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How to help older relatives organise finances for the future

Read our guide on how to start a conversation about finances and the future.

November 01, 2022

Elderly couple looking at finances online

Finances and looking to the future can sometimes be difficult things to talk about with elderly relatives, but it’s really important to discuss their wishes and plans and to put in place some practical measures for later life.

Whether it’s discussing potential future care needs, talking about how to best organise finances and making sure they have what they need, or just listening to them explain what they want to happen as they get older, these are vital conversations to have.

In this article, we share some ideas on how to start a conversation about finances and the future, along with some essential items for discussion and general money management tips for seniors that we hope you’ll find useful.


Starting a conversation on finances with older people

It can sometimes be very difficult to broach topics related to money and future plans with an older relative. While lots of elderly people will be happy to discuss this kind of thing with their loved ones, some may have always preferred to keep talk about finances more private, which is totally understandable too.

However, in order to find out their wishes and to try and make sure that they have everything they need throughout later life, it’s usually a good idea to have these types of conversations as early as possible.

Leaving things left unsaid until the point when your older relative needs urgent care, is suddenly not able to make their own decisions or require other assistance, means that there are usually far fewer options and choices available. This often means that things can become a lot more stressful for everyone if plans are not already in place.

Some good ways to start a conversation about this can include:

  • Talking about someone you know who has been through a similar experience recently in relation to finances, age, planning and future care needs
  • Mentioning that you’ve been thinking about this for yourself and want to make sure your loved ones understand your wishes, know about your financial interests and what you’d like to happen in the future if things change.


Do you need professional finance advice for an elderly person in your life?

Depending on the individual older person and their circumstances, they might benefit from getting some independent financial advice from a regulated professional to talk through their plans and other money matters. If they have investments or significant financial assets, such as owning several properties, for example, things can get very complex if some changes are needed or if they need to pay for care in the future.

A good place to start in finding someone qualified who can help is the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA).


Elderly man looking at finances

The kind of finances to discuss with an older relative

Your elderly loved one may be very organised with their day-to-day finances, be totally on top of all their accounts and financial products and may also have already prepared for the future financially, or they want some assistance with any or all of these things. Some of the areas you might want to discuss include:


Day-to-day finances – incomings and outgoings

This might not be something that your older loved one wants any help with, but in the light of the current cost of living crisis, it’s always good to check in with your elderly relative and see if they need any assistance.

If they are living on a fixed income, such as a pension, inflation and rising energy prices will have had an impact on their budget, so it’s worth talking about this in general terms and trying to bring the conversation round to how they might be managing their current outgoings.

There may be some assistance that they are entitled to that they are not currently claiming, or there could be other ways you can help them to save money.


Having a list of all financial accounts, insurance policies, debts etc

While your older relative doesn’t need to share the details with you if they don’t wish to at this stage, it can be a great idea for them to make a list of all of the bank accounts they have, financial products they hold, insurance policies that are running and any debts that they may have, such as mortgages (or equity release), loans or credit cards – noting down which company each item is with.

Don’t write down any passwords or login details next to account details in case this list falls into the wrong hands.

Having a list like this means that if something does happen to them, it will be much easier for those making decisions to be aware of these things without having to spend lots of time trying to find out the details.


Arranging Lasting Power of Attorney

If this isn’t already in place, it’s important that your older relative decides who should make decisions on their behalf if they become unable to do so for themselves.

There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), one that relates to finances and one that relates to health and welfare. The same person or people can be nominated (with their agreement) to do either or both of these.

Without an LPA in place, the next of kin or family members have absolutely no legal entitlement to manage an elderly person’s affairs if they lose capacity. It’s important that an LPA is put into place while the individual has full capacity to make their own decisions i.e. as soon as possible.

Find out more about LPAs.


Writing or updating a Will

While most people don’t find it easy to think or talk about, planning what will happen after death is important to ensure that someone’s wishes are followed. If your elderly loved one doesn’t currently have a Will, they won’t get to decide what happens to their estate after they pass on and it can make things much more complicated for loved ones to sort things out.

Some of the things you can include in a Will include:

  • Naming an Executor i.e. a person you trust who will be responsible for distributing your estate to the beneficiaries in accordance with your Will
  • Funeral wishes – although it is important that loved ones are aware that this information is included in the Will before death so that they don’t make other arrangements before the Will is read
  • Name beneficiaries and what money or assets they should receive if there are specific requests. This can include people, such as family or friends, and also organisations or charities.

It’s recommended to take legal advice when writing or updating a Will to ensure that it meets the necessary requirements.


Elderly couple signing will

Planning for future care costs

The most recent data indicates that there are nearly half a million people living in care or nursing homes in the UK. With an average stay of four years, the cost depends on many different elements, but TakingCare found that care home costs can easily reach between £113k - £161k. There is sometimes help with funding available, depending on circumstances, but most individuals are required to self-fund their care, and this can often mean that their home needs to be sold in order to pay for care.

It's important to discuss with your elderly loved one about their future wishes if a time comes that they can no longer live in their own home about where they want to stay. Having a conversation about this as early as possible can help ensure there is time to look at all of the options properly.

The cost of elderly care

It’s also important to discuss potential costs if residential care isn’t needed, but some assistance at home would be beneficial. This often includes regular or daily home visits, and funding this is also something that needs to be considered. Costs vary, depending on the level of care needed and the area of the country, but usually start at around £15 an hour.

Another alternative that can sometimes delay care costs is to consider elderly alarms that are monitored 24/7 in case of illness, a fall or an accident. Knowing that help is always at hand if needed can bring real peace of mind to the elderly person and their loved ones and enable them to carry on living independently for longer.

Personal alarm running costs

With a low monthly subscription cost and low running costs (estimated at 38p per month), emergency alarms for the elderly can be an option that is ideal for many people as they get older.

View personal alarms

Discussing financial matters with your elderly relative can be challenging, but taking these steps as soon as possible can make a big difference in later life. Taking to older loved ones about any changes in life or finances can be difficult, but we hope you’ve found these tips useful for starting a conversation and ensuring that essential matters are discussed which could make a real difference in the future.

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