At some point in life, just about everyone becomes a caregiver to a family member or loved one. Whether it’s due to unexpected circumstances or old age, it’s important to prepare clients in the event they have to take on this responsibility. If you are a caregiver or know someone who is, you probably have some stories about how overwhelming it can be—emotionally and otherwise. Being a caregiver requires love, time, and patience. It also requires some financial oversight—an aspect of caregiving that often doesn’t get the proper attention it deserves.
1. Talk about caregiving now, before it’s too late
Have clients discuss and build a caregiving plan in advance to prepare them for the unexpected. While discussing money with aging parents may seem difficult, it doesn’t have to be. The fact is current and future caregivers need to know the answers to some key questions. They should also let their loved ones know that it’s in their best interest to address these issues now:
Has your loved one saved money? If so, how much? What’s their source of income?
Do they have investments and/or insurance policies? Do they have long-term care insurance?
Who is their financial advisor, attorney, and CPA?
Do they want to live in an assisted living facility, or would they prefer to live at home?
2. Review estate planning documents
A caregiver should know if their loved one has prepared estate planning documents, and should make sure that their will and power of attorney are up to date
3. Keep financial documents organized and accessible
Important documents should not only be reviewed and updated, but also kept in a secure and accessible place. These documents include wills, powers of attorney, investment statements, insurance policies, bank account statements, and so on. They should all be kept together in one place with relevant passwords.
4. Know what’s important to your loved one
Generally, a caregiver’s number-one priority is to do what their loved one would want them to do. For that reason, it’s important that caregivers take the time to talk with their loved ones about their preferences for receiving care.
5. Seek professional advice
Caregivers should seek two types of professional advice—financial and legal—when it comes to planning for loved ones.
6. Look into public benefits
Many times, public benefits are available to assist with the care of the elderly. Veterans and their spouses may qualify for certain government programs (such as Medicare and Social Security). However, many veteran benefits are unknown to the average person altogether. Medicaid may also be available for those who are over age 65 or under the federal poverty limit. You can check the eligibility of your loved ones at BenefitsCheckUp.org.
7. Supervise finances even while the loved one still can
Since elderly parents’ ability to manage their own finances may begin to deteriorate at any time (sometimes as early as age 60), a caregiver should begin monitoring their spending and bank accounts the minute there are any signs of confusion or struggle. This is especially important to protect against fraud and late fees resulting from missed bill payments.
8. Keep them safe from scams and online hackers
Caregivers should be aware of the real possibility that their elderly parents might get taken advantage of; being proactive is crucial in preventing such events.
9. Consider how the caregiver’s lifestyle and finances will be impacted
The last thing you should do is allow your caregiving role to become a full-time job. Keeping a job helps caregivers maintain a well-balanced life—as much as they can. Many companies offer benefits to employees who become caregivers.
10. Take care and get support!
Caregiving can be taxing, and often affects your life personally, professionally, and financially. Take time for yourself and be mindful of your emotional needs. Local support groups exist as well. Be sure to maintain active communication with your spouse, siblings, and other family.
Caregiving isn’t easy, but the proper preparation and planning will make it easier, less stressful and time-consuming. We, as financial advisors, want to prepare and help as much as we can for the possibility of caregiving in the future.
This is meant for educational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice or a recommendation to take a particular course of action. Consult with a financial professional regarding your personal situation before making any financial decisions.