Helping Aging Parents Manage Their Money

The role reversal between parent and child isn’t easy. Here are some strategies to get started.

Hispanic father and adult son

Lail visited her parents' local bank branch to introduce herself and keeps in touch with members of their church (which she attended growing up). "They can point out things sometimes," she adds.

[See How to Help Family Members Without Hurting Your Own Finances.]

• Keep other siblings in the loop. Sharing responsibility for aging parents can cause friction amongst siblings, especially if there are concerns over a potential inheritance. Some families choose to delegate financial responsibilities to one person, while others divide tasks according to siblings' skills or proximity or hire a professional instead.

For instance, Lail's brother lives closer to their parents, so he handles in-person tasks like driving to doctors' appointments while she monitors the finances online. "I keep [my brother] involved," she explains. "He knows all the log-ins so he can go look at it. We are both on the bank account, so he could go to the bank if he needed to."

• Set up power of attorney. A power of attorney form authorizes an agent to make business or financial decisions on the grantor's behalf, while durable power of attorney means the agent can act even after the grantor dies or becomes incapacitated.

If a parent is willing to sign and notarize a power of attorney form, it could give the adult child greater oversight of the parents' finances. However, the topic can be touchy, especially for parents used to their independence. Lail's father was receptive to giving her power of attorney because "if something happened to him, mom might not be able to handle the things that needed to be done to access the money."