Age takes a toll even on healthy adults. Seniors, especially those suffering from cognitive decline, may lose their ability to not only care for themselves but responsibly manage their own money. While offering to monitor a parent’s financial needs and expenditures might seem an intimidating prospect, it could be a practical necessity.  Managing your parent's finances

Deciding When a Parent Needs Help

Even if you do not live in the same city as your parents, you can still try to determine their needs by considering their:

  • Physical ailments. Some older adults are of sound mind but struggle to perform the routine physical tasks needed to maintain their finances. For example, an elder with arthritis might not be able to easily write checks or use the electronic tools needed to oversee their financial accounts.
  • Problems with financial decisions. Seniors may be able to pay their bills but can no longer make financial decisions on their own. If your parent is struggling to control their spending or has fallen prey to common scams, they might need your help preserving their savings.
  • Cognitive limitations. Cognitive decline is frightening for older adults as well as their children because it often means a senior can’t live independently. Missed utility payments, unpaid bills, and late rent could all be warning signs of a parent who can no longer manage their finances.

How Estate Planning Can Help You Protect Your Parents

Protecting your parent from cognitive decline and exploitation does not have to be adversarial. You could consider:

  • Setting up automatic payments to ensure your loved one meets their financial obligations
  • Talking to your parent about a living will, which gives them the authority to delegate a health care agent and make decisions about medical treatment—in their own words and on their own terms
  • Establishing the financial power of attorney to perform routine financial transactions on your parent’s behalf
  • Asking to be named as a government fiduciary, allowing you to receive and spend your parent’s Social Security or veterans benefits for their betterment
  • Having a conversation about a trust and how it could help your parent know their money is being used exclusively for their needs

Offering a parent financial assistance can be difficult—especially if they believe they are still capable of managing their own money. An attorney could help you and your parent create a practical estate plan that accommodates a parent’s needs without depriving them of their sense of independence.


Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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