How to keep parents from going broke

If age steals their ability to handle money, they may not even realize it. That puts the responsibility on you. Here's what to look for and what to do.


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Mar 2, 2011 9:51AM
Actually, it 'pays' the elderly to not have a lot of money or assets.  If they have wealth and own property, then the states/govt. takes that from them if they have to go to a nursing home.  If they have nothing really, they get a free ride.  Yes, part of the screwed up system that favors people who are irresponsible and spend all of their money over those that save.  If you are a saver, and plan well, somehow you will be the one who gets screwed.
Feb 28, 2011 11:59AM
I don't know about this article. I think the parents are better off and more responsible than their kids. The Baby boomer's parents came from a time of saving and being careful with their money. They didn't buy houses they couldn't afford and expensive cars, furniture, sending your kid to a 40k a year waste of money school for image, etc.. Obsessed with keeping up with joneses and having tons of material things. All you have to do is look at the mess we are in today. Who should be taking advice from whom?
Feb 28, 2011 12:57PM
This article begs an important issue: What if one's heirs are incompetent  financially? I would like help with managing my affairs, but am certain my children would screw up. The way they manage their own affairs is sure proof of that.  
Feb 28, 2011 12:23PM
Sorry. My mother in law is concerned about the entity living under her bed.  No I am not kidding.

Aging sucks.  My wife and I have no kids so we will be on our own.  20 years helping my m-in-law and it does not get better.  At least she stopped trying to give money to the TV preachers when she can barely afford her care.

After a point, they have to stop driving, ruining their finances and agree to extra care.

Walking in to a nursing home, is not good.  I hope I have the courage to kill myself before that is me.  Have a nice day.

Mar 2, 2011 12:33PM
Dear God, I fear for my parents (and myself) when they get to be "aged".  I don't know what the deal is, but my parents are in their mid-50's and have the worst money mgmt skills.  Don't know if it's just the small sample of people I know in this age group or what, but both my parents and my in-laws are terrible with money.  Both have blown through any money/inheritance they have and in a couple instances are nearly destitute.  My parents have a windfall coming in about 4 years due to my dad's pension buyout, and I've tried to explain to them the value of holding onto that money (I am a cpa), but they seem to think I know nothing and refuse my help.  Pride is a bitch people.  They have no will, no instructions on what to do if they died tomorrow, and no clear path moving forward.  Things like this is what helps hold our economy back.  Noone is looking to save for the future.  People are only "living in the now".  Ugh, as a mid-30 year old trying to plan for my future, this stuff just makes me ill. 
Feb 28, 2011 1:39PM

Re: the comments on incompetent kids handling the money - I'm pretty sure you can set up POA's & Trust agreements so that someone OTHER than your heirs are in charge. 


I was hoping this article would have more info on keeping parents safe from scams.  I'm handling my parents finances (both have dementia), but other than checking their accounts monthly (or more often) and checking their credit reports I don't know what else I could be doing.  They still live independently (with home help several times a week).   I want them to have access to the phone, but I worry about someone calling them and having them give out their SS#, bank account #'s, etc. 


I looked into blocking phone calls from anyone other than people they know, but it looked somewhat complicated, and they just aren't able to learn new things (even a new TV remote fazed them for quite a while).  Does anyone else have any ideas that worked for them?

Mar 2, 2011 4:10PM
I think every generation has it's slackers and dead beats. And it isn't just the Baby Boomers. I have have a mother and an ex mother in law who are in their 80's and still cannot manage their finances.
I have worked hard all my life, made some very savvy investments and I will retire well. 

The other two have had very good retirements but have squandered it on face lifts and botox treatments.  Yes, women in their 80's. 

I went to my mother's house one day and she was crying the blues about not having money to buy car tires but she looked wonderful with her botoxed face and those semi permanent set of eyelashes. I have paid her bills over and over but finally said enough. 

If your parents have never paid their bills on time because of poor management at this stage of the game it isn't going to change. All you going to wind up being is an "enabler." 
My mother aka Madame Bovary could bankrupt France

Enough already
Mar 2, 2011 6:48AM

Keeping the parent involved is important. Keeping track of Deposits and Expenditures, checks and balances of all the accounts. It is difficult at first for the parent to relinquish their business, after all this is their money. Using Microsoft Excel is a good way to show the parent where the money is going, When and how much and as entries are made excel automatically keeps the balances. Being able to show the parent on a lap top, which they may not know anything about. Enlarging the print so they can clearly see what their accounts are doing. Show them the bills that are being paid. Go over Medicare Invoices regarding services rendered, watch for fraudulent billings. Medications, make sure they take them. When they start forgetting things one of the first things they put aside are the med's. They don’t like taking them and they are so expensive. Most important let them know you have their best interest at hand. Share everything with them, keep them in the loop. Talk to the parent and visit often. In their Senior + years you might be their care taker. This is not uncommon today.  

Mar 2, 2011 7:10PM
I have actually heard a comment by a child to a parent "you're spending my in heritance"  That statement revolts me.  Children have no right to any inheritance.  Neither should a person spend their money unwisely and expect their children to take care of them, but no one could prepare for the cost of nursing homes these days.  I will say this:  There are more children living the life of luxury or at least living at home and not contributing to their parents than the other way around.  This article seems destined to be used as an excuse for children to try to grab financial control of their parents' estates before they die, and there are too many children who can''t wait for that tragic event.  The children of baby boomers and their children are all greedy got-to-have-it-now good-for-nothings that don't save for anything and turn their noses up at a starter home or a used car. 
Mar 2, 2011 2:42PM

Yeah, it seems like being responsible and saving your money just costs you in the end, but then again, my folks are proud people who would be appalled if they had to take a government hand-out (medicaid) for their care.  So I have to keep reminding myself of that - it's their money, and it will be paying for their care.


But then I see the prices for some of these assisted-living facilities, and they've got to be ripping off the people who are paying out-of-pocket.  Around here they're in the $4,000/month range, PER PERSON, plus add-ons for things like food & laundry, and any actual medical care they receive.  And they don't even have an RN 24/7, or even CNA,s just "care-givers" that they're probably paying $8/hour. 


I will go back to Europe .Get some gypsies to take care of me 
Mar 3, 2011 1:21AM
I seriously can't believe the garbage coming out of some people's "mouths." My parents are beginning to slip mentally and my mother was recently the victim of fraud to the tune of 6 figures. The article is simply saying that the older we get sometimes we do not manage life as well as we use to. I talk with my parents daily and am more than happy to help them keep track of their assets. I have not once asked my parents for a single dime and it is my responsibility of being a good daughter to make sure my parents are taken care of in their old age and not taken advantage of by those who prey on the elderly in our society. Regardless of your political views it comes down to caring for those who have spent their entire lives taking care of us making sure we had food on the table and a roof over our heads. 
Mar 3, 2011 4:00AM
Before the time comes, evaluate the relations in the family.  A drug addict will turn the family inside out and everyone against each other in order to get what they can (they're hard to spot when secrecy is the rule).  It happened to our family and as a result of all the lies and rumors, I and others were cut out of more than one will.  The losses were in the hundreds of thousands.  For the sake of the other relatives, I didn't sue (lawyers would have had a feeding frenzy).    Even if all you want to do is help and your help isn't wanted and you're you're not in the family clique, walk away.  Take your self esteem and build a better life than the one in which in you grew up.  Not all families are functional.  You cannot help others until you learn to help yourself.  It is best to walk away from a hatchet fight with your body and soul intact.
Mar 2, 2011 12:23PM

It does pay to help your parents or in laws-big time and in many ways! Don't be afraid to hurt their feelings, my parents understand that they need the help and were very thankful to not have to deal with all the bills and be able to enjoy their "golden yrs"  We've (siblings and I) protected them and us from the horrible fate of my husband. I wish my husband and I had met years before we did not just for the sentimental ooh I wish I'd met you sooner reason, but so I would have known his mother and grandmother were putting him in the worst debt you could imagine. Long story short- Senile gram hid bills, housebound mom took out 3 loans against family land, blew her mom's money and spent like crazy on T.V.crap. My husband is now saddled with an incomprehensible amount of debt to hold onto the fam. land that he can't even sell ! And poor gram?-She was considered too much of a danger and HAS to be in a crappy home since no one in the family can afford to put her anywhere better. 

If you love your parents,in laws, grandparents or just love your own money- take care of them now or you could be very sorry later!


Mar 2, 2011 7:26PM
Wow, some of you are seriously uninformed.  Hubby & I manage the finances of our aged parents (we are boomers).  We have saved and invested prudently over the years and are living in retirement just fine.  Can't go buy a Bentley, but couldn't before retirement, so no loss.

The folks have less than we do and are in varying stages of dementia.  It is difficult for them to manage money and investments, so we just take care of things for them.  One is in assisted living.  You will find that private pay assisted living is CHEAPER than those places subsidized by Medicare/Medicaid and the care is BETTER.   You'll not find these places on the internet.  You have to go there and see it for yourself.  Here the cost is $2700/mo single and $4000/mo couples.

My grandmother survived on minimal SS and Medicaid because Chicago did not pay cops during the depression OR fund their pension plans.  It was not fun to deal with that, but a compassionate MD turned us on to a great place that took Medicaid.

Life is what you make of it and how well you have been raised and raised your own children.  For all the horror stories, there are good ones.  You are responsible for your own choices in life.  If other family members make bad choices and refuse help, then there is nothing you can do about it. So, quit complaining and live your life.  You'll be happier and live longer.  After all, living well IS the best revenge.

Apr 19, 2011 4:10AM
Be careful about trusting siblings, too.  I never had any reason to mistrust my brother.  I lived far from my parents, he lived near, so of course he took care of their finances when they went into assisted sister-in-law, unbeknownst to me, was going crazy spending and had gotten her and my brother in major debt.  She forged the bro's signature on the account he had with my parents and he wasn't paying attention (since he wasn't writing any checks, he didn't look at the account).  Yup, his wife spent all my parents' money. 

Moral:  check on things very regularly.  If one sib is handling the finances, other sibs need to verify the state of the accounts and investments VERY often. 

Pleas learn from my mistake - my children's college money (my inheritance) is now gone with the wind.
Mar 2, 2011 12:08PM
The baby boomers have made a mess of anything they touched.  They were hard workers, and terrible managers. 

Interestingly enough, there is a new book out, "Man Down" written by an attorney on GMA, which shows women are better at most things than men. Backed up by tests and research.  Let's have the women run things from now on, God knows the men have mucked things up!  LOL.........Smile

One interesting fact, women who managed hedge funds did about 10% better than men who managed hedge funds!

Mar 2, 2011 1:11PM

Enough of this,

You are right if you save the Democrats and clearly the Marxist Obama are gunning for you.  In fact it is actully their plan to drive deficit spending, to bankrupt this country.  When that happens the Marxist Uptian power they seek will be theirs!  There will be no other options available but to raise taxes, and not just a little.  It will be "From each according to his abilities to each according to their need".  The redistribution of wealth will be complete, and we will all be craping and begging the government ot save us.  Do you understnd the power that gives teh government elite at that time?  This is the power every world dictator has today.  No one dares cross them, they (we) are slaves to the power to be for food, shelther, retirement, etc.


Don't think it is that bad?  Well ok.  But even on the margins the Democrats are holding fast to prevent even 50 billion in cuts againsts a 1500 billion deficit!!!!!  What is that a receipe for, but disaster, and a day when taxes will have to be massively raised,  the economy crushed, and hundreds of millions of Americas begging for help. 


So you are right party down, don't be a fool and let the government have anything to steal from you.  They will be coming for you if Obama and the Democrats have their way.

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