During the holidays, whether traveling or staying in Cincinnati, you will spend time with family and you may notice changes in your parents’ behavior and health. You may also come to the realization that you soon will be dealing with the challenges of caring for aging parents, which means helping them plan for the future by discussing topics that can be intimidating to everyone involved. Here are two ways you can help your aging parents with future planning.
DISCUSS FINANCIAL PLANNING
The topics of aging, retirement, and end-of-life affairs are tough conversations, but ones you want to have sooner rather than later. It is best to have these discussions while everyone is healthy and sharp so that you hear directly from Mom and Dad. That way, you will be able to act on their behalf if anything happens, and you can implement a plan that protects not only them and their assets, but also you and yours.
The reality is that retirement costs are often much higher than people anticipate and can affect the quality of retirement years. Depending on what your parents have done to prepare for retirement, they may need to drastically rethink some key pieces— Social Security strategies, health care cost management, debt service, estate planning—the list goes on. Together, you have to look at all of these things and make the right full-scale plan that considers what happens if they live longer than expected.
Financial planning for your parents
Making sure that your parents won't outlive their money is a critical step in ensuring that your own finances will remain sound. In particular, you'll need to make sure that your parent is receiving all the benefits to which he or she is entitled, and that his or her money is invested wisely.
Financial planning for you
Besides caring for your parents, you have financial obligations for your own family. If it turns out that your parents need financial assistance from you, look at your own financial picture before determining the best way to help your parents. Consider your own expenses and look down the road a few years to see how much you'll need to save for your own retirement and other expenses, such as your child's education.
DISCUSS LEGAL PLANNING
There are a few steps your family can take to get your aging parents’ affairs in order:
1. Gather information:
- User names and passwords
- Bank accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Proof of ownership (for example, a car or boat title and registration)
- Marriage license
- Insurance policies
- Personal financial statements (including any outstanding debts owed)
Keep information in a secure location that’s easily accessible (a safety deposit box or safe) and known to a few trusted family members. (Don’t forget to share any keys or passwords needed to access the information!) Letting people know where things are prevents a scramble later when decisions must be made quickly.
2. Prepare legal documents
It is vital that your parents prepare key legal documents while they are physically and mentally able. These include documents that plan for end-of-life care and that protect their estate. Without these documents, families may accumulate significant costs while navigating the courts, and family relationships can become turbulent if disagreements arise regarding care for loved ones. Preparing key documents in advance is a gift to your family.
Documents you need to create and/or update:
- Will: You will need to appoint an executor.
- Trusts: Trusts are great tools for minimizing estate taxes. You will need to name a trustee.
- Advanced directives: These include a living will and durable power of attorney for health care.
- Durable power of attorney for finances: You will need to name a legal authority to manage the assets.
Naming an executor or power of attorney can be difficult. It is best to name someone who lives nearby and has the time and the patience to deal with these issues.
These are all areas in which the financial planners at HCM can assist you. There are many complexities inherent in managing the affairs of your aging parents, and the team at HCM can provide advice that you and your parents can trust.
Content in this article is not intended to be financial advice. Instead, we think of it as educational, and financial education is important to us. Retirement and financial planning services at the Cincinnati firm Hengehold Capital Management.