by: Jason Lewis
When people think of caregiving for aging relatives, they often picture themselves helping with day-to-day tasks such as cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, walking the loved one’s dog, taking them to the doctor, or even just spending time with them each day. While these are all important aspects of senior caregiving, many people often forget that managing your loved one’s finances is also a responsibility for many caregivers.
Whether you are new to handling your parent’s finances, or whether you’ve been doing it for years, it can feel confusing, stressful and even overwhelming at times. “Handling my mom's finances wouldn't be too difficult, I thought,” writes financial columnist, Cameron Huddleston, “Boy, was I wrong.” The pressure of managing her mother’s finances was more than Huddleston had expected.
If Huddleston, a financial columnist, still feels overwhelmed managing her parent’s money, what about the rest of us? How can we proceed with getting our loved one’s - and our own - finances in order this year? Luckily, there are a few time-tested techniques recommended by experts to help us get our money situations in order, while saving our own sanity.If you’ve recently taken over the finances for an aging parent, grandparent or other relative, it can be helpful to ask them some basic questions regarding their money spending habits and their current financial situation. Among the types of questions you should ask, it is important to know the names of financial institutions as well as all bank account and credit card numbers. Be sure to find out if your loved one has a durable Power of Attorney (POA); if not, you’ll need to go to court to become a legal guardian before you can proceed with managing their money.
Once you’ve completed the steps of getting POA or guardianship so that you can handle finances for your loved one(s), you might want to consider hiring a professional money manager. The best thing about these professionals is that they can help you not only with your loved one’s finances, but also with getting your own finances in order.
There are several different types of professionals you could hire. A few examples include:
From there, you can begin the task of managing both your own finances as well as the finances of your loved one. The same general rules will apply to both situations: you’ll want to collect and gradually pay down any outstanding debts, pay for any monthly bill or expenses, get property plans in order, and use leftover money to build a nest egg and save for the future. Document everything you do.
One last piece of advice to keep in mind: you’re just offering your help with certain areas of your loved one’s life, not trying to take over every aspect of his or her life. It can be tricky navigating all the various concerns that come up when you begin managing someone else’s money in addition to your own. Handling the situation with love, care, and respect will gently show your loved that you mean well and that they can trust you. That can make all the difference in the world when it comes to caring for your aging loved one.