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If you’ve been asked to financially support a loved one, it’s important to maintain perspective – and healthy boundaries. That can be easier said than done! You may feel alone in this effort – like you’re the only one who can help. But here’s the good news. There are a number of meaningful ways you can help a loved one that won’t involve putting your retirement savings at risk.

First, zoom out and get a full picture of their situation. Discuss their short and long-term needs, current budget, funding sources, living situation and consider all the available options. They may be asking for money to install a chair lift in their 3-bedroom townhouse, when in reality moving into a 1-bedroom ranch home would solve their immediate problem and could provide long-term cost savings as well. Open communication is the key to uncovering alternate solutions.

Second, look into any government assistance they may be eligible for. You may uncover little-known benefits that could reduce the financial burden. For instance, Medicare may help pay for respite care for a limited time and some states provide free legal advice to seniors which can help with estate planning, power of attorney, and Medicaid eligibility. And if they or their spouse served in the military, the VA has extensive benefits they may qualify for. Seek the wise counsel of a financial advisor or eldercare expert for help in this process.

Lastly, consider how much time you have to evaluate what happens next. Ideally, these conversations should take place well before the point of crisis.

I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping a clear vision of your own ideal future during this process. Your number one priority in assisting a family member who’s in short-term financial distress, is to avoid putting your long-term financial goals, like retirement, at risk.

When my clients are in this situation, my goal is to help restore financial stability within the family, while being a sounding board for my client’s concerns. We strive to help identify both short and long-term solutions and work toward those goals, together.

My name is Joel, and I’m a financial advisor with Savant Wealth Management. If you’re feeling responsible to help a family member financially, but don’t want to jeopardize your own retirement, I encourage you to get in touch. Let’s figure this out together.

Author Joel Cundick Financial Advisor / Team Lead

Joel is frequently quoted in local and national media and has been a repeat guest on Federal News Radio. He teaches retirement preparation seminars to Federal employees through the National Institute of Transition Planning.

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