Are you striving to help your aging mother and father retain their independence (and their financial security) for as long as possible? There comes the point in almost every person’s life where you need to help your parents with their finances and overall well-being. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to tell when it is the right time until it is too late.
The National Council on Aging suggests that this phase in life often occurs when your parents are in their early 60s. However, every person’s health is different, so you need to determine when the right time is for your family.
Our team at Marcia Campbell CPA has worked with many families over the years in business and have noticed some key indicators that your parents may need your help. We recommend you keep an eye on these 4 things to help you determine the right time to step in.
1. Recognize Subtle Changes
Often, the quickest way to tell whether your mother or father may need some support is by recognizing changes in their behavior. If you find they are continually forgetting where they left their keys, or you see their hands shake when they are writing, you should take a mental note. The more these signs arise, the more likely they may need some help soon.
2. Get to Know the People They Spend Time With
Fraud is becoming a more significant threat to the elder community — even if you think your parents are too sharp to fall for a scam. That’s because the scammers are getting more sophisticated each year! As of 2018, elder financial abuse and fraud costs unsuspecting seniors as much as $36.5 billion annually. Sadly, the people who usually take advantage of a senior’s generosity are friends and sometimes even caregivers. This is why we encourage you to spend time with the people who show genuine interest in your parents, and we encourage you to be observant in their behavior.
3. Help Them With Large Expenses and Home Repair
Elderly people tend to have saved for a rainy day and have the means to pay for necessities. Thieves prey on this. To ensure they don’t get scammed, we encourage you to make yourself available to help with home repairs and major purchases. Watch for inappropriate and excessive purchases such as health products, subscriptions, and any mention of an investment or charity they joined as these are the most popular scams right now.
4. Keep an Eye on their Mailbox
Every time you drop by your parents’ house, take a few minutes to check their mailbox and rummage through their mail. You will likely find sweepstakes, free vacations, and fake donations from scammers trying to lure your parents to spend money. It is essential that you remind your parents to not fall for these tricks. In general, we find that a huge indicator that your mother or father may be overwhelmed by their financial responsibilities is if you see big piles of unopened envelopes lying around the house. Some of these notices may state that they are late payment or final warnings.
When is the Right Time to Discuss Your Parents’ Finances?
If you find that your parents are neglecting any of these responsibilities, it may be time to have a conversation about their finances.
The first and most important thing for you to do is to help your parents appoint a financial power of attorney (POA) or a trustee of their trust before any big financial issues arise. A POA or trustee has the legal ability to manage your parents’ finances should they become incompetent. Without a POA named or trust document set up, you may need guardianship proceedings to get things done.
Secondly, encourage your mother and father to use a trustworthy professional for help with taxes and investments, especially if you don’t live nearby or have no experience in these areas. This will ensure that when it comes time to distribute finances that everything is in order and there are no surprise open payments.
Have More Questions?
Contact us if you have a specific situation you would like to discuss or if you would like to see if we can help your parents.