The Personal Financial Assistant

What A Daily Money Manager Can Do For You ...   Sometimes, managing your financial paperwork can seem like an overwhelming task. At any given time, you can have bills to pay, a loan to take out, a mortgage to renegotiate, and health insurance forms to fill out. Keeping track of all this is difficult enough during the best of times. But if you are elderly, maybe a physical disability prevents you from getting to the bank, and perhaps your eyesight and even your concentration are failing. According to the AARP, about a half million older people in the need help with their financial affairs. A new field is evolving to provide just this type of assistance:  Daily Money Managers (DMMs).   Daily Money Managers provide personal assistance to individuals who have difficulty managing their financial records on their own. The service covers everything from organizing financial and medical insurance documents to balancing checkbooks and keeping track of bank accounts. You or someone you know might seek the assistance of a DMM due to physical ailments like arthritis that make it difficult or painful to write, or because of mental impairments like dementia or Alzheimer’s that make it difficult to concentrate. The adult children of elderly parents sometimes enlist the help of a DMM if they live far away and can’t undertake the daily management of their parents’ financial affairs if that time comes.
A DMM is not an accountant, lawyer or financial planner, or the type of investment manager traditionally called a “money manager,” and a DMM should not be consulted in place of these or any other financial professionals. A DMM is, however, someone who can help maintain accurate tax and other types of records, ensure that bills are paid on time, and explain complex medical and insurance billing statements. Some DMMs may also offer additional services, such as authenticating documents or providing transport to and from appointments. A good DMM will be able to spot when additional expertise is required, and will then provide references to the appropriate professionals.   The best way to find a DMM is to get a referral from someone you know and trust, such as a friend, a family member, a lawyer or accountant, or your financial planner. You can also ask your local senior center, church or government social service agency for referrals.
Money managers to the rescue Can’t keep the checkbook balanced? Don't like to pay bills? These professionals can help By Janie Nafsinger Lifestyles Northwest, Oct 1, 2007   Edith Wolcott’s husband, Vern, used to handle all their personal finances, which was fine with Edith. “My husband did everything on the computer, and I want nothing to do with computers,” says the retired secretary who lives in Clackamas. When Vern died, “I got a broker, an attorney and a CPA, and I still had to pay the bills,” Wolcott recalls. But she didn't’t want to take on that burden by herself, so she hired a daily money manager – someone who helps her go through the mail, write checks, make bank deposits and organize her financial records.   Daily money managers aren’t financial advisers. Instead, they provide services to people of all ages – including retirees, busy families and people with disabilities – who have trouble juggling their day-to-day finances or who simply like the convenience of turning the job over to someone else.   “We hire gardeners, we hire housekeepers – let’s hire someone to handle that daily chore of paying your bills,” says Laura Miller, co-owner of Sapphire Daily Money Management, LLC, the company that Wolcott hired in June. Miller and her business partner, Margit Albrecht, started Sapphire in April, serving the Portland metro area except for Vancouver. They originally thought most of their clients would consist of senior and elderly adults, “but we also have a busy mom who needs to set up a budget,” Miller says. Another client, in her early 50s, has 90-percent vision loss. “We’re finding there are a lot of markets for us,” she adds.   Miller, a high-tech marketing veteran, and Albrecht, who has more than 30 years of financial expertise in the high-tech industry, charge $75 an hour for their service. Albrecht visits Wolcott twice a month to spend an hour or two reviewing her financial statements, deciding which bills to pay and writing checks, which Wolcott signs. They also shred and recycle (the importance of obtaining a good paper shredder is impressed on all clients). “This is helpful, especially when you’re older,” says Wolcott, whose grown children live out of town. “I’ve paid bills before, but after a while it just gets you down.”   Albrecht also keeps an eye out for late fees and finance charges that might pop up on clients’ monthly statements. Miller says the company saved one client about $625 in expenses, mostly late fees.      
When You May Need to Hire a Daily Money Manager By Kathy Swann   Michelle has been trying to call her mother, who lives in another state, but gets a message that the line has been disconnected. She later finds out the phone has been turned off due to non-payment. Michelle calls her mother's neighbor to check in on her and make sure she's all right.   Allison's mother has been ill and needs nursing help for part of the day. On her next visit, Allison notices that the mail has been piling up and not been opened. As she looks through some of the bank statements, she notices several overdraft charges, along with checks made out to people Allison doesn't know. She worries that something is very wrong, as her mother used to stay on top of all her financial affairs. Martin's recently widowed mother is at a loss at how to handle the checkbook and pay the monthly bills. After all, she never had to worry about it since her husband took care of all their financial matters. She needs help getting her bills paid on time and balancing the checkbook each month. All of these people could use the assistance of a Daily Money Manager, or DMM. Some of the services a DMM provides are: • Balancing the checkbook • Paying bills • Organizing tax records • Managing insurance claims   A DMM does not take the place of an accountant or attorney, and does not offer legal, tax or investment advice. However, they will work with the client's CPA or attorney to ensure that the client's personal financial matters are attended to. And, because the DMM visits the client once or twice a month, other family members can be assured that their aging relative's financial affairs are being taken care of on a timely basis. If you have an aging parent or relative that needs help with their paperwork, consider hiring a Daily Money Manager. This can save you time, and also give you peace of mind knowing someone is looking after your elderly family members.    
Sandwich Generation: Survive the midlife tug of war: The Web sites, books and people that can help you to be both a good kid and a good parent. By Walecia Konrad  February 20 2007: 4:48 PM EST   (Money Magazine) -- You're rushing to drop the kids at school, fumbling with coats and lunch boxes, when you get the call. Mom's had a fall, and she's in the E.R. Your dad is panicked and asking you to come home, now. But "home" is 1,200 miles away, and the last-minute flight, plus the home health aide you'll have to hire, will set you back $1,500 at least.   And, oh yeah, you're scheduled to give a major presentation to your biggest client this afternoon. You're worried about your mom, your dad, your kids, your boss and how in the world you're going to pay for it all.   Welcome, boomer. You're not just part of the sandwich generation - you're part of a triple-decker club with all the trimmings. And if you feel trapped in the middle, you've got company: Nearly 10 million boomers are now raising kids or supporting an adult child while giving a financial hand to an aging parent, the Pew Research Center reports.   Don't even get you started about how little you've saved so far for retirement. The bottom line: You need help. The good news is, there's plenty of it out there - if you know where to look. From local programs to national organizations, from books to Web sites, a veritable cottage industry has sprung up to assist you in juggling the demands of raising kids while also caring for aging parents.   Some of these services are a direct response by the government to meet the needs of the country's burgeoning senior ranks - with you, the taxpayer, footing the bill. Others are the work of smart entrepreneurs who spy a business opportunity. Still others come from fellow boomers wanting to share what they've learned as they've grappled with these issues.   The goal of this Money Magazine guide is to help you sort through the options to find the resources that best meet your needs. Before you look at the directory of programs and services below, though, stop and think. All the programs and tools in the world aren't enough on their own; you also have to be smart about how you manage the demands on you. The following steps can help ensure that your family tug of war doesn't pull you - or your finances - apart.   First, get the facts... Your goal: Avoid surprises. Talk to your parents about how they're doing financially and what plans they've made if they become ill or incapacitated. While you're at it, get a grip on your own financial needs too. If you haven't already done so, run the numbers to assess how much money you'll need for retirement and to send Junior to college.   Then, get the power...If an emergency arises, you'll need legal authority to act swiftly on your parents' behalf. Make sure your mom and dad have the following: a durable power of attorney authorizing someone to sign checks, pay bills and make financial decisions on their behalf; a durable power of attorney for health care (or a healthcare proxy) authorizing someone to make medical decisions; and a living will outlining their wishes if life-sustaining medical care is needed.   Consider the big "what-if"...The No. 1 financial hurdle for the elderly is the cost of long-term care. Bills for a nursing-home stay, an assisted-living facility or extended home care can easily reach $50,000 to $100,000 a year or more. Talk to your parents about whether they have long-term-care insurance or enough savings to cover the costs.   Take care of yourself...As much as you want to support your parents, it's imperative that you put saving for retirement, and perhaps college, first. "That should be the priority for most people," says Tim Casserly, an elder-care lawyer in Albany, N.Y. "After all, you won't find the same government programs to help you raise your kids or fund your retirement that you'll find to help you support your parents."   The last thing you want is for your own kids one day to be stuck in the same financial squeeze you're worrying about now. With proper planning and the right resources, though, it doesn't have to happen.   Hire a money minder: American Association of Daily Money Managers Especially helpful if you live far from your parents, a daily money manager will pay bills, make deposits, process insurance claims and handle other financial tasks that Mom and Dad may no longer be up to doing.