As awkward life events go, discussing your aging loved ones’ finances ranks right up there with having the “birds and the bees” talk with your kids. Educating yourself about how to safeguard your loved ones’ economic security can ease this burden.
Matters that concern the heart and wallet can be complicated. There never seems to be a good time to broach the subject of a decline in health, and the inevitable consequences of it, even when everyone is happy and well.
Drawing upon her economic experience to tutor us is Denise Manecke, community liaison and personal assistant for Elder Advisers founder Larry Weiss. In addition, my old friend Kevin Boehnlein, a financial adviser with Edward Jones in Southern Indiana, contributes his insight on estate planning to the conversation. Boehnlein helps clients navigate investment opportunities and insurance decisions with his 11 years of experience. And with the introductions complete, let’s get down to discussing a topic few of us really want to discuss:
How to best handle our parents’ finances when they can no longer do it alone.
1. Something to talk about
“Having that conversation annually with Mom or Dad, or Mom and Dad having that conversation with the kids, is probably a good practice,” Boehnlein says. Although some of us might not know it, quite a few of our parents have been organizing their lives after retirement for years. It’s called estate preplanning, and it’s the best option for all those involved. “It’s not being morbid. It’s being practical,” Boehnlein says. “It’s being wise about the next phase of life.”
2. You’ve got the power
Alongside discussing financial imperatives, prospective caregivers should also talk about obtaining a power of attorney (POA) for their loved ones. This legal document gives authority to a person to make medical and financial decisions for an incapacitated individual. “If someone does not have power of attorney, you’re really opening a huge can of worms,” Manecke says. “That is a whole rabbit hole you do not want to go down if you can avoid it. That’s why pre planning is really your best bet.”
3. Following the paper trail
-Know your loved ones’ net worth, including income and any estate planning.
-Keep track of bills and expenses, and craft a budget if one is not in place.
-Procure a list of all bank accounts, stock and mutual funds, bond holdings, safety deposit boxes, insurance policies, and government or pension benefits.
-Discuss their will, including a living will and a health care proxy.
Not up for the search? Companies such as Elder Advisers that know where to look and who to call can help uncover unknown assets.
4. Insuring the future
Assisted living facilities or nursing homes might be something to consider. Enter long-term care insurance (LTCI), a type of insurance that can help cover the expense of nursing homes and other assisted living facilities. As with any insurance, a number of plans are available that range in benefits.
“Before things get too far along, long-term care insurance could be a good solution for some people to help mitigate the cost of providing for a loved one,” Boehnlein says.
What do you do to help your elder loved ones prepare for their future? Give us your tips here.
By Amanda Beam