While it’s not always the most pleasant topic, discussing finances with aging family members is crucial. They may be fine now, but it’s possible that as the years pass, they’ll need help managing their money to keep up with expenses and bills.
Plus, the unfortunate reality is that people become more vulnerable as they age. Scammers may target their money and close family members have been known to go after cash if they think it’s easy to get.
Here are some ways you can help to protect your family:
Discuss a power of attorney
Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints another person to manage your affairs if you become unable to do so. If your aging parents or grandparents fear they are going to reach a point where they'll no longer be able to handle their finances, someone will need to do it for them. A Power of Attorney is a way to legalize this transfer of power and place their financial decision-making into the hands of another person.
Whoever signs the Power of Attorney should be trustworthy and responsible. Not only are they in charge of their own finances, they will now oversee someone else’s, too.
Communicate with your family
To ensure that the elder members’ assets are managed properly, talk to them about it (if they’re able). Get clarification on what they want done with their money.
It's also a good idea to involve other relevant family members and establish a plan together. Make sure everyone is on the same page to avoid disputes later on. Even after the initial plan is created, keep your aging family member in the loop as time goes on.
Watch for scams
Even if aging family members are in good health, they’re still at risk for elder scams. The elderly are popular targets by criminals who think they can take advantage of vulnerable individuals.
Help keep an eye on how they spend their money. Advise them not to give anything to strangers who may call, write, email, or text asking for help or demanding the repayment of a supposed debt.
Also remind aging family members to not provide any personal information to a stranger including Social Security number, date of birth, account numbers, PIN numbers, or bank account login information.
If you suspect fraud
If you believe your elderly family member may have been a victim of fraud, call us immediately so we can take steps to protect their accounts. You should also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and contact your local police department. As always, let us know if you have questions about this information. We are here to help.