Managing the financial affairs of someone else can be a stressful thought. If you are the fiduciary of a family member or friend according to a power of attorney document, you may not know exactly how to fulfill your responsibilities. While you want to help this person and follow his or her wishes, it can be confusing to know what actions to take.
Acting as a fiduciary not only involves legal and financial obligations but it can also invoke a lot of emotions. It is important to remember that the creator of the power of attorney document, also known as the principal, sees you as a trustworthy and honest individual. Here is how you can live up to those ideals.
Understand your responsibilities
While the power of attorney document may seem complex, there are only four core duties you need to fulfill. You should focus on the following:
- Acting in the best interest of the principal
- Managing money and assets carefully
- Keeping your personal money and assets separate
- Maintaining good records
Your role as a fiduciary is to make choices that are best for the person who chose you. This involves managing money with care, exercising good judgment and never mixing up your own assets with those of the principal. Keeping complete and accurate records is necessary to stay out of trouble with the principal, beneficiaries, the police or government agencies.
Another crucial task for you to undertake is protecting the principal and his or her assets from fraudulent behavior. Keep an eye out for missing money or property, strange names on bank accounts and controlling relatives. If you notice any signs of financial exploitation, consider talking to a lawyer or alerting the appropriate party, such as a credit card company or bank.
Preparing yourself by learning vital information about power of attorney documents will assist you in managing your responsibilities and bringing you peace of mind.