Are you worried about your parents as they age? Maybe you suspect they are becoming less capable of handling their finances independently?
You’ve possibly even thought about saying something to them but are worried about how they will respond. If so, you aren’t alone.
It’s a fine line to walk between helping your aging parents and being disrespectful. This is tricky for most people in the sandwich generation!
Here are some signs to look out for if you suspect your parents need help and how to prepare for a conversation.
Sign 1: They Forget To Pay Their Bills
When you visit your parents, do you notice any late payment notices in their mail? What about phone calls from collection companies? Have they mentioned any checks bouncing?
Everyone forgets things from time to time, but a pattern of missed payments may signify that your parents simply forget to pay their bills.
If your aging parents frequently forget to pay their bills and can’t keep up with their daily financial obligations, it may indicate a larger problem. This alone can justify having a conversation, or referring them to your financial planner, so that you can get them the help they need before things get worse.
If lapsed payments go on for too long, parents may go to collections and owe more money than they can afford as the late fees and penalties pile up for their small financial mistakes.
But how do you help? One way is to set up automated bill payments and organize a cash flow system. That way, they are taken care of even if they forget.
You can get help from a financial planner, but a child the parent trusts can also assist and may be less invasive. Pitch it as something to make their life easier, and it may not even be a stressful conversation.
Sign 2: Their Finances Aren’t Organized
Does it seem like your parents don’t have (and aren’t working toward) getting important documents in order? They likely need someone to intervene if they can’t access all of their accounts, don’t know where they are and don’t have an estate plan established.
It may be necessary to bring in a financial planner for a situation like this. A professional can help you to suss out where their money is located (what accounts are open and in their name), organize it, and devise a plan. This will likely also involve meeting with an estate planning attorney to outline the next steps, which the financial planner can coordinate. Getting organized can help your parents now and aid in a smooth wealth transition down the road.
Disorganization doesn’t just impact their money, either. Because medical directives or powers of attorney are often involved, it can also help to outline their medical or health decisions as they continue to age.
Another key “document” that some parents may or may not have is appropriate insurance coverage. You’ll uncover that on your journey to get everything organized.
Again, a professional can help to identify what needs there are. You may find they have coverage, but it isn’t the right kind or amount. They may have simply left old policies in force that they bought years ago, but their situation has changed. If so, it may also be time to update insurance coverage.
Sign 3: Your Parents Are Unable to Meet their Financial Obligations
This sign is a little different than the others. If your parents simply can’t meet their financial obligations, it’s important to make a plan to step in.
Maybe the issue is budgeting. If parents are spending more than they’re bringing in and can’t pay their bills or buy groceries, you must help. It may be time to meet with an outside party for assistance or guidance.
Accept that this will be an emotional event. No child wants to put their aging parents on a budget. It probably feels like an overstep, or your parents may become defensive. The simple reality is: something has to change.
Partnering with a professional to help them make necessary lifestyle changes can help deflect some of that emotional response. A professional will also be better positioned to help them with more technical aspects like how they access their retirement savings, social security, and/or pension.
The sooner you act, the quicker the problem will get fixed. Doing so will keep things from getting to a point where they can’t recover and help to ensure your parents continue to live comfortably.
Navigate The Process With Care and Intention
It doesn’t always feel great stepping in to help your parents with their finances. However, it may be exactly what they need, and your help can improve your parents’ financial lives.
Schedule a call if you’d like to talk to someone about your parent’s financial situation and get a second opinion about what may need to be done. We can help provide you with some clarity and direction.