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5 Tips for Managing a Loved One’s Finances


It's not always easy talking to our loved ones about their personal finances, and it can be even more difficult to help them realize that it may be time to turn the reins over to us or another caregiver. Avoiding the conversation, though, can lead to unnecessary stress and unwarranted headaches later on, and can leave our loved ones open to financial exploitation. So how do we start the conversation? And what should we say? Here are a few tips:

1.    Makes finances an open discussion

As difficult as it may seem, sometimes it’s best to just ask our loved ones directly about any issues they may be experiencing. Are they having any problems paying bills? How are they managing investments or rental properties? How are finances holding out? Are they having any problems paying for things? If any red flags pop up, we should resist the urge to immediately jump in and solve the problem, since our loved ones may see that as a threat to their independence. Instead, we can help our loved ones work it out for themselves, especially if it's a minor financial issue.

2.    Make difficult financial subjects more approachable

If we are anxious about bringing up financial topics directly, we can get the conversation going by:

  • Talking about our own finances 
  • Bringing up how frustrated we are with all the telemarketing calls we get
  • Coming up with a hypothetical situation addressing an area of concern
  • Sharing a story we read in the newspaper about older adult finances

Our loved ones may recognize the situations we bring up as being similar to their own, and may be more likely to discuss their concerns if they know they are not alone.


3.    Consider seeking Financial Power of Attorney

If it is clear that  a loved one is no longer able to make financial decisions on their own—for example, bills are not being paid, new magazine subscriptions are piling up and checks are being written to multiple charities our loved ones never gave to in the past—we might need to consider seeking a Financial Power of Attorney.

4.    Stay informed about our loved one’s financial assets

If we are handling a loved one's financial matters, we should make sure we are aware of all financial assets. This includes checking, savings and retirement accounts, but also may include:

  • Real estate 
  • Pensions and annuities
  • Stocks, bonds and investments
  • Life insurance and prepaid funeral policies
  • Jewelry or precious metals
  • Antiques and hobby-based collectibles that can be monetized

5.    Leave a paper trail

If we are writing checks from a loved one's account on their behalf, or managing any finances for them, we should leave a paper trail by keeping well-organized and well-documented records of all transactions.

A version of this article appeared in the Private Health News.

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