There are many aspects to financial stewardship. A primary goal is to ensure that you are prepared to manage things if a family member is suddenly sidelined. This article provides an outline of the types of information you should gather ahead of time.
You don’t need to cover all these topics in one visit. But it’s important to get started. If this task sounds unpleasant, consider the prospect of being caught unprepared!
Legal empowerment. Has your family member signed a durable power of attorney (DPOA) document? This authorizes someone to manage their affairs if needed. Whoever is authorized as the DPOA for finances can access your loved one’s funds and accounts. The DPOA can also make transactions in their name.
Income and expenses.
- What sources of income does your loved one have? Maybe Social Security, a work or military pension, investments, rental property, or an IRA?
- Is that income deposited directly into a bank account? If so, which one?
- What are their debts and regular expenses, such as a mortgage or rent, insurance, utilities, newspaper, cable, car loan, etc.?
- Are these expenses on auto-pay or do bills come to the house?
Location, location. In addition to this information, you also need to know where important documents are kept.
- Health insurance details: cards and customer service numbers
- Property insurance policies: house, car, or other property
- Bank records, including safe deposit box and key
- Tax returns
- Deed to home, mortgage documents, rental contracts, etc.
If files aren’t set up, now is the time to do so and put them in one location.
Other details. Get account numbers and the names and contact information for key professionals, such as a tax accountant, attorney, financial advisor, insurance broker. Ask about security codes and passwords to any online accounts.