Financial Care for Aging Family Members

Smart Solutions • September 2014

As your parents or other close family members get older, it's natural to start thinking about their healthcare needs. But it's just as important to consider their financial wellbeing.

While talking about money with your parents can feel uncomfortable for everyone involved, it's an important step to help ensure that your loved ones' financial assets stay protected — and are sufficient to cover their long-term needs. Here are some steps to help you through the discussion and the transition.

• Offer to assist with paying bills.
This can be a good place to start to get a sense of your loved one's expenses and budget. If your relative hesitates to hand over the reins at this point, you can both consider third-party money management programs that offer bill-paying services. You can find one by contacting your Agency on Aging.
• Consider a joint account.
This gives both you and your parent ownership of the funds and lets you directly manage your parent’s assets. To avoid any hard feelings, be sure you and your siblings agree on who should be the joint account holder.
• Consolidate to one bank.
Over a lifetime of managing money, many people wind up with accounts at multiple financial institutions. To simplify the complicated tasks of moving and closing the accounts after their passing, consider moving all accounts to one bank now, rather than later.
• Know where to find important documents and passwords.
Should your parent become unable to handle financial tasks either temporarily or permanently, you'll need to have access to this information, which may include estate plans, bank and investment statements, and passwords to protected bank or credit card accounts.
• Discuss long-term care.
Nearly one in five Americans have provided or are providing long-term care for someone.2 Unfortunately, these caregivers are often left paying additional expenses, causing financial hardships. Help your parent plan now so funds are available for this possibility. Options to consider include retirement savings, as well as long-term care insurance.
• Set up a living trust.
Living trusts ensure that your parent's assets are professionally managed now and after your loved one passes away, and that funds are transferred swiftly and privately to beneficiaries. If your parent should ever become mentally or physically disabled, then you, as the trustee, can step in quickly to handle all financial affairs, if properly authorized.
• Name a financial agent.
Just as a person can designate someone to make health care decisions on their behalf when they’re unable to, you can create a power of attorney to assign a financial agent who has the authority to make financial decisions on another person's behalf. This is especially important if your loved one has a progressive medical condition.

We're Here to Help

Your local Commerce Bank representative is ready to assist you and your loved one with this difficult, but important transition. Come talk with us about how we can help ensure financial security for your loved ones today and tomorrow.

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  1. "5 Tips for Discussing Money Matters With Family," by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, AARP, posted Nov. 18, 2013, accessed July 31, 2014
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