Does Your Parent Need Help With Finances? Start Here
Caring for an aging parent is a common challenge for Baby Boomers, and now even for Gen-X’ers and Millennials. Stepping in to help manage your parent or both parents’ finances, without eroding their sense of independence and privacy, can be tricky.
Many aging parents are reluctant to ask their children for help with their finances. It means a loss of control, a trading of places from them taking care of you to you taking care of them, and can signify a loss of power that feels too frightening for them. Nevertheless, you may be wondering what you can do when your parents start needing your help.
A pile of unpaid bills, threatening calls from creditors or repeated instances of credit card fraud or financial scams are good indicators that your parent needs help managing his or her finances.
Financial caregiving is easiest when you already have a plan in place. You may be in a good position to make educated decisions about their finances, but without the proper information and legal authority, your options are limited.
If your parent needs help, the first step is to make sure you know what they have, where it is, and how you can access it, if necessary. Next, you want to make sure you know what bills are due, when they are due and that they are being paid on time. Unless you have the legal authority to manage your parents’ finances, you will need their help in getting access to their accounts and setting up auto-bill pay for them.
When you are ready, the first place to start is with a heart to heart conversation about whether your parent is ready for help and what that help could look like. Then, if your parent is ready for help, you can ask him or her (or them) to legally designate you as either the Trustee of their trust or as their agent under a financial power of attorney, if they do not have a trust. Additionally, be sure you are also designated as his or her health care surrogate, so you can make important care-giving decisions for your parents if they cannot.
If your parent needs or wants help with finances, he or she may also need help with health care or the management of their estate. You can address these issues by working with Kira Doyle, who will help you develop an estate plan that considers your parent’s best interests. We will work with you and your family to ensure you have the authority required to help your parent with his or her finances. Please contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Kira Doyle Law, located in St. Petersburg, Florida, at (727) 537-6818.