A frequent challenge for children of seniors who are beginning to fail is how to help them with their finances without taking away their autonomy or getting into a tug-of-war over the issue. Concerns often arise when visiting children find that bills have not been paid, papers are in disorder, or even that utilities have been cut off. It's not unusual to find parents defrauded by predators or going on a spree on the Home Shopping Network.
All parents, children and the relationships between them come in different flavors. Some parents freely share financial information with their children and readily let them participate in bill paying and investment decisions. Others hold onto control as if their lives depended upon it -- and well it might, to the extent that they would lose their identity along with their checkbook. They may even suspect their children of wanting to take their money.
So there's no single answer for every situation. Following, however, are approaches that have worked for many of our clients in the past: