A missed bill here, a forgotten statement there – these are the early signs that your parents might be needing extra assistance with their finances. But for many in this situation, the loss of control over money can be a hard pill to swallow and you might be met with resistance. Here we share five tips to mindfully guide your elders through this process.
1. Be open and honest
Like with any sensitive subject, it’s important that you’re open and honest with your parents about your concerns and their current financial state. Sit down and talk them through some ideas of how you can help, involving other family members and making it a group discussion where all parties have a say. Listen to your parents’ point of view and always stay respectful of their decisions, even if you don’t agree with them. Offer them honest advice and explain how handing over some of the responsibility can help them in the long run.
2. Go slowly
Taking things slowly is key when it comes to helping ageing parents, especially when it comes to money. For them, this is much more than just finances, it’s their independence, security and safety net too. Be patient and take things slowly, reassuring them along the way that you just want to help and not interfere with their life. Perhaps you could start to attend bank meetings and other important financial consultations, so you start to get an idea of their financial landscape.
3. Collect important documents
Collecting important documents like bank statements, insurance policies, wills, mortgages, pension records, safe deposit boxes and healthcare documents allows you to protect your parents in the case of an emergency. Keep the communication honest and always tell them where things are kept so they don’t feel like you’re sneaking around behind their back. For many elderly people, they worry that these documents will be used before they’re meant to, so reassurance is key throughout this whole process.
4. Get access to financial accounts
Getting access to your parents’ bank account requires forward planning, so if you’re worried about the deterioration of their mental state or overall health, perhaps it’s time to talk about having your name placed on their accounts. This will mean you have access to their money to pay bills, withdraw cash and manage finances on their behalf. Remember to always keep them in the loop of what’s going on and ask for their opinion where appropriate.
5. Prepare for the future
As difficult as the conversation can be, it’s important that you talk to your parents about their end-of-life paperwork. This includes wills, power of attorney, five wishes and advanced care directives, funeral pre-planning and much more. The conversation doesn’t need to be morbid, in fact, it has the opportunity to shed light on areas you might not have discussed before. So arrange a time for the whole family to sit down over dinner and open the floor to end-of-life discussions.