Solutions to help the older adult with legal and financial matters include:
Use CaringWire's list of providers or contact the local Aging and Disability Resource Center or Aging Unit, Senior Center or Area Agency on Aging to ask about financial resources that could help the older adult.
If the older adult has questions about benefits, visit BenefitsCheckUp.Org and Benefits.Gov. Contact the county or tribal government to find local contacts for Social Security, Medicare or health insurance. If the older adult is a U.S. Military veteran, visit Caregiver.Va.Gov or call 855-260-3274 for information about Veterans Administration (VA) programs and benefits.
Encourage the older adult to simplify financial tasks. The older adult’s financial institution can help consolidate accounts or set up automatic deposits or online bill payments. If the older adult is interested in financial planning, ask if the financial institution has advisors on staff.
Ask what financial tasks the older adult wants help with. Encourage the older adult to keep account numbers and other sensitive information secure. If others are helping the older adult with finances, ask how the financial institution can safeguard the older adult’s funds. Many institutions offer options like “view-only” account statements or pre-paid debit cards.
Other resources include:
If the older adult wants to hire financial advisors, accountants, lawyers or other professionals, find out which government agency oversees them. Ask that agency about their license and any complaints or charges against them. Ask for and check their references.
Visit TheConversationProject.Org for “starter kits” that help people discuss preferences for health decisions and end-of-life care. Share the information with the older adult.
Ask the older adult what you, other close family or friends, and health professionals should know about the older adult’s preferences and values. Ask who the older adult wants to make medical decisions, if the older adult isn’t able to. Encourage the older adult to discuss preferences and share legal documents with that person.
Ask if the older adult has an up-to-date will, power of attorney for finances and power of attorney for healthcare or advance directive.
If the older adult needs to prepare or update legal documents, look for local resources through CaringWire, the Legal Services Corporation, state bar association, FindLegalHelp.Org, LegalHotlines.Org or National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
Encourage the older adult to review life insurance policies, retirement plans and other so-called “non-probate assets.” These aren’t covered by wills. Each policy or plan names the beneficiary who will inherit the assets after the older adult dies.
Resources for other legal questions include the state consumer protection office, U.S. Administration on Aging’s Pension Counseling and Information Program, and National Disability Rights Network.