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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ways To Help Your Aging Relative With Their Finances

Sometimes aging loved ones need a little help managing their money. Many times they don't need everything handled for them, but a little guidance or a review is helpful.

In my prior post, Help Your Aging Relatives With Their Finances, some of the warning signs of financial meltdown were discussed, along with the need to bring up the issue early. Here are some tips on how to help without taking over completely.

  • Set up direct deposits for Social Security, Pensions
  • Set up automatic billpay for recurring expenses
  • Minimize the number of accounts ***Do your parents have 15 CD's at 15 different banks? Do they have 5 different brokerage accounts? In my opinion, these accounts should be consolidated with a qualified, trusted advisor in the first place...but even if not, the number can be pared down to make it easier to keep track of what's happening with the money***
  • Set up regular meetings to review
  • Arrange for duplicate bank and bill statements to be sent to you so you can track income and spending
Do NOT add your name as joint owner on your parent's bank accounts or brokerage accounts to help them manage the money. Many times, mom may name the in-town child as the joint owner because the other three children live across the country and have a more difficult time going into the bank. This causes large problems at death, when the entire value of the account passed to the joint owner in-town child, and leaves out the other children or loved ones entirely.

Instead, consider the use of a Revocable Living Trust with the in-town child named as co-trustee. That way, the in-town child can deal with the bank, but the money will pass in the intended fashion (perhaps equally to all four children). Another alternative, a little more risky, is to give the in-town child power of attorney to deal with the finances. Either one, however, is better than adding a joint owner to the account.
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