Did you know that 15 percent of Americans are now over the age of 65? In fact, 10,000 people turn 65 in the United States every single day. Our demographics are shifting and we will soon have more older adults in this country than ever before. The life expectancy in the state of Maryland, for example, is 79 years old and climbing higher every year. People are living longer and more active lives than any other point in history. This also means that more and more adult children find themselves dealing with new challenges that come with aging parents. And one of the questions we hear most often is, “How can I protect my elderly parents’ assets?”
How Can I Protect My Elderly Parents’ Assets
“Supporting aging parents brings a host of challenges,” says Kim Acosta, A Place for Mom. And one of the main challenges is learning how to help aging parents manage their finances and protect their assets. Here are a few ways adult children can make a difference.
Having the Difficult Conversation
No one wants to be the one to tell their parents that they need help. It can be an incredibly difficult conversation and one that is often met with pushback. In fact, a study at Penn State University found that 77 percent of adult children believe their parents are stubborn when it comes to taking advice or asking for help. Here are a few tips that may help.
- Start the conversation early when your parents may still be in good health. Discuss a financial plan and consider talking to an Elder Law attorney who can help you prepare for the future. Having these conversations early can help ease the burden on all parties involved. If you wait until your parents need more day-to-day assistance, you may find that you don’t “have the time or energy for these difficult conversations,” says Noah Bandt, A Place for Mom.
- Keep the conversation simple and about your parents. “Emphasize that you want what they want,” says Bandt. “You are simply there to help protect their assets and prevent elder financial abuse.”
- Allow your parents time to process the conversation. As we’ve already said, it can be a difficult conversation to have. “Caring for an aging parent is never easy,” says Sue Erskine, Seniors Helping Seniors. “Conflicts often arise as parents struggle to maintain independence.” After all, no one wants to admit that they one day may not be able to care for themselves. So, it is not uncommon for emotions to run high when having these types of conversations. “Give yourself and your parents time to process concerns and suggestions,” advises Bandt. “It may be helpful to have several meetings over several weeks to discuss needed steps.”
- A third party can be beneficial. “Conversations may go better if you include a neutral third party, such as an elder law attorney or financial advisor,” says Bandt. “These professionals can add another layer of protection for your parents’ assets, and they can validate your concerns and desire to get your parents help sooner rather than later.”
Help Manage Your Parents’ Money
As your parents begin to age, you may notice warning signs that they are struggling to handle their personal finances like they once did. While they may not have any issues with simple tasks – grocery shopping or paying for services – they may have a hard time with more complex tasks – filing taxes, balancing their budget, remembering to pay bills, etc. Here are a few warning signs to look out for.
- Notices of late bill payments begin to show up more frequently.
- Utility services are disconnected due to a failure to pay.
- Difficulty balancing their budget or money missing from their bank account.
- Unusual purchases at home.
- Frequent calls from the bank or bill collectors.
Forgetting to pay bills may be an early sign of dementia, according to a study in the 2020 Journal of American Medicine Association (JAMA).
Educate Your Parents About Scams
Did you know an estimated one in 20 older adults have suffered from a monetary scam or fraud, according to a 2014 study? Not only are the elderly are more likely to engage in risky financial behavior, but they are also less likely to report fraud for two reasons.
- Out of embarrassment
- For fear of losing their financial independence
“When protectors take over finances or lecture parents about their mistake, it plays right into the scammers’ hands by threatening the target’s independence,” says Anthony Pratkanis, a social psychologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and co-author of Weapons of Fraud. Instead, help educate your aging parents about the dangers of common financial scams.
Estate Planning is a Must
Did you know there is a special branch of estate planning specifically for people who are above the age of 55 years old, are disabled or have fallen ill? We’re talking about Elder Law. To a certain extent, aging adults have different legal needs than younger adults. Elder law combines elements of estate planning, long term care, asset protection, adult guardianship (conservatorship), trusts, probate, assisted living and nursing home care, and much more. Essentially, elder law planning is for anyone who needs help with planning related to growing older. The goal is to develop a comprehensive plan that preserves assets while also taking into consideration required medical services and personal care for the individual’s health and wellbeing.
Find an Experienced Elder Law Attorney – a Trusted Partner
If you’re still asking yourself, “How can I protect my elderly parents’ assets?” then you’ve come to the right place. PathFinder Law Group is a law firm in Towson, Maryland specializing in Elder Law Planning. Our team provides legal guidance that comes from the heart and our solutions are tailored to fit your individual needs. Our team can assist with all aspects of elder law and estate planning, including: Estate Planning Documents, Long-Term Planning, Retirement Planning, Assisted Living & Nursing Home Care, Asset Protection & Preservation, Guardianship, Last Will & Testament, Power of Attorney (to address financial control issues), Advance Medical Directive (to help with health care decisions), Medicaid & Medical Assistance, Trusts, and Probate.To contact PathFinder Law Group about your Elder Law Planning needs, please complete our Contact Us form, call (443) 579-4529 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to guide you through life’s milestones in a way that is compassionate and reassuring.