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Power of attorney is one way to manage elderly parents finances

Many Americans are all too familiar with suddenly finding out that they must manage their aging parents' lives in addition to their own. The news rarely seems to come at a good time, often blindsiding adult children with an extra load of responsibility. To make matters worse, the parents themselves are often unprepared and haven't passed along important information like online account passwords and banking information.

One California woman reports finding total chaos when it came time to assume the financial obligations of her elderly mother. She found unpaid bills that were overdue for months as well as unopened mail. She also discovered her mother's credit card no longer worked. Like the younger woman in this story, New Jersey residents that suddenly face this unexpected problem often have no idea where to start when it comes to putting their elders' affairs in order and assuming their financial burdens.

According to a retirement coach with ING, adult children of elderly parents should find out if any legal documentation or instructions have been put into place. If not, it's not difficult to have a legally binding power of attorney executed in a single day. She also pointed out that adult children can gain limited access to parental bank accounts by visiting a bank branch with a parent. This is great for those whose parents can still function reasonably well.

Also, adult children have options when it comes to taking over the financial responsibilities of an aged parent that can no longer function. Seeking advice from directors of nursing homes and elder organizations can help, but it often takes the expertise of an attorney with estate planning skills to make sure the job is done right with all legal matters taken care of. In addition to attorneys, it's important to try and get support from family or close friends when it's time to be more of a guiding presence in the lives of aging or ill parents.

Source: First to Know, "How to Swoop in and Manage an Aging Parent’s Finances" Beth Pinsker, Mar. 25, 2014

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