When our parents get older, they sometimes need help paying the monthly bills and managing their savings. This “financial helper” is usually a family member who is more than happy to help. However, good intentions at the start, can lead to temptation down the line. So, here are three tips that if implemented, can go a long way to keeping everyone honest.
TIP #1: NO VOLUNTEERS
If Uncle Joe is coming by the house every Sunday afternoon to have dinner and balance Grandma’s books, that’s great. But make sure Uncle Joe is given the authority in a Power of Attorney to do whatever he is doing.
Uncle Joe may not know it now, but if family or friends every accuse ol’ Joe of financial shenanigans with Grandma’s money, he’ll be in a much better position to stay out of trouble, if 1) Uncle Joe is given legal authority to deal with Grandma’s finances on her behalf and 2) He follows the instructions contained in the legal document.
TIP #2: ONLINE BANKING IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE
Online banking is a tool to make things easier for an Agent to do the job at hand. But, if Uncle Joe is simply able to login to pay bills and move money around, how hard is it for someone else in the family OR outside of the family to do the same? Not very hard.
The way I see it, online banking is the kissing cousin of putting someone else’s name “on your account” so they can pay bills. It’s easy to set up, but it’s tough to clean-up, when things don’t go according to plan.
Yes to making things easy for your financial helper. After all, you don’t want this to turn into a burden. But don’t let “ease of use” choices, cloud Grandma’s thinking in how to keep her savings secure.
TIP #3: MAKE DISCLOSURE MANDATORY
Whenever a family member, like Uncle Joe, is managing someone else’s money, don’t make people have to beg and plead to find out what’s going on with the Grandma’s money.
Include a disclosure trigger provision in your planning document, so that transparency is a priority.
Now I know what you’re thinking, what if Uncle Joe will now have to deal with a black sheep family member, who excels at making other people miserable?
The answer is simple, Grandma needs to deal with that person in her legal planning. There is nuance involved in many planning decisions, and this is just another wrinkle to consider, with the ultimate goal of protecting Grandma during her life, Uncle Joe, and those who will ultimately inherit Grandma’s estate.
For more information about legal planning that is designed to enhance and strengthen family relationships, give our office a call to set up an appointment at 757-220-8554.