If you are helping an elderly parent or relative manage their finances or have been given a power of attorney, then you have both legal and ethical obligations in your role as a fiduciary.
Basically, a fiduciary is legally bound to:
Act in the person’s best interest. You are not allowed to use their money for yourself or others and need to avoid any conflict of interest.
Manage assets carefully. Pay bills on time and consider investment decisions carefully. Get help if you need it.
Keep money and property separate from yours. Be sure you keep your assets totally separate from those you are managing on behalf of another person.
Maintain good records. You are responsible for accounting for all transactions.
The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to protect consumers by making and enforcing consumer financial laws. The CFPB recently contracted with the American Bar Association to develop four Managing Someone Else’s Money guides to help those who are acting as agents under (1) power of attorney, (2) court-appointed guardians or conservators, (3) trustees for revocable living trusts and (4) government benefits fiduciaries.
These guides help “lay fiduciaries” understand their responsibilities under the law, provide education on financial scams and exploitation and give tips on where to go for additional help from local, state and federal resources.
You can download these guides for free on the CFPB website.