The number of retirees is on the rise. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau points out that, by 2030, there will be 81.2 million Americans over age 65, and many of them will need help taking care of themselves.
Caregiving is a big responsibility. One crucial role caregivers may take on involves managing a loved one’s finances. AARP states that acting as a money manager becomes especially important if a loved one begins having trouble keeping a checkbook or becomes confused about money. The Family Caregiver Alliance indicates millions of Americans are managing money or property for a family member or friend who is unable to pay bills or make financial decisions.
Juggling one’s own finances and the responsibilities of another person’s money can take its toll. Here are several ways to navigate these often tricky waters.
Discuss plans in advance. Have conversations even before an aging loved one needs caregiving. Talking through difficult topics when parents are healthy can simplify decisions later on.
Open a joint account. Joint back accounts make it easier for caregivers to manage loved ones’ money if the person becomes physically or mentally incapacitated. When necessary, you can step in as a money manager to pay bills, make deposits and withdrawals and monitor account balances.
Make legal fiduciary changes. AARP suggests drawing up legal documents to manage all financial accounts. A power of attorney is a legal document in which one person assigns another the power to make financial decisions on their behalf. This also protects family interests, so that another relative like a sibling, who may want his or her share of a loved one’s money, will not have access. Documenting fiduciary changes in the letter of the law can serve as a measure of protection against potential problems.
Put your priorities first. You may end up running yourself emotionally and financially ragged catering to a loved one’s needs. According to a 2015 study from the National Alliance for Caregiving, an estimated 43.4 million American adults provide unpaid care to an adult or child. Taking repeated time off of work or paying for loved ones’ needs out of your own pocket can take its financial toll. Do not take on unmanageable debt.
Ask for help. Speak with a financial advisor and/or elder care attorney about the best ways to manage a loved one’s money to ensure an aging parent or child will be provided for. Arranging assets in certain ways can make individuals eligible for certain benefits.