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Seniors and Finances: A Tricky Business

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Guest post by Hal Salazar

If you have a senior loved one who's struggling to deal with financial matters, you face the tricky business of offering help and perhaps even taking over their financial responsibilities. You'll have to learn to recognize the warning signs that your loved one needs help, come up with strategies to approach the issue, and then take steps to provide the right kind of help. Read on for some tips from retirement specialist Coach Win to get you started.

Recognize the Warning Signs

Your first task is to recognize the warning signs that your loved one is having difficulties with finances. For instance, you might see stacks of unopened mail or unpaid bills. See if you can get a look at your loved one's checkbook. Does it balance, or is it a mess of strange notations and calculations? Check for odd purchases, too, and for evidence that your loved one has fallen for scams. Further, if your loved one is having memory issues or is dealing with vision problems or significant health challenges, this may be another warning sign that you should provide help.

Approach the Issue

Once you determine that your loved one is having issues handling their finances, you must decide on the best way to approach the issue with them. Begin with a conversation. Tell them what you've been noticing and ask if you can provide some help. Your loved one might decline at first, not wanting to burden you. If so, explain that you don't want to intrude and that you're willing to simply sit and watch or double-check. Your loved one might be stubborn, and you may have to insist. But you might also be greeted with relief from someone who was hesitant to ask for help.

Provide Necessary Help

When you receive permission to help (or if necessary insist upon helping anyway), first make a survey of your loved one's financial situation. Look at income and expenses, and make sure they balance and that your loved one is currently in the black. If not, you'll have to find ways to cut expenses. Take a look, too, through financial records and documents, and make an inventory as you go.

When you've finished your survey, suggest certain tasks that you might take over or at least help with. These might include paying bills, record keeping, balancing the checkbook, and keeping track of credit card spending. Document everything you do and explain each move to other family members. If you must, get a power of attorney designation.

Part of your task might also be to help your loved one sell off a business if it's no longer feasible for them to run it. Be sure to get a professional business valuation before selling. This will note all assets, including inventory and real estate, and give you a good idea of what the business is worth. Then you can connect with an agent that specializes in businesses to coordinate the sale.

Plan for the Future

If you haven’t already, now may be the time to talk to your aging loved one about assisted living options. However, if you are noticing memory problems, you may need to address this issue differently. If there are other family members who participate in your loved one’s care, bring your concern regarding possible dementia to their attention. Together, you can explore various nursing facilities in Los Angeles that specialize in memory care. Look for some that are well rated and in convenient locations. Then, you can present a few of these options to your loved one to get their input and, if possible, make a site visit together.

Handling Tricky Business Well

Helping a senior loved one with finances can be a tricky business indeed. But if you follow this advice, you'll be able to handle what you must and keep your loved one financially secure. And as you help ensure your loved one’s comfort and stability, now might be a good time to plan for your own retirement. And for help dealing with the non-financial aspects of retirement, which are arguably as, or even more important than the financial issues, Coach Win is the perfect resource to help you address those issues.

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