Mothers, Daughters, Money Managers
Jul 15, 2014
Whether it’s for a parent, child or other family member, the job of caregiver often falls on women. As a caregiver, you might have a variety of responsibilities — nurse, cook, housekeeper and errand runner. But you also could be responsible for managing the finances of the person in your care.
A power of attorney is a legal document giving you the authority to make financial decisions for someone else. It typically goes into effect when physical or mental disability prevents the person you’re caring for from handling his or her own finances. As the agent, you’re required to act in the person’s best interest, manage money and property carefully and maintain accurate records.
The nitty gritty
An agent performs many different tasks. You might pay bills, oversee bank accounts, review financial statements and pay for items the person you’re caring for needs. If the person owns property, it will be your job to maintain it and make sure it’s insured. Paying bills and taxes on time and collecting debts, such as rents, are also the agent’s responsibility.
You may also have to make investment decisions. Your financial and tax professionals can help you make choices based on the goals and needs of the person in your care.
Assets and debts
In order to make sound decisions, you’ll need a complete picture of the individual’s finances. Compile a list of all assets and debts, including bank and retirement accounts, investments, real estate, vehicles, insurance policies, valuable personal property and unpaid bills and outstanding loans.
Let the records speak for you
It’s important to have detailed and accurate records of the person’s money and property and the amounts you’ve spent or received for the person’s care. Include the amounts of checks written or deposited, dates, reasons and the names of the individuals or companies involved in the transactions. Retain all receipts, even for small expenses, with notes describing the purchases, and avoid paying with cash.
Keep your own money separate, even when the person you’re caring for is a close relative, to avoid any confusion over who owns what.