Category: Helping elderly parents with finances

Estate Planning, caregiver fargo nd

A Digital Estate Plan Is Necessary for Caregivers to Manage Your Digital Assets

I thought my husband and I were doing a pretty good job with our estate planning UNTIL I read this AARP article, “Prepare a Digital Estate Plan for Future Caregivers.” Now I realize there’s a huge hole in what needs to be done before we die or become unable to manage our own affairs, and the executors of our estate and future caregivers suddenly need access to our digital assets and data! When my dad died about 4 years ago at age 97, he didn’t even own a computer. Anything digital relating to his life and estate was already on my computer, and as co-executor of his estate, I was already managing it. The power of attorney, the family trust, his will and his death certificate were all my brother and I needed to quickly settle his estate and distribute or dispose of his assets. However, my situation is very different. My husband has Alzheimer’s, and I am already handling all of our affairs. A lot of what our co-executors will need to know and have access to is on my computer. It not only needs passwords but, in some cases I’ve learned, specific legal permission to access. I’m in good health now, but at age 76, if I’m realistic, who knows how much longer my good health and brain power will last. If I don’t want to leave a big mess for our 5 children, I need to follow the advice about a Digital Estate Plan that I’m about to share with you. You can find most of the What-and-How-To you’ll need in the 5 articles I found valuable and listed below, but hopefully my summary contains the basics and will give you the motivation and direction needed to start filling your own digital hole, if you have one.

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Senior couple looking at their home

Downsizing the Family Home

I am 76 and my husband is 81. We’ve lived in our 4000 sq. ft., 6-bedroom home for almost 31 years. It was once also home to our 5 children, who were all thrilled to each have their own bedroom after growing up in a much smaller tract home in Massachusetts. However, since they were between 10 and 23 years old when we moved to Utah, they do not consider this home to be the “home I grew up in.” Whenever they return to Massachusetts for a visit, they drive by that home, and 2-3 of them have asked to go in and have a look around. We’ve already gotten through the downsizing that upset our kids. Although we feel nostalgic about our 20 years in Massachusetts and 16 years in that home, it’s this home that my husband and I will miss the most, if we ever have to downsize or move to assisted living. I’m probably already being unrealistic just by saying “if we ever have to.” We already pay to have our yard work done, and we’ve had help with basic housecleaning for years. I consider myself to be in excellent health, but my husband was diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s disease about 6 years ago. He’s still considered “early stage,” but it’s only a matter of time before we will need more help and/or a lot less to take care of. Do It Now! Nine months before my mother’s unexpected death, my parents moved from “the home I grew up in” to a large condo that held most of the possessions they really cared about. They did most of that downsizing themselves. Dad’s second downsizing took place when, after outliving a second wife, he moved into his third wife’s condo. She had a lot to say

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Caring for Elderly Loved Ones Who Don’t Live Near You

If you live an hour or more away from your aging loved one who needs help, you can probably consider yourself a long-distance caregiver. Even though distance makes it more difficult for you to participate in your loved one’s care, there are resources and tips that can help to make it easier. Even if there is a family member or other caregiver nearby, or your loved one lives in a care facility, there are many things you can do to provide emotional support and even help with care needs via the phone, email or during infrequent visits. What can I do? Too often, family members who live out-of-town assume there is nothing they can do to help, leaving a close-by caregiver to feel overburdened and alone. Because this person might not know what they could delegate to you, taking the initiative yourself and volunteering to do things you know you could do can be a big relief. For example, I have a not-so-nearby sister-in-law who volunteered to make regular visits to Dad in his assisted living apartment, assess his needs for personal products, favorite snacks, medical supplies, comfortable pants and other things she could shop for and bring to him. Not having to worry about whether or not he had enough incontinence products, as well as these other things on hand was a huge help to me. Here are some ideas to get you thinking about what you could do to help, even from a distance:  Ask How You Can Be Most Helpful Be sensitive to the feelings of any caregivers already on the job. Compliment them on what they are already doing, and then ask them and the care recipient how you can be most helpful. Talk to friends and neighbors who know your loved one to see if

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a stack of elderly parents' finances piling up

How to Manage an Elderly Parents’ Finances

You’ve noticed some telltale signs that your elderly parents are becoming less capable of managing their finances. They may be making mistakes or letting bills pile up. (See last month’s blog, “When to Take Over Finances for Elderly Parents.”) Now comes the biggest challenge—how to help them with money matters or talk them into letting you take over completely. The Best Approach for Your Family Talking about finances can be a touchy subject, and you may find it especially difficult getting the conversation started. Maybe your parents have been open with you about their finances, but maybe they’ve never shared anything about how much money is on hand, coming in or going out. Some ideas to help you get started might be: Share what you have done to get your finances in order. Then ask your parents if they have done similar things. Share a story you’ve heard or read that’s about what another elderly person has done, as things became more difficult for them to handle their finances alone. Ask what you can do to help them. Involve just a few family members. That can be less intimidating than a meeting with the whole family. You don’t want them to feel like you’re ganging up on them. Focus on how helping them will help you to worry less about them. Don’t focus primarily on their physical or mental decline. Make them part of an ongoing conversation. Let them give as much input as they can and make their feelings be known. Get an objective third party involved, like a religious leader, a family attorney or their financial planner. Preserve their dignity. Be aware of their need to be as independent as possible. Keep the conversation respectful and light-hearted. Ways to Transition Slowly If they haven’t already put regular bills,

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When to Take Over Finances for Elderly Parents

The National Council on Aging suggests that planning for the inevitable need to take over your parents’ finances should begin with a family meeting, ideally while they’re in their early 60s. Another watermark can be when they retire. Even if those years have passed, family caregivers should still be on the lookout for signs that “the time has come!” One thing is sure, you mustn’t let any awkwardness you feel prevent you from stepping in to assist, because if you don’t, others will, and they probably don’t have your parents’ best interests in mind. What You Need to Know Even if you currently have no worries about your parents’ physical or mental health, start to familiarize yourself with their finances. The sooner you integrate yourself into that element of their lives, the more comfortable they’ll be including you in important decisions, and the easier it will be to take full control when the time is right. It’s never too soon to gather the information you’ll need, so you will have it when your elderly parents can no longer take care of their finances. This is a list of 10 pretty standard things that all family members should know:  If they have named a durable power of attorney (POA) to manage their finances Where they keep their financial records and how you can access them Their bank account numbers and the names of their financial institutions What their monthly expenses are How they pay their bills: by check, auto pay, online banking, etc. What their annual income is, and where it comes from Who has permission to manage their Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security accounts Do they have medical health insurance in addition to Medicare Do they have long-term care insurance How to contact their accountant, financial planner or attorney Not

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