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A study published in the “Journal of the American Geriatrics Society” found that between ages 65 and 69, 23 percent of seniors needed help managing finances and by the time they were over 85, the rate rose to 69 percent. While you may suspect this is the case for your parent, you may also worry about putting them on the spot, especially if you aren’t sure. So, what can you do? Here are common signs and tips to start the conversation about managing your parent’s finances.
Signs It’s Time to Step In
Don’t be surprised if your parent doesn’t come to you if they start having trouble in managing their finances. One of the biggest fears for seniors is losing their independence and they may see asking for help with finances as the beginning of that loss. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t signs in which you can look for such as:
• Notices of insufficient funds
• Collection notices or creditors calling
• Unopened bills and/or bills piled up
• Sudden change in spending habits
• Signs your parent has been a victim of fraud
Starting the Conversation about Your Parents’ Finances
If you do believe your parent needs help managing their finances, it’s vital to approach the conversation in the right way. Think about how you would want the conversation to go if you were in their shoes. For them to be receptive make sure you’re respectful – they are your parent after all! And offer your help in a collaborative way, rather than trying to completely take over. Remember how important independence is to them. Conversation starters might include:
• A current event such as Medicare enrollment, an IRA distribution, etc.
• Sharing an experience that happened to a friend or neighbor.
• Being honest that you’d like to help with their finances to make sure they have the future they deserve.
Managing Your Parents’ Finances Going Forward
If and when your parent agrees to your help, you’ll need to know where things stand before you can move forward. Start by learning these things:
• The market value of their home and what they owe as well as home insurance policy details.
• If they still have a car; what’s owed and auto insurance details.
• The savings and investments in which they have.
• Their income such as a pension and/or Social Security.
• Their outstanding debts and/or monthly bills.
• Their medical insurance coverage such as whether they rely on Medicare, private health insurance and/or have a long-term care insurance policy.
• Whether or not they have life insurance as well as policy details.
• Estate planning details such as their will and power of attorney.
You’ll also need to know where documents related to the above information are stored and how you can access them if needed.
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