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3 Signs That Your Loved One May Need Help Managing Their Finances

Much has been said about the aging process.  It was the legendary actress Bette Davis who once said, ‘getting old ain’t for sissies’ and the Rolling Stones wrote a song “What a drag it is getting old”.  The facts are that every 8 seconds a baby boomer turns age 65 and that will continue until the year 2030.  Furthermore, the Alzheimer’s association reports that every 68 seconds (33 seconds by the year 2050) someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease.  Our aging society poses distinct financial planning challenges for families.  Here are the 3 common signs to look for that may indicate financial help is needed.

Inability to manage paperwork– this is often expressed by a frustration associated with receiving too much paperwork.  They feel overwhelmed with tasks that used to be routine such as balancing a checkbook or paying their bills monthly.  You may notice payment overdue notices or hearing them comment that they have misplaced paperwork or they never received the bill.  What to do – set up an email account for them to receive statements and other important documents.   Ask if you can assist them in organizing their files and paying their bills.  Talk with your loved one about setting up a limited power of attorney (POA) to manage their financial affairs.  Make sure this is done prior to any severe loss of cognitive impairment.  Give a copy to their financial adviser and other family members as appropriate.

Checks are being written to an excessive number of charities –   this is usually discovered when your loved one has asked for help writing checks.  It is not uncommon for a person having cognitive issues to write checks (particularly to questionable charities) after opening their mail.  They can easily confuse one favorite charity with another.  What to do – discuss what you found with your loved one.  Make a list for them of their favorite charities and list the most recent donation and date it was made.  Keep this handy for them to reference.  If that does not help, ask them if you can write their checks for them.

New Investments were made that they do not remember making – in this low interest rate environment, financial alternatives to bank instruments are being recommended by financial advisers.  Many can be complicated and not suitable for your loved one’s risk profile.  This is usually discovered by reviewing their statements or seeing the specific investment documents.  When asked for an explanation of what was purchased, your loved often does not remember purchasing the investment.  What to do – discuss with your loved one whether they would like your help with their investments.  Obtain the appropriate authorization (provide a copy of the POA) with their financial adviser or institution to discuss your loved one’s finances.  Explain to them that you are assisting your loved one with their finances and want to be consulted on any future recommendations.  Also, request that you receive duplicate statements through the mail or online.

The aging process can be a challenge for you and your loved one.  A person’s independence is often very difficult to relinquish even when there is a need for assistance.  It is important to have those conversations and put in place the necessary planning before your loved one is not able to legally make their own decisions.  An elder law attorney will help your family draft the appropriate documents and discuss the implications of the planning.

The author of this article, George S. Urist, MBA, CFP® is President and Owner of Urist Financial and Retirement Planning, Inc., located in East Syracuse, New York.   George Urist has been a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner and Registered Representative with LPL Financial for over 25 years.  George can be followed on twitter @gurist and can be reached at 315-445-2147 or at  Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC