Estate planning enables someone with Power of Attorney to take over financial management for someone who can’t do the job anymore. Post-death, the executor handles this job for the estate. In real life, managing someone else’s finances is incredibly complicated.
My parents, currently ages 88 and 89, split their time between residences in Florida and New Mexico. They summer in New Mexico, where they can be close to their two eldest children, one of whom is me, the only daughter. I’m also the executor for their estate and trust.
The trials of aging are apparent this summer. So many doctor appointments: the primary care physician; the cardiologists (both “plumbers” and “electricians”); the dentist; the endocrinologist; wound care and eye specialists.
Dad has been diabetic for decades. The feeling in his feet is fading with neuropathy, and saddest of all, he is losing his vision to macular degeneration. He can barely sign checks, and he can’t see well enough to handle the financial accounting in his Quicken program. Thankfully, both he and Mom are mentally sharp.
I’ve become Dad’s executive assistant, reading the credit card and bank statements, paying bills by check and online, replying to emails, and trying to reconcile his complex web of record keeping. It’s a frustrating challenge.
I’ve used the Quicken program to track my own finances for many years. I’ve kept it pretty simple, even with four different checking accounts. I’ll admit there’s a lot I don’t know or use in this program.
Dad has multiple bank accounts to be reconciled against bank and credit card statements as well as the entries in checking account registers. Expenses must be assigned to various rental properties, as well as categories such as medical, groceries, two households, etc. He wants everything to balance perfectly. In our last session, we were off by more than $600.
He has a system, but I don’t understand it yet. At least he has been tracking his finances and there’s a way for me to eventually step in to effectively handle them. In this way, his fading eyesight has been a blessing for me as the future executor of the estate.
I feel for those people faced with handling finances for parents who aren’t as organized. How will they know the income, the outgo and the financial obligations? It’s something for estate planning attorneys to consider as they work with their clients to prepare for the future.