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10 Financial Questions Children Must Ask Their Aging Parents


Information from A Son’s Journey: Taking Care of Mom and Dad

As the years go by and mom and dad age, life can become complicated.
Certain things are practically impossible to prepare for, while others,
like finances, can and should be organized and taken care of early on.
What do you need to know about your parents’ finances?    
Kurt Kazanowski, a hospice, homecare, and senior care expert, who is
author of A Son’s Journey: Taking Care of Mom and Dad, says children
should know the answers to these 10 questions when it comes to their
parents’ finances.

  1. Have they named a durable power of attorney to manage their
    finances? The first step is to find out if they have named a Durable
    Power of Attorney (POA). Without a POA in place, you’ll have to go to
    court to get guardianship of your parents in order to access accounts on
    their behalf.

  2. Where do they keep their financial records? Whether they keep
    their money and documents in a bank, in a safe, or under the mattress,
    you need to know where to find records when you need them. Also, find
    out the location of keys or codes to lock boxes or safes.

  3. What are their bank account numbers and names of their financial
    institutions? In addition to knowing where they keep their money, you
    need specifics on all account numbers. What banks and mortgage company
    do they use? Do they have an investment firm? How many credit card
    accounts do they have, and where do they keep their statements?

  4. What are your parents’ monthly expenses? Gather information on
    their mortgage, car payment, credit card debt, electric bills, and other

  5. How do they pay their bills? If there are automatic deductions
    being taken out of a checking account, you need to know about them. Do
    they use online banking/bill pay or only paper checks?
  6. How much is their annual income and where does it come from? Do
    your parents receive monthly pension checks? Do they have dividends
    coming in from investments? Do they get money for a disability or

  7. Do they receive Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security? If your
    parents have become incapacitated, you may have to investigate the
    status and eligibility of government assistance.

  8. What kind of medical health insurance do they have in addition
    to Medicare? Do they have health insurance provided by an employer? If
    they are retired, are health benefits included as part of a pension?

  9. Do they have long-term care insurance? A “regular” health
    insurance plan does not cover the cost of assisted living or a nursing
    home. Did they purchase a long-term care insurance policy to cover the
    cost of those residences? If not, and they can no longer live on their
    own, what can they afford in terms of housing?

  10. Do they have an accountant or financial planner? Who is it and
    how do you contact them? Have they done any estate planning? Ask if you
    can meet with their financial professional with them to discuss their

Having a discussion with your parents before their healthcare needs
become complicated is the best time to arrange their finances and make
sure all necessary parties have the access they need. As a family,
arrange a plan for the distribution or management of important assets to
ensure that an aging parent can finance the care they need to receive.
Doing so could spare the family unnecessary difficulty and delays when
the time comes.

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