Is it time to take over my care recipient’s finances?
Learn the warning signs that a loved one is having financial trouble and the steps you can take to begin managing their money.
Even if you've been caregiving for a long time, the transfer of power involved can often be very overwhelming. As you continue to take on more responsibilities for your care recipient, there are a wide range of tasks that might come up. One of them is taking over your care recipient’s money management and bill-paying tasks so they don’t fall behind in their payments, fall victim to fraudulent schemes, or lose financial security that they've already built up.
As you're observing their finances, here are a few red flags to look out for. They might signal that your loved one is overwhelmed by their current financial management responsibilities, and could use some help.
Warning Signs of Financial Trouble
- They struggle with paying their bills or balancing their checkbook.
- They’ve made several recent expensive purchases that they didn't plan for and can't afford.
- You notice unopened bills lying around.
- They receive calls from creditors.
- They take out multiple loans.
- They ask you or others to borrow money.
- They often misplace their cash.
If you come to the conclusion that your loved one needs assistance with money management, it’s best to familiarize yourself with their financial details. You might already know some details about their finances, but some might be new information. Shadow them while they execute their financial tasks and integrate yourself into their regular money processes. Doing will make you aware of the important decisions they’ll need to make in the near future.
Financial Information to Gather to Begin Managing a Loved One's Money
Here’s the information you want to try and gather:
- Their financial institutions, account numbers, balances, and online login details
- Total monthly expenses
- Total monthly income sources
- Where they keep their financial records and how they keep track of them
- The status of all of their bills
- Whether they work with an accountant or financial planner
- Whether they have retirement plans, investments, or other financial resources
If this isn't in place already, speak with your loved one about setting up a financial power of attorney so that you'll have the rights and access to do financial tasks for them in the future. It's important to have this conversation sooner rather than later — especially if you know that you might have to take full control one day. You don't want to wait until it's already time to take over, before you start broaching the conversation.
This might seem like something that's only needed for "rich people," but it can be very helpful for everybody. Without a power of attorney in place, it can be very hard for you to even do simple tasks on behalf of your care recipient, such as cashing a check or closing an account.
Once you take over the money management process, make a note of each transaction you make and provide them with a full record of them regularly for their peace of mind, as well as your own.
Just because assuming the financial management process for your loved one creates sizable change, it doesn’t have to create a stressful environment. A little bit of planning and conversation can go a long way here!
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