By: Ian M Maddox, CRPS®

ENJOY (60+): The Planning Phase

The mental acuity necessary to do something as simple as balance a checkbook can fade with age.  Often children step in when issues arise with mom and dad’s finances only to discover a maze of documents, files, and accounts dating back to the 1960’s, or earlier.  This process is often emotionally and mentally taxing, so I will offer a few tips that might help you navigate.

First, Get Organized

Perhaps your previously organized parents have suddenly forgotten to pay a bill or seem confused about statements or documents they have received in the mail.  These signs suggest an adult child might need to take a more meaningful role in their parent’s financial affairs and sit down with them to discuss things such as where they bank, where they file statements and tax returns, do they have insurance, investments, pensions etc.?  The goal here is inventory and create an organizational system that you can understand.

Power of Attorney Is Powerful

Once you have a picture of your parent’s financial life, you can begin the work of transferring responsibilities.  The hard way to go about this is to have your parents on the phone each time you place a call in order for them to provide authorization for you to discuss their financial affairs.  The easy way is for your parents to give you Power of Attorney (POA).  This may not be an easy decision for your parents initially, but I can assure you it is worth it.  Once POA documents are in place, you can begin to operate autonomously, which might prove to be a significant stress reliever for the entire family.

Consider Team Building

Your parents may already have an attorney, financial advisor, accountant or other professionals that have provided guidance over the years.  Though there is likely a cost for their services, they might prove invaluable as you unravel your parent’s financial world.  Depending on specific elder care needs, you might even consider hiring a case worker.

Welcome to the Time Machine

The internet, smart phones, mobile applications, and synergy between them are now standard operating procedure for most people under 60 years of age.  But to those that experienced the Great Depression, or shortly thereafter, all of this cloud based computing and on-line banking may be foreign.  Your desire to bring mom and dad into the 21st century is noble and likely imperative.  Just be prepared to scan documents, create online-profiles, log-in credentials and shift from paper communication to electronic.

Make it Easier on Your Kids

This is a lot of work, but there are redeeming values to your effort, and it will ease the often difficult process of watching them age.  You may even gain a sense of peace in knowing that you are able to care for your parents in the same way they cared for you during childhood.  This exercise should also motivate you to remain organized for your own adult children and involve them earlier.   Yes, your children are independent adults with families of their own, but you can still do things to make their lives easier knowing they may eventually be in the same position you are now.

About Hitchcock Maddox Financial Partners (HMFP):

HMFP is a comprehensive and collaborative financial planning firm headquartered in Trussville, AL, serving clients and their community since 1999.  Collectively, HMFP advisors have provided guidance in the areas of Financial Planning, Investing, Retirement and Insurance for over 35 years. For more information please visit www.hmfp.us or call 205-201-1401.