A survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education found that 70% of adults say they have difficulty talking to their families about who will make financial decisions for an aging family member who loses the ability to safely handle their money. This topic can be difficult for some family members to address but not doing so can create major problems down the road. If you are having trouble addressing these issues with a loved one, below is a list of questions that can help get the ball rolling. Also, if there is a financial/investment advisor or attorney involved, don’t hesitate to reach out to them - it’s part of their role as well (and hopefully they’ve already started to compile this information).
Who are all the important people?
• Create a contact list of all the people your parents are involved with. Including but not limited to: doctors, lawyers, accountant, financial advisor / broker, insurance agent, clergy and close friends.
Where are all the personal documents kept?
• Locate and make copies of all your parents’ important documents: wills, trust documents, social security card, tax returns etc. Also be sure to make a list of where everything is housed, including safe deposit boxes and passwords for online accounts. If you are concerned about the privacy of passwords for online accounts, there are plenty of ‘apps’ available that will help store them on your phone.
Who is the Power of Attorney?
• Hopefully they have named a power of attorney. Make sure to get of copy of this document. If not, they need to decide who they want to make financial decisions for them when they become incapacitated. It’s best to consult a Trust and Estate attorney for this matter.
Who is the Medical Power of Attorney?
• Similar to a ‘Power of Attorney,’ a ‘Medical Power of Attorney’ allows another individual to make decisions on their behalf. In this case, it allows another individual to make health related decisions for them. It also lists their medical wishes. If they do not have one, it’s best to consult a Trust and Estate attorney for this matter. Also make a list of medications they take, allergies, past surgeries etc.
What are the sources of income and debt?
• Make a list of all income sources such as pensions, social security, retirement and investment accounts. Then make a list of all their debt including mortgage, credit cards, medical bills, car loans, etc.
Where are the financial accounts?
• Make a list of where all their money is located – most notably the banks and investment firms they use. Be sure to include their contact at each one of these locations. Also make a list of all of their charge cards including contact information.
What kind of insurance do they have?
• Make a list of the insurance policies they have along with their policy numbers – long-term care, life, annuity, employer provided, home, car etc. Also, make sure to have a copy of their current health insurance card.
What are their other assets?
• If they have valuables such as art, collectibles, jewelry etc. make sure to take and keep an inventory list of these items. It’s also important that these items are stored and kept in a safe place. If there are multiple properties and vehicles involved, make sure you know where the deeds and titles are kept.
Although it is difficult for any of us to face the possibility of dependency or disability, not only of our aging parents but also ourselves, planning ahead is the best protection. Planning can help families avoid disagreements over care and finances and help alleviate the stress of making difficult choices in crisis situations.
www.TheElderPages.com is a great local resource for senior services. The website is run by G.R.A.P.E. (Greater Rochester Area Partnership for the Elderly) and they have gathered information about all of the local support services available for seniors and made them available in a single, easy-to-use source.
- Brian Valenti
Generation Capital Management (GCM) is an independent, SEC-Registered Investment Advisor located in Rochester, NY. Since 2003, we have provided value to our clients through a premium level of investment service and an unbiased, effective investment process. If you have questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact us at: (585) 232 – 8560. Generation Capital Management can help you meet your objectives today, tomorrow and for generations to come. We're ready to work for you.