Updated May 18, 2013.
There are many aspects of caring for a disabled person, and one that can be easily overlooked is handling finances. When being a caregiver is suddenly thrust upon a person, they may not be aware of bills, insurance policies and bank accounts that belong to someone else. A disabled person’s financial health is just as important as their physical and mental health. If you ignore problems, they can soon snowball and become seemingly insurmountable.
While it isn’t always necessary to take over the finances of a disabled person, there are some instances where a caregiver will have to take over. A person who is very ill doesn’t have the time or concentration required to pay bills, insurance premiums or to make deposits into bank accounts.
A lawyer may be required if you need to take over the finances of an adult who is no longer able to care for their own finances. Alternatively the disabled person can sometimes help to plan ahead by signing a “durable power of attorney” naming you as the individual to act on their behalf. A living will can also be drawn up to name a caregiver to make decisions regarding a disabled person’s health care should they become incapacitated.
One of the easiest ways to manage income for a disabled person is to set up direct deposits to their accounts. This will limit the number of times a disabled person or a caregiver will have to travel to the bank. In addition, many banks offer bill paying online.
Bills can be set up to be paid automatically on the same day every month, ensuring on-time payments with no trips to the post office required.
Stocks and Bonds
If a disabled person has stocks and bonds you will need to be aware of their disposition as well. If the disabled person is able, they can add you onto the accounts so that you can make decisions regarding buying or selling of stocks.
Savings bonds can be reissued with additional names on them as long as they aren’t within one month of maturing. Forms for reissuing a bond can be downloaded from the U.S. Treasury website, or they can be obtained at a local bank. If there is more than one name on the bond and the word “and” is between the two names, both persons must sign the bond in order to cash it. If the word “or” is between the two names, either party can cash the bond on their own. Additionally, beneficiaries can be named on savings bonds.
It is very important when managing another person's finances to be aware of all insurance policies and their due dates. While many Medicare recipients have their premiums taken directly out of their Social Security Disability payments, others do not. Premiums have to be paid on time to ensure that a disabled person’s healthcare bills are covered.
If you are new to taking care of another person's insurance, it may be a good idea to talk with a local insurance agent to make sure that a loved one has the right amount of coverage. Considerations include short and long-term care coverage as well as supplemental and pharmaceutical coverage.
Safety Deposit Boxes
If you’re caring for a person who has a safety deposit box, be aware of what bank it is in as well as where the key to the box is kept. If the disabled person is able, have them add you onto the account so that you can gain access to the safety deposit box if needed.
It isn’t always possible to plan ahead for someone’s disability. However, keeping important papers in one place, such as bank account numbers, insurance policies and copies of legal papers can make it easier to take over another person's finances should the need arise. Discuss finances with family members and appointed caregiversbefore there is a crisis. It will give everyone peace of mind knowing that there is a financial plan in place for the care of a loved one.