Adult children can be protective of their ageing parents. This is the case for Sylvia who insists her mother stop loaning her son money. “My brother is taking advantage of her. He’ll never pay it back. How can I get her to stop?”
While many seniors reach a point where they can no longer handle their personal affairs, there is a difference between decisions with which you don’t agree and those that put an individual at risk. Are you concerned for your own personal reasons, or are you worried about your parents’ safety?
An honest answer is important. Your parents are adults. They have the right make their own choices – and mistakes. Legally, you cannot force your parents to do anything.
You can raise your concerns, however. The key is to treat your parents with the same respect with which you want to be treated, and to accept their decisions. Your goal is to help your parents be as independent as possible, not to take control of their money or their lives.
If you sincerely believe your parents need help managing their finances, calmly express your concerns and your reasons for them. If they refuse, seek the support of a professional. Elder law attorneys and geriatric care physicians can help determine whether and how much assistance your parents need. They can also help decide whether an elder’s competency needs to be evaluated.
Assistance can come in many ways. The simplest and least intrusive is to help maintain your parents’ checkbook, regularly review their mail, and prepare checks for their signatures. When it is clear another person needs to manage their finances, many elders set up joint accounts with their children. While this is an easy solution, it can lead to unintended complications. A consultation with an elder law or estate planning attorney can help you and your parents find better options.
Sometimes ageing parents do need assistance with their financial affairs, and appropriate means of help can be set up. Other times, they are competent and their children need to check their own reactions to their parents’ personal business. This proved true for Sylvia. She was meddling. Sylvia has no choice but to accept her mother’s decision to make loans.
Regardless of whether you are actively managing your parents’ affairs or sitting on the sidelines, it is their money. Treat your parents (and their assets) as you would want your children to treat you.