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Family Caregivers and Money

Family Caregivers and Money

 

                The investment firm, Merrill/Lynch recently funded a survey of 2, 010 people who have been caregiving for adults in the past three years.   Roughly 40 million Americans (16% of the adult population) are so-called “informal” caregivers, assisting family and friends.

                According to the study, 92% of informal caregivers are also what the survey calls “financial caregivers.” That means they’re either financial coordinators, as 88% are (paying someone’s bills, monitoring financial activity, managing investments and filing taxes), financial contributors (actually paying towards the recipient’s expenses or providing financial support), as 68% are, or both.

                And, the study found, many of America’s financial caregivers are overwhelmed, if not perplexed, about how to perform these duties.  75% of family caregivers have never discussed their financial role with their care recipients, the report said

                Many of the financial caregivers the researchers interviewed said they didn’t know whom to talk to about the decisions they needed to make.  The study found that many caregivers are unaware legally which are the right documents to have.  Complicating matters even further for family financial caregivers: doing this with siblings or stepfamilies.

                In addition, 45% of caregivers said they face difficulties navigating the health care system — deemed by caregivers as the biggest challenge of caregiving after mental and physical time and effort involved.

                Three suggestions for people helping to manage their parents’ finances came out loud and clear from the study:

                1. Talk openly with your family about this topic. Specifically, ask your parents whom they want to handle the different aspects of their care. For example, do they want the same person to handle their finances as to provide hands-on care, if needed?

                2. Find out where your parents’ medical, legal and financial documents are. You may need them someday, and that may be at a time when your parents will be unable to tell you. Including passwords!  3. Get professional help. If you feel you could use advice about managing your parents’ finances, hire a financial adviser with expertise in the subject.

 

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