Helping Elderly Loved Ones Prepare Their Will

No one likes thinking about the “what ifs” in life—and especially those that have to do with death. However, a will can be a huge help to the family when someone passes away, whether it is expected or unexpected. Helping an elderly family member prepare a will is an enormous job, but taking on this task can help them feel more secure and may make your future jobs easier too. Here are a few tips that can make the process a little easier, and perhaps help you broach the subject with your mom or dad.

Remember to Find State-Specific Information

Each state has different laws when it comes to wills and how they are handled. Make sure the information you are referencing is correct for your particular state so that you don’t wind up in a difficult legal situation in the future. It may surprise you, but a will that is entirely legal in one state could cause a long drawn out problem in another. A little research now could save time and effort later.

Consider Consulting an Expert

While saving money by doing it yourself is always a good thing, certain tasks are too big to accomplish on your own. If you get to a point that you think the job is too big to handle alone, don’t be afraid to contact a probate lawyer. It can be less expensive to have a professional will drawn up than you may think. Doing this can help make certain nothing is overlooked.

Online Tools Are Available

On the other hand, if the will that is being created is simple, creating it online may be a good option. There are a number of online tools that make the will-making process easier than trying to deal with all the details “by hand.” An online tool can often be a happy medium between trying to do it all by yourself and spending the money hiring a professional. Just make sure you are working with a program that is up to date and reputable. Also, don’t rely on a computer program as the “final copy.” Make sure you print out a paper copy and have it notarized, to make certain it will be accepted as a legal document when the time comes to reference it.

Don’t Cross Any Lines

While you want to help your mom, dad or other loved one by setting up a will, make sure you are not crossing any lines—or leaving the appearance of doing so. Because wills are such touchy matters, it may be best to get someone else involved in the process to make certain that nothing is being done that would make anyone feel uncomfortable. Taking a few extra steps can be well worth it to ensure everyone is happy with the results.

Document Everything

With anything involving finances and legal matters, it is vital that you take the time to record as much of the process as you can. By recording, videotaping, and putting in writing as much information as you can, you will protect everyone involved in the process. Documentation is always essential, and this is something that any professional will tell you if he or she is completing the process for you.

While it is not always easy to talk about wills or any wishes about what may happen after death, it is best to make plans so that all requests will be met. Be open about this subject and encourage your loved ones to do the same. It is important to keep the lines of communication about this subject open for everyone involved. Remember that a will can always be changed later, so it is best to get something written down today—just in case the unexpected occurs. The family will be very appreciative of the effort you make.

When Mom Can’t Balance The Checkbook

It can be hard for your parent to admit, but there likely will come a time when help is needed taking care of day-to-day tasks. There are many indicating signs mom or dad needs assistance. The key is spotting these signs so you can get your loved one assistance quickly and gracefully.

The ability, or lack of, to manage one’s finances is one red flag to pay attention to. In fact, studies have shown that up to 29 percent of seniors struggle with managing their money.

Have you noticed your loved one struggling with paying bills? Bigger problems might be at hand. We’ve put together a short guide on how to handle finances for seniors to help identify and deal with this important task.

Signs of Financial Troubles

Consider the following as signs that help may be needed.

Bounced Checks and Overspending

Is mom or dad writing checks they don’t have the funds to support? This is a sign of overspending. Not being able to keep up with balancing the checkbook is a serious problem, and one that needs to be caught and addressed quickly (but delicately.)

Frustration

Maybe your parent is keeping up with the finances—but just barely. Dealing with finances can be frustrating even when one’s capacity isn’t beginning to decline, so watch carefully for signs that indicate your parent is overwhelmed with the burden of keeping things balanced. Becoming frustrated with dealing with finances is a small sign, but an important one.

Inability to Adapt

Obviously, today’s banking and financial picture is much different from the way it was even a few years ago. While your mom doesn’t have to be computer-savvy, it is important that she be willing to adapt to a world that utilizes computers in banking. If not, you may need to step in and help. Remember to be patient. While common, today’s technology is still foreign to many seniors

How to Suggest Mom or Dad Needs Help With Finances

Noticing the signs that warn you that your parents may be struggling to keep up with their finances is the easy part.

Now that you have acknowledged the need to step in, how do you suggest a solution to your parent? You don’t want to make your parent feel helpless, but you want to help.

One option is offering to “streamline” finances by allowing you to help set up online payments. Sympathize with them about the frustration of monthly bills, and share with them the solution you’ve found in setting up automatic withdrawals.

Tips for Keeping Track of Your Loved One’s Finances

Once you have convinced your loved one that you need to help with balancing the checkbook and paying bills, how can you make sure you keep things in order?

Here are a few tips that may make the process easier.

Set Up Auto-Payments and Online Bill Pay

Automatic bill payment options are great solutions for many people. It eliminates late payments, but also alleviates the pressure of remembering to stay on top of everything.

Work Together

Don’t take over and leave mom or dad out of the equation. Let your parent cooperate with you to balance the checkbook and stay on top of things. Explain the options in simple terms, and let them make the final decision.

Keep it Separate

While it can be tempting to combine things in the name of “simplifying,” it will often create more of a mess. If you are taking care of your mother’s bills as well as your own, make sure you keep the payments and accounts separate. You will find it is easier to get things done, and faster when you need to find information when finances are maintained separately.

Consider an Accountant

Working with a professional may be a good solution, especially for complex financial situations. Rather than treating your parent as though you don’t feel that they are capable, treat the situation as though they have simply earned the luxury of letting someone else handle things for them. After all, it’s likely true!

Sometimes the little things, like struggling to balance a checkbook, can be indicators that it is time to consider a change. A senior care advisor can help you understand your situation, evaluate your options, and identify the best way to proceed. Perhaps it’s time to think about assisted living? Or maybe your mom or dad just requires some outside assistance.

Working with a complimentary advisor can help you discover the best solution for your family situation. If you would like to discuss your situation with a CareChoice expert, contact us online at ourcarechoice.com, or reach us by phone, (404) 402-1499, today.