Last month, we posted a blog about things to do when visiting your elderly loved one this holiday. In case you missed it, here’s a link to it, Start Planning Now to Visit Your Elderly Loved One.
In that blog, we identified the need to review their finances and health insurance coverage. It may be difficult to address these items, especially if they have been private about their finances and health. Using the right words, tone, and timing can break those barriers and open the door to meaningful conversation.
Here are nine topics regarding money and health to discuss with your elderly loved one:
1- Contact List
Create a contact list to include banking institution, financial advisor, tax advisor, attorney, and healthcare professionals. If you live out of town, find out who is on their mobile phone as ICE (in case of emergency). Update this list at least once a year.
2- Online Account Access
Discuss where to find their user ids and passwords for online financial and healthcare accounts in case of an emergency. Review with them the importance of changing passwords.
Review all healthcare insurance policies for medical, dental, vision, and pharmaceuticals. Reach out to an independent Medicare agent to make sure they’re in the best plan, especially if your elderly parent travels, will be moving out of state, or needs an expensive surgery. Medicare annual enrollment period is October 15th through December 7th each year. Unfortunately, 87% of seniors don’t review their Medicare plans, costing them an average $600 annually.
Begin the conversation while they are healthy about recognizing frailty (deteriorating mental or physical health). If your elderly loved one suffers from frailty, sound judgment might be compromised in managing financial affairs and/or care for their home. A University of Michigan Study shows one-third of those aged 65 and older suffer from frailty.
5- Power of Attorney
Identify who would be given power of attorney which is either currently in force (durable power) or becomes effective only when they are no longer able to make decisions (springing power). You may want to schedule an appointment with their attorney for this discussion.
Review their regular bills to ensure they are taking advantage of senior discounts and are in the most appropriate plans. Use this information to calculate their spending and compare it to their income. Make sure they are not spending more than their income.
7- Beneficiaries and Will
Encourage them to review and update beneficiary information on life insurance and financial accounts. Also, encourage them to review their Will, especially if there is a change in health or marital status.
8- Direct Deposit
Set-up direct deposit for their Social Security check and other sources of income if they haven’t already done this task. In this way, there is less chance of their checks being stolen from their mailbox.
Discuss with your elderly loved one the reality of common fraud schemes targeted for seniors. Remind them if it’s too good to be true, then it’s probably fraud. Encourage them to reach out to you if they are skeptical.
Conversations about money and health can be uncomfortable. Try using a subtle opening to break barriers. For example, a family situation — “How is Aunt Debbie doing since Uncle Kevin unexpectedly passed away this year?”
You can also reference recent news — “Did you see the special report about increasing long-term care expenses?” You can even use your situation as an opening — “We need help with our will. Who did you use?”
Be patient – it may take several conversations to gather all the information. But it’s better to address these items now before there is a crisis.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include spending plan, financial plan, divorce financial review, life strategy, and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”