Valley Updates

3 Ways to Help an Elderly Relative Be Financially Secure

As the summer starts to wind down and the weather changes, one thing you can count on in New England is that the snowbirds will be heading back to warmer climates. So many retirees from the northeast leave the harsh cold trading the snow for the sun and sand. Although it can be an exciting time, it can also be concerning for the family members left in the cold to worry about their loved one.  If you have a parent, other relative or friend who lives alone and is getting older, one of the most caring things you can do is to open up the discussion about protecting his or her future financial security. Here are some ways to help:

1. Mention your own preparations for the unexpected: Saying something like, “You know, Bob and I have given each other a power of attorney in case either of us finds it difficult to handle money matters in the future. I would have extra peace of mind if I knew you had an arrangement like that, too.”

2. Don’t talk gloom and doom: Preparing for possible impairment is just part of planning for the future, like having a will or a health care proxy. Talking about these types of preparations can be uncomfortable and sad. Asking your loved one how they want to be helped in the event of something happening to them will open the lines of communication, show you care and that you want to carry out their wishes.

3. Suggest that your loved one meet with an attorney to discuss the best way to safeguard their money: One option is for your loved one to grant someone he or she trusts the power to make financial decisions on their behalf. A legal power of attorney or trust can be defined as narrowly or as broadly as they wish. It’s to be used only if needed, and it can be revoked by them at anytime. Everyone’s situation is different, and an attorney will be able to help them to make the necessary decisions.

Unfortunately, the risk of mental decline as we get older is real. Studies show, the average person’s ability to understand financial concepts and act appropriately goes slowly downhill after age 60. If no one has been designated to safeguard an incapacitated person’s financial interests, a judge may appoint a guardian to step in or worse they could be taken advantage of. 

So be brave—and have that conversation soon. Years from now, you don’t want to regret a missed opportunity to provide someone you love with the financial serenity they deserve in their retirement.

For information about how to help protect elders from various types of abuse and what to look for click here.