We have seen our clients and friends need to assist older family members with their financial affairs. If you have not been asked to do this yet, you most likely will in the future. To help those in the “financial caregiver” role, the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has published four guides titled “Managing Someone Else’s Money” to assist in this role.
- People named agents under a power of attorney
- Those appointed by a court as a guardian or conservator
- Trustees in charge of living trusts, and
- Those appointed by a government agency to manage Social Security or veteran’s benefits.
[highlight]Each of the guides has three purposes:[/highlight]
1) to walk caregivers through their duties,
2) to tell them how to watch for scams and financial exploitation (and what to do if a family member becomes a victim); and
3) to tell caregivers where they can turn for additional help.
We will discuss each guide in separate posts over the next several weeks.
The first guide is for “[highlight]People named agents under a Power of Attorney[/highlight]“. This guide will help you understand what you can and cannot do in your role as an agent. In that role, you are a fiduciary. For this guide, a fiduciary is anyone named to manage money or property for someone else. You’ll find brief tips to help you avoid problems and resources for finding more information.
This guide is for family and friends serving as an agent, not for professionals or organizations. The guide does not give you legal advice. State laws vary, so you may have additional duties. [highlight]Talk to a competent Trust & Estate lawyer if you have questions about your duties.[/highlight] If you want to learn about drawing up a power of attorney, this guide is not designed for you. Talk to a lawyer or read other guides about power of attorney from your state bar association or others.
The guide discusses this scenario to highlight an example when you may be in this situation.
Your family member or friend is worried that she will get sick and will not be able to pay her bills or make other decisions about her savings and house. For this guide, let’s call her Martina. Martina has signed a legal document called a power of attorney. In it, she names you as her agent and gives you the power to make decisions about money and property for her. The law gives you a lot of responsibility as Martina’s agent under a power of attorney.
To download the guide, click on the silver button below:
[button link=”http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201310_cfpb_lay_fiduciary_guides_agents.pdf” color=”silver”]Help for Agents Under a Power of Attorney[/button]
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