Q. My 85-year-old mother, who is still in pretty good mental and physical shape, has recently showed signs of confusion about her finances. She lives off the principle of her portfolio and is sent a check every month from her financial advisor. Although she is not overly extravagant, I am concerned that she is over-spending. Last year she added me to her bank account. Do you think it would be wise for me to set her up with online banking so that I could monitor her spending?
Sarah G., Bethesda, Maryland
A. I do think that’s a good idea for several reasons. In addition to monitoring her spending, you also want to make sure that she is not being scammed by solicitors — either by phone or door-to-door — and that it is indeed her signature on all checks.
Since you are already on her account, I am assuming that you have already had a conversation with her about her finances and that she welcomes your help and involvement. This indicates to me that she would be receptive to hearing your concerns about her spending — as long as you keep the conversation focused on preventing fraud and using her funds as wisely as possible.
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It appears that you may be a step or two away from managing your mother’s daily financial needs. If that is the case, I recommend that you ask your mother if you can join her in her next in-person meeting with her financial advisor. This will enable you to establish a rapport with him or her, and become familiar with her financial situation. With your mother’s blessing, this will ensure a smooth transition that is seamless and stress-free.
Recommended reading: The Complete Guide to Managing Your Parents’ Finances When They Cannot, by Bill Swan.