Though Paul never sent any money, he did answer the letter with
As dementia set in, Paul could no longer remember the password to
his computer where he kept his financial records. Then Nurenberg
received a call from the director of her dad's senior living
facility, who said Paul had not paid his last two bills.
"We realized that he couldn't keep the financial records anymore,"
says Nurenberg, who runs the AARP's employee volunteer program in
Washington, D.C. But neither she nor her three siblings lived
anywhere near their dad's facility in Middlesex, New York. Nor did
their mother, who is also suffering from dementia, know anything
about the complicated records her husband kept.
So they called a professional, Jacquelyn Bell, a Rochester, New
York-based CPA who wears a second hat as a daily money manager for
clients such as the Nurenbergs. Instead of just filing quarterly or
annual tax forms, Bell receives her clients' mail, pays their bills,
balances their checkbooks and helps them keep to a budget if they
are on a fixed income.
For the families of the more than 5 million Americans suffering from
Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, such hands-on services can
be a necessity. "Most of my clients fall into a few categories — no
family or children, have children but not local, children are too
busy, or elder financial abuse," says Bell.
CHOOSING AND USING THE RIGHT MANAGER
Demand for daily money management services as America ages is likely
to grow significantly, but at least for now the profession is
virtually unknown. The American Association of Daily Money Managers
(AADMM) (http://www.aadmm.com/default.htm), the profession's primary
trade group, has only about 700 members nationwide.
What is more, no government agency regulates daily money managers,
even though they have access to clients' sensitive financial
information. For this reason, properly vetting a potential manager
is essential. That means asking for references from other clients,
and, when possible, checking with state professional licensing
boards for credentials and for such things as malpractice.
The AADMM provides certification to daily money managers and lists
of credentialed members. This guarantees at least a certain level of
proficiency in the field.
To avoid fraud, be sure to establish certain safeguards. Money
managers should provide monthly reports of all their financial work,
including copies of bills paid, if requested. Some clients create a
bank account specifically for the money manager that has limited
funds, just enough for the monthly bills and a small amount left
Meanwhile, the rest of the client's money is off limits.
Bill paying alone is usually not all that hard, but if health,
long-term care or other complex issues become part of the mix,
expertise may essential.
[to top of second column]
That is where someone such as Sheri Samotin may come in. Prior to
founding her daily money management business, LifeBridge Solutions,
in 2009, she spent some 25 years in the healthcare industry, much of
it as a manager of a medical practice where she often negotiated
with health insurers unwilling to pay claims. She is familiar with
the complex codes hospitals and insurers use for medical procedures,
including what is covered and what is not by different policies.
But if tax, estate or small-business issues are more of a concern, a
CPA such as Bell would likely fit the bill.
Also, since trust is such an important factor, ceding power to a
manager all at once may not be wise. Initially, Nurenberg's father
would sign all the checks Bell was writing for the bills so he had a
chance to review them. As he deteriorated, Nurenberg, who had power
of attorney for her parents, signed them. Now Bell, having proven
herself, handles everything.
Dementia or other disabilities are not the only reasons to hire a
money manager. Parents often hire managers to handle the affairs of
their mentally disabled children's estates after they are gone.
Addictions are another reason. Bell has shopaholic and gambler
clients whose checkbooks she keeps in her safe so they cannot get to
For many the service can be a matter of convenience. "While mom's
very capable of paying her bills, this lets her focus on enjoying
her retirement," says Mitchell Dannenberg, a Naples, Florida
insurance salesman who hired Samotin to handle his mother's
Costs of daily money managers vary depending on the services
required and your location. Bell charges $90 an hour but says
services can cost as much as $150 a hour in pricier New York City.
Some clients only require an hour of service a month while others
need five to six, she says.
It is not cheap by any means. But for Nurenberg, Bell is more than a
financial security blanket. She is a "godsend," Nurenberg says.
(Follow us @ReutersMoney or at http://www.reuters.com/finance/personal-finance.
Editing by Beth Pinsker, Lauren Young and Steve Orlofsky)
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