Simplifying Your Finances to Maintain Your Independence

Jim Davis, CPA (and ACV’s Director of Legacy Giving) has spent the last forty years assisting people with their financial affairs. During this period, senior adults, their children, and caregivers have asked him many questions as to how they should prepare for the transition to retirement and later life in the handling of financial matters. Many of these same concerns and will be addressed in this article. Keep reading to learn more.

Consider simplifying financial affairs

As you age and your mental capabilities decrease, make things easier on yourself by using one bank, one securities broker, receive monthly payments directly into your bank account, and have your bills drafted directly from your bank account. This move could allow you to remain independent longer.

Consider having someone assist

If you desire to have someone assist you with your financial affairs or be ready to help you when the need arises, make sure you have communicated your financial information to them. This information should include at the minimum, the following items:

  • Monthly Social Security benefits
  • Health insurance carriers
  • Pension benefits
  • Bank accounts
  • Securities accounts
  • Annuities
  • Real estate
  • Royalties
  • Gas and oil leases
  • Savings bonds
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Will
  • Location
  • Accessibility of safe deposit box
  • The location where mail is received.
  • Location of the supporting documentation and contact information

As you consider someone to assist you with your financial affairs, whether it is a family member or a caregiver, it is essential to consider these individuals’ capabilities, reliability, and honesty. Remember, you have acquired these funds over your lifetime, and the decision to give control to someone else should not be made lightly. If you have a securities account with sophisticated investments, please consider the knowledge of those you trust to work with your broker. If your family member thinks that if there are checks in your checkbook that automatically means you have money in your account, would you want them to handle your financial affairs?

The decision can be a sensitive matter; however, it should be made while you have the ability to make the decision.

Prepare a spouse to take over financial affairs

Another issue that is often overlooked is preparing a spouse to take a more significant role in the couple’s financial affairs. Traditionally, the husband has assumed control of a household’s economic issues, leaving the wife somewhat in the dark. Davis mentions witnessing this in his assistance to seniors, which prompted him to ask his wife, Wendy, if she could pay their monthly bills and assist in other personal financial issues. If something happens to a spouse, this could help avoid unneeded stress for the spouse when the situation arises.

Consider how you title your bank or security accounts to ease the transition

If you have someone to assist you, especially a family member, consider placing their name on your account. This method will allow them to make transactions on your behalf when you are unable to make a decision. In addition, you should recognize that upon your death, the funds go directly to the signer and that should be considered in your estate planning.

As you consider these issues, please consult with your legal and professional advisers. You will want to make sure your plans work together.

Please feel free to contact Jim Davis at jdavis@acvillage.net or 386-658-5110, for more information and questions. 

About the author: As a CPA and Financial Planner, Jim Davis has headed up an accounting firm serving individuals, nonprofits and other businesses. He has advised senior adults on financial issues for more than 40 years. Currently, Jim is ACV’s Director of Legacy Giving, assisting people in making gifts to ACV from their wills or estates.



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* Village Streams and other articles are written to provide general information. In no way, shape, or form should Advent Christian Village giving medical, financial, or legal advice. Please consult with professional one-on-one about your situation and your needs.

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