How To Handle a Senior Loved One’s Finances
It typically happens slowly: you start to notice your mom isn’t remembering to pay her bills on time, or you see your dad having trouble signing checks due to his arthritis.
Before long, though, it’s clear that your senior loved one needs help managing their finances. Read on to find out signs to recognize and how you can provide support.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Unfortunately, too many people fail to recognize a senior loved one’s decline until it starts to cause issues. If you begin to notice any of the following signs, it may be time to sit down with your senior loved one to bring your concerns about their finances to their attention:
- Cluttered, disorganized, or dirty home
- Confusion and uncertainty when performing regular tasks
- Inability to explain or recall unusual purchases
- Falling victim to fraud or financial scams
- Struggling to complete or manage financial documents
- Unopened mail or unpaid bills piling up
If you do recognize these signs, use this opportunity to have a conversation about estate planning before it’s too late. Document their wishes and consult a qualified estate planner to ensure the senior’s final requests are honored.
HOW TO HELP
The first step to helping manage a senior loved one’s finances is talking about their finances. Have them provide you with their financial documents, such as bank statements, taxes, and receipts, then review those documents to find any irregularities or errors. Use personal finance apps, such as Mint or Simplifi, to easily track your loved one’s finances.
As your loved one continues to age, they’ll probably need more extensive help with their finances. Talk with them about giving you power of attorney authorization. With a power of attorney, you can make decisions on their behalf regarding their finances, including managing bank accounts, signing checks, and selling property.
PUTTING THEIR HOME ON THE MARKET
Sometimes, your senior loved one needs more care than you can provide, and the best choice is to move them to a senior living community. Making this happen may require you to sell their home if they’re currently living independently. If your loved one is incapacitated, this process is overseen by a court. Hire a real estate agent to facilitate the sale and research the current market to estimate how much you’ll get for the sale of the property. If your area is currently in a buyer’s market, you may want to consider waiting a few months before selling the home.
SELLING A BUSINESS
If your loved one owns a business, you need to think about selling it if they can no longer fulfill their obligations. Not only will this free them of the responsibilities, but it can also free up money to be used for their care.
Use the services of a commercial appraiser to determine the value of the business. The appraisal should be inclusive of every aspect of the business, including assets, inventory, the physical building, and any other associated real estate or property.
PROMOTE FINANCIAL PEACE
Not being able to manage their own finances any longer is scary for many seniors. By equipping yourself with the knowledge to recognize what’s happening and how you can help, you can bring a sense of peace and security to your senior loved one as they age. Look for signs of decline, manage their finances, help them sell their home and business, and find them suitable and safe living accommodations.
The Sechelt Seniors Activity Centre provides activities and services to seniors that promote companionship and stimulation and offer them opportunities to interact socially.
Call 604.885.3513 to learn more.