Realising that a parent needs help coping with finances is hard, but your foresight, help and vigilance can keep your ageing mother or father safe, secure and provided for throughout the golden years. Tread carefully when talking about money, since asking for financial help is difficult for World War II-generation seniors used to looking after themselves. Keep your eyes open for red flags that signal financial trouble, prevent problems by planning ahead and act fast if you notice any serious financial issues.
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Visit your parent in person and look over financial statements and records. If talking about money or sharing financial information is hard for your parent, Laura Coffey, a writer for MSNBC, recommends bringing up the subject by telling a story about your own financial troubles. You could also talk about experiences your friends have had with their parents when it comes to money matters.
Hire a fee-only financial planner to design a long-range financial road map for your parent. Fee-only planners don't make commission by promoting certain investments and financial products, so they can focus solely on their clients' best interests. You can find one through the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors or a similar organisation.
Make sure that you have a durable power of attorney document in place. This document names a person to take over administration of your parent's finances if he can't handle the task himself. Kim Hubbard, formerly the interim director of an elder abuse prevention program at WISE Seniors, recommends naming a trusted friend, relative or accountant to review monthly bank statements and conduct an annual analysis of your parent's finances.
Get your parents' credit scores checked each year to look for anomalies. Seniors are especially vulnerable to schemes that aim to collect personal information and steal identities. Yearly checks give you a way to watch for suspicious activity. TransUnion, Equifax and Experian all offer free annual credit reports.
Consider getting your mother or father to sell their home and move to a smaller place. If money is tight and your parent finds the home hard to maintain, moving to something more senior-friendly can solve financial, cleaning and maintenance woes.
Look for grants from the National Council of Aging, especially if your parent has big expenses or you find surprise debts your parent can't afford to cover. BenefitsCheckUp can help you to find grants for which your parent qualifies.
A reverse mortgage can bring in more cash for people over the age of 62, but only consider this option if grants won't cover the bill, suggest both U.S. News and MSNBC.
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