It can be heartbreaking to realize that you’re incurring expenses you can no longer remember making. But it doesn’t have to be as bad as it sounds- there are a few things you can do to protect your finances if you have memory loss. Below, we’ll outline six steps for protecting your bank accounts and credit reports to minimize your risk of debt or financial losses.
1. Set Up a Living Will and Power of Attorney
Before you can move forward with the steps above, you must ensure that you’ve established a living will and properly appointed a power of attorney for financial matters. As well as providing for your end-of-life care, your living will can protect your children from being stuck with any bills you may have left behind. If necessary, your POA can take over finances right away instead of waiting for a court proceeding.
2. Set Up an Annual Review for Any Financial Advisor
If you have an advisor or financial planner handling your investments and insurance, you should set up an annual review so that there is a written record of your discussions. This will be especially important if you lose memory and can no longer remember what you’ve decided to do or why. You should also check with professionals (controllers, accountants) who handle your finances regularly.
3. Set Up Automatic Bill Pay With Online Access
If you’re responsible for paying bills by mail, things can easily fall through the cracks. To avoid this, set up automatic bill pay that gives you online access to your bills so you can check in on them from time to time. Whether it’s automatic and paid electronically, or you can manually view your bills, this will keep you in the know and reduce your chances of missing a payment.
4. Start Keeping All Receipts and Records of Purchases
If you’re dreading the idea of paperwork, you may be tempted to ignore that things can slip through the cracks. However, you must keep track of your spending to protect yourself from financial losses. If you want things to be as organized as possible, set up a separate file for your financial statements so that every transaction is documented. This can make it easier for loved ones to organize and decipher your information after you’re gone.
5. Shift Money Management Duties To Your Advocate
As your memory starts to slip, you may be less and less inclined to keep track of your finances. If this sounds like you, consider shifting money management duties to an advocate. This may include making sure that your bills are paid on time, or it might mean having checks signed by more than one person so they can pay them when necessary. If you have a power of attorney for finances, they can do the work for you, so it’s a matter of delegating the duties when someone is available to cover them.
6. Sort Out Your Important Documents
As you age, you may be tempted to let things slip by. This is the wrong approach if you value your financial security. Keep all important documents (and copies of them) in a safe place, so they aren’t misplaced or destroyed when moving or cleaning. This includes things like your birth certificate, social security card, and any other documents associated with your finances, such as car titles, insurance cards, and investment policies. Even if you don’t remember making the document, you must keep it in a safe place to refer to it if necessary.
Once your financial information is organized, it’s easier for others to find and understand. And since you’ll have all of your important documents in one place, it will be much easier for people to review the details with you.