Taking over your parent’s finances can be a difficult thing emotionally for both you and your loved one. It symbolizes a major change in your relationship, one that acknowledges hard truths that neither of you may be ready for. When possible, take a more gradual approach, familiarizing yourself with your parent’s financial situation and collecting essential information over time, before the need is critical. That way, you and your parent will have a smoother transition.
Emergency situations can happen at any age, so even if your parents are doing just fine with their finances, you should still know where important financial documents and records are kept. They may not keep all of their financial information in one place. Your parents may have a filing cabinet, home safe or a desk drawer in which they keep things like vehicle titles, insurance information and bank statements, but have a safety deposit box for the deed to their home, investment related documents and retirement account information. You need to know where all of these are.
Make a note of monthly fixed payments, such as housing and vehicle payments. Find out how much and when they pay their utility bills, insurance payments and other household bills. Talk about credit card debt, prescription medication expenses and food costs. Ask about how they make their payments, whether they mail out checks, pay online or have authorized any automatic withdrawals for paying bills. These aren’t things you want to figure out in the midst of a crisis situation.
This is important, especially if you expect to consider senior citizen assisted living in OKC at some point. Having a clear understanding of your parent’s monthly income is important for future planning. There may come a time when you need to weigh the costs involved in helping your parent to age in place with home health care against more cost-efficient options, such as affordable assisted living facilities in the Oklahoma City area.
These are unpleasant but necessary conversations. Encourage your parents to make sure their estate planning is complete and up to date, reflecting their current wishes. Discuss under what circumstances they think it would be wise to consider establishing a durable power of attorney. If you believe the time to do that is now, take care to approach the topic as respectfully and compassionately as possible. It can take a little time for a parent to adjust to the idea.
If you are worried about how your parents are managing their finances, offer to help them before fully taking over. Help them organize their bills and financial papers. Encourage them to set up automatic payments to make things easier. Teach them how to use budget apps or software to track their spending. Doing these things will help you get more familiar with their finances without stepping on their toes. Also, you’ll stand a better chance of knowing exactly when it’s time to take over your parent’s finances.
Contact us to learn more about what you need to know about your parent’s finances and why it is important to have these conversations.