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If you have the good fortune to have parents living long into old age, you may also have certain responsibilities to care for them as they get older. Tasks such as managing their investments or even paying bills can become overwhelming should their health or mental acuity diminish. Below are some guidelines on managing financial matters for your aging parents. 

  1. Map out all of your parents' accounts
    Over the course of decades, your parents may have accumulated a number of accounts and lines of credit. While they are still in good health, find a time to create a list of all those accounts and locate important documents that will allow you to access those accounts, should the need eventually arise. If your parents have already fallen ill and are unable to help you track down their various accounts, it may be helpful to rely on their tax returns to identify all outstanding accounts and sources of income.
  2. Discuss obtaining a power of attorney
    If you have begun to doubt your parents' ability to make sound financial decisions, you may wish to obtain power of attorney. This will grant you the legal authority to make decisions on their behalf if and when they become unable to make those decisions. Acting as an agent under a power of attorney obligates you to carefully manage your parents' money and property, and to make decisions with that property that are in your parents' best interests. An estate planning attorney can talk you through the responsibilities involved, and help you create a power of attorney.
  3. Keep an eye out for signs that your parents have lost track of their finances
    There may be subtle and not-so-subtle signs that your parents are no longer able to keep up with managing their money independently. Look out for indications of this, such as calls coming in from creditors, mail and bills piling up in their home unopened, lots of new purchases around their home, or forgetfulness about money. Should your parents show signs of losing track of their financial obligations, you may want to start paying their bills. Along with your parents' consent, you can request that financial institutions send copies of bills and statements to you each month, so that you can ensure they're paid.

Helping your parents to manage their finances toward the end of their lives will help ensure that the money they worked to earn during their lifetimes will be available for their care as they age, and for their heirs. The most important way you can ensure that those funds are passed on according to their wishes is through the creation of a reliable will. Contact an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney to discuss your legal concerns over creating a power of attorney or will. Call the Morristown wills and trusts attorneys at Smith & Doran for a consultation on your claims, at 973-292-0016.

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Smith & Gaynor, LLC
60 Washington Street, Suite 302
Morristown, NJ 07960

Phone: 973-532-2661
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