Once your parent has moved into a senior apartment, an important thing to do is help keep their assets secure and develop a plan for their future. Caring for your aging parent is no easy task, especially when their physical and cognitive abilities are declining. However, protecting their assets isn’t something you can just ignore. Seniors are particularly susceptible to fraud and mismanagement of their finances, so you need to step in and make important financial decisions for them. Here are some helpful guidelines to help secure your loved one’s assets, whether in an assisted living community or otherwise.
Educate Yourself on Scams Targeted at the Elderly
Telemarketing scams are particularly common among the elderly. You can add your parents to the national do not call registry, so they receive fewer telemarketing calls and help safeguard them from receiving fraud via phone calls.
Other common scams to which seniors are susceptible include lottery scams, electronic phishing, mortgage loan scams, insurance scams, and online dating scams.
When the elderly has experienced fraud, they may not realize it and feel embarrassed to talk about it. For those receiving memory care, they may also be unable to deal with it due to their cognitive issues like dementia.
The National Adult Protective Services Association also provides tips on what to watch out for. These can be indicators that your elderly parents require assistance in safeguarding their assets.
- Bills not paid even if they have enough money to do so
- Having trouble doing simple math operations or bank transactions
- Large or unexpected bank account withdrawals
- Entrusting unrecognizable contacts with the administration of their assets
- Unusual reasoning for financial issues
- Large gifts or expenditures of cash or possessions
- Notices of property liens or foreclosure
Have a Conversation with Them
It’s never an easy choice to take over the management of your elderly parents’ assets. However, the earlier you start having these discussions, the better.
It’s possible that your parents won’t want to give up any of their financial authority. The key is to proceed cautiously, form a partnership, and ask instead of demanding.
You may say things like:
- “I’d like to make sure that your desires are carried out if something were to happen to you. Do you have any documents or an informal will that could help me to do that?
- “I want to make sure that your cash and assets are managed properly going forward. Are you comfortable having a discussion on how I can help with this?”
Keep in mind that you are not required to immediately have access to all of the accounts. The idea is to strike up a discussion so that you are available to assist as needed.
Encourage Estate Planning
Encourage your parents to seek the advice of a reputable professional if they are entirely opposed to your involvement. A financial planner can help them examine their finances and create a plan for the future.
The best thing you can do to ensure that all of their assets are properly managed is to encourage them to draft an estate plan. A proper estate plan will include a durable power of attorney and a medical power of attorney, so you’ll be in a better position to help if they do end up as victims of fraud.