Orange County estate and elder law attorneys are used to bridging the generations, and we understand many of the nuances that create a disconnect between adult children and their aging parents.  One major issue can be that of finances.  In the older generation, it is still considered fairly taboo to discuss one’s financial situation with others.  It may be thought of us inappropriate or unseemly, or it may invoke worries of looking like a braggart or of letting others know the elderly adult is struggling.

This culture of silence extends to one’s own children.  Elder law attorneys often find that adult children of elderly parents assume that finances are fine because their parents don’t come to them when issues do arise.  It’s not just a matter of pride, but a matter of “this is the way things are.”  By the time financial concerns are uncovered, they can already have devastated the parent and may have even eaten up any potential estate that would have otherwise been passed on to children and grandchildren.

So, how do you know if your parents are struggling financially?  There are some clues to watch for if you don’t feel that Mom and Dad are being upfront about their financial difficulties.

Things to watch for:

  • Calls from creditors.  This can be a big clue that there is an issue.  You may overhear these calls, find them left on the answering machine, or even notice their numbers on your parent’s phone logs or caller ID.  These calls can also come from individual businesses or credit card companies looking for payment.
  • Forgetfulness when it comes to money.  If your parent seems surprised to find no money in his or her wallet, it can be a sign that money is getting overlooked.  Other indicators can be finding uncashed checks around the house.  As parents get older, banking can become more physically difficult and it is easier to become distracted or forgetful when it comes to taking care of financial obligations.  Recognizing this can help prevent major problems before they develop.
  • Unopened mail.  Bank statements, Social Security payments, and other financial documentation that comes in the mail is an important part of keeping finances in order.  If your parent has stacks of unsorted or unopened mail in the house, it may mean that he or she is not taking care of bank accounts or bills.  Also check the mail for signs that Mom or Dad is being taken advantage of by scams that present themselves as “opportunities.”
  • They actually are talking about money.  While many older people don’t want to talk about money as described above, there may come a time when things are getting tight and your parent wants you to notice without him or her coming right out and saying there’s a problem.  If your parent talks more than usual about the rising cost of living or is suddenly unable to do typical activities, such as going out with friends, it may be a sign that there is a financial struggle going on.

An estate planning attorney and probate attorney in Orange County can help your parent stay on track and on target with his or her finances, even setting up systems that can keep things working smoothly should physical or mental decline become an obstacle down the road.  There are a number of issues that pertain specifically to estate and elder law that have been created to help the older generation live comfortably in their golden years.