Carla A. Harris Talks How to Manage Finances for Senior Family Members
Money Women

How to Manage Finances for Senior Family Members

Taking a page out of her personal life experience, Harris shares strategy-filled pearls for managing healthcare and finances for elderly family members.

1. Understand the family issues. First, have a good grasp of the medical issues in your family and know your family history. When my parents were sick I carried their meds in my BlackBerry. So whenever the doctor calls and asks, “Do you know what she’s taking?” I can say, “Yes, here’s the meds and dosage.”

2. Find out what they want. You should understand what they want to do if they become incapacitated. Whom do they want as a decision maker? Do they want a healthcare surrogate? How do they feel about in-home care or facility care? You need to have a serious conversation about long-term care. You’re talking about $57,000 a month; after tax money it’s $84,000. How is that going to be paid for? What assets are they willing to liquidate for their own care? Do they want to put money in a trust? How do they want to segment it? What if you need 24/7 care? That’s $19–$20 an hour. Do they need a live-in? If you’re working full time, you can’t afford long-term care. Culturally we do that. But what if you’re not qualified? Why not get qualified care? Make sure you have the conversation.

3. Decide on the legal matters. Who’s going to have power of attorney? Who’s going to pay their bills? Who’s going to take care of the household and pay the lights and insurance and keep things functioning when they can’t function?

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