One sad but nearly inevitable fact of life is that our parents do become elderly and at some point may need assistance in managing their affairs. When they retire, hopefully they will have savings or a retirement plan, but many do not. If you or they decide that assisted living is necessary, you may wish to consult with an Elder Law lawyer about the issues this will present.
In any event, your elderly parents will still have bills to pay and you can help them out by following these 5 tips.
- Check Your Parents’ Finances. You may need to insist on this as parents usually do not want to admit to their adult children that they are having financial issues. In some cases, they may not fully comprehend their situation. Gather bank and all billing statements and go over their expenditures and payments. A budget may be needed.
- Automatic Bill Payments. Online banking provides a convenient method of paying bills on time without constantly having to be reminded. Social security payments can also be directly deposited.
- Add Your Name to Their Bank Accounts. This is a simple way of knowing what is in your parents’ bank accounts at any time. You and your parent will need to stop by the bank to sign some paperwork allowing you to be added to the account so you can deposit, withdraw and write checks on the account. If you have siblings, do this with their permission and acknowledgement to avoid disputes when your parents pass away. The funds that remain in these accounts on their passing automatically become yours so you may wish to have an agreement with your siblings regarding disbursement of the funds.
- Parents should sign a Durable Power of Attorney document. An Elder Law attorney can easily help you do this. A Durable Power of Attorney document will give you the authority to manage a parent’s legal and financial affairs including selling a home. Your Elder Law lawyer should advise you to contact any financial institution where your parent has an account to discuss the Durable Power of Attorney document with them.
- Establish a Trust. Setting up a trust not only can avoid the costs of having to go through probate when your parents pass away, it can allow you to have access to their funds once they become incapacitated and unable to manage their affairs. Legal fees vary greatly on setting up trusts so do your due diligence by researching Elderly Law attorneys who prepare trusts and estates documents or get a referral from a trusted source. Consider setting up the trust now before they become incapacitated since your parents will not be able to sign legal documents once they lose their mental capacity. Additionally, you may not be able to locate important financial and legal documents without their assistance. Any questions about how the trust operates can be answered by your Elder Law attorney.
Consult Patricia Bloom-McDonald, an Elder Law attorney
Patricia Bloom-McDonald is an Elder Law and Estate Planning attorney who has been representing the interests of the elderly in the greater Boston, South Shore, and South Eastern Massachusetts areas for years. Many issues arise when parents have to be relocated to nursing homes or when they are unable to manage their own affairs. Avoid potential problems, pitfalls, disputes with siblings and disastrous financial situations by setting up a free, confidential, initial consultation with Patricia Bloom-McDonald.