So, what can you do? Start asking some questions about bank accounts and if they are concerned about their money. Watch for signs of elder abuse or fraud…remind them about cybersecurity and fraudulent callers. Ask them to always check with you before giving out their social security number or bank account numbers.
In my experience working with families, it’s often when one parent passes away that they seek help. Often the remaining spouse is overwhelmed. You are already dealing with retitling assets, and reviewing statements after a death so it’s a good time to sit down with mom or dad and see if they are ready to share the details of their finances with you.
I encourage clients to come in with their adult child or children even if they haven’t turned over power of attorney to them. If you suspect that mom or dad might have some trouble managing their finances in the future, I like to lay the groundwork to build a relationship with both the parent and the adult children. That’s key to making your parents feel comfortable later, if they need to relinquish control or share more details, we’ve already opened the door to doing so. We can have a plan in place to address their needs and help you work with an estate planning attorney to get the proper documents in place.
Often the first step is to inventory the assets. It’s quite common for people to have multiple bank accounts and stocks still in certificate form or held electronically with the individual record keepers. Many times, the total net worth isn’t even really known until we sit down and do the work. Over the years, I’ve become a pretty good detective and can help you make sense of a pile of papers and come up with a cohesive plan. I am happy to work with your CPA and estate planning attorney or make referrals as needed.