The best free financial advice for people in their golden years is making sure your financial affairs are in order.
Financial health check-ups are important for senior citizens as annual physicals. When you hire a caretaker to help your loved one, make sure finances are properly managed.
As family members become senior citizens and need a caretaker, it is important to look out for their financial health in addition to their physical health. As well as needing a health care proxy, you may well need a power of attorney. After all, the ramifications of one bad investment may have a domino effect, if not caught early enough, and you don’t want to end up spending your retirement at the office of family support rather than in a place more fitting for the golden years of your life.
Whether you are proactively preparing for your own old age or caring for an elderly family member, make sure that you address the following action steps:
- Know where to find personal and financial documents. Organize bank and investment statements, wills, insurance policies, and pension records so that family members will be able to access the funds that are due to you. Consider giving a family member access to bank and brokerage accounts. Review your investment account regularly to make sure your investments are working for you. Have a trusted person become a joint owner or accountholder or be authorized to make investment decisions. Consult with your financial advisor about the best way to protect your own interests while giving someone else access to your account, since there are legal and tax issues involved.
- Make sure your insurance plans provide adequate coverage. Consult with another insurance agent for a second opinion.
- Review your will to make sure it reflects your desires.
- Sign a Durable Power of Attorney to give a trusted family member or friend the authority to handle finances, property, or other personal matters in the event that you are incompetent. A healthcare proxy, delegating authority to make medical decisions, can prevent unwanted and costly medical procedures.
- Consider hiring a family office to oversee fiscal and other responsibilities. It is a delicate dance to ensure family members retain feelings of independence while simultaneously ensuring that your financial affairs are in proper order.
Any time a caregiver becomes a joint owner of an account or serves as a legal representative (through a power of attorney), potential risks and liabilities are involved. Consult a lawyer who is only loyal to you whenever you sign a legal document. Be aware that legal ramifications may cross country lines: if you become a signature to an Israeli bank account, you are potentially liable to file an American FBAR form. And, if you’re added to an account at an American bank where you already have deposits, this could put you over the FDIC limit.
There are many issues to consider when preparing for your old age, or while helping an elderly family member. In order to avoid making decisions that have potentially negative legal and/or fiscal ramifications, consult with professional advisors every step of the way.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for investment advice that takes into account each individual’s special position and needs. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.