Many times our parents don’t need (or want!) someone to completely take over their checkbook. Sometimes all they need is a little help. If they are willing to share information with you, here are five ways you can provide assistance while helping your senior maintain independence.
- Review the incoming mail with your parents. Many times seniors need reassurance and assistance to sort the junk from the real mail.
- Respect your parents’ comfort level with on-line banking. Many older seniors have never used a computer and neither understand nor trust the Internet and the Web. Others have fully embraced these tools. If computers are out, keep with what your parents are comfortable – most often paper checks and paper statements. With proper documents (i.e. a power of attorney), they may permit you to have on-line access to their accounts to help keep track of their transactions.
- Ask your parents to record every check in their register including the payee, purpose and amount. If this is difficult, have them use check carbons and make notes in the memo line. This helps keep track of how money is spent and spot potential financial abuse.
- Assist with maintaining their checkbook register. Verify all checks and deposits are recorded. Check that the math is correct. Reconciling is the best way to confirm the register balance is accurate and to locate any bank mistakes.
- Review monthly bank and credit card statements together. This will help protect your parents from fraud and unintentional purchases.
These money management practices will help your parents keep their financial house in order. These are good techniques – for anyone of any age – to maintain an accurate checking register, and to help protect themselves from fraud and abuse.