As our parents age, everyday tasks that were once a routine can become a challenge. This may include something as simple as bill paying or monitoring expenses. Today we'll discuss ways in which you can help your parents with their finances.
The first step is to start gathering the necessary paperwork. You need to be thorough and ensure you have all of the following available:
Checking, savings, and investment accounts
Bills of everything your parents are paying for
You need to know what your parents' expenses and cash flow looks like before you can begin to make recommendations or adjustments.
The more organized you are, the more efficient you can be. There are many ways to achieve this, but the key is to have something that is user-friendly both for you and your parents.
Spreadsheets and checklists are a good place to start. Having all the facts in one place in black and white is optimal. These spreadsheets can be as simple or as intricate as you'd like. The most important thing is that you have a place that easily displays the data that you want to compare and monitor.
Calendars are great visual tools that aid you in keeping track of the funds going in and out. Using large, write-in calendars are especially useful. Along with bill due dates, you can write in check or confirmation numbers as the bills are paid each month.
A higher-tech solution is to use smartphone apps designed to alert you when bills are due. They can send you reminders and help you assure payments are on time. Along with auto-pay options on most accounts these days, the apps can also pay bills for you.
The ideal solution to helping your parents with their finances is to just be there to offer assistance when your parents need it. In reality, you may need to take a larger role or even take their finances over completely. The goal is to protect their financial future and security.
To protect all of you, you may want to look into a legal solution regarding financial and legal matters. Having them sign a power of attorney with you as their agent will allow you to handle any issues that may arise.
Another option is to have them place their holdings into a trust with you as the trustee. Siblings or other family members may also need to be involved in decision making. In this case, both the power of attorney and trustee options can be expanded to include them.
While no one solution will fit every situation, the key is to get started. Even if your parents are now in complete control of their finances, preparing for the future will benefit all of you.