Finance / Home & Family

10 Things You Should Know About Your Parent’s Finances

by Marlo Sollitto –

What would happen if you had to suddenly take over management of a parent’s money and finances? If a parent becomes incapacitated, someone has to take over paying bills and managing their money. It happens to many caregivers. Are you prepared?

It’s better to have all the information you need before mom or dad can no longer take care of their finances.

Here are 10 things you should know about your parent’s 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 parent 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, a safe, or under the mattress, you need to know where to find records when you need them. What is 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 do they use? Who is their mortgage company? Do they have an investment firm?
  4. What are your parent’s monthly expenses?
    Gather information on their mortgage, car payment, credit card debt, electric bill and other expenses.
  5. How do they pay their bills currently?
    If there are automatic deductions being taken out of a checking account, you need to know about it. Do they use online banking, or only paper checks?
  6. How much is their annual income and where does it come from?
    Does your parent receive a monthly pension check? Do they have dividends coming in from investments? Do they get money for a disability, or alimony?
  7. Do they receive Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security?
    If your parent becomes 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?

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7 years ago

When my brother passed away the financial end was a nightmare. His wife and children didn’t know of any of the accts or amts. especially the on line accts with passwords etc. As I read the list of the do’s. I realized that neither do mine. It’s one thing to talk/email, it’s another to do!

Scott George
7 years ago

Going through all of this now. Even though my Mom had a trust, there are a myriad of details to straighten out.
All ten items are great. Two points:
1-While keeping their privacy concerns in mind, knowing “where” things are, rather than “what” things are, is very important.
2-Verify names on accounts, policies, etc. We have found errors on owners, annuitants, beneficiaries, etc. Biggest problem right now is that one account was named for the first trustee of a trust from the 1980’s. Not the trust. Of course, that trustee had no such trust. Yet, they keep asking us to provide a trust copy. Frustration.

7 years ago

Thank you, I have been wanting guidelines to complete for my children.

another Bob
7 years ago

After 40++ years as an investment / legacy planner, these 10 steps are crucial to continued family mental health and preventing total family chaos and Dis-Harmony!

7 years ago

Even with an updated trust 2 months before my husband’s sudden death I spent weeks and thousands of dollars
New trust, all properties appraised and reappraised for LLC etc. Life insurance, his name off of all of our joint
accounts–even utilities etc. Decisions on investments–it goes on and on.
I am trying to get things in order for my family to save them as much work as possible. I am in my 90’s but
healthy–who knows accidents happen everyday, and to every age!!

C. Randall
7 years ago

And as I found out, what if they have a trust? For my mother’s trust I was a trustee, and found out I could not do a dam thing. The bank would as they said not allow me to have any information regarding the account. I needed to be a co trustee. What a pain in the rear to get that changed. Just more legal mumbo jumbo and a bunch of money. Be sure to check your status if you manage your elder parents trust account.

Ovide Rajotte
7 years ago

I would add:

– Do you know if they have life insurance
– Do they arrangements made for their demise (cremation vs burial, plot) their desires regarding funeral, wake, etc.
– Do you know if they have a will.

Scott George
7 years ago
Reply to  Ovide Rajotte

Good additions. Dealing with them all right now.

Judy Presley
7 years ago

Thank you for the article on the ’10 things you need to know about your parents finances.’ Though our children already know most of our financial information , this reminded me of things we need to make sure they have handy. We will go down the list & add this to our safe deposit ‘treasures’.

7 years ago

My wife and I are 79 years old.. I think this has jogged me into getting every thing in order…Thanks…

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