Prepare to be a financial caregiver

Published 10:59 am Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Many Americans find themselves helping elderly parents or other loved ones with financial tasks such as paying bills and making investment decisions.

If you are called upon to act as a financial caregiver, following some basic guidelines to manage the situation efficiently.

-Take the initiative. When helping an elderly or ill person, try to set some ground rules when the individual is healthy enough to communicate. This step could reduce stress on you and other family members.

-Communicate. Make it clear you want to help and ask if your loved one has any preferences about how assets are managed. Offer options without explicitly telling your loved one what to do. This approach builds trust.

-Locate personal and financial documents. Access to bank and brokerage statements and wills and insurance policies will help you protect your loved one’s assets.

-Arrange for automatic bill pay and deposits. Paying bills electronically may reduce interruptions in service. Direct deposit of Social Security benefits and other payments may reduce potential for lost checks.

-Consider working with financial specialists. Elder law attorneys handle estate planning, Medicare issues, insurance disputes and more.

-Suggest a durable power of attorney and health care proxy. A durable power of attorney gives authority to handle finances, property and other matters. A health care proxy designates someone to make decisions about treatment.

-Agreeing on ground rules upfront and communicating clearly may increase the likelihood of being there without causing undue stress.

The information provided here is to assist in planning your future. Proper tax and legal advice should be obtained. Investment Advisory Services and securities offered through Eagle Strategies LLC, a registered Investment Adviser and member of NASD & SIPC.

Jeff Waters is a financial adviser with Eagle Strategies LLC. He can be reached by e–mail at