The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently released a set of helpful guides to help individuals manage the financial affairs of loved ones or others who are unable to do so and require a fiduciary to take of such matters. The guides cover multiple topics to help fiduciaries, including how to spot financial exploitation and avoid scams as well as a “Where to go for help” section with a list of relevant resources for more information.
One of the guides included is “Help for agents under a power of attorney” which lists the four basic duties that fiduciaries with a power of attorney need to keep in mind when managing the affairs of another. Those include to act only in the beneficiary’s interest, manage the beneficiary’s property and money carefully, keep the money and property of the beneficiary and fiduciary separate, and to keep good records of all transactions.
Another helpful guide included in the series is “Help for court-appointed guardians of property and conservators” which someone the court names to manage money and property for someone else whom the court has found cannot manage it alone. This can also apply to instances where a fiduciary is named to act in the interest of another person as a guardian, managing that person’s healthcare and other personal decisions. Other times, a court may be appointed to manage the governmental benefits of an individual and the CFPB also provides outlines for these responsibilities too.
There is even a guide for “For trustees under a revocable living trust” to help individuals understand their roles as trustees in a trust. The guide outlines the basic principles of grantors (those who create the trust), trustees (those who makes decisions about the money or property), and beneficiaries (those who receive money or property from the revocable living trust.)
In conjunction with advice from a trust and estate lawyer, these guides can be helpful for families to plan for situations where loved ones may be incapacitated to the point where they can no longer manage their own healthcare decisions and financial planning. While we hope to never have to face situations where we cannot provide for ourselves, having a plan in place can not only help make things easier for ourselves but for our loved ones who may ultimately be the ones who bare the consequences.