mortgages and finances for aging parents can be difficult. For your entire childhood and young adulthood your parents managed their own finances. They made payments and grew investments on their own. Now they are aging and showing signs of needing help. Despite the difficulty of facing the responsibility of taking over for parents, it is necessary to be aware of their situation and know how to help.
Money management for aging parents
So what are the priorities when it comes to managing finances for aging parents? The biggest hurdle is to bring up the situation tactfully. Once that is done, then it’s time to get down to business and get everything in order. Here are some tips to handling money management for aging parents:
- Get the financial paperwork together. The first thing to do is get all paperwork together. You want to find out where your parents keep their wills, bank statements, investment paperwork and any other revenue documents. If they are scattered around, now is a good time to help parents organize and keep everything in one place.
- Organize other paperwork. You also want to have birth certificates, marriage certificates and general paperwork together. It should be kept in the right place for easy access in an emergency. This location should also include dissolution certificates, Social Security and military service records.
- Ask questions. A lot of parents make financial decisions without consulting their adult children. They could have investments and accounts that you have never heard about. For their own protection, it’s wise to at least know about the extra accounts and how to manage them if your parents can’t.
- Safety deposit boxes. Safety deposit boxes were more commonly used by older consumers than younger ones. It’s important to know where the keys are for access and to be listed as having approved access with the bank. Most banks won’t let someone with only the key into the box. You’ll have to be included on their list of approved visitors to gain access.
These are the first steps to gaining a handle on your parent’s finances.
Other issues to be aware of
Aging parents who are still capable of taking care of their finances may just need a little help, rather than a swooping takeover. For parents who are able to manage, their personal loans, mortgages, investments and day-to-day banking needs, there are some valuable questions to ask:
- Are they paying bills on time? If not, automatic bill pay can be a great way to avoid late fees.
- Are they using medications? Consider having medications delivered to the house so that parents don’t have to remember to go to the store and get them filled.
- Is their house safe? Do a walk-thru and make sure that carpets are bolted down for safety, handrails are installed and solid, and there are grab bars and nonslip shower strips.
- Check the perimeter of the house, too. Make sure the perimeter of the house is cleared of debris they may fall over. Make sure bushes are trimmed and out of the way and landscaping is clear and easy to maneuver through.
Planning for the future
It’s never easy to bring up the topic, but aging parents need to be prepared financially for the future. Talk to parents early and make sure there is a good amount of communication going on so that when you do have to step in, you’ll be prepared. Personal loans, mortgage loans, paperwork and investments can be difficult to manage if they aren’t organized. Take some time now to help aging parents streamline their finances now, so the future will be that much easier to manage.