Becoming a financial caregiver for a loved one is a tremendously important undertaking. It is not simply about managing another person’s financial picture when they are no longer able to do so independently. It is about preserving the dignity and autonomy of the person in the process.
Financial caregivers play a pivotal role in ensuring economic security, from paying bills to managing investments to planning for the unknowns of the future. The role requires working collaboratively to make informed decisions that align with someone’s values and desires.
How do you thoughtfully manage a loved one’s financial affairs to ensure their economic security and wellness? Here are a few guidelines:
- Initiate open and honest communication with the person you are assisting. Discuss their financial goals, obligations, and any concerns they may have. Establish a trusting relationship from the outset.
- Gain a comprehensive understanding of their financial situation. Pull together information on income sources, expenses, outstanding debts, investments and insurance.
- Work together to create a budget and develop a financial plan. Consider both short-term and long-term objectives, such as paying for healthcare, maintaining their home and managing retirement.
- Keep important financial documents organized and easily accessible. Locate and maintain access to wills, power of attorney documents, insurance policies, bank statements and investment portfolios.
- Simplify financial tasks by setting up automatic bill payments and organizing recurring expenses. The goal is to ensure that bills are paid on time, while reducing the administrative burden for everyone.
- Power of attorney and guardianship: Explore the option of obtaining power of attorney to legally manage financial affairs. If cognitive decline is a concern, guardianship may be a necessary step. Consult with an attorney for advice on the best course of action.
- Estate planning: Assist in the creation or updating of any estate planning documents, including wills, trusts and advance medical directives. Ensure that their wishes regarding the distribution of assets and healthcare decisions are clearly outlined.
Focus on self-care.
- Seek support from friends, family and professionals. Lean on your close relationships for help along the way. Consult with financial advisors and eldercare specialists for additional guidance.
- Take breaks and prioritize yourself. Recognize the importance of self-care. It is crucial to stay focused on your own well-being, as caring for others can be time-consuming, and emotionally and mentally challenging.
Financial caregiving is a multifaceted role that requires compassion, communication and careful planning. You are enhancing the quality of life for those you care for and ensuring their financial journey aligns with their values and aspirations. If we can provide any help along the way, do not hesitate to reach out.