Please help! Should I get involved with my dad's finances?

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Hello! My dad is in his 80's, and he lives independently with his wife, who's also in her 80's. They married late in life and keep their finances separate. She seems to be good at managing her financial affairs, but my dad admitted to me that he's forgotten to pay "some bills" recently, and he cannot get his records and receipts together to file his taxes, so he has filed for an extension.


Dad has a bit hoarding problem with not wanting to throw away any mail or newspapers. His wife refuses to let it spill out of his office though, so it's in piles all through his large office, but there are papers everywhere, bills everywhere on multiple tables in the office, and I think it sounds like it's beginning to be too much for him to figure it all out on his own.


He's also giving my siblings money each month. One sibling gets to live in a house Dad bought, but the sibling doesn't pay the rent he promised Dad, and Dad pays the utilities because sibling won't work, etc. The other sibling was just promised a large sum of money to buy a house with.


I have no idea how much money my dad has in his bank accounts, so I don't know if it's safe for him to be giving all this money to my siblings. He's also giving money to their adult kids who call him monthly and ask for help with their rent and to buy them things.


My dad is not "rich", but he saved over the years and he has good equity in the home he bought with his wife, but they each share half of the worth of the house, promising to split it evenly when they pass. And their kids can split their halves evenly among themselves.


His wife is the trustee of his estate if he is to pass away first, and then I'm next in line after her to be the trustee in the event he passes. Should I ask him if he would want me to begin handling his financial affairs for him now since he sounds like he's getting overwhelmed? I like his wife, I believe she loves him and cares about him, so should I ask her if she would want to start overseeing my dad's financial affairs for him, instead?


However, part of me is afraid of asking his wife to oversee Dad's finances, since she and I are not close, and I'm worried that if she was to begin declining mentally in the next few years because she's actually older than my dad, her kids would step in for her and then they would try and take over my dad's financial affairs, too? I don't know her kids at all, and I know the oldest has anger and control issues so I'm weary about ever working with them on these things.


Would love to hear some advice from you, and also I live a couple of hours away by plane, so I can't just drive over there and help him out on a daily basis.


Thanks,
Grace

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Graceful, your Dad's ability to focus isn't likely to get better so it may be a good time to help him. You might start off lightly and see how that goes. 'gee Dad, let's see if there are any bills that need to be paid here so you don't get any late charges!'
When I noticed my Mom getting overwhelmed, I offered to help her with the medical bills and Medicare/insurance statements. I saw that she was surprised so I backed off and said, 'it's just that I worked in insurance for so many years and I see how confusing all these papers can be. Let me know.' It was so funny, the next visit there she said yes, I should do the insurance stuff! She had asked her friends and they all looked at her like she was nuts and said their kids had been doing that for years.
In making sure I had the insurance stuff, I was able to say, gee do we need this activities list from last month etc. It took a few times, but we did whittle down some of the extraneous stuff. (I also had a large open purse to toss unneeded items into when she was in the bathroom or kitchen) It takes a bit of time but she began to feel better - and so did I!
The seniors are so overwhelmed that they don't even realize what a burden it has all become! Good luck
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There is a great little book called 5@55 which explains the 5 legal documents you should have in place by age 55. Get a copy and take it along when you visit; dad needs to see that it's not just you saying he needs to have a poa, etc.
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Yes, it is time to talk to your dad about his finances. You're in a good position to do something now. Sounds like he trusts you enough to tell you about it and since you are first in line (of your siblings) to make decisions for him, this is the time to get things in order.
He's only going to get older and have more difficulty as time goes on, so you need to act. You need to take a trip to see him. Organize his office and go over his situation with him. Have a heart-to-heart with him about the future and find out what he wants. I have a feeling that your siblings and nieces/nephews are bleeding him dry of money. They won't like you stepping in but someone needs to.
Once you have a good understanding of his situation, ask him to make you financial and medical surrogate to safeguard his wellbeing. Make sure he feels it's his choice to do it and that you are just looking out for him. Also, ask to look at his will if you can and see how it is worded. You don't want any surprises if he should pass away unexpectedly - example, 'rights to survivorship' where everything goes to her and her children.
I've been in a similar situation recently and have had a crash course in elder care and affairs. The worst parts have been the surprises and disappointment when something we assumed was true, wasn't. Make sure you are prepared and know the situation. It will definitely help you deal with things in the future. God bless
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Graceful, I agree that treading lightly here is key. I think I'd ask dad if he'd like some help " organizing " a bit so that you can set up an easier way for him to track his bills. This will give you an opportunity to assess how bad the problem is.

Does some have power of attorney for dad, both for financial and medical Issues? Look into that.

Have you ever accompanied your dad to his doctor appointments? His doctor should be made aware of this decline.
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