If you were to suddenly have to take over your parents’ finances, would you know what to do? Would you know where their money was, how to access it, or what you are legally allowed to do on their behalf? If a parent is to become ill, someone has to take over paying the bills, managing finances, and ultimately protecting interests. In most cases, family members are extremely unprepared for such responsibilities – and it leaves the entire family at risk.
It is better to have all of the information that you need well ahead of time. By preparing yourself, you can better handle the situation if it does occur.
Things to Know
- Do your parents have a durable power of attorney established? Your parents will need to have you named in a Durable Power of Attorney (POA). Without one in place, you will have to go to the courts and request a guardianship of your parents in order to manage their finances.
- Where are financial records kept? If you are going to handle your parent’s finances, you should know where they keep all financial records, and have access to them.
- What are the bank account numbers and names of the banking and financial institutions? This is critical. You need to know where their bank accounts are held, who holds their mortgage, and even what credit card companies they deal with.
- What are your parent’s monthly expenditures? You should know what deductions are coming from their checking and savings account on a monthly basis – including fixed costs and those that are automatically deducted each month (e.g., insurance premiums).
- How much of their annual income is earned and where does it come from? You need to know where your parents receive paychecks – whether it is from pension payouts or dividends from investments.
- Do your parents receive Social Security benefits or other federal/state benefits? If a parent becomes incapacitated, you will need to investigate if they are still eligible or can finally apply for such benefits.
- How do your parents pay their bills? Do they have everything deducted? Do they pay these things manually?
- What kind of health insurance do they have in addition to Medicare? You will want to find out what type of health insurance plans your parents have, especially if they have health benefits as part of their retirement.
- Do they have long-term care insurance? Regular health insurance does not cover the cost of assisted living or nursing home care. So, you will need to see if your parents have such coverage. If not, will they be able to afford to remain in their home?
- Do they have a financial planner or accountant? This is critical. Your parents may have already hired someone to manage their finances, and now you will need to contact them or see if there is an estate plan that dictates who will handle finances for them.
Having a Plan in Place Ahead of Time Includes Speaking to an Attorney
Whether you are creating your own estate plan or working with your parents to create a long-term care plan, you need to get all of the facts in place now. Speaking with an estate planning attorney can assist with this process – and ensure that no critical steps are bypassed. Contact an attorney today at Beller & Bustamante, P.L. to explore your options. Schedule your consult at 904-288-4414, or request an appointment online.