Protecting your aging parents' money: practical points

If you're the adult child of aging parents, you can protect them against scammers, age-related accounting issues or confusion regarding wills and estates. The generation gap often keeps people from these conversations, but avoiding them can lead to regret down the road. Here are some points for making it easier to help your parents with their finances.

Protecting your aging parents' money: practical points

Scam awareness and avoidance

As unthinkable as it may seem to most people, many professional con artists target the elderly.

These scammers may pose as bill collectors, telemarketers, online business opportunities, financial advisers or legal authorities.

They'll promise a huge return on a small investment, demand payment for nonexistent debts, and/or threaten to repossess items or freeze financial assets. A frightened senior may be coerced into signing a deceptive document or handing over a bank account number which can lead to huge losses.

So what can you do to protect your parents from these scammers?

Make your parents aware of the ever-present threat from these unscrupulous individuals.

You can also look for signs that a scam is in progress, including mysterious signatures on checks, sudden large bank withdrawals or changes involving power of attorney and other major legal transitions.

Age-related errors

It is a fact that a significant number of seniors will develop age-related dementia from hardening of the arteries, Alzheimer's disease or other disorders.

As a result of this condition, Important bills may go unpaid because the senior forgot to send or even write the cheque.

If you see lots of past-due notices or unmailed cheques with old dates on them at your parents' home, you may be looking at early signs of age-related mental confusion.

To help your parents with this problem, you may be able to help them sign up for automated payments with some of their providers. Or you can offer to make runs to the post office for them as a short-term solution.

Will and estate discussions

Adult children of aging parents are frequently as hesitant to ask about their parents' financial status as the parents are to disclose it.

While talking about money can be extraordinarily awkward, at some point you simply have to do it.

Here's a way to ease yourself into the conversation: work on your own will and estate planning. If you do so, then you'll have a natural opportunity to bring up the subject when you're with your parents.

Helping your parents hang onto their money is a great way to show that you care. Keep these points in mind to help you help your parents.

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