Many seniors often have difficulty managing their finances at a certain point, and it falls on their adult children to assist with these matters.  It’s important to know what you’re getting into when you begin assisting an elderly parent with their financial affairs, especially if legal intervention is required.

To start, you’ll need to examine your parent’s current situation and in what areas they need help.  This may require conversations with doctors or other caregivers to determine if there are any cognitive issues of concern and also looking at recent financial transactions to determine if help is needed.  This is especially important if your elderly parent is responsible for writing checks for rent, utilities, or other expenses that may have a serious impact if payment is not received on time.  You may want to set up payments to be automatically made online, which is a simple process with most banks and many vendors.

If it’s determined that your parent does in fact need assistance, there are some necessary steps to take.  Your parent must be made aware that they require help, and that you or other family members can take on that responsibility.  An elder law attorney or senior caregiver can assist with these conversations to try to make it easier for your parent since they will be essentially giving up control of their finances to their children.  In addition, you may need to have a Power of Attorney drafted in order to have access to their finances and make decisions in your parent’s best interest.  If their finances reside in a Revocable Living Trust, then you may need to speak to your parent and an attorney about taking over as a Successor Trustee.

If it’s clear that your parent can no longer make financial decisions but is unwilling to give up control of their finances, or if they’re no longer capable of making these types of decisions, you may want to speak to an experienced elder law attorney about placing your parent in a Conservatorship.  A Conservator is named by the court as an individual, usually a family member but sometimes a third party, who can make financial and medical decisions for the conserved person.  A Guardianship is often set up alongside a Conservatorship if you need to assist your parent with non-financial personal matters.

If you’d like more information about assisting your elderly parent with their finances, or if you’re currently working with their finances and need assistance, please contact our Phoenix, Arizona trust lawyers at (602) 274-4400 to schedule a complimentary initial consultation.