Will You Have to Manage Mom's Money?

How to plan for peace of mind. 

The moment you realize you need to take over your parent’s finances is always challenging.

Especially if a stroke or bad fall has left mom unable to act on her own behalf. Or cognitive decline has affected dad’s judgement to the point that his decisions are threatening his financial security.

But if your parent hasn’t signed a Power of Attorney (POA) giving you the legal authority to manage their financial affairs, there is only so much you can do. 

And there’s a lot you can’t do — like access bank and brokerage accounts, sell investments and property to raise cash, pay bills, deal with credit card companies, and sign tax returns.

A financial POA authorizes you to act on your parent’s behalf if they become incapacitated. Without this document, it can take months of aggravation and attorney fees to take legal control of mom or dad’s finances. 

That’s why the best time to start talking with mom and dad about putting a financial POA in place is before they need help. 

Ideally, your parent will designate a financial POA as part of a comprehensive estate planning process guided by an experienced attorney

But if dad would rather have a root canal than talk about estate planning, fear not. A team of aging experts has created a free online and downloadable toolkit that can help.

It’s called the Thinking Ahead Roadmap: A guide for keeping your money safe as you age

The Roadmap is an easy way to educate yourself and your parent about the need for advanced financial planning and how to do it using a thoughtful, collaborative process. 

The magic of this approach is it puts your parent in control of a self-paced strategy that helps them choose a financial advocate, build trust and confidence, and know when it’s time to transfer control under a POA.

The Roadmap also helps them avoid common mistakes, such as making their financial advocate a joint owner on bank accounts or reflexively choosing their oldest child or closest relative as their POA.

Need a conversation starter? Introduce the Roadmap as a tool that you are using for your own financial and estate planning. 

No one really wants to talk about the day when mom or dad might need help managing their finances. But waiting until it’s absolutely necessary is a mistake. 

Because things change. And your parent may not have the capacity to have that conversation when that day comes.

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Thanks for caring,

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