Helping our aging parents with their finances is a step that a majority of us may have to take at some point in our lives. It can be a stressful task to undertake, especially when it comes about suddenly. But there are ways you can make it more streamlined and easy on both you and your parents.
Being concerned about your parent’s finances is normal and even if they are independent now, it doesn’t mean they’ll always be. This week at Canada Life Insurance, we’ve created a what-to-do guide to helping your parents with their finances and financial decisions. No parent wants to burden their children with financial issues, but if you follow these steps both you and your parents won’t have a difficult time.
Start by Having a Discussion
It’s vital that you don’t put off the initial discussion you have with your parents. If you are concerned or simply want to start helping them out, approach your parents with sensitivity and care. Waiting to provide assistance to your mother and father can lead to hurried and emotional results after something serious happens. To avoid being confrontational, you can start the conversion by talking about your own finances and the plans you use to keep everything in order.
Older parents may feel uncomfortable and uneasy about this role reversal so try to keep the conversation casual and have it in an area they are familiar with. Finally, consider breaking down the initial discussion into shorter conversations. This will help avoid the feelings of unwanted intervention your parents may feel during a longer and all-encompassing discussion.
Gathering the Important Documents
After the discussion period, the next step is gathering and organizing your parent’s important financial documents. You don’t need to know every detailed piece of information, especially if your parents are uncomfortable with sharing, but you need to know about their crucial health and financial documents and where they are kept.
Your parents can help, if they are well enough, by mapping out and locating their financial accounts, safety deposit boxes, and financial professionals that may have helped them. After you receive all the information you need, check to make sure everything is up-to-date and organized properly. Finally, dedicate a filing cabinet or expanding file box as the place to keep all of their important documents at hand and keep it somewhere easily accessible.
Helping with Costs
After the initial stages of talking and organizing information, making payments more structured and easier for your parents is your next move. Set up auto bill payments to help make your parent’s costs more predictable. If your parents aren’t particularly tech-savvy, you can write down all of the steps needed to log into their account so they can easily access it themselves.
Call the companies your parents deal with and change the due dates of their bills so they are closer together. This restructuring will make monthly budgeting for bills and other expenses much easier on your parents.
Meeting with Professionals
Over the years your parents may have enlisted the help of accountants, financial planners, or other experts in the financial sector to help with their financial planning. If this is the case, ask your parents for contact information and get in touch with these professionals. Set up some meetings with them and establish relationships with these specialists so you can get a sense of whether they’re protecting your parent’s best interests.
Looking Out for Scams
Many con artists often target vulnerable senior citizens and loop them into scams that reveal sensitive financial information. Talk to your parents and make sure they understand that they should never give out their personal information to anyone making an unsolicited call.
Scammers will often call and impersonate family members, talk about a large “investment opportunity”, or even make vague legal threats in order to get your parents to give out their information. Financial institutions will typically reach out to them via mail if there is something that needs to be discussed regarding your parent’s financial accounts and investments.
Whether it be paying your parents bills or keeping records of your meetings with their advisors, make sure you have everything documented. If you pay a bill for your mother or father, keep a copy of the check you write and attach it to the statement you receive.
When out shopping, always ensure that you keep any detailed receipts of their purchases so they can be filed away and organized. Finally, always keep a record of any meetings with financial professionals so you can have any vital information they present to you at hand.