How To Tell If Your Loved One’s Finances Are Out of Control

Elder law attorneys in Upper Marlboro, Prince George’s County, focus on bridging the generations, and because of that, we understand many of the nuances that create a disconnect between adult children and their aging parents.  One major issue can be that of finances.  In the older generation, it is still considered fairly taboo to discuss one’s financial situation with others.  It may be thought of as inappropriate or unseemly, or it may invoke worries of looking like a braggart or of letting others know the elderly adult is struggling.

This culture of silence extends to one’s own children.  Elder law attorneys in Upper Marlboro, Prince George’s County, as well as other places in Maryland often find that adult children of elderly parents assume that finances are fine because their parents don’t come to them when issues do arise.  It’s not just a matter of pride, but a matter of “this is the way things are.”  By the time financial concerns are uncovered, they can already have devastated the parent.

So, how do you know if your parents are struggling financially?  Here are some clues to watch for if you don’t feel that Mom or Dad is being upfront about their financial difficulties:

  • Calls from creditors.  This can be a big clue that there is an issue.  You may overhear these calls, find them left on the answering machine, or even notice their numbers on your parent’s phone logs or caller ID.  These calls can also come from individual businesses or credit card companies looking for payment.
  • Forgetfulness  when it comes to money. If your parent seems surprised to find no money in his or her wallet, it  can be a sign that money is getting overlooked.  Another indicator  can be finding uncashed checks around the house.  As parents get  older, banking can become more physically difficult and it is easier to  become distracted or forgetful when it comes to taking care of financial  obligations.  Recognizing this can help prevent major problems before  they develop.
  • Unopened  mail. Staying on top  of bank statements, Social Security payments, and other financial  documentation that comes in the mail is an important part of keeping finances in order.  If your parent has stacks of unsorted or unopened  mail in the house, it may mean that he or she is not taking care of bank  accounts or bills.  Also check the mail for signs that Mom or Dad is  being taken advantage of by scams that present themselves as “opportunities.”
  • They actually  are talking about money.  While many older people don’t want to talk about money as described above,  there may come a time when things are getting tight and your parent wants  you to notice without him or her coming right out and saying there’s a  problem.  If your parent talks more than usual about the rising cost of living or is suddenly unable to do typical activities, such as going  out with friends, it may be a sign that there is a financial struggle going on.

An elder and estate planning attorney in Maryland, can help your parents stay on track and on target with his or her finances, even setting up systems that can keep things working smoothly should physical or mental decline become an obstacle down the road.  There are a number of resources and tools that pertain specifically to estate and elder law that have been created to help the older generation live comfortably in their golden years.


Kinsey Law Group, P.C. was formed to focus on the needs of families.  If you have questions or concerns, you’re invited to call 301-968-1630 or send an e-mail anytime, without cost or obligation.

Get a copy of our free guide “WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN HURT YOUR FAMILY: 5 Easy Ways to Make Sure Your Children, Wishes and Assets Stay Protected Should Something Happen to You”

We offer many of our Assisted Reproduction/Surrogacy and Estate Planning services virtually (legal services online) to save you time and to make obtaining legal help more convenient for you.

Locations: Montgomery County (Bethesda, Maryland); Prince George’s County (Upper Marlboro, Maryland).

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