When Do I Hand Over My Bank Info?
"I am in my mid 80s and wonder about when to let someone in on my banking information.
I have two children and they both are poor money managers. Sometimes they ask me for money, and their marriages are not the best. I’m worried that if I let one of them have my passwords or joint ownership of my bank accounts, things could go south, fast. I really just don’t know what to do.
Right now, my memory is good. I pay my bills on time and manage my affairs without a problem. I just feel like I should be doing something to prepare for the future. I’m definitely not getting younger. What does someone in my situation do?"
Finances are definitely the hardest thing to let go of, and when to do so is always a tough decision to make. You’re wise to be thinking about it and attempting to come up with a solution that works for you and your family.
You’re also wise to be cautious about giving account access to anyone who has yet to prove their good judgement when it comes to your money, or their own. Frankly, I wouldn’t give my passwords or account to anyone I did not consider trustworthy, not even my children. With that said, what’s a person to do in your situation? Consider the following:
- Visit with an estate planner and an estate attorney to update your will. Do this now while you’re clearly of sound mind, and able to get around.
- Create an advance directive for health care.
- Type all of your account names, IDs and passwords for everything on paper and place that document in a safe deposit box at the bank. Include insurance policies, bills, pension plans, advance directive copy, and investments. Designate a beneficiary upon your death so the box can be accessed at that time. Yes, you may have to change a password from time to time and that will require a trip to the bank. That is the highest level of security I can imagine. No one can access your box at the bank even if they have the key. Electronic storage is an option, though it requires access to your computer passwords to locate them.
- Look to a younger sibling, niece or nephew to assist you in the future. Ideally, you select two individuals so there’s more than one person monitoring the bill paying and money distribution of your funds. It keeps everyone honest and in check. You can seek out a Daily Money Management (DMM) program as a last resort. That’s an organization that manages your accounts and pays your bills for a fee.
- If your investments are significant, it may be time to have a financial manager supervise your assets, if they’re not already. You can then direct how assets might be distributed and to whom. They’ll take a yearly fee based on your invested dollars, so prepare for that reality.
The most important thing that you need to do now is begin to put into place your plan for the future. If your children are not a solution, you’ll need to work much harder to feel safer moving forward. Your estate planner and attorney have likely heard of your situation many times before. They’ll advise you as to your specific situation and help you though this process.
It’s smart to think of this now and work on a plan. It’ll take some time so please don’t delay getting started. I wish you well on this journey, and a safe and secure future.
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