One of the most important things a caregiver or family member can do for their elderly loved one is to talk with them about the management of their finances. Managing finances can be confusing. By making sure their wishes are clear, you can avoid confusion and conflicts down the road with your loved one, with other family members, or even with the law. There are some laws that you, as a caregiver, must know before you broach the subject of financial organization, as well as tips that are important to follow when you do need to manage your loved one’s finances.
There are 10 important things you should already know or ask your loved one about their finances:
- Have they named a durable power of attorney to manage their finances?
The first step is to find out if they have named a Durable Power of Attorney (POA). It is vital to get power of attorney if you are going to manage your loved one’s finances to avoid conflicts with family members or the law down the road.
- Where do they keep their financial records?
Know where your loved one keeps their most important financial documents, whether it’s in a drawer, safety deposit box, or in a safe. Are there codes for the safe or lock box where they are located? Keys?
- What are their bank account numbers and names of their financial institutions?
Ask your loved one for their specific bank account numbers, passwords, and financial institution names. Do they have investments?
- What are your parent’s monthly expenses?
It’s important to know about bills, mortgages, any car payments, credit cards, etc.
- How do they pay their bills currently?
Learn how your loved one pays their bills—is it online? Through the mail? Are there automatic deductions taken from their checking account?
- How much is their annual income and where does it come from?
Know about any pension checks, money coming in from investments, disability, alimony, etc.
- Do they receive Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security?
Make sure you know if they are eligible for any of these government programs, or if they already receive assistance and from which programs.
- What kind of medical health insurance do they have in addition to Medicare?
If they need immediate medical assistance for a fall or an illness, you will need to know of any additional health insurance your loved one may have, in addition to Medicare.
- Do they have long-term care insurance?
Regular health insurance plans do not cover assisted living or a nursing home. What can they afford in terms of housing if they do not have long-term care insurance?
- Do they have an accountant or financial planner?
Get in touch with this person, if your loved one has one, and talk to them about their plans and any estate planning they have done in the past.
These may be difficult questions to ask an elderly loved one, especially if they are accustomed to living independently and dealing with their own finances. Before they lose their health or sound mind, you must discuss their wishes so that their finances are protected. By asking these questions, you will be on your way to organizing and managing your loved one’s finances successfully.