When is it Time to Talk about Money?

Once upon a time your parent or parents fed, clothed and put a roof over your head but now they are aging and the tables make a natural turn.  For many families the time comes for the children to take over the finances of their parents.  It is a daunting task and a difficult subject to brooch when your parents may be losing so much of their independence.  Finances can be very personal, particularly for our parent’s generation. They have managed their money for a lifetime and it can be a touchy subject. 

There are certain red flags to look for when your gut tells you that you and your siblings should be stepping in concerning your loved ones finances.

  • Do they have a diminished capacity in the form of chronic illness, heart disease, diabetes, cancer
  • Have they lost their license?
  • Do they have memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer’s?
  • Have you noticed unopened mail?

To protect the financial security and future of your parents it may be time to have a sit down with your siblings and discuss next steps.  

  1. Tread with sensitivity.  If you can have this discussion when they are still healthy and can make plans for the future it will give them peace knowing the changes are not immediate.  If you are in more of a crisis situation and changes must take effect quickly reassure your parents and let them know what is happening.
  2. Find all financial accounts and documents.  With any luck they keep their information in a convenient place, if not you may have to do some detective work. 
  3. Collect and start paying the bills to keep their accounts in good standing.
  4. Establish a power of attorney. You will need this to make any financial decisions and to have access to your loved ones accounts.
  5. Document everything you do on your parent’s behalf. 

While this step is an awkward one remember that you are protecting the security of your loved one and helping to protect their financial future and safety.  It is a loving gesture.