How to Know When it’s Time to Step Up

We can all remember the time where our parents taught us how to write checks, file our taxes, and figure out how to pay our bills.  But what happens when they slowly start forgetting how to do it themselves? There are some clear and subtle signs that will arise when your parents start aging, and everyone needs to be prepared and ready for the day they have to take over their parents’ finances.  

5 Signs Your Parents Need Help

The University of Alabama put together a list of five warning signs as follows:

  1. Taking longer to complete everyday financial tasks
  2. Missing key details in financial documents
  3. Having difficulty with everyday math
  4. Showing decreased understanding of common financial concepts
  5. Having difficulty identifying risks in an investment opportunity

Other Signs

Along with the five signs above, there are other subtle signs that you may need to start looking for.

  • Unpaid bills. If you see a lot of unpaid bills around your parents’ home, it may be a sign that they need the bills sent to someone else to make sure they are getting paid in a timely manner.  
  • Missing money. If you see that there is money missing from accounts, it may be a sign that they are loaning or donating money to friends, neighbors or even strangers.  When they begin to hide these kinds of expenses from you, you need to make sure they know that these are not smart investments and they might be getting scammed by people they think are only there to help.  
  • Loose documents. If you notice your usually-organized parent leaving investment statements or other financial documents around the house, it may be time to take over those accounts.

What do you do now?

If your parents are starting to show one or more of these signs, it does not mean they are completely inept; it just means you or your siblings must pay closer attention to their financial decisions.  

On the other hand, if you know there is something going on and they are no longer able to effectively deal with their finances, a conversation is crucial to let them know they are not alone. It might be time to have a power of attorney drafted and make sure wills and other legal documents are up-to-date.  

It’s also a good idea to set up a family meeting with siblings or other close relatives to discuss who should be in charge of finances and other important legal decisions.  Some families may want to divide responsibilities; others may decide to have one person in charge.  Setting up a spreadsheet of all financial investments and bank accounts is a good idea as well and can be easily shared with family members.

No one wants to see their parents forget important information, but aging is inevitable for all of us.  Being aware of the signs your parents need help with finances is critical in being prepared for the day when you need to step in and take over to prevent a financial crisis.  For more information on protecting your loved ones and helpful caregiver advice, please visit