Helping your aging parents manage their finances is hardly a challenge you are likely to welcome. Nevertheless, as our population ages, many caring Canadian children, themselves often in middle age, find themselves managing money for their parents. This is a problem that, typically, emerges by stealth.
Unopened mail. Sudden large cash withdrawals. Surprising changes to legal documents. These and other warning signs may point to problems but, more often than not, an aging parent’s difficulty managing their finances is less obvious.
The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada reports that over half a million seniors are currently living with some form of dementia, and that number is expected to rise to over 900,000 by 2031.
Here are five proactive steps you can take to help your parents manage their finances as they age. Great care should be taken to consult their existing financial advisor, should they have one, on the steps you are suggesting. A sensitively managed, coordinated approach is crucial in situations like this.
1. Consolidate accounts
If your parents have multiple bank and investment accounts, try to reduce the number of accounts and institutions. They will likely benefit from lower fees and a more integrated approach.
2. Review statements
If they’re comfortable sharing their financial details, your parents might be able to set you up to receive copies of their statements—again, with the assent of their existing financial advisor, should they have one.
3. Prepare a financial data organizer
Summarize accounts and advisors, details of any life insurance policies, locations of safety deposit boxes, and the whereabouts of important legal documents and account passwords.
4. Work with an experienced financial professional
Talk to the experts at your financial institution. They’re ready to discuss options that will enable your parents’ day-to-day banking needs to work transparently. And they can even set up partnerships with other professionals to help establish a power of attorney for property to ensure assets are protected when parents are no longer able to manage their own finances.
5. Review their estate plan
It’s important to ensure that wills, powers of attorney, personal directives and similar documents are up to date before it’s too late. Ask for advice on the necessary steps you can take on behalf of the elders in your life.
It’s best when you have everyone at the same table: wealth advisor, financial planner, trust services, and lending services. The magic happens when everyone works together to deliver elders the peace of mind that comes with making progress towards achieving the lifestyle and security they envision, across all life stages.