In this Elder Law Minute, Wes Coulson discusses what to do when taking over your parent’s finances.
Today I want to talk about where to start if you are the adult child of an elder and you are called upon to start taking over handling their finances.
First thing you need to do is find out whether they have what’s called Power of Attorney for Property in place. That’s the document that legally gives you authority to act and do things on their behalf. If they don’t, then as soon as you can you want them to get one in place while they’re still sufficiently competent to do that, if that’s still a possibility. If it’s not, then you’ll be going to court to get, in Illinois, Guardianship of the Estate; in Missouri, a Conservatorship set up.
Beyond that, the first thing that you want to do, I tell people if your parent has filed tax returns, find those tax returns – particularly, find the 1099s. Because, they are a good clue to where they might have money invested. Generally speaking, if they’re things like a checking account, it’s easy enough to find things that and find records of it. It’s the assets that aren’t used every day that can be more difficult.
Then, just start looking through papers, look through a safe deposit box, to see what all you can find. On the other side, make a list of things that you think would be their common bills, just as a matter of common sense, and then see if you can find those. Look through bills to see if you find anything else.
In short, you’re doing what you would be doing for yourself in managing assets and paying bills, you’re just doing it for someone else. So if it applies to you, there’s a good chance it also applies to them.
Stay calm. Use the good common sense you were given, and it’s probably a good time to start looking for legal help for the planning that your parent or other loved one is going to need to help protect their life savings because if they have memory loss, long term care is probably part of their future.
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Coulson Elder Law is dedicated to providing families in the St. Louis area with their Elder Law needs. Our practice areas include Asset Preservation Planning, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Eligibility, Alzheimer’s Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning and more. We understand the financial challenges you may face as you and your loved ones grow older. At Coulson Elder Law, our clients’ well-being is our number one priority. For immediate help, call (618) 632-7000 (IL) or (314) 567-9292 (MO), or Contact Us and we will get in touch as soon as possible.