Families come in all shapes and sizes and so does the care that needs to be provided to keep family members as healthy and safe as possible. That caregiving regularly goes beyond physical care and often includes taking on financial responsibility, especially with aging parents. At Kincern, we call this financial caregiving. Generally, there are four stages of financial caregiving at the later stages of life. We have outlined them below:
1. Steady Steady!
Mom and/or dad are living independently and managing everything just fine. They are paying their bills on time and have a good handle on their financial matters. And frankly, many parents just don’t want their adult children meddling in their financial picture. Ideally, mom and/or dad would use Kincern for themselves and begin to link and load essential information. We have found that many in this “traditional” generation are reticent about doing banking online or storing things in the cloud. They like their paper statements and checkbook ledgers. Take a moment to have a conversation about THEIR wishes and respect them. The most important thing you can do right now is to be respectful and patient. When the time is right, the trust you’ve built and the love they have for you will allow delicate conversations about financial matters to open or expand.
2. Helping Out/Needing Assistance
Often, we see when someone becomes a widow/widower, they are more inclined to share with the next generation. They still may want to do things on their own and their way, but they recognize that when they pass, they need the next generation to be informed. Recently, my mom said, “I don’t want to bank online, but I’d like to make sure you have all the important estate information on hand.” I suggested that we load it into the “cloud” together. With my guidance, she allowed me to use Kincern for some of her essential information. She understands that when she needs help, I will move most of everything online. During this time period, establishing a durable financial Power of Attorney (POA) sets you and your loved one up for success.
3. Direct Involvement/Management
When a loved one no longer has the mental acuity to manage their administrative affairs themselves, hopefully, you or a trusted loved one has legal POA to take over. Many financial institutions require their own version of the POA, and some banks still insist you come into a branch to set it up. Obviously, it is best if this was taken care of beforehand, but this is not always the case. The financial caregiver should gain online access to accounts through a POA and begin to link accounts so monitoring can happen. The best bet is to reach out to the financial institution to understand their POA policies and practices.
4. End-of-life/After Care – the Tough Stuff!
Such a fragile and emotional time for you and your loved ones, you may not be thinking straight, and you want to be there supporting your family, not searching for essential information. As my stepdad slipped into a coma in his final days after a five-year battle with cancer, my mom was distracted with all the paperwork that needed to be completed for his hospice care. If Kincern was in place, she would have been able to access it all from her cell phone and spend more time with him in his final days. Additionally, most estates take over 500 hours and 18 months to close. Until the estate is closed, one can fall victim to identity theft. So, it is not the case that the financial and administrative work goes away when someone passes away. In some cases, the work is just getting started.
The main point is to respect where your loved one is on their journey. Proactive planning and organizing are best when all parties are aligned on how to do it. This is their information, and you should respect their opinion. I like the approach of getting your own financial and administrative affairs organized first. You can use Kincern and then share what you are doing with mom and/or dad. Your actions may spur them on – or at least be a conversation starter.