When mom hides money in the house

Ask NJMoneyHelp

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Q. My mother says she has enough money saved, but I’ve seen her bank accounts. I think she hides money in her house. I don’t want her to think I’m nosy but I think this is a bad idea. help!
— Trying

A. You are in a difficult position.

It sounds like you want to help your mother but you also want to respect her privacy.

This is a common situation for many adult children, said Roy Williams, president and founder of Prestige Wealth Management in Flemington and Millburn.

However, he said, if you suspect she is hiding money in the house, you should probably mention your concerns.

“Obviously, cash can be stolen, but more likely she might forget where she hid it, or it could get accidentally discarded or destroyed in a fire,” Williams said. “Granted, interest rates are extremely low but money is always much safer in a bank.”

Williams said if your mother insists on keeping her cash at home, she should at least get a fireproof safe that is bolted to the floor.

The bigger problem seems to be whether you should interfere with your mother’s affairs.

Williams said unfortunately, the reality is that if you don’t at least say something, some other person might take advantage of her and you won’t find out about it until it is too late.

“You might start the conversation by asking your mother if she has a power of attorney or if so, has she named you as her agent,” Williams said. “You might also ask if she has a living will or health care directive. This might lead to a discussion about helping her with her finances.”

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NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.