Tips for Managing a Loved One’s Finances
Even though tens of millions of adults take care of loved ones, not many identify as a caregiver. Caregivers usually tend to the needs of another person with limitations such as disability or illness. Besides looking out for the physical well-being of people with limited capabilities, caregivers also keep an eye on their finances. They have to make choices on behalf of the person they are caring for. That’s why we put this guide together for managing finances for a loved one.
Discussing finances is a personal matter, but it could also get complicated. That’s why the first step is to talk about it with transparent communication between you and the person you are caring for. Start by having a discussion with your loved one about proper planning. Discuss financial goals, and feel free to even share information about your own finances so you can get on the same page.
Clear the air about any financial concerns and ask as many questions as possible. It’s not easy for any individual to give up their independence. That’s why questions help. You can start finding what the other person wants, you could even pre-plan alternative solutions to financial management.
Now you know this isn’t going to be as simple as managing money in a retirement account. Once you establish a mutual comfortability with your loved one, find out everything you can about their financial situation. Here’s a list of components that may make up a person’s finances.
- Benefits: Retirement, Disability, Social Security, Pensions
- Assets: Cash (Checking/Savings Accounts), Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds
- Bank Information: Account Numbers, Brokerage Names, Billing Info (Address/Phone Number)
- Real Estate: Primary Home, Secondary Home, Investment Properties, Deeds, and other Information
- Liabilities: Loans, Mortgages, Credit Cards, Taxes, etc.
- Insurances: Home, Vehicle, Life, Health
It’s understandable when you’re giving care to a loved one and it may seem stressful at times. Especially when it takes time to care for another in between full-time jobs and your personal life. Something that could save you headaches is getting your legal documents in order. Having paperwork done ahead of time will prevent delays in the future when life adjustments and changes are made. Here are some legal documents typically involved with caregiving.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document giving one person the power to act for another. With an official power attorney document, you can make decisions in the best interest of the person you love. This includes finances, property, and medical care. The POA will allow you to seamlessly make financial decisions as a representative. You can buy or download a template document, but make sure it meets the requirements of your local area.
The living will is a document that legally maps out the wishes of an individual in the case that they become incapacitated. It may include health care matters such as life support options or procedures.
On the other hand, the last will include finances. If the person desires to divide up their estate between others to have, it’s done through the last will. The living will and last will are two different legal documents. Assets are distributed after death according to the will.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is a document that authorizes viewing of a person’s medical records. Medical institutions can share medical information regarding patients with authorized members (such as caregivers). It’s an easy document to complete and it’s accessible through the medical institution.
It’s always useful to contact professionals if you find that being a caregiver puts a strain on your life. It’s very challenging at times and if you need help, you need to know who to contact in the first place. Luckily, many professionals specialize in the caregiving process, so you don’t have to feel alone when the circumstances get complicated.
Elder Law Attorneys
Elder law attorneys are already proficient with estate planning, retirement planning, and long-term care planning. They typically quote you with a flat fee rather than an hourly rate since it’s more about a long-term professional relationship. They are well-connected with professionals in your area and handle all legal affairs for your loved one.
Money managers are professionals who handle financial portfolios for you on a regular basis. They give financial advice and perform day to day tasks with finances of your loved one. A money manager helps reach financial goals, form a budget, and could pay bills. Not to mention, they could monitor insurance claims, invest, and keep your loved one’s financial situation on track to success.
Geriatric Care Managers
Usually a licensed nurse or social worker, the geriatric care manager helps identify the needs of your loved one. Overall, they are resourceful and also workout a long-term care plan with you. It’s a great third-party option if you can’t be with your loved one every day. They make home visits, make arrangements, and address concerns.
Being a family caregiver is a challenging role and you’re likely still figuring it out as you go. Additionally, finances are a complex matter to handle for both yourself and the person you care for. It’s a sensitive conversation to have, but effective communication is the key to working together. Remember that there are legal steps you could take to make your life easier so you don’t have to jump through as many hoops. You can also seek out third-party help who specialize in caregiving situations if the burden is too much to handle.