By Richard McDonald
Yes. It is a good idea to prepare financially for prison. There are resources to help you get your finances in order before you go to prison. This applies not only to your finances before going to prison but also the money that you are able to earn while you are in prison.
Can someone else handle your finances while you are in prison?
Yes. You’ll need to sign a legal document that allows someone else to make decisions about your money. A power of attorney allows you to give permission to someone you trust to handle your finances. They can manage your money while you are serving time.
It is difficult to manage outside affairs from prison. Introduce your power of attorney to the people you do business with. That way, they are familiar when the time comes to manage your affairs. You should set up a joint bank account with your trusted partner.
It is also possible for someone to demand money from you while you are in prison. In these situations, it is important to have an outside source managing your money for you.
Should you sign up for identity theft protection?
Yes. You might want to think about enrolling in identity-theft protection. Set it up so that your power of attorney is notified of any attempted identity theft. As a re-entry clerk in prison, I observed a high number of identity theft cases against my fellow incarcerated people. The people who commit identity theft against prisoners are often people they know. For extra safety, freeze all your credit accounts so they can’t be used.
Should you continue to pay your credit cards?
If you have balances on any credit cards, be proactive. Call your creditors and negotiate a payment plan. This will meet your obligations and protect your credit rating. You will find that many creditors will be willing to work with you.
What if you have student loan payments?
There are options for your student loans if you are incarcerated. While you technically are still responsible for your student loans, you are able to put them into deferment. You can also figure out a loan payment option with your creditor. This can result in a $0 payment during your prison stay.
Should you set a monthly budget for your family?
Yes. Set up a budget for your monthly expenses. There are resources and phone apps that can help. Apps like Truebill, Mint and others can help you manage bills, track subscriptions and help with many other expenses. Some of these apps will request refunds for unauthorized expenses.
Do you still pay child support?
Yes. Paying child support, even while you are in prison, is an obligation that doesn’t go away. Call the local child support office and notify them of your pending incarceration. This way, you avoid paying penalties. Most agencies have options that address incarceration.
Do not ignore financial obligations when you go to prison. It will only increase the obstacles you face once you are released. Prepare financially before going to prison to avoid unnecessary complications upon release.