For a long time, your parents likely managed the financial aspects of your life or at least provided valuable advice that helped set you up for future success.
With that in mind, it can be incredibly difficult to institute a role reversal when your parents become older, as they become more at-risk for financial fraud. Bringing up this topic through discussion, however, might make them feel as though their independence is being taken away from them, and it might feel like you’re taking on an extra burden.
While it can be uncomfortable for both sides, sharing or taking over financial responsibilities for your parents doesn’t have to be highly stressful if you handle the process the right way.
Things to Consider When Taking Over
Approaching these kinds of situations is always better done sooner rather than later. Ideally, you should handle money discussions while your parents are still living life unimpeded and in good health. That way, you’ll be completely prepared for any issues that might arise as they get older — such as injury, illness or memory loss.
Of course, problems can arise well before anyone expects them to, which might force you to make decisions on the fly. If you’re able to reach a point when both parties are ready to discuss this topic, though, here are some key tips to remember as you go through the process:
- Inquire about the topic gently: Again, these are sensitive subjects that aren’t necessarily pleasant to speak about. Parents don’t want to feel the fear of losing control over their lives or the guilt of having their children watching after them. It’s best to introduce this conversation in a way that doesn’t raise concerns about their competency, even if that is the root of the inquiry. One way of doing this is by saying that you’re thinking about setting up a power of attorney for yourself. You can then casually progress to asking them directly if they don’t bring it up themselves first.
- Arrange a family meeting: No matter if your parents are on board with the idea or not, calling a full family meeting can help a lot with the situation. Bring your parents, siblings and other close family members — like aunts or uncles — together to discuss where their money is allocated, where the will is located, what types of insurance they have and how they’d pay for assisted living or other long-term care were they ever to need it. Fleshing out a comprehensive strategy that has the blessing of your parents will make the whole process easier when you go to a third party to make it official.
- Invite a third party: If your parents are still having doubts, you can invite an attorney specializing in elderly issues or a financial manager to outline the different aspects of the process and hopefully dispel myths or fears. If it’s someone your family trusts, you can also involve them further in the planning process.
There will be plenty of other tasks to worry about later on, like analyzing investment accounts and transferring assets, but none of that will matter until you fill out and notarize the appropriate paperwork. That leads to the next important step: hashing out a power of attorney.
Setting up a Power of Attorney
What is a power of attorney (POA)? It is a legal document that enables a person, referred to as the principal, to transfer specific health or legal responsibilities to a trusted relative or acquaintance, referred to as the agent.
POAs have a few different variations, so it’s important to understand them and how they relate to your situation. Primarily there are two options: POAs that deal with healthcare and POAs that grant access to finances.
In many cases, a child will assume the responsibility of both, but splitting them up is convenient if you want to divide up control with your siblings or another acquaintance.
There are two ways to write POAs:
- Durable: Once a durable POA is signed, it becomes effective immediately. The agent(s) receives legal authority to handle all matters that the document’s language specifies. Even if the principal becomes incapacitated, your authority will be maintained.
- Springing: A springing POA will name agents ahead of time, but the agents do not have legal authority until the principal becomes incapacitated. The language of these documents must be handled carefully, as they need to specify the exact events that will trigger the decision-making power of the agent.
Living trusts are another form of documentation you can look into, as they can accomplish similar goals. A living trust is an agreement that names a successor who will take control of the parent’s assets. The parents are often named the primary trustees of the document, and they remain in full control as long as they’re able. When the parent is deemed no longer capable, a successor trustee will take over.
Without these documents, you’ll be forced to hurdle a tedious amount of red tape to obtain guardianship in the face of a crisis. You can acquire the forms through a documentation preparation service, or you can ask an attorney to draft them for you.
Contact Superior Notary for Help With Finance Documents
Many states often require that POAs and other important succession documents be legitimized by a notary public. When you’re preparing for the future with your parents, Superior Notary Services will gladly help to make the process as smooth as possible.
After you set up a meeting with one of our mobile agents at a time, date and place of your choosing, you should bring two copies of the unsigned and unnotarized POAs — or other documents. Both the principal and the agent should be in attendance to sign, and the agent can then notarize the documents.
As a pioneer of mobile notary services, we’ve assisted clients of all kinds throughout the country for the last 20 years. With more than 34,000 affiliates located throughout major U.S. cities, we’re confident we can find an agent for you.
We take requests 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so contact us today to schedule your mobile notary service.
Managing Financial Affairs for Aging Parents