When Assuming Responsibility for a Loved One's Finances
September 1, 2022
There are a few telltale signs that your senior loved one cannot manage his or her own finances. In the best-case scenario, you are able to communicate this directly to your loved one and explain why it may be a good idea to appoint a trusted member of the family or a professional to step in and take the reins.
What may happen, however, is that you are met with resistance. Your loved one may believe that they are perfectly competent because they are able to live independently or manage other household tasks. Similarly, he or she may not enjoy the idea of you or another family member being able to access his or her money. Read through this guide to better understand how to approach your loved one in this situation and make a plan going forward that keeps everyone happy.
Whether you find yourself in this position now or in the future, the following will help you better understand your responsibilities and recognize your own needs as a family caregiver. Having the right set of skills and access to the range of support services available can help you fulfill this challenging and rewarding role.
How Do You Know It's Time to Step In?
Your loved one may show signs of cognitive decline when it comes to everyday tasks. These signs may be extremely concerning, such as letting mail build up for weeks to months without touching it, or it could be as simple as an older parent complaining of failing vision. If your senior loved one is making odd purchases that are draining his or her bank account, it's definitely time to have the difficult conversation.
According to Aging Care, it's a good idea to know certain financial information before this point in your senior loved one's life. If you don't, consider the following four steps when you're transferring the control of your senior loved one's finances to someone else:
1. Designate a Family Member or Trusted Friend as Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney can be thought of as the guardian of your loved one's financial situation, and, in some situations, can be in charge of making difficult medical and business decisions as well. This person should be trusted, unbiased, and able to make decisions that benefit your senior loved one.
2. Locate Financial Records, Mortgage Statements, and Bank Account Passwords
This step is especially important if your senior loved one has dementia or frequently forgets everyday information. Locate and store passwords, bank information, wills, and other documents that you may need. Discuss with your loved one his or her wishes for the future. This conversation may include living situations, nursing care, or funeral wishes, depending on how much you wish to cover.
3. Discuss Who Will Pay for Daily Expenses
Should you leave a certain amount of money in your senior loved one's bank account so that they can freely spend it as they wish, or are they not able to manage their daily expenses at all? If your loved one is moving to a retirement facility, or already lives in one, it may be a good idea to speak to the director to gain perspective. If you know your loved one is able to manage daily purchases, it may be a good idea to allow access to a checking account for this reason.
4. Sell Their Business
When it comes time to sell an aging loved one's business, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it is important to get an accurate valuation of the business. This can be done by hiring a professional appraiser or by conducting your own research. Once you have a clear idea of the business's value, you can begin to market it to potential buyers. You may want to hire a broker to help with this process, or you may choose to list the business for sale yourself. When marketing the business, be sure to highlight its strengths and potential opportunities for growth.
Many senior family members may see you taking control of their money as a threatening act, while others will agree that it is the responsible choice. Designate who will act as power of attorney, locate records, figure out how you’ll pay for expenses, and start the process of selling their business. How would you want your younger loved ones to approach you about handling your finances? Try to have the conversation with as much empathy as possible, and remember, you may one day be in this situation too.
Hal Salazar created Elders.Today to lend a helping hand to seniors via carefully curated resources. Hal is newly retired, and as he embarked on planning and preparing for his golden years, he realized there was a lot of information to keep up with so he started gathering it all on his website to help out his fellow seniors.