Banking and Financial Steps to Take When Caring for an Aging Parent or Spouse

Written by , June 3, 2015

Banking and Financial Steps to Take When Caring for an Aging Parent or SpouseAs many of us are coming to realize, our time in the role of caregiver isn’t simply limited to the years in which we raise our children. We’re living longer lives, and that means that it’s more likely than ever that we’re going to be faced with the prospect of providing care to an aging parent or spouse. This care may extend beyond health-related assistance; you may also need to assist with banking and financial matters.

Providing assistance to help an aging parent or spouse manage their finances can be complicated.

Consider the following advice to help you navigate these matters efficiently and properly.

  • Keep Records of What You Do. Before you take any actions with another person’s finances, it’s important to understand that it’s essential to keep records of every step you might take on behalf of an aging parent’s or spouse’s finances. Every dollar of theirs that you spend on their behalf (paying bills, meeting other financial obligations, etc.) should be documented clearly in order to protect yourself against any claims that you’re using your position as a caregiver to benefit yourself financially.
  • Take Stock of the Financial Landscape. The first step in the process will be to identify all relevant financial and banking accounts that your aging parent or spouse may have. If they’ve kept good records in a single, easy to find, location then this step will likely be an easy one.
    • Otherwise, a great starting point can be that person’s most recent income tax return. On the various schedules of the return they will have listed all the accounts that either paid them interest or generated dividend or capital gains income over the prior year. This can be an invaluable tool for identifying many of the accounts that you may have to become responsible for.
      In addition, if the return lists a bookkeeper, attorney or other financial professional as the person who assisted with preparation of the return, then you may be able to contact that individual to learn more about your aging parent’s or spouse’s finances.
  • Think About When You Might Also Need Assistance. You may find all of this quite challenging. So if you ever require your children to help you with your finances, you can make the process go more smoothly for them by bringing in a financial professional to assist you. Again, be sure to document every step of this process, and the fees that you’ll need to pay for this help.
  • Remember Self-Care. Finally, while we’ve focused on the banking and financial steps you’ll need to take, don’t neglect to take care of yourself. Having to care for an aging spouse or parent can be very stressful, and if you don’t keep yourself in good health then you won’t be able to help the loved one in need.
  • Caring for an aging parent or spouse can deal you a number of challenges, particularly where you need to provide assistance in managing that person’s finances. Following the advice above can ease the process.

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