Seventy percent of adults say their families are failing to talk about who will take control of the finances of family members who lose the capacity to make decisions for themselves, according to a recent survey.
While 86 percent of more than 2,000 adults surveyed by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) indicate they would trust a family member to make financial decisions if they are unable to, the majority say family dynamics are getting in the way of making this happen.
Families can begin the process of creating a financial plan by having an aging parent select who they want to take control of their finances should their capacity to make financial decisions diminish, according to NEFE.
“Americans are living longer and they have concerns about becoming a burden to their loved ones,” says Ted Beck, president and CEO of NEFE. “The negative consequences of families delaying or avoiding a conversation about the financial impacts of cognitive decline are too high to ignore.”
The warning signs of diminished capacity can include paying bills late or not at all, difficulty in calculating simple math problems, irrational purchases and depleted savings accounts, according to NEFE.
“Frequently there is defensiveness, denial, embarrassment and sibling rivalry when entering into a dialogue between adult children and a parent concerning their finances,” says Beck. “Families need to come together, clear the hurdles that limit communication, and do what needs to be done with advanced planning before aging family members start to experience these types of events.”
NEFE offers the following tips for family members facing cognitive decline issues:
Gather information. Learn as much as you can about the illness or medical condition that is impacting an aging family member’s financial capacity. Attend support groups and reach out to experts who handle matters related to Alzheimer’s, dementia or other diseases.
Consolidate accounts into as few as possible so it is easier to track and manage transactions. Also, make sure that the family member's will and financial power of attorney are current.
Be compassionate. The aging family member may be apprehensive about relinquishing control of their finances. Be sensitive to their point of view. They have worked hard over a lifetime to accumulate their resources.