Managing your personal finances is a headache of its own, much less taking over your parents. But often the time comes and the earlier you can prepare, the better.
I encourage you to remember that this is a time of loss for your parents. Put yourself in their shoes and try to imagine having to hand over your finances, car keys, friends, even your home.
To make this experience easier on all parties, we’ve written a list of five questions to start with when it comes to taking over your aging parent’s finances.
1) Do they have durable power of attorney?
This is the first step you need to take to take over your parent’s finances. A Durable Power of Attorney gives the appointed person legal power over their finances so that you will be able to access their accounts on their behalf.
For some families, making a financial advisor or a third party, the durable power of attorney may be a good option.
Note the word durable in power of attornery, because just a power of attorney is not enough. The main difference to remember between power of attorney and durable power of attorney is that a durable power of attorney will allow you to still speak on behalf of your person even if they are incapacitated mentally or physically.
2) Do they have an accountant, financial planner, or elder care representative?
If so, this is the person you need to speak to first, as they will likely have a better idea of what’s what.
3) Where are the financial records located?
If you’re lucky, there may be a safety deposit box or a filing cabinet that holds the majority of the bills and financial records. But many times, we’re not so lucky. Be sure to check kitchen or office drawers where bills may have been shoved away and forgotten.
4) What is their bank account information?
Do you need a code to get into the safety deposit box? What banks do they use? What credit cards do they use? What is their bank account information, passwords, logins?
5) What and how are they paying their bills?
What monthly and annual bills need to be covered? Are automatic deposits being drawn? Do you need to begin sending checks anywhere?