Tips for locating your parents assets

Like many of our parents, PRIVACY is important to them.  Some of our parents have planned very well for their elder years in terms of creating a will, executing a medical and financial Durable Power of Attorney or creating Trusts to avoid probate and provide for their care in the event they are no long able to make sound decisions.  Unfortunately, many more have done very little to plan adequately.  Many times, it’s not because they don’t want to plan, it’s because they don’t know how or don’t trust others to help them, including sometimes their adult children.

To avoid the crisis that plagues so many families and inflicts unnecessary stress and costs on family members, talk with your parents sincerely. Explain to them the pitfalls of doing nothing-higher taxes, inflicting unnecessary costs on the kids, having the courts decide how their assets are utilized for their care.  These are just a few of the dangers of doing nothing.

Get a plan together, be their advocate, tell them you only want to help.  You can do this without knowing the specifics of their total financial picture but you at least will know where to look when the time comes where they now need your assistance.  Knowing where documents can be found in the event you need them quickly is vital in many circumstances to providing for your Mom and Dad without incurring costs on your own.

One of the first things you can do to uncover assets is to pull a copy of the most recent TAX RETURN.  Why you ask?  Because it will show things like Interest Income from a specific Bank-the very bank where your parents have savings and checking accounts and maybe a CD or mutual funds too.  It will also show Dividend Income from things like Mutual Funds and Stock holdings.  If you don’t know what firm the mutual funds or stocks are held, you can call the company’s Investor Relations department.  Having the Financial Power of Attorney at this point is critical.

If you parents haven’t already told you already, make sure they have executed a Durable Power of Attorney for both Financial and Medical decisions on their behalf. Ask them for a copy, even if it is in a sealed envelope they keep in a nightstand or in a lock box at their bank.

You can download and fill these documents out online for any state for a nominal fee, generally under $25.00.   Go to your local bank with Mom and Dad and sign them in front of the banks Notary.  They are INVALID if signed prior to being witnessed by a NOTARY.

These are just a few tips to help you avoid crisis and be in a position to help your parents quickly when the time comes.

We’ll visit other strategies in a future blog post.