Crash Course in Bill Paying

It is easy enough to go into your parents’ home and pay the bills. After all, my dad used online banking and I had a new laptop so we were ready to go. Almost . . .

This part is easiest to do in bullet points.

Add your name to every account and I mean every account
No one will talk to  you if you are not on the account. I mean NO ONE. So take some time and sit down with your parents and call every utility, every credit card, every everything!
Power of Attorney
You will need what is called Durable Power of Attorney over all medical care and finances. Hire an attorney to do this for you. Do not DIY off the internet. Keep a hard copy in the safety deposit box and a copy on  your email. You will be emailing that document EVERYWHERE.
Change of Address
This can be a little bit trickier. I was able to change the address when my parents moved out of their home and into a retirement community. I simply told them that I would rather come visit then come pay the bills. So all bills come to my house now but bank statements go to their new address.
Activating new/replacements cards: Remember that when you change the address on their bills and you have to activate replacement cards the zip code to activate the cards will be “your” zip code not your parents. That was very frustrating the first time we had to activate a card.
Although I paid my parents’ bills online, it was easier to send a check and fill out the change of address that came with some credit card bills. Then I went back to online payments next month.
Some companies will allow you to set up an online account and make some changes through this online account. American Express is a good example. I was able to add my name to their account so that I could talk to AE about problems and dispute claims.
Disputing items on credit card bills: I have never disputed so many claims in my life. I have learned that my parents had many recurring charges. For example there are some travel clubs that have charged them $99.95 once a year for years and American Express offers travel insurance that renews each year for $23.95. Go through each credit card bill with a fine tooth comb! You never know what you will find. I have been paying their bills for 18 months and I am still finding things.

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