And that means toiling over their annual income taxes.
Are you prepared for the day when you will have to prepare, or have prepared, your parents' income taxes? Among other things?
THE OLD DAYS
My mom used to do her income taxes with a commercial establishment, in her case H&R Block. She worked full-time until she was 85 and would bring all her papers over there and it was easy.
By last year there were several significant changes: she had quit work, she couldn't drive any longer, and I had Power of Attorney.
I contacted her tax agent, who said that if I could get all my mom's paperwork to her electronically, that she could file for her, as usual.
Last year was an awful year: My mom sold her home, got divorced, and moved again. I was often focused on those things, by necessity. It was also difficult for me to work my way through her paperwork, given her unique 'filing system'. And I don't know too much about taxes and mortgages or mortgage credits or what would constitute her tax paperwork in the first place. So this in itself involved several trips, airfare included, to go through her paperwork and seize the goods.
Once I had the goods, I had to scan everything, make electronic files out of it, and send everything to her tax preparer.
The fact that it was already April - NO BIG DEAL - I jest, because I enlisted my brother the lawyer to file for a late tax return. Would I have known how to do that? Would I have had to time to figure out how to do that? Not in your life.
From there it went rather easily, until it was time to actually file. I forgot to ask the tax returner to have the IRS direct deposit, until I remembered to tell her to have the IRS direct deposit into her checking account. So she had to do something - I don't know what - and get that corrected. DO NOT FORGET TO HAVE THE TAX AGENT DIRECT DEPOSIT.
Federal and state, done.
Another year later, another tax season. What would change? What could change?
Plenty. First of all, another move, another address. Second of all, a brother who has completely disconnected from me and almost entirely from my mother. Any chance of his filing for a late return? Next question. Putting my anger and resentment toward him aside....
What has also changed from last year is my mother's financial status. And how quickly it does change.
With less money now than ever, with the home sold and the proceeds now distributed between her and her ex-husband, and the monthly fees attached to living in independent living, she can no longer afford the tax filer. And she's no longer driving. That means my husband and I are downloading TurboTax on this windy but sunny Sunday afternoon, and doing and filing her taxes. I also think that it will be faster for me if we just do it ourselves, rather than my scanning everything, emailing everything, and doing through what I went through last year. Last year it was the most convenient thing. Even at that, the tax preparer and I were back and forth and back and forth with emails a zillion times, and it was me thinking through everything, "Is she entitled to medical deductions? Is she entitled to this and that?" This year I think doing it ourselves would be the most expedient thing.