Handling finances for aging parents. What’s best?

Talking finances with your mom and dad.

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Posted on Tuesday November 26th, 2013

As your parents get older, they may face unforeseen financial problems or become overwhelmed by their financial responsibilities. We at Lutheran Life Villages—Northeast Indiana's premier provider of senior living options—believes it’s important to have honest discussions with them, be familiar with their finances, and offer help managing their finances as needed. Of course, for many, this is easier said than done.

Due to the sensitivity of the subject, most experts agree that the best time to start a conversation about finances with your parents is when they are relatively healthy, and living in their own home. By doing so now, you may be sparing yourself from some unwanted drama and financial headaches. 

Here are a few more things to consider as you initiate the conversation with your parents:

Consider your family dynamic.

You know your family better than anyone else, so you should think about whether or not it’s better to have a family meeting, or designate one or two siblings to start the discussion.

Ask your parents what they prefer to handle.

Your parents should always be a part of the process. Giving mom and dad the option to handle as much or as little of their financial responsibilities is a great way for them to help maintain their independence. 

However, if they keep forgetting to pay their bills or make several irrational purchases, you may want to have a family member follow up with them. In some cases, you may want to designate a sibling to be a bookkeeper. If so, you’ll also want to make sure the family member is added to the checking account.

Understand what’s being paid.

You should know exactly what bills your parents are paying to avoid overpayment or unnecessary payments. For example, dad may be paying a utility bill for a summer residence he seldom uses or no longer owns. 

Ensure all legal and financial documents are organized.

In the event of a family crisis, do you have access to your parent’s documents? Do you even know where they are located? Some basic information and documents you should be aware of include the following:

Listen to your parents.

The simplest way to act in the best interests of your parents is to carefully listen to what they have to say. You may not always agree with what they have to say or some of their financial decisions, but if they’re of sound mind, you should respect their wishes. Discussing finances is always a sensitive matter, and it’s easy to be perceived as overstepping your bounds.

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