Whether your parents are in good health or have already been diagnosed with an illness or health concern, having an idea of what is going on with their finances is a crucial step you need to make. Effectively managing their finances is one of the key ways you can help take care of your parents as they age. This is a period in their lives during which they will face added expenses, particularly if they are in ill-health. As you begin to take over your parents’ finances, you need to understand how to protect their retirement savings, and these key tips can help.
Managing Someone Else’s Finances
No matter how finance savvy you are, managing someone else’s finances is not the same as managing your own. Often times when you begin working with your parents’ finances, you don’t actually have all of the information that you need, especially if one of your parents is affected with memory problems. The fact that you are facing somewhat of a “role reversal” in that you are being the responsible one in the family is also somewhat complication of the issue. In any case, though, you are helping them and you need to understand how best to help.
Key Steps for Protecting Your Parents’ Retirement Savings
1. Create a Dialog
While it may be difficult to speak with your parent about money issues, this is the only way you’ll be able to get all of the information you need. You can build a “common ground” with your parent by sharing your situation with them, explaining you have taken the time to meet with a financial planner and lawyer to make a plan for your finances and family in the even your health fails or you were in an accident. This dialog will help you open up a line of communication to determine where their important paperwork is as well as a list of their incomes and other financial documents.
2. Secure Power of Attorney
To be able to access your parents’ finances, you need to have legal power of attorney. Work with you parents and a legal representative to establish a durable power of attorney that takes effect immediately.
3. Create a Spending Plan
Work with your parents to establish a budget and identify what investments they have already made with their retirement savings. Be sure to build in additional savings, so when the time comes they will have money set aside for costs for living arrangements and other necessary expenses. You may even want to consider making some life changes with them, such as moving them into this senior living community, where they will be able to budget more easily and be checked on regularly.
4. Simplify Investment Portfolio and Financial Accounts
To secure your parents’ retirement savings, be sure to simplify their savings and investment portfolio and accounts. If it is currently highly diversified, consider consolidating some of the accounts or stocks, so it is easier to manage.
You may be uncomfortable taking over your parents’ financial accounts initially; however, this is an effective way you can help care for your parents and protect their retirement savings. Begin by communicating with them and maintain an open line of communication, and you’ll be able to protect them the way that they have always protected you.