Consumer Reports recently highlighted the Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans new “Managing Someone Else’s Money” brochure series. The series of brochures includes one about how to get power of attorney for the older senior. The second brochure is meant for those who are the court appointed guardians. And the third and fourth brochure was written for government fiduciaries.
The brochure for help for agents under a power of attorney outlines what it means to be a fiduciary.
Some highlights of their recommendations:
- As much as possible, involve the older person in decisions
Put their well being above the financial interests of the people who stand to interrupt their property and money. If the person is unable to say what they want, try to find out what they would have wanted. Do this by recalling past actions, decisions, and actions.
- Avoid Conflicts of interest
For example, do not by a car with their money if you would be using it mostly for your own needs. Do not hire a relative to do repair to the older person’s home if it is not the least expensive and best option. If in any case, it appears to benefit your family more than the older person, it’s a conflict of interest.
- Don’t pay yourself for the time you spend dealing with the older person’s businessThe only exception is if it is allowed by the power-of-attorney document. If you pay yourself, be sure to record how much you have paid your self and keep it a reasonable amount.
-Never the mix the older person’s money and property with your own, or anyone else's
Do not deposit their money into someone else’s account. Avoid joint accounts. Be sure to keep title to the older individual’s property and money in their name.
-Keep good records
Be sure that all transactions are documented. Include receipts and expenditures. Avoid paying in cash, do not use their ATM card to withdraw cash and do not write checks out to cash.
It is also important to keep watch for any changes in a senior’s behavior, accounts, or phone calls/emails/mail they may receive.
Be sure to also watch out for these and other warning signs to protect them from exploitation and scams:
Money or property appears to be missing
Spending or savings patterns have changed
Bank statements or bills suddenly aren’t arriving
Older person is making new or unusual gifts
Senior changes beneficiaries
Someone new is handling their money