Just as it is important to be concerned about the health and safety of the aging members of your family, it is equally as important to be concerned about their finances. Making a financial plan that anticipates serious situations will protect and enhance their future.
Follow these suggestions for helping your loved ones create a sound financial plan:
- With their help, make a list of all your parents’ assets, including savings, real estate and investments. Also list their debts, including loans, mortgages and credit card payments.
- Discuss their goals and priorities. Do they want to put aside money for children and grandchildren? Do they want disposable income for enjoyment such as travel or a retirement home?
- Calculate their income from social security, pensions, retirement accounts and investments. Figure out their monthly expenses, including rent or mortgage payments, food, utilities, home maintenance, property taxes, clothing, all insurance premiums, medical bills and prescriptions, auto maintenance and entertainment.
- Determine how much of their income goes toward their monthly expenses and how long this income will last. Then calculate whether assets need to be cashed in or sold so that your parents will fare well financially.
- Make sure your parents’ insurance is adequate and that they are not paying for policies that are redundant.
- With their help, create automatic payments from your parents’ bank accounts for mortgage payments, insurance premiums and all bills including credit cards so payments are current and policies don't lapse.
- Create automatic deposits for Social Security and pension checks so all monies are deposited in the proper accounts.
- If your parents don’t have an accountant, seek free help on tax issues from various volunteer programs offered by the IRS, such as Tax Counseling for the Elderly and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. Call your local IRS office or IRS information: 800.829.1040.
- If you think you need professional help, consult a financial advisor. Get recommendations from other professionals in the field and meet with each one to determine which is best suited to handle your parents' affairs. Remember, you or your parents must have final approval on any plan.
Help your parents follow through on cost-cutting, money-saving measures that will make their future more secure. Review their financial situation at least once every six months.