A 90-year-old man dropped $20 on a bracelet for his wife, thinking it’d be a cheap gift. Too bad the “rhinestones” were actually diamonds worth $25,000. Now ClickonDetroit’s Ruth Spencer reports the family’s on the hook for the credit card bill.According to the report, Maury Branch’s family was well aware of his declining cognitive abilities. However, the jewelry store owner felt differently.
“Everybody was trying to help him and he selected an item we had in the store and it was $25,000,” Curtis Gough, the store owner, told Spencer. “So, he was happy, everybody was happy.”
Branch’s daughter, who manages his finances, has vowed to help fight the bill. But more than anything, the story serves as a reminder to talk to our ageing parents about their finances. Though adult children find this awkward, there are ways to make it less so, said YM contributor Christine Benz. Here’s how to start the conversation:
Pay Attention: Look for things your parents are buying that seem out of the ordinary, then ask whether they’re aware of their erratic spending behaviour. This might be a good place to start, said Benz.
Don’t put it off: The biggest mistake people can make is ignoring the issue. While there’s no way to prevent credit nightmares like Branch’s, you can lessen their impact by being prepared. This may mean checking up on online accounts or offering to help manage your parents’ credit card.
Get Help: Benz recommends going through the Financial Planning Association or the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors to find an advisor you and your parents feel comfortable with. Avoid advisors who make commissions by selling financial products, a sure sign they may not have your best interests at heart. For more advice on finding an ethical advisor, check out Morningstar’s tips on YM.