If your aging parents were to fall ill or otherwise rendered incapable of handling their own finances, would you be prepared to take the wheel? It’s a difficult subject to think about, and an even tougher discussion to have, but such a conversation should not be put off. It’s better to have the information you need should you suddenly find yourself in the position of managing someone else’s finances.
Here are ten questions you need to ask now to adequately prepare yourself for the time when mom and dad can no longer manage their finances alone.
This may be the first and most important question to ask if you anticipate being in charge of your parents’ finances in the future. Without a durable power of attorney in place, it will be much more difficult for you to access accounts and private information if they are suddenly unable provide you access.
If the location of important financial records is confidential, you will need access to this information sooner rather than later. Making sure that you are aware of these locations will save you trouble down the road should you need to access them unexpectedly.
In addition to being able to access financial records, you will also need access to all financial accounts. Are you aware of all bank accounts, account numbers, mortgages, and investment information? Now is the time to find out.
As the designated person handling these payments in the future, it’s important that you’re made aware of all monthly expenses so that no payments are left to fall behind. If bills are automatically paid each month, you need to know that too.
How much money is coming in each month to be used towards the aforementioned expenses? Look into your parents’ income so that you’re made aware of all pension money, investment information, or government assistance money.
The full extent of each parent’s health insurance, whether provided by an employer, government assistance program, or other source, should be made clear to you so that you’re not left muddling through paperwork if and when you are in charge of providing them with the best possible care.
Not all health insurance plans cover the cost of assisted living or similar long-term care options. Now is the time to help your parents navigate their options and set up a financial plan for any future long-term care that is needed.
If there is another person assisting your parents with their finances, you need to be made aware of this, and know how to contact and work with this person.
Whether your parents have chosen to specify the desired distribution of their assets in a will or wish to leave their life’s savings in a trust, you may be put in charge of tending to these specifics in the event that one or the other becomes suddenly ill or incapacitated.
Along the same line as above, it is important to discuss with your parents how they feel about end-of-life care. While these conversations may be sad or difficult to have, it’s better to have them now, when together you can sketch out a plan, than find yourself alone and unprepared in the face of an unexpected illness.