Sunday, April 6, 2008

Eldercare: Auditing Documents

In the Wall Street Journal this morning, I came across a column by a personal finance person who was describing his personal experience trying to help his mother, grandmother and great aunt manage their finances.

A couple of useful thoughts caught my attention...

First, in the case of his grandmother and great aunt who live together, they had been paying for several years on a policy they thought would pay off the mortgage on their home should one or the other die. Unfortunately, it was an accidental death policy, not the instrument they thought they had. Basically, they had been paying, out of their already meager income, money for a policy they didn't need.

Note to Self #1:
It's a good idea to look over your parents documents periodically to make sure they are what you think they are and will accomplish the goals you're aiming for. Even things as simple as making sure the correct beneficiaries are in place can save major headaches...or heartaches. I tend to think of my parents as adults, and am hesitant to 'butt into' their business. But as complicated as everything is nowadays, it pays to have the courage to cover all the bases.

Note to Self #2:
You can only do so much for your parents. They are still ultimately responsible for their decisions (this is assuming they are still in good health and mind). You can advise, support, and suggest, but they will make the decisions they make. The columnist described one success he had with persuading his mother not to give away to a friend a small financial windfall she'd received. She had great need of that money herself.

He had less success persuading her not make changes in where her money lived. He was worried about it for her sake, but realized that he had done all he could on that point.

It's difficult in that in between stage where parents are still capable of making their own decisions but don't make the decisions WE would make if we were in their shoes.

For some good tips on how to have these kinds of conversations with your parent, check this article out: 26 Things You Should Know about Caring For Aged Parents

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