Stefan R. Huber | Research Analyst
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January 30th, 2020
Older people without a partner or surviving children are becoming increasingly more prevalent in the modern age. The majority of these “solo agers” have no one to help them out with their finances or bills. In the case that they become unable to manage their money, it’s very important that they have someone to handle their financial affairs. After consulting a few legal and financial professionals, here’s what we advise for solo agers looking to keep their finances safe:
Create a Trust
Institutional trusts are a great option for those looking to structure their finances securely. If you have any living relatives that you trust (pun intended), you can list them as trustees as well. The important point is to name a financial institution as a successor trustee. It’s one of the safest options for solo agers, says NYC estate planner Martin Shenkman. “The benefits of an institutional trustee are professionalism, experience and guidance. There are tons of checks and balances to protect you. That’s vital for anyone who is vulnerable and isolated,” says Shenkman. Creating a living trust with an institution is a great way to make sure your finances are handled later down the line.
Designate a Bill Payer
Keeping the lights on is generally a given, but there may come a time when you need assistance with paying those bills. This is where a bill payer comes in. For small bills, such as electric, gas, and heating, it’s best to hire a bill-paying service. For the larger bills, it’s best to have an attorney or accountant on call. But doing due diligence on these bill payers is important, says Jennifer VanderVeen, President of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys. “You want to make sure they’re bonded or insured and that you can check out their background,” VanderVeen says. Putting your bills is the right hands is of absolute importance.
Have Someone Watch the Bill Payer
Once you have decided on a bill payer, it can be wise to hire someone else to keep oversight. Watchdogs, or professionals that keep an eye on all transactions, can help to make sure that everything runs smoothly and all money is accounted for. Having this monitor is critical, says Floridian financial adviser Carolyn McClanahan. “You need people doing the work. But you also need people watching the people doing the work,” she says. Having the extra set of eyes on your finances can bring great peace of mind to solo agers.
What other advice would you give to solo agers? Share with other members!
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