Senior Finances: How Bookkeeping Helps Keep Your Loved One from Being Overwhelmed

senior finances
Are you helping take care of an elderly friend or loved one who needs help with their finances? Is your senior’s house awash in crumpled pieces of paper with financial information on them, but you have no idea what they mean?

Perhaps your senior has no system to take care of bill-paying, tax-filing, and similar tasks. Maybe they used to be able to do these things on their own, but the consequences of aging have taken their toll, preventing the senior from fully understanding or coping with money management. You try to help them get organized, but it’s so confusing and frustrating you end up wanting to pull out your hair.

If this situation looks familiar, you might consider hiring an agency that does bookkeeping and helps manange senior finances.

It’s true you can save money and do the senior’s bookkeeping yourself, but as we’ve seen, it’s often just as a tiresome and time-consuming challenge for you as it is your loved one. This is why there are businesses that specialize in helping manage senior finances, or offer it as part of their overall accounting department.

What bookkeeping for seniors looks like

There is no “one size fits all” bookkeeping service for seniors. Some will have relatively simple needs such as bill management, and maybe help filing their taxes once a year. Others’ situations are more complicated, and they will need help keeping track of finances from multiple marriages, divided assets or business income, or complex tax filing. Fortunately, there are many agencies that can tailor their programs to specific services for your loved one.

Here are several services that could potentially benefit your loved one:

  • Daily money management. This includes paying bills for rent, mortgage, utilities, home health care services, and other ordinary, day-to-day expenses.
  • Tax preparation. Professional bookkeepers can make sure your loved one’s tax returns are filed on time, error-free, and even early, so that they quickly receive any refund they’re entitled to. They may be able to review tax documents from previous years, if you have them available, just to make sure nothing was overlooked. If you’d prefer your loved one’s tax return be processed even more quickly, ask if it can be filed electronically. This is often something seniors have a great deal of trouble with, but it can be well worth it if they’re expecting a refund!
  • Healthcare and insurance payment. Please note that the bookkeeping person or agency will not be making medical decisions for your loved one. However, they may be able to make sure insurance premiums are paid on time and in full, doctor co-pays are met, and deductibles are satisfied, among other things.

When looking for a bookkeeper for your senior, be sure they’re ethical and reliable. This includes being licensed and in good standing with any state board they report to, as well as having a good understanding of the financial needs of the elderly.

How much does bookkeeping for seniors cost?

The cost of bookkeeping for seniors range from hourly to a few hundred dollars a month, depending on your senior’s needs, and how complicated their financial life is. There’s no harm in shopping around for different services and seeing what their prices are. The agency you’re considering may be able to offer you a package that suits your loved one’s needs, with them taking on some of the bookkeeping responsibilities, and you handling other (simpler) ones.

Talk to your loved one about bookkeeping for seniors

If your loved one has decision-making capabilities, talk to them about bookkeeping for seniors. See if it is something they would be interested in once they understand the pro’s and con’s. Determine if the senior is able to pay for such help; you can also take on the cost yourself, or manage it between you. On the whole, this service can save you and your loved one a great deal of time and stress – and you can’t put a price on that!

If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.

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