Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

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stlrick
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Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by stlrick »

It looks like I am going to need to take an active role in regular housekeeping finances for my 90+ mother. She lives 1000 miles from me, in her own home with an aide. She seems to be going from extremely independent to quite limited fairly quickly. I'm trying to get a handle on the issues and organization and would appreciate any advice from those who have worked out something like this. Do we have to get all monthly bills (telephone, utilities, cable, insurance, etc) readdressed so that they come to me? Can I get access to write checks on her account, or transfer money from her investments to her checking, without flying down there during the pandemic to sign forms? Are there reliable agencies that help with this? She does not have anything done online. It's currently all by paper checks and mail. It's hard to know where to begin.
BarbBrooklyn
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by BarbBrooklyn »

Do you have durable POA for financials and health care in place?

(Not to give medical advice) do you know what has caused this sudden downturn? Stroke? UTI?

Is there somone you can trust near mom whi can give you an accuarate assessment of what is going on?

ETA: the local Area Agency on Aging MAY be a great resource. Also a NELF-certified eldercare attorney in HER state.
BarbBrooklyn | "The enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan."
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

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Last edited by BarbBrooklyn on Wed Aug 19, 2020 2:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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anon_investor
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by anon_investor »

stlrick wrote: Wed Aug 19, 2020 2:00 pm It looks like I am going to need to take an active role in regular housekeeping finances for my 90+ mother. She lives 1000 miles from me, in her own home with an aide. She seems to be going from extremely independent to quite limited fairly quickly. I'm trying to get a handle on the issues and organization and would appreciate any advice from those who have worked out something like this. Do we have to get all monthly bills (telephone, utilities, cable, insurance, etc) readdressed so that they come to me? Can I get access to write checks on her account, or transfer money from her investments to her checking, without flying down there during the pandemic to sign forms? Are there reliable agencies that help with this? She does not have anything done online. It's currently all by paper checks and mail. It's hard to know where to begin.
Some of those monthly bills may be available online. You might be able to set up online accounts for the utilities, cable and insurance easily. You likely would just need a copy of the most recent bill. Not sure what other monthly bills there are. The first step is to take stock of all the bills and expense that need to be managed, then figure out from there how to proceed.
Kompass
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by Kompass »

I’ve been doing this for several years now and after initial set up it’s really not too bad. You need to get things in order to set it up properly, you need DPOA for both financial and medical, you need access to her financial accounts so you can figure out who is being paid and how. You are very likely to need to fly out there and do some things on the ground to bring on more people and services to help her, if you already have good contacts in her location you may be able to do most of this remotely.

Once you have legal authority to take things over you will want to get with all of her vendors to set up online accounts and have the billing address and contact information changed to you. It sounds like you might need more in-home services, can you get information from her current aid? Maybe this is provided by a local staffing agency that can provide further help.

Let us know what tools you have in place now and we can help you navigate this.
Katietsu
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by Katietsu »

-I am assuming by your question that you do not have a POA. If this is the case, getting a POA should be a priority. You should be able to make these arrangements by phone. While the situation may be unique to you, it will be commonplace for an elder attorney.
-Three way calling can be a godsend in the short term. I am trying to read between the lines, but it sounds like she is still competent. You get Mom on the line, then call the insurance company, the utility company etc. She verifies who she is and she authorized them to talk to you. You should try to get together as much information as possible first. You are going to run into less roadblocks if they see that you already have all the information.
-Can the aide assist in forwarding mail? Or texting you a photo of any bills where security is not a big concern?
-I have set up online access for utilities and insurance accounts with just a SSN and home address or just the account number and the associated phone number, for instance.
-Do you have siblings? Good to have a family meeting (phone, FaceTime or whatever) to get all on the same page. Setting up online access can mean two siblings can more easily stay on the same page.
-I would recommend creating an email just for your Mom. When you set up online access, use this email, not your own personal email. You want to be able to hand this off to another person should you experience your own health issues.
-I would discuss with the aide and the family doctor to make sure that there is not a treatable problem that needs addressed. I have seen conditions such as a UTI, a pneumonia and blood glucose variations where the only observable symptom was a change in cognitive function. The presentation can be very different in an elderly patient compared to that experienced by a 50 year old.
Last edited by Katietsu on Wed Aug 19, 2020 2:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
advice789
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by advice789 »

Regarding financial help and support, also consider some preventive measures concerning third parties taking advantage of elders. A friend’s mom suffered from some small cognitive decline. A landscape service came by the house, offered to paint a design on the house. They started work, said she agreed and sent an invoice. My friend learned of this as she was managing the finances. Pulled in a lawyer as the charges were not reasonable and the authorization was questionable. The vendor initially pushed the elder for payment but once lawyer sent a letter, the vendor stopped. The elder and son had agreed to discuss any services desired over a certain limit for prudent financial management, but vendors can be aggressive. Signs on the exterior door regarding unsolicited offers, and a couple reminder personal notes in the house to call the son were put in place.
delamer
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by delamer »

My mother’s local community bank was able to take over her bill paying in a similar situation.

If your mother has accounts at a local bank, try contacting it.

This article outlines other options: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue ... 20eebe2721
123
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by 123 »

With her permission set up an email account for her. Have her, or the aid, send you recent utility bills, and her checking statement, so you can set up automatic payments on the utilities usually it's very easy to do online. If there's a form that needs her signature mail it to her to sign with a stamped envelope to send it onward. You can also set up the utility bills to estatements so they come to the email account instead of paper to the house, that will reduce the mail clutter.

The most unobtrusive way of handling things is to covert everything to estatements. Be careful however, in assisting a relative we changed his pension mailing address and the new zip was not in the service area of his associated medical plan (HMO) so that necessitated a follow-up conversation. Some organizations assume that mailing and residential addresses will always be the same.

It's helpful if you can get added to her checking account as an authorized signer but banks often require the two of you to jointly visist a branch at the same time to complete a new signature card. But some banks will allow you to collect signatures on a new signature card and mail it back to them.
Last edited by 123 on Wed Aug 19, 2020 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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JaneyLH
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by JaneyLH »

Best thing you can do is to set up a Durable Power of Attorney so as things progress you will continue to be able to assist. Having gone through this when my father-in-law became unable to handle his own affairs, and his primary POA (elder son) didn't want to step up to do the work. My husband, the younger son and named alternate in the DPOA paperwork prepared many years ago by an attorney, had a TERRIBLE time trying to establish his authority with several of the banks used by FIL. Some were adamant that FIL come into a branch or telephone in himself, even though he is 97 years old and certified as medically incapacitated and unable to perform financial transactions. We spent 6 months and untold hundreds of hours jumping through all the hoops required by the banks. We had no idea going into this that there is no law requiring banks to accept your lawful DPOA. We also spent a year uncovering all the accounts, as FIL had not left any documentation listing all of them.

All banks have different processes and requirements, and they all require you fill out their own forms. The best thing you can do for yourself is to call each financial institution where she has accounts, find out what their process is, and get your mother to sign the necessary paperwork to establish your power of attorney to act on her behalf. This will save you a lot of anguish later on.
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stlrick
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by stlrick »

Thanks. Great insights and suggestions. I don't have POA, but know her attorney and can talk to him about that. She remains highly competent with logic and decision making, but is losing short term memory. Main problem is vision loss from macular degeneration that has taken a turn for the worse. She is determined to stay in her home, so she won't consider assisted living or moving near us. An email account in her name is a great idea. She should have no problem sending me copies of recent bills, which should be easy to take over quickly. That will help reduce her current anxiety, which she has transferred to me.
HomeStretch
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by HomeStretch »

In addition to assisting your mom with bill pay, you may want to see how she is doing with investing, taxes and miscellaneous (such as insurance renewals, Medicare renewals, etc.).
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ResearchMed
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by ResearchMed »

stlrick wrote: Wed Aug 19, 2020 7:46 pm Thanks. Great insights and suggestions. I don't have POA, but know her attorney and can talk to him about that. She remains highly competent with logic and decision making, but is losing short term memory. Main problem is vision loss from macular degeneration that has taken a turn for the worse. She is determined to stay in her home, so she won't consider assisted living or moving near us. An email account in her name is a great idea. She should have no problem sending me copies of recent bills, which should be easy to take over quickly. That will help reduce her current anxiety, which she has transferred to me.
If she seems to be failing (and it can happen quickly sometimes), then contact her attorney to get that DPOA in process ASAP.
Do try to arrange it as a *D*POA (Durable) so it continues through any incompetency. Getting it now means you also wouldn't later need to get her certified as incompetent, etc.

And also, consider thinking about "what next" if she later is not able to care for herself at home.
What then? What does she want?
What is manageable, from a financial and practical perspective, if there is no family nearby?

RM
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stlrick
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by stlrick »

ResearchMed wrote: Wed Aug 19, 2020 8:02 pm And also, consider thinking about "what next" if she later is not able to care for herself at home.
What then? What does she want?
What is manageable, from a financial and practical perspective, if there is no family nearby?
RM
Thanks RM. "What next" is the biggest issue. She and my late father adamantly refused for decades to think about plan B. She has sufficient assets so that we will not be thinking about Medicaid, but only deals with "what if?" when it becomes "what now?" They moved out of the home with the 2nd floor bedroom only after they could no longer use it. My mother got the aide only after she fell and was alone on the floor for almost a full day. I've asked her repeatedly where in her community her friends have moved when they needed assisted living, and she "doesn't like any of them." I've asked her what she would do if her aide could had to be away for a couple of weeks because of an exposure to coronavirus. No answer, no plan. The problem is that she is remarkably cognitively competent and so I can't tell her what to do (and never have been able to). She has one plan - to stay in her home. Everything else gets considered after it becomes necessary.
mptfan
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by mptfan »

123 wrote: Wed Aug 19, 2020 2:48 pm With her permission set up an email account for her.
Or, even easier, use your existing email address for her accounts. In other words when you log in to an (or create a new) account for her, add your email to the account so the estatements go directly to you.
delamer
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by delamer »

stlrick wrote: Wed Aug 19, 2020 7:46 pm Thanks. Great insights and suggestions. I don't have POA, but know her attorney and can talk to him about that. She remains highly competent with logic and decision making, but is losing short term memory. Main problem is vision loss from macular degeneration that has taken a turn for the worse. She is determined to stay in her home, so she won't consider assisted living or moving near us. An email account in her name is a great idea. She should have no problem sending me copies of recent bills, which should be easy to take over quickly. That will help reduce her current anxiety, which she has transferred to me.
I just had to say that I loved your last sentence:

“That will help reduce her current anxiety, which she has transferred to me.”

Sometimes other people may think they are asking someone simply to take over a task, but what they are really asking someone to take over is their worry/responsibility.
spammagnet
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by spammagnet »

mptfan wrote: Thu Aug 20, 2020 11:01 am
123 wrote: Wed Aug 19, 2020 2:48 pm With her permission set up an email account for her.
Or, even easier, use your existing email address for her accounts. In other words when you log in to an (or create a new) account for her, add your email to the account so the estatements go directly to you.
I found a separate email easier for my Mom easier to distinguish. I don't use it to send anything - only in vendor accounts and elsewhere for her business. I set it up in my email client as a separate account. I get all the mail automatically and it's kept separately.
spammagnet
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by spammagnet »

delamer wrote: Thu Aug 20, 2020 11:51 amSometimes other people may think they are asking someone simply to take over a task, but what they are really asking someone to take over is their worry/responsibility.
When lacking authority or power to impose the right choices, the delegate's anxiety can be worse than the delegator's.
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by Swansea »

Set up her bank and financial accounts so you can monitor them and/or pay bills, etc.
My Mother was defrauded twice, once by a former family member. Checks were stolen and her signature was forged. I noted one check cashed on the 3rd day of the month, right after SS payments are made.
dbr
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by dbr »

stlrick wrote: Wed Aug 19, 2020 2:00 pm
I have been there twice and an onlooker to a third instance of this.


Do we have to get all monthly bills (telephone, utilities, cable, insurance, etc) readdressed so that they come to me? Can I get access to write checks on her account, or transfer money from her investments to her checking, without flying down there during the pandemic to sign forms?

You are going to have to get a lot of forms signed starting with a durable POA and also making sure all her financial institutions register you as her POA, which may have to be done on their own forms. You might get things done on line or by mail but in some cases in person will be simpler.
I have done both.

Getting everything set up on line with you having full on-line access as POA is necessary. Then you want her bill paying set up as auto-pay as much as possible. I am not sure how easily mail can be readdressed out of state if she cannot pack it up and send it to you. I have always, and continue to, collect all of the mail myself, hopefully unopened. Not letting a person of diminished capacity even get their hands on mail is really important. In a number of cases agencies such as county social worker or a care home will copy you on any mail they send to the principle. The worst one for me is intercepting mail from IRS, SS, and a person's pension provider before they lose it. Naturally all financial transactions with those agencies should be by direct deposit and direct debit. I did have to become the designated payee for SS in one instance. That is an experience to be avoided if possible. Also hope for the person to remain competent to sign tax returns if at all possible. The third case I was party to on the side was a situation where the family had to get a court order for custody. That became a major job for the responsible relative.

The worst problems to come are the actual day to day care and household affairs. Having an aide also means paying and supervising an aide. I have hired home care employees and have had a family situation using a full time live-in caretaker. These things are an enterprise themselves depending on whether this is an agency hire or a direct hire. Our family had direct hires in both cases, so taxes, unemployment, worker's comp, and liability. In my experience household management of a property is impossible from a distance. The resolution is to move a person to a care facility, as distasteful as that might seem. In my one case both the cared for person and the caregivers were hugely relieved by the move.



Are there reliable agencies that help with this? She does not have anything done online. It's currently all by paper checks and mail. It's hard to know where to begin.

I don't think there is an agency for financial and personal affairs, though I could be wrong. That amounts to appointing a custodian for the estate and a custodian for the person, both of which are in extremis measures. For personal care the most efficient and possibly least worrisome plan is a care facility, but with diligence and luck a person can be kept in their own home. There are care agencies for the home help, as far as that goes.

If I am not addressing enough questions, please ask, and I will try.

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CAsage
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by CAsage »

Step one, get a DPOA. Consider putting all recurring household bills put on Autopay (utilities, cable, etc) from her checking account so all you have to do is track them. Your Mom can help in this, without needing a DPOA for each provider. All non-recurring bills should be routed to you. For our Mom, my sibling transferred the needed funds once a month from her brokerage, and I managed all the rest of the local expenses etc. Consider some sort tracking for Mom's account, like Quicken or ??? And with the in home care ... hopefully your Mom is willing to use a credit card or checks for every single thing. My Mom, between a walker and wheelchair, and definitely not quite in mental control, insisted her caregiver drive her to the bank to withdraw $1000 worth of "walking around" money because I kept telling her she didn't need cash - sure enough, it walked off. With your Mom's vision problems, she might not 'see" any missing jewelry or valuables - consider moving or securing them now.
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pennywise
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by pennywise »

anon_investor wrote: Wed Aug 19, 2020 2:15 pm
Some of those monthly bills may be available online. You might be able to set up online accounts for the utilities, cable and insurance easily. You likely would just need a copy of the most recent bill. Not sure what other monthly bills there are. The first step is to take stock of all the bills and expense that need to be managed, then figure out from there how to proceed.
+1 on this suggestion.

We are transitioning to assisting fully managing my dad's financial affairs now as well after a similar process. He's 86 YO and within the past 6 months has had a rather precipitous slide WRT handling his bills. Things weren't getting paid or were paid late or he was very confused about what he was supposed to be paying when he got bills. He also somehow seems to believe that every magazine 'invoice' or charity pitch is an invoice and has been writing checks for those with unnerving frequency :oops:

What we've done is add my sister to his primary bank account. He and my sister bank with USAA which made that an easy process since USAA is set up to routinely deal with far flung customers and everything was available online or via a phone call.

Once she was set up she first took a deep dive into the accounts. I had already sat down with dad and with his permission tried as much as possible to review his outstanding bills as well as looking through his checkbook to see what he had been paying for routinely.

Sister was able to sort through account statements and determine what was already being paid automatically and then with my input from the check receipts we are figuring out what bills we can shift so they are also handled that way.

Obviously every situation is different, but generally speaking many/most very elderly folks don't have a complicated financial profile at least in terms of ongoing bills or payments. But they also reach a point at which managing even the simple accounting tasks becomes impossible. Fortunately now most everything can be automated which sure makes life incredibly easier when assuming this care taking task.

You probably are going to need to go there at least once to get all this started.

Hope you have a smooth process OP.
TN_Boy
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by TN_Boy »

stlrick wrote: Thu Aug 20, 2020 10:55 am
ResearchMed wrote: Wed Aug 19, 2020 8:02 pm And also, consider thinking about "what next" if she later is not able to care for herself at home.
What then? What does she want?
What is manageable, from a financial and practical perspective, if there is no family nearby?
RM
Thanks RM. "What next" is the biggest issue. She and my late father adamantly refused for decades to think about plan B. She has sufficient assets so that we will not be thinking about Medicaid, but only deals with "what if?" when it becomes "what now?" They moved out of the home with the 2nd floor bedroom only after they could no longer use it. My mother got the aide only after she fell and was alone on the floor for almost a full day. I've asked her repeatedly where in her community her friends have moved when they needed assisted living, and she "doesn't like any of them." I've asked her what she would do if her aide could had to be away for a couple of weeks because of an exposure to coronavirus. No answer, no plan. The problem is that she is remarkably cognitively competent and so I can't tell her what to do (and never have been able to). She has one plan - to stay in her home. Everything else gets considered after it becomes necessary.
I'm confused. You originally said "She seems to be going from extremely independent to quite limited fairly quickly. "

And now you say "she is remarkably cognitively competent and so I can't tell her what to do"

Do you mean she is becoming limited physically, but not mentally? If so, why does she need help managing finances? Ah okay, I see you think her cognition isn't too bad, but her short term memory is going downhill.

Well, that means she is going to have trouble managing medications, that when she goes to see a doctor what the doctor says is not going to stick, etc. It means the problem is not confined to remembering to pay bills. When was the last time you spent a week or so with her? A longer visit might show a lot of problems, but perhaps your evaluation is based upon such a visit. If not, you need to make one.

What a lot of people have found is that running someone else's life from far away is between difficult and impossible. That is where you are about to be, and you should plan for that problem, not the minor bill paying one.

Making sure the bills are paid is the least of your worries, after you get the right POAs, get access to banking and investment accounts, etc. Really. That's the tip of the iceberg.

Everybody wants to stay at their home. Can she afford $20+ an hour, 24x7 for an extended amount of time? If so, she can probably stay at home (even if that's not the best plan). If not, other arrangements will need to be planned for, even if you have to do the planning.
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by dbr »

TN_Boy wrote: Thu Aug 20, 2020 2:21 pm
What a lot of people have found is that running someone else's life from far away is between difficult and impossible. That is where you are about to be, and you should plan for that problem, not the minor bill paying one.

Making sure the bills are paid is the least of your worries, after you get the right POAs, get access to banking and investment accounts, etc. Really. That's the tip of the iceberg.

Everybody wants to stay at their home. Can she afford $20+ an hour, 24x7 for an extended amount of time? If so, she can probably stay at home (even if that's not the best plan). If not, other arrangements will need to be planned for, even if you have to do the planning.
One could reflect that running someone else's life from close at hand is between difficult and impossible. I can vouch for one instance of difficult but not impossible and two instances of impossible without getting a person located in a facility of some kind. In one instance the civic authorities left no choices anyway and no one ended up in prison or dead. The good news is that the outcomes were/have been quite good. Keeping people in their own homes is not always the best answer including as perceived by the individual involved.
TN_Boy
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by TN_Boy »

dbr wrote: Thu Aug 20, 2020 2:39 pm
TN_Boy wrote: Thu Aug 20, 2020 2:21 pm
What a lot of people have found is that running someone else's life from far away is between difficult and impossible. That is where you are about to be, and you should plan for that problem, not the minor bill paying one.

Making sure the bills are paid is the least of your worries, after you get the right POAs, get access to banking and investment accounts, etc. Really. That's the tip of the iceberg.

Everybody wants to stay at their home. Can she afford $20+ an hour, 24x7 for an extended amount of time? If so, she can probably stay at home (even if that's not the best plan). If not, other arrangements will need to be planned for, even if you have to do the planning.
One could reflect that running someone else's life from close at hand is between difficult and impossible. I can vouch for one instance of difficult but not impossible and two instances of impossible without getting a person located in a facility of some kind. In one instance the civic authorities left no choices anyway and no one ended up in prison or dead. The good news is that the outcomes were/have been quite good. Keeping people in their own homes is not always the best answer including as perceived by the individual involved.
I didn't want to imply that the burden was mild when the person being helped was nearby. Or that it was a given that she could stay at home, even given the money (around 150k/year) to cover 24x7 aides. But if you have the money, you can make a run at staying home. One problem of course is that the person wanting to stay at home will often refuse the level of help needed, magically wanting things to work themselves out.

But trying it long distance is really a disaster .... I didn't even try to get into all the problems that may start happening given the description of the OP mother's condition. Like, I'll bet house maintenance is not a big priority.

Still, one tries to give them as much choice as possible. Except that the person giving all the help gets a vote too. It's not just "mom wants this and nobody else gets a vote." Once you start needing a lot of help, other people get to vote too. It's a bummer.
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LilyFleur
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by LilyFleur »

Swansea wrote: Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:29 pm Set up her bank and financial accounts so you can monitor them and/or pay bills, etc.
My Mother was defrauded twice, once by a former family member. Checks were stolen and her signature was forged. I noted one check cashed on the 3rd day of the month, right after SS payments are made.
I have streamlined my personal finances so that when my children need to take over, it will be easier. All services are auto-paid via credit card, except if they charge an additional fee. That makes it much easier to dispute charges. My pension is direct deposited into my checking account. Any vendors that charge extra for a credit card, I pay through my credit union. I set them up as a payee, and the credit union cuts the check and mails it per my instructions online. The credit union can also verify that the check was cashed, if necessary. My HOAs are paid via checks from my credit union as well.
It would be a really good idea for your mom not to have any checks in her home. Not sure how you would handle a credit card. Maybe just keep a credit card with a very low limit at her house, and then you could keep the credit card with the higher limit used to pay most of the bills. Aides are not always honest--we had to put in an insurance claim for some jewelry that went missing. You may want to consider putting in cameras that are monitored by your phone. I have asked my children to do that when the time comes. Elder abuse is real, and short-term memory loss makes relying on your mother's memory problematic.
If the aide is hired directly by your mother, make sure she is withholding taxes, etc. If the aide is paid by check and is not a W-2 employee, make sure that the work really meets the qualifications for 1099 employment. We used an agency to avoid all of that. Agencies will have backup personnel, also. My mom ended up with two aides so she was completely covered 24/7.
At some point, it would probably be a good idea to visit your mother and take all of her financial files back to your house, and then have most of it mailed to you. Or, leave big envelopes for the aide to forward anything other than personal correspondence to you.
I wish you the best!
Sandwich
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Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by Sandwich »

In our family's real life situation, it took 7 to 8 months, to get a process in place ... adding the younger relative's name to accounts and as an "authorized person" to various bills.

After finalizing, we provided elderly relative with a diagram showing that ....

1. All her direct deposits from pension, survivor annuity, and social security go into her checking account.
2. Ten recurring bills for utilities, newspaper, insurance, etc. are drafted from the same checking account.
3. That non-recurring payments for such items as property tax and auto registrations are on a "calendar" and will be paid for manually by the younger family member who is also on her checking account.

With regard to income taxes, a calculation was made so that adequate federal withholding from her pension would cover 90+ % of tax liability. So no estimated tax payments required. No state income tax liability.

The last few months have been pretty smooth overall.

Good luck !
fourwheelcycle
Posts: 1043
Joined: Sun May 25, 2014 5:55 pm

Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by fourwheelcycle »

TN_Boy wrote: Thu Aug 20, 2020 2:21 pm .... What a lot of people have found is that running someone else's life from far away is between difficult and impossible.
This is very true! My first experience was as executor and DPOA for finances and healthcare for my elderly aunt. She was doing fine until, at 89, she had two falls and brief hospitalizations that left her stressed, disoriented, and in acute rehab. There was no way I could step in and manage her health and finances from my home, three hours away. As she became reoriented and needed to move from acute rehab to skilled rehab, with her permission, I moved her to a community hospital and skilled rehab center near me, which happened to be an area she knew well because her father and mother grew up there. Fortunately, her savings were adequate, though modest, and her attorney had set her up with a revocable trust because he knew she was going to rely on me when she needed support. He told her it would be easier for me to take over her finances as co-trustee of her trust than relying solely on my DPOA for finances.

The first thing we did was to go into BoA together and change her BoA account from her to her trust, with her name and mine, as trustees, listed on the checks. Then I set up a brokerage account at Vanguard, titled to the trust, with her and me as the trustees. I did it all by phone and computer, and she never accessed or transacted on the account. When she came out of skilled rehab, also with her participation and permission, I moved her into an assisted living facility owned by the same community hospital. Health care providers and insurance companies honored my DPOAs for finances and health care pretty easily, although I sometimes had to go to her ALF to have her on the phone when we called an insurance company or Medicare and the SSA. When she died, three years later, there was no probate; I just paid her final bills and taxes from the trust accounts and then distributed what was left in even shares to her siblings and to the children of one sibling who pre-deceased her.

Now I am DPOA for finances and health care for my elderly father, who lives 1,100 miles away. I began doing his taxes taxes about seven years ago, but starting two years ago I had to completely take over his finances and bill paying. He has a traditional will. Without a trust, I have to rely on my DPOA for finances. His local bank recommended he should just make me a secondary joint owner of his checking account, which has worked very well. I moved all of his savings to a new Vanguard account, with him signing the necessary transfer forms, notarized or medallioned at his local bank as needed. Most of his holdings could be transferred in kind, but he had sell and pay capital gains taxes for some holdings. He signed Vanguard's required form to make me an authorized transaction agent on the account. Like my aunt, he has never accessed or transacted on his Vanguard account. I have set up the Vanguard account as TOD in equal shares to myself and my siblings, as provided in his will. He has no house or other assets except for his checking account, where I am a joint owner, so when he dies there will be no probate requirement.

At this point the SSA, Medicare, his pension payout agent, his insurance companies, the IRS, Vanguard, and his local bank all have my address and phone number as his mailing address and phone. He never receives any bills or finance related mail or phone calls.

Fortunately, I have been able to move him to an assisted living facility that drives its residents to needed health care visits. I also have a local sibling who can visit him and take him on errands and out to dinner occasionally. He has experienced one major hospitalization where I and several of my siblings have driven or flown to visit him and supervise his post-hopitalization period. I have my fingers crossed that things will continue to work out OK.
BuddyJet
Posts: 661
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2019 8:56 pm

Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by BuddyJet »

stlrick wrote: Thu Aug 20, 2020 10:55 am
ResearchMed wrote: Wed Aug 19, 2020 8:02 pm And also, consider thinking about "what next" if she later is not able to care for herself at home.
What then? What does she want?
What is manageable, from a financial and practical perspective, if there is no family nearby?
RM
Thanks RM. "What next" is the biggest issue. She and my late father adamantly refused for decades to think about plan B. She has sufficient assets so that we will not be thinking about Medicaid, but only deals with "what if?" when it becomes "what now?" They moved out of the home with the 2nd floor bedroom only after they could no longer use it. My mother got the aide only after she fell and was alone on the floor for almost a full day. I've asked her repeatedly where in her community her friends have moved when they needed assisted living, and she "doesn't like any of them." I've asked her what she would do if her aide could had to be away for a couple of weeks because of an exposure to coronavirus. No answer, no plan. The problem is that she is remarkably cognitively competent and so I can't tell her what to do (and never have been able to). She has one plan - to stay in her home. Everything else gets considered after it becomes necessary.
After dealing with my mother’s determination to stay at home, I wish that I had done some investigation of the plan B options before the need arose.

After my mom broke her hip and had a brain tumor removed, I had to investigate nursing homes while also being with her in the hospital. Luckily, the hospital social worker was a great help.

I wish that I had surveyed the options in her area to have a better base when decisions had to be made.
People say nothing is impossible. I do nothing all day.
Stick5vw
Posts: 160
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2016 6:46 am

Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by Stick5vw »

Have had to go through this recently for my 85 yo mother. A few years ago stepped in gently to cash out a harebrained whole life insurance policy we didn’t know about, and deposited the funds into a HY savings account. Also did a bit of estate planning and involved a lawyer, in relation to the house which my sister and I will inherit. No idea if you need to think about big issues like this, but do it sooner rather than later.

Since then we have had to gradually step in further on a day to day basis as we noticed things still were not going great. Firstly we went through bank account (online) to figure out what was coming in - ie how much and when (fortunately she has a few pension checks and social security each mont) vs her ongoing expenses.

Key was to smooth out her cash flow. We found she was out of sync with some payments (basically writing checks the day before a due date) which inevitably incurred late fees, so have tried to match the due dates to ensure the funds are there to pay the expenses on time every time.

In general have also tried to minimise check writing where possible and make payments using a credit card online (ie so as to have just one actual payment to make at the end of the month), and in a few instances through direct debit.

Would echo the other poster re vendors - eg we found the lawn guy tacked on a bunch of other things beside cutting the grass which we didn’t ask for (and which sometimes he didn’t do!). Have also got her out of the habit of calling a local handyman for every tiny thing which he then would overcharge her for ($50!? to climb a ladder and change a light bulb). My wife and I now DIY lots of things around the house. Basically she never questioned anything and just wrote the check. These are all nice guys but unfortunately do think they take some advantage given her age.

There’s really no silver bullet in my experience. You just need to write it all down and figure out where the cash is going. A spreadsheet has helped along with calendar reminders about checking various accounts and submitting payments. Will be bumpy at first but hopefully after a few months becomes easier to monitor. Good luck!
dbr
Posts: 34186
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:50 am

Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by dbr »

A blessing in two experiences in my family was that part of the on-setting mental disability was a severe suspicion of anyone trying to do anything. As a result there were no insurance policies bought, no contributions made to dubious organizations, etc. Also no needed home repairs were made because all the contractors were "crooks." In one case I had to show up in person to allow apartment maintenance men to have access as they were thought to be kidnappers. At least that situation was easier to fix than the opposite. One of the first "tells" that something was wrong was when a checking account started to accumulate large amounts of money from the deposit of redeemed T-bills. In those days you had to send back a paper to roll over a T-bill. I got called by the bank about it. This was a benefit of the family using the same local walk in branch for over thirty years and being on a first-name basis with the VP and account executives. Having POA on the checking account and watching it online would be the remedy today.
Topic Author
stlrick
Posts: 491
Joined: Mon Apr 14, 2008 4:37 pm

Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by stlrick »

I just want to pass on again how much I appreciate all the replies. There is a lot to do, and your suggestions are a great help.

To TN_Boy, who suggests that some of what I've said about her condition is contradictory: Vision is extremely compromised and short term memory is not good. Both have passed thresholds for taking care of things that she was confident taking care of 6 months ago. Otherwise, she is sharp as can be.
niagara_guy
Posts: 45
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 8:32 am

Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by niagara_guy »

I had a friend who needed help, we hired a fiduciary to help with his finances. He was great (friend had a business that had to be shut down).
TN_Boy
Posts: 1994
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:51 pm

Re: Managing finances for elderly parent long-distance

Post by TN_Boy »

stlrick wrote: Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:41 pm I just want to pass on again how much I appreciate all the replies. There is a lot to do, and your suggestions are a great help.

To TN_Boy, who suggests that some of what I've said about her condition is contradictory: Vision is extremely compromised and short term memory is not good. Both have passed thresholds for taking care of things that she was confident taking care of 6 months ago. Otherwise, she is sharp as can be.
I wasn't trying to be argumentative on the cognition issue. If you've recently spent a few days with her, I'm sure you are up on her abilities.

If you have not, I think the following assertion is very uncontroversial: Highly intelligent people are good at concealing cognitive decline, and can mask it quite well. But under certain conditions (new problems, etc) problems are revealed. Different people decline differently. Some don't decline much at all! In the people I've known with dementia, by the time the short term memory problem became apparent, other cognitive issues existed, which were only apparent when challenged by certain problems. I mentioned a couple of areas that would usually go along with having troubles paying the bills. And that's all I have to say on that.

I hope your mom does well and I'm sure she appreciates your help.
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