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How To Help A Senior Loved One With Financial And Legal Decisions

Note: Today we have a short guest post from Lucille Rosetti. Her blog, The Bereaved, is an excellent resource for people struggling with elderly parents and family or friends suffering illness or struggling with old age or the loss of a loved one. She also has a book on the subject: Life After Death: A Wellness Guide for the BereavedThe financial ramifications are significant. The best laid financial plan is straw in the wind when age and illness enter the scene. Please consider Lucille’s message.


How To Help A Senior Loved One With Financial And Legal Decisions


When a senior loses a spouse, their lives change dramatically. No longer do they have a partner to help make major decisions; not only that, they also have to make hard choices about their finances and lifestyle during a period of grief. It can be physically and emotionally draining, which can take a toll after a while. That’s why it’s so important to help your loved one emotionally and with both financial and legal decisions that could affect them for years to come.

Caring for an elder loved one is one of the most difficult challenges in life. An elderly parent frequently needs help with financial and legal issues. #eldercare #lovedones #estateplanning #legal

Photo via Pixabay by Longleanna (Artwork by The Wealthy Accountant)

Not only will your loved one need help planning for the funeral and other services, they need assistance with small things, like grocery shopping and paying bills on time. The loss of a spouse is a major blow that can lead to depression, stress, and anxiety, and few people have the capacity to think about the details during such a trying time. It’s also important for you to help them figure out their legal needs, such as creating a will, naming an executor of their estate, handing over power of attorney, and naming a health care surrogate.

Keep reading for more information on how to help your senior loved one manage financial and legal decisions after the loss of a spouse.

Take Care of the Most Pressing Matters First

While there’s certainly a lot to think about after losing a spouse, it’s important for your loved one to only take care of the most pressing matters first. There just isn’t room to carry grief, worries about the future, and attention to detail at the same time, so make sure they handle the most important things before sweating the small stuff. This means paying the mortgage and other bills that are due immediately, taking care of the deceased’s life insurance policy, and handling the funeral. Just about everything else can wait.

Obtain an Advance Directive

An advance directive is a legal document that names specific people as a durable power of attorney, a health-care surrogate, or an executor of the estate. It’s important for your loved one to have these documents — along with a living will — so that someone will be responsible for overseeing applications for Medicare or long-term healthcare, selling real estate, and accessing medical info and retirement benefits on behalf of your loved one. This will help your loved one in the long-term and will ensure that when they pass, there will be no lengthy, stressful legal battles over property, finances, or medical care.

Advise Them Not to Make Rash Decisions

One of the worst things a senior can do after losing a spouse is a rushed decision to sell the house. While they may want to downsize to save money or to have less to take care of, it’s best to make sure the market isn’t flat first; this will prevent their home from sitting on the market too long. They may not have the funds to keep paying the mortgage on their current home and make a move into something smaller simultaneously, so timing is important.

Watch Closely for Signs of Depression

After losing a loved one, many seniors find their grief never dissipates. They may feel sad and lonely much of the time, which can lead to depression, substance abuse, and even suicidal thoughts. Watch closely for symptoms of these issues, which may include withdrawing from friends and family, not eating well, sleeping too much or too little, and losing or gaining a lot of weight in a short period of time.

Helping a senior loved one make such big decisions is never easy, but it’s important to find ways to protect their best interests during such a hard time. With a good plan and a little research, you can make sure your loved one is well taken care of even during the darkest of times.


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4 Financial Planning Steps Every New Parent Needs to Take

Monday 24th of December 2018

[…] I have a special guest post for you, kind readers. Back in August Lucille Rosetti helped us with financial and legal issues for those helping seniors. These are issues I haven’t had to deal with personally so my advice is based upon a […]

Curt Smith

Sunday 5th of August 2018

We are all the kids of aging parents and have delt with or will deal with this. A lot of us I suspect don't have a will or medical power of attorney etc and etc. This is a big omission! Write down all your account numbers, places where assets are hidden etc. I'm now finishing a living trust, a more complicated document especially if you have busineses, rental houses other assets that you'll want to re-title/ re-deed into the name of the living trust. IE the goal is zero probate and zero hassle by the survivors.

At least go out and see an estate / aging attorney to get all this setup. Just an aside the pay as you go legal services give you the estate planning docs as apart of their service. Like , which I'm a client. I can call an attorney, get discounted services,, get the estate planning std doc edited for me for free...


Sunday 5th of August 2018

All great information! And if I may, I would like to add another topic that Ms Rossetti may want to write about. SCAMS! We lost my dad almost 2 years ago, and since that time I cant' tell you how many times my mother has called me worried sick about yet another scam email, post card, voicemail, etc... I'm certain we are not alone in this. Scammers watch the death notices and jump into action. They pray on the elderly and families of the recently deceased and I'm afraid all you can do is educate and hope your loved one doesn't fall victim. Just last week my mom received a post card warning "THIRD NOTICE It's important that I hear from you ASAP. I've been urgently trying to reach you", etc etc.. It's sleazy advertising designed to get your attention and the scammers get better at it all the time. Thank goodness my mother calls us anytime this happens, but just think of how many bereaved fall for these scams and loose their savings because of it! In any case, I think this is an important topic to cover since it is so widespread and it aims to damage the lives of those who are already in a weakened state. It's something to be aware of.

Keith Taxguy

Sunday 5th of August 2018

I agree with you on the importance of this topic, Jenny. You bring up a serious point with scams. The scam artists prey on the vulnerable and suffering people. It is vital we remain engaged with our parents and elderly loved ones to protect them from the unscrupulous. Hopefully people will hear AND listen (there is a difference).