Your elderly mother still lives alone, and due to her declining health, you’ve been helping her take care of her household. Finances are a topic that you’ve avoided up until now, but it’s become quite apparent that mom isn’t paying her bills on time. And, she’s gotten “taken” by a couple of dishonest contractors just within the past year. Now her financial carelessness has reached a point that it has you worried. Helping an aging parent manage finances can be hard, but it is possible when you follow these tips from the pros.

Have “the Talk” with Mom

Approach mom respectfully about your concerns, and ask her to sit down for a few minutes to discuss how you can help. Due to pride, most seniors are guarded about their finances, so be tactful when offering your support. First, gently find out if mom has enough money in the bank to cover her monthly bills. If so, and once she’s agreed to accept your assistance, it’s time to proceed.

Become Mom’s Power of Attorney

If mom’s health is declining, it might be wise for her to designate you as a legal power of attorney (POA). There are two types of POAs, with each acting independently of the other:

  • Medical. This person can legally make medical decisions on behalf of a loved one when the latter is incapacitated.
  • General. Also called “financial power of attorney”, this type of POA can legally make monetary decisions for another person.

Other ways to legally take over a loved one’s finances are by being named a designated trustee or court-appointed guardian. For illustration purposes, and with the blessing of your siblings, let’s say mom chooses you to serve as her POA. Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work helping get her finances back