ReFrame Wealth works in partnership with LionHeart Eldercare & Consulting, founded by Colleen Duewel. She often describes her role as a “Professional Adult Daughter”. I think of my role as complementary to hers, but fundamentally similar. If we do our jobs well, we fill in roles that the ‘perfect’ family might provide. The important message I want to get across is that the ‘perfect’ family is so rare that it might as well not exist. I want people to understand that there are professional fiduciaries, bound to serve your best interests, to manage responsibilities when your friends and family are not the right solution.
When I am engaging in planning with my clients, we often hit a roadblock when we talk about who will help them if they face challenges later in life. Questions like:
- Who will manage your day-to-day finances if you can’t?
- Who will make big decisions about management of your assets and how they are used?
- Who makes medical decisions if I can’t speak for myself?
There are so many families who know they need a better plan — or maybe even need a plan in the first place. I think it is anxiety, not procrastination, that holds many people back from taking those steps. For so many of us, when we think of who will take on these roles and responsibilities in our lives, we are left with imperfect answers or no answers at all. Some common problems include:
- Everyone I might choose is my age. Asking them to take on my challenges when they are dealing with their own is too much.
- My family doesn’t have any financial / medical knowledge.
- My children are too busy; asking them to pause their lives to take on these roles is too much to ask.
- No one lives near me, and helping from a distance is difficult.
- I don’t have any close living family or friends who could do this for me.
If your decision comes down to asking your estranged cousin in Baltimore, your eighty-five year old sister or your son stationed overseas in the Foreign Service to manage your affairs (all taken from actual client experiences) then you have other options you should consider. There are professional fiduciary roles that can either support your family members of friends and provide backup, or step into that role entirely. These professionals are sworn to a code of ethics and generally serve as fiduciaries and have deep expertise in navigating the bureaucracies and systems that present barriers if you were to become ill or incapacitated.
These professional roles generally break down into three areas:
- Trustee – The trustee serves under a trust agreement to manage assets, follow the expressed wishes of the grantor (the person who created the trust) and to try to make the decisions our clients would make if they were able to speak for themselves.
- Daily Money Manager – This person is often involved in more day-to-day work and often serves as Power of Attorney. They handle banking, pay your bills and keep your affairs organized. It isn’t glamorous, but who is going to wait on hold with the cable company to turn off service if you are moving to an assisted living facility?
- Care Manager – This person or team can serve as your Medical Power of Attorney. They can arrange for care in your home, advocate for you with your healthcare professionals and caregivers and help with your insurance. They spend time to understand what is important to you, even down to what type of television or music you would want (if any) if you were unable to speak for yourself.
I think these roles are often misunderstood. When I filled all of these roles for a loved one it took time away from just being with them. I couldn’t keep my loved one company because I had to get out of their lease, renew their driver’s license and wait on hold with insurance. When you appoint a professional alongside a loved one you let that person just be your son or daughter. Filling these roles is a lot of work. It is often specialized and not at all glamorous.
At ReFrame Wealth we have built a team of trusted professionals who collaborate and support each other to serve each of these roles. Some of our clients need help with all of these areas and others just need one element of support. Come talk to us about how we can help support you and your family.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by ReFrame Wealth, LLC. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.