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Where is the Money Going?

September 27, 2011

Image by jollyUK via Flickr

Dad was a successful business man who managed various personal and business accounts.  It was upsetting to hear that he needed my help to reconcile his bank accounts.

Years ago Dad had appointed me as his agent under a Durable Power of Attorney for Property and as Successor Trustee for his trust.  A Durable Power of Attorney for Property is a document that provides that when the person signing them was unable to make decisions  the person they named (the Agent) was authorized to make those decisions.  It also means that the Agent can obtain all of the information necessary to make those decisions.

With these documents in hand it was easy for Dad and I to go to the bank and have my name added to his accounts when he wanted my help.  I then set up on line computer access to his accounts.  This made it very easy to watch where the money was going.  I watched for signs that his management was failing.  I watched for payments that were unusual and seemed inappropriate like unknown charities.  I knew what routine bills he had and watched to see that they were paid regularly.  Whenever I visited him I looked for unpaid bills and unreconciled bank statements.

Gradually, the need increased and I took greater responsibility for his finances.  I contacted the utility providers and had the bills sent to me – by email where possible.  I had all of his mail forwarded to me.  Since he still had a debit card, he was able to make purchases whenever he wanted and I didn’t feel that I was depriving him of anything.

I am thankful that I have kept extensive records of my financial management so that there will be no question where we started financially.  I have the paperwork to back up every bill that I have paid and the receipt for every reimbursed expenditure.  The trail is very clear.

In my experience, money is THE most common point of conflict after a parent has died.  I am doing everything I can to provide the documentation that my siblings need to feel comfortable that my actions were for Dad’s  benefit, not mine.

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