On Thursday morning (11:06 AM to Noon), February 27, 2014, The Diane Rehm Show, as broadcast from WAMU through the National Public Radio network, focused on the topic Managing Your Elderly Parents' Finances, with guest host Elise Labott.
The highly-qualified and well-spoken guests were:
Sally Hurme, Project Advisor, Education and Outreach, at AARP
Naomi Karp, Senior Policy Analyst, Office for Older Americans, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Elizabeth Loewy, Chief, Elder Abuse Unit, Special Victims/Special Prosecutions Bureau, New York County District Attorney's Office
Millions of elderly Americans suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other disabilities that make them unable to make decisions about their finances.
About a quarter of all people over the age of 65 rely on relatives, often their children, for help managing their money and assets. But the task of caring for elderly parents and managing their bills and property can be overwhelming and time consuming. It can also be filled with ethical and legal pitfalls and a source of family conflict.
As I listened, I heard accurate information and sound advice, without one error or overstatement. The discussion covered such concerns as:
- Need for reliable and appropriate assistance for elderly relatives by family members who care
- Mental capacity and incapacity
- Changeability of circumstances faced by elderly relatives
- Nature of services involving banks, businesses, investments, bills, living expenses, and medical costs
- Accountability by, and communications among, persons providing assistance or care
- Fiduciary responsibilities under a power of attorney or trust
- Conflicts of interest of a family member with an elderly person
- Potentials for personal and financial abuse of a vulnerable adult
- Roles of family members and assistance by community, government, or church organizations
- Planning processes -- when and how
- Helpful advisors, including attorneys, accountants, bankers, and special service organizations
- Devices for financial management, including direct deposits and payments, online banking, joint bank accounts (including problems with survivorship designations, versus "convenience" accounts), Social Security representative payees, agent appointments under a power of attorney document, voluntary trust arrangements, and court-ordered guardianship
- Scams, such as those involving mortgages, lottery awards, and telemarketing
- Reports of suspected abuse to local law enforcement, abuse hotlines, or special elder abuse investigation units
The program's webpage provided links to accurate, helpful resources: