3 Ways to Help Aging Parents With Their Finances
How to Help Elderly Parents With Finances
Helping your elderly parents with finances can be a tricky thing to do. It can be frustrating for you and can cause hurt or embarrassment for your parents. If you go about it with discretion and respect, though, you can streamline your parents’ finances and remove a lot of stress from your and their lives. By communicating properly, budgeting, and simplifying their affairs, you’ll be able to help your elderly parents with their finances. In the end, you and your parents might be come closer, and you'll both have a lot less to worry about.
Find out their sources of income.Sit down with your parents and ask them to list their sources of income. If they are unable to list their income, keep an eye on their mailbox and wait for checks to arrive. In addition, contact their bank to find out if they have recurring direct deposits into their accounts. Some sources of income might include:
- Social security.
- Retirement accounts that include stocks, CDs, and bonds.
- Real estate holdings.
List their expenses.After you’ve determined your parents’ income, you’ll need to list their expenses. You can also do this by sitting down with them and asking them to list expenses. However, if they can’t remember, you’ll have to wait on bills to arrive in the mail or for businesses to call them asking for payment. Some common expenses include:
- Cable and internet.
- Utilities like electricity, gas, and water.
Meet with professionals who manage their affairs.In addition to getting records from your parents and tracking them down yourself, you should also meet with any professionals who manage aspects of your parents’ affairs. This includes lawyers, accountants, management companies, insurance agents and brokers. They will likely have valuable information about your parents' finances you need.
- Don't be intimidated by professionals you may have to meet with. In most cases, they'll be happy to help you and your parents.
Cut expenses, if needed.Once you’ve gathered a list of their income and expenses, you’ll have a very good idea of what they can afford and what they can’t afford. When you have this information, start trimming expenses. This way, your parents’ income and savings will last them a lot longer than it would otherwise. Some things to cut include:
- Very large life insurance policies.
- Magazine and newspaper subscriptions.
- Charitable donations.
- Cars or homes that have been financed.
Raise money for your parents, if they need it.In the case that your parents don’t have the income to meet their expenses, you’ll have to raise money to help them. There are a variety of things you can do without reaching into your own savings account. Consider:
- Selling their home or getting them a reverse mortgage. A reverse mortgage is a loan that the borrower does not need to pay back until they sell the home.
- Auctioning cars and other valuable possessions. Your parents might have valuable artwork, a car collection, or a piece of land somewhere that could be sold. That money may be just enough to meet their expenses.
- Avoid taking loans or selling your parents' property before talking to them about it.
Find out if there are entitlements they are eligible for.In addition to identifying their current sources of income, you may be able to find entitlements or other sources of income for your elderly parents. To do this, check with your local, state/regional, or national governments. Don't worry, though, there are many resources available that will make this search easy.
- For people in the United States, visit to identify new sources of financial help for your parents.
Organizing Their Affairs
Get a power of attorney.A power of attorney will give you the legal right to act on your parents’ behalf in managing financial (and legal) aspects of their life. As a result, you’ll have the right to talk to your parents’ insurance companies, bank, pension administrators, and more. Without a power of attorney, you’ll have serious problems managing your parents’ finances.
Reduce the number of credit cards and checking accounts they have.Shut down all checking accounts and close all credit cards except for one or two. It will be very difficult for you to monitor their finances if they have many cards and accounts. Ultimately, it’ll be easier for you to follow one card and one checking account.
- Verify that accounts and cards you intend to close do not have automatic payments or direct deposits attached to them.
Set up automated payments.Contact all the businesses that your parents have regular or recurring payments with. Provide them with a credit card number or a bank account number from which they can draft money that they are owed.
- You may be able to do this through the business’s website.
Hire someone to manage their finances.If your parents’ finances are too complicated or their estate is too large for you to manage on your own, you may need to hire a third party to help you. In this event, a financial advisor, management company, or a law firm may be able to help you help your parents.
- Determine if you or your parents have enough money/income to employ a professional financial manager.
Get their tax information.Ask your parents for their prior income tax returns. If they can’t find them, ask their accountant. With their tax information, you’ll be able to file the current year’s taxes, consolidate loans, and much more.
- If you are unable to get tax information from your parents or their accountant, visit to get transcripts of prior years taxes. Remember, though, you’ll need to have a power of attorney to do so.
Have them write or update their will.One aspect of your parents’ finances that they might neglect is their will. Their will is important as it will allow their estate to be settled relatively easily if they pass away. While this will probably be a tough conversation for both of you, you should ask them to write a will.
Document everything you do.Keep good records of everything you do for your parents. This includes keeping copies of checks you write, holding onto receipts for things you pay for, and taking notes of complicated financial issues. If you don’t document things well, you could find yourself in a legal battle with a sibling later on.
Ask if they want help.Before you take matters into your own hands and try to take control of your parents’ finances, you should ask them if they want help. Depending on their personality and position, they may respond negatively or affirmatively. Whatever their response, you'll at least open up communication and let your parents know that you are thinking of them.
- If your parents are terminally ill or intellectually diminished, you may not need to ask them. Instead, talk to them and let them know you are going to try to organize their affairs.
Respect their wishes.Depending on your parents’ circumstances, you should respect their wishes as best as you can. If you disregard their wishes, you’ll probably alienate them and poison your relationship. By respecting their wishes, you’ll turn managing their finances into a positive experience.
Keep them involved.While you may be tempted to just take care of everything yourself, make sure that you keep your parents part of the discussion for a long as you can. This is important, as you don’t want them to ever be surprised about where they stand financially. In addition, if they stay active, they might fare better in terms of their health.
- Schedule monthly meetings with your parents to talk about their finances. At the very least, take some time to let them know where they stand.
What is the process to get my parents home out of her name
- Keep an eye out for signs of dementia; this is a signal to start taking great control of your parents' assets.
- If you are working with your parents' finances, be sure and keep siblings informed in writing. This will help alleviate any tension about financial matters when your parents pass away, as that sibling or those siblings will be aware of what the state of your parents' finances are.
Video: Helping Families Negotiate Aging Parents' Finances
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