This Mother's Day, give your mom something that will help her sleep better at night. Women live about five years longer than men, on average, so chances are your mom will be winding down her golden years solo. Here are some steps you can take to help safeguard her finances and give both of you peace of mind:
Inform: 'First, everybody should know what assets they have and how they're titled,' says Roberta Anderson, senior vice president, private banking at People's United Bank in Greenwich, Conn. There is a generational divide here, she says: Younger women are more likely up to speed than those in their 80s and 90s.
If your mom isn't accustomed to doing so, encourage her to attend meetings with any financial, tax or estate-planning advisers. If she's already a widow or her husband is ailing, have her bring along a trusted friend or relative, says Ms. Anderson. And encourage her to be an active participant. No matter their age, 'women don't tend to ask the questions, and they should,' Ms. Anderson says.
Pay especially close attention to beneficiary designations on retirement accounts. These supersede the will. So if a husband's ex-wife is still listed as the beneficiary of his 401(k) account--a common oversight--his widow will be out of luck.
Social Security benefits, too, warrant careful planning. Couples should almost always maximize the higher of their two benefits--often the husband's--by deferring the start of that benefit for as long as possible. This increases the payout for the couple, but especially for the surviving spouse--often the wife--whose benefit will be based on the higher amount.
If your mom is vulnerable to financial abuse, whether due to 'naiveté, confusion, or actual dementia,' inform her what the risks are and teach her to ignore emails, phone calls and mail from unfamiliar sources, says Michael Schulman, an accountant and financial planner in New York.
'When my dad died, I explained to my mom, 'Don't respond to emails, period,' ' says Mr. Schulman, a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants elder-planning task force.
Insulate: 'At some point there's going to be leakage in the system,' he adds. Insulate your mom to the extent possible, he says. Help her automate her incoming and outgoing funds with direct deposit (Social Security payments already arrive this way) and, if she's computer-literate, online bill paying.
Ms. Anderson, trustee of her widowed, 90-year-old mother's revocable trust, set up small checking and credit-card accounts that her mom can tap for incidentals--'at-risk money,' Ms. Anderson calls it.
How at-risk? The other day, Ms. Anderson visited her mom at her upscale continuing-care retirement community. 'She was sitting on her couch in a pile of sweaters,' Ms. Anderson says.
The facility had invited a vendor in for the day, and Ms. Anderson's mother ended up charging $600 worth of sweaters to her credit card. 'I think I may have bought too much,' she confessed to her daughter. 'Yes, I think you did,' replied Ms. Anderson. The vendor has refused to take back the sweaters. Ms. Anderson plans to lower her mom's credit-card limit to $500. (She also plans to complain to the facility.)
Interact: 'As your mom gets less and less competent, you get more and more involved,' says Mr. Schulman, who regularly reviews his mother's account statements even though she still lives independently in another state. Be alert to unusual account activity or to new joint-account holders. These might include new 'friends' or distant--or not-so-distant--relatives.
'Joint assets are a big red flag,' says Patricia R. Beauregard, a lawyer at Pullman & Comley in Bridgeport, Conn. In one case, a brother taking care of his incapacitated, widowed sister 'was also helping himself to her money on a pretty regular basis,' she says. He had made himself a joint account owner, engineered excess distributions from her retirement plans, and steered those into the joint accounts.
Ms. Beauregard says it's a good idea to pay care givers--even family members--for their time so they don't grow resentful and start stealing.
If your mom is still insurable, consider getting her a long-term care insurance policy. That, quips Ms. Beauregard, or a younger man.
告知：“首先，每个人都应该了解他们拥有哪些资产以及有哪些权利，”罗贝塔·安德森(Roberta Anderson)说。安德森是银行People's United Bank私人银行部门的高级副总裁，该银行总部位于康涅狄格州格林威治市。她说，在这一问题上，不同年龄的人差异很大：相较于那些八九十岁的女性，年纪更轻的女性或许更能掌握资产的状况。
舒尔曼表示：“在我父亲过世后，我向母亲解释，‘一句话，不要回复电子邮件。’”舒尔曼是美国注册会计师协会(American Institute of Certified Public Accountants)老年规划工作组的成员。
帕特里夏·R·博勒加德(Patricia R. Beauregard)表示：“联名资产是一个大的危险信号。”博勒加德是康涅狄格州布里奇波特市Pullman & Comley律师事务所的律师。她说，在一个案件中，一位照顾伤残寡居姐姐的弟弟“同时也一直在非常频繁地帮自己获取姐姐的钱财。”他将自己设置成了账户联名人，为姐姐的退休计划申请了超额支取，并将这笔钱打到了联名账户中。