Growing older is an unavoidable part of life, and along with that often comes a decline in the ability to manage the financial aspects of life. In fact, experts say that by age 60, an individual’s capability for processing new information begins to slow, and this is not even taking into account situations that involve medical conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s. While some people may remain capable of making their own financial decisions far into their senior years, others might start needing help early on; this is where a New York estate planning lawyer may be able to offer guidance.

If an individual notices that he or she is having difficulty understanding financial concepts or even basic math, it could be a warning sign of cognitive financial skill decline. Other red flags include overlooking important details in documents or taking noticeably longer to get through common financial tasks. Trouble understanding financial concepts that used to provide no confusion could be another sign as well.

When an elderly parent or loved one starts showing one or more of these signs, it could mean that it’s time for a spouse or children to being making long-term legal plans to help with financial decision making. With the help of an estate planning lawyer, basic legal documents — such as a medical directive and a will — can be put in place to ensure wishes are carried out. Something called a diminishing capacity letter can also be prepared, which gives permission for the involved professional to contact an individual’s loved ones when weakened mental capacity is noted.

The best approach, experts advise, is to have a plan in place just in case, even if those involved never end up needing it. Often, financial interdependence is a slow and ongoing process and varies greatly from person to person. While some may need intervention at an early age, others value their independence and may not want aid until their cognitive financial abilities are greatly reduced. Either way, having New York estate planning lawyer help establish a plan early on may be the safest and smoothest means for avoiding financial disasters down the road.

Source:, “Signs your aging parents need help managing their finances”, Sarah Skidmore Sell, Jan. 5, 2017