Mom’s off to tennis, then lunch. Tomorrow, it’s dinner out before the theatre. Then there’s the monthly lecture series, which helps keep her connected and engaged. It’s no wonder her bills and papers and mail pile up. Do you worry the power company has her on the “pending disconnect” list?
Or Dad is becoming forgetful, and he’s agitated about all the paperwork he can’t seem to get organized. You’ve offered to help with paying bills and balancing the checkbook, but he’s still pretty independent and will have none of that. And with tax time here, his frustration has become more pronounced.
This scenario is familiar to many of us. And yet, as much as we want to help our parents (especially those of us at a distance, right?) the tasks of bookkeeper, bill payer and paper handler are getting in the way of our role as daughter and friend. And of course you don’t really want to spend your time with your parents searching for that one last receipt for the tax return.
A Daily Money Manager might be the answer. Daily money managers provide personal business assistance. The scope of their work can include bill paying, organizing tax documents and other paperwork, or processing medical insurance claims. A money manager doesn’t take the place of investment, tax or legal professionals. As a result, their fees are much lower, typically ranging from $25 to $100 per hour. In a couple of hours, every other week, a money manager could clear out all the clutter and keep everything organized.
In my experience, clients are more likely to accept assistance if they understand how much it will be a help to their children. As I’ve written before, besides the (sometimes irrational) fear of running out of money, elders are also very worried about being a burden to their children. The involvement of an outsider in personal financial affairs may be intimidating for some parents initially, but I know elders who now can’t imagine going back to the drudgery of paying bills and filing paperwork. A professional money manager will be sure to document a client’s decision-making capacity, and will work with you and your parents to determine what steps to take when that capacity begins to decline.
A personal business manager will take every precaution with confidential information, making your parents less likely to be victimized by identity theft. Such a professional can also be the first line of defense against excessive spending on useless items, “recreational shopping”, or unusually large or recurring donations to charitable or other organizations.
The American Association of Daily Money Managers can help you find and screen service providers. Your CPA or investment manager can also be a great resource for referrals. Submitted by Susan Talton
Susan M. Talton is a client advisor with Laird Norton Tyee in Seattle. With more than 25 years of wealth management experience, she enjoys nurturing close relationships with her clients to help them through significant life transitions.