They're often the target for thieves
Protecting a Parent's Finances Who Is In Assisted Living
by Paige Estigarribia
When deciding whether a parent would be better in an assisted living facility, there are so many choices to make. What facility? How many personal items can they bring? Will they be happy? But one very important consideration is protecting a parent's finances when they are in assisted living. We sought out Carol Marak, editor at SeniorCare.com for suggestions protecting a parent's finances.
Q: What steps should adult children take in an effort to protect their parent's finances while in Assisted Living?
Ms. Marak: Stay alert to memory issues. This includes family members, physicians, and other trusted friends and professionals. Be alert to cognitive decline. Help them by simplifying their investment portfolio and financial accounts. Put into use a credit monitoring service and annual credit reports. Create a budget for your loved one and if necessary, set a limit on monthly spending.
Q: What is the best way to bring up the subject of finances with parents who will be in assisted living?
Ms. Marak: Be straightforward with your parents. Let them know why you bring up the issue. If you believe they will not share financial information with you, start telling them about your money. For instance, talk about how you plan your finances, where the finances are, your budget, etc. They, in turn, may feel comfortable enough to share their situation with you. You can't force them to open up immediately. Talking about finances requires trust. That's why the sooner you have the talk the better. It may take them some time to adjust.
Q: Are there specific ways that finances should be organized to make them easier to manage?
Ms. Marak: Put into use a credit monitoring service and annual credit reports. Create a budget for your loved one and, if necessary, set a limit on monthly spending. Keep an inventory of necessary financial accounts, passwords, and other legal information. Families should make sure that they know where to find important legal and financial documents at all times.
Q: Which family members should be involved with protecting finances?
Ms. Marak: Pick a family member who is good at record keeping and is a wizard in financial aspects to track the checkbook and online bill payments or hire a reliable, trustworthy financial professional. But before you do, you should get references and run a background check. Call the Better Business Bureau as well.
With the help of your parents (relatives), select someone who will make financial and health care decisions for them if they should become incapacitated.
Q: Are there things that adult children may forget to do when going through this process?
Ms. Marak: Since finances run wide and deep, it's not uncommon to miss a few things when helping a parent get organized. A few things that often get overlooked include joint accounts and information, insurance policies on home/car, health insurance policies, legal documents (especially locating them so they don't get lost in the shuffle of the move), and trust accounts. I am not a financial planner, but I do believe these get overlooked by adult children.
Moving a parent into assisted living can be a stressful time. Hopefully these tips will help as you determine how to manage your parent's finances during their new living arrangement.
Reviewed January 2018
Take the Next Step:
- Have an honest conversation with your parent about their finances. Emphasize that you want to protect them.
- Use these tips to help your aging parent organize must-have financial paperwork and information.
- Learn more about protecting your loved one from financial scams and ID theft while in assisted living.
- Use this tool to maximize your retirement by determining the best age to take your Social Security benefits. Don't leave thousands on the table by taking Social Security at the wrong time.
- Subscribe to After 50 Finances. You've learned how to work smarter, not harder. This weekly newsletter is dedicated to people just like you. Subscribers get a FREE copy of our After 50 Finances Pre-Retirement Checklist, a list of everything you need to do to be ready for retirement.
Carol Marak is an Aging Advocate, Producer of the Aging Matters Column, and Editor at Seniorcare.com. She's an experienced family caregiver and writes about aging issues, senior care concerns, and the family's role throughout the journey. She's earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from the University of CA, Davis. Her work appears in Huffington Post, Assisted Living Facilities, and senior health outlets. Follow at @Carebuzz and @SeniorCareQuest.
Paige Estigarribia is a writer for The Dollar Stretcher who enjoys writing about food, frugal living, and money-saving tips. Visit Paige on Google+.
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