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

How to Manage Finances for Senior Family Members

4. Draft a will. If they do expire, you must have a will in place. They can do it quietly, and decide what happens.

5. Educate yourself about healthcare. If you show up in the hospital ignorant about what’s going on, it’s easy for you to be taken advantage of. So say the healthcare provider has no malice, but they’ve been up for 15 hours, they’re tired, they have other patients. Because you’re not informed, you don’t know what questions to ask, you’re not helpful to the healthcare provider. So the doctor looks to you and wants to know what kinds of meds they’re taking. And they have to guess and they could prescribe something that could cause reactions. If your loved one is in a serious condition, then you start getting professionals saying, “The right thing to do is x.” So you don’t understand what they’re saying. And then you get those questions, “Do you know what they want, and have you had this conversation?” But we don’t know that, because we haven’t had the conversation.

6. Face the inevitable. We need to own the fact that inevitably those who are in charge today won’t have the capacity to remain in charge. So you need to think about who is going to make those decisions. Culturally we are uncomfortable talking about money. In the black community, the generation before the boomers didn’t discuss money. People worried about being taken advantage of, even by their own family. As a result you have old folks that won’t tell you their assets or what they have. But if you’re incapacitated and no one knows what you have, you leave your loved ones ill equipped to make good decisions on your behalf. You may have long-term insurance that could be helpful, but if your kids don’t know, they can’t help you.

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