Have you been officially asked to manage someone else’s money? For example, have you been named as an agent under a power of attorney, or a trustee of a trust?
As our society ages, more and more people are being asked to take on these roles, but they can be daunting.
In order to help, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has published four free guides, under the general titleManaging Someone Else’s Money. The guides are designed for (1) agents under a power of attorney, (2) court-appointed guardians and conservators, (3) trustees of a living trust, and (4) people appointed to manage someone else’s government benefit checks.
In general, someone in such a position is called a “fiduciary.” Fiduciaries are legally required to manage the other’s person’s assets carefully, keep them separate from their own property, act in the other person’s best interests (and not necessarily their own), and keep good records. The guides include detailed information about these four duties.
The guides also offer advice on how to protect the person in your care from financial exploitation, how to avoid problems with family and friends who question your decisions, how to coordinate with other agents who may be assigned to work with you, and how to deal with outside professionals such as lawyers, brokers, and financial planners.
Most of the time, the exact extent of a fiduciary’s role will be determined by a document, such as a court order or a power of attorney or trust document. The four guides can’t make specific decisions for you, and they aren’t a substitute for legal advice, but they may be helpful in getting you started.