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What is a Daily Money Manager and Who Needs One?

Daily Money Managers (DMM’s) help people manage their personal finances including all of the business aspects of daily living. They offer services including necessities like paying monthly bills, assisting with tax records, decoding medical bills, balancing checkbooks, and negotiating with creditors. They help with household management and referrals to other professions clients need. The American Association of Daily Money Managers  is the national professional association which offers training and certification of daily money managers. Membership requires background checks and adherence to a Code of Ethics and high standards of practice. To explain how vulnerable seniors benefit from having a daily money manager, here are some examples, with names and details changed for privacy.

George and Helen, retired from their careers in engineering and hospitality, lived in a large house near the Bay where they enjoyed boating and socializing at the boat club. They had an old fashioned division of labor at home — she cooked and decorated and he handled all the finances. When George began having some trouble walking, he was diagnosed with a neurological disorder that he was told would become progressively worse, leading to impaired movement and cognitive decline. One day, during a call to their financial planner, the planner noticed that George could no longer follow the conversation. The financial planner suggested to George that he hire a DMM while still able to tell her the details of his family’s financial life. George had a smooth transfer of information to the DMM; he was able to tell her the locations of all the bills, checking and credit card accounts, passwords, and locations of legal documents so the DMM could begin taking care of bill paying and financial organizing.  After George passed away, the DMM assisted Helen in closing George’s estate, including changing the name on all the accounts, filing for veteran’s survivor benefits and life insurance, and supervising selling George’s car and the family home. When Helen moved to be near her daughter, the DMM was easily able to transfer responsibility for Helen’s affairs to her daughter.

Brent lived alone and no longer worked. Although approaching retirement age, he had not retired as much as simply stopped working. His sister, knowing that he struggled with depression, planned a visit. When she arrived she found months of unopened mail. Her brother had little food in the fridge and, it appeared, had rarely been leaving the apartment. She called a daily money manager to sort through the mail, identify bills that needed to be paid or submitted to insurance and other important papers. The DMM threw out notices that were not needed, processed forms that required replies, and negotiated settlements on bills that had accrued late fees. The DMM completed tax organizers for four past years which Brent’s accountant used to prepare and file his back taxes. Brent and her sister agreed that Brent’s mail, including bills and insurance statements, should be delivered to and processed by the DMM. The DMM  ensured that Brent’s bills were reviewed for accuracy and fraudulent charges, were paid on time, and that his insurance was paying what it should for medical bills.

Terri, a retiree, lived alone, maintained her house, led a busy social life and managed her finances without a lot of attention to detail. When she had a stroke that resulted in severe short term memory loss, she wanted to continue to live in her house. Terri’s friend who was her Agent Under Power of Attorney (PoA) came over once or twice a month to make sure Terri’s bills were paid. When the friend planned to move away, Terri’s accountant suggested that they call a daily money manager to take over managing Terri’s affairs. The DMM went through Terri’s new mail bi-weekly, and also went through an entire room full of old mail and papers. In the piles were found multiple life insurance policies, multiple retirement accounts, and a long term care insurance policy. The DMM consulted Terri’s financial planner who suggested cashing out the insurance policies and consolidating the retirement accounts, which Terri’s PoA approved. The DMM calculated how Terri’s income compared to her monthly expenditures, and eliminated unnecessary expenses to keep her cash flow positive. Because of the long-term care insurance, Terri was able to afford a home health aide. The DMM managed the long-term care insurance claim process and suggested a choice of home health agencies with which to work. The DMM managed the maintenance of Terri’s house and yard, including, when her basement flooded, filing and managing the claim and clean-up processes with the water company. The DMM managed Terri’s calendar, scheduling her aides and her social events. With all these supports, plus frequent visits from friends, Terri was able to stay in her home for several more years.

Margaret was a woman with a very giving heart and a disability which interfered with her ability to consistently make decisions in her own best interest. When people would call her and ask for donations, she would say, “Yes”. It did not occur to her that some of the charities could have been fraudulent. When charities asked if she would give her credit card number to make a monthly donation, she would say “Yes.” When her brother, who was agent under Power of Attorney (PoA), became aware that Terri was carrying a large credit card debt to pay for all this giving, he called a DMM for help.  The DMM worked with a non-profit loan consolidation company to combine the credit card debts into one payment with a reduced interest rate. The DMM stopped the automatic donations from her credit cards, and rehearsed a script with Terri to use for refusing to give donations. The DMM helped Margaret freeze her credit to avoid her opening new credit cards and prevent fraudulent cards from being opened in her name. The DMM created a budget for her, looking at her income and all her expenses, separating the expenses into committed expenses, such as rent and utilities, other things she needed such as food, and discretionary spending which included donations. Margaret and her brother agreed to have the DMM manage her recurring bills to be sure they were paid, and each month the DMM would give her a prepaid credit card for her discretionary spending. The DMM began educating Margaret about planning to whom she would want to give money and giving money to causes that were important to her. This was something she understood in a calm conversation, but the DMM knew she would still be very easily swayed by an emotional appeal. By limiting the amount Margaret could spend on donations to the amount on the prepaid card, the DMM was able to limit the amount she donated to an amount she could afford, while still preserving her independence and dignity. 

The reasons seniors and people with disabilities work with daily money managers vary. For some, it is because they would rather spend their time doing other things. For others, it is because a physical, cognitive, mental health, or emotional issue interferes with their ability to do their personal financial management themselves. When people are at risk of becoming victims of financial fraud and abuse by others, and of inadvertent self-neglect, it is in their best interest to have someone helping with financial management. Daily Money Managers are an important part of the team supporting seniors.

Daily Money Managers help people manage their personal finances and, in our case, manage all the business aspects of daily living. You may not know why people need this type of help, so I am introducing you to some of my clients, whose names and details I’ve changed or combined into four families.

George and Helen, retired from their careers in engineering and hospitality, lived in a large house near the Bay where they enjoyed boating and socializing at the boat club. They had an old fashioned division of labor at home — she cooked and decorated and he handled all the finances. When George began having some trouble walking, he was diagnosed with a neurological disorder that he was told would become progressively worse, leading to impaired movement and cognitive decline. One day, during a call to her financial planner, the planner noticed that Mr. Berezin could no longer follow the conversation. The financial planner suggested to Mr. Berezin that he hire Mindful Money Management, LLC while still able to tell us the details of her family’s financial life. He called us and we had a smooth transfer of information; he was able to tell us the locations of all the bills, checking and credit card accounts, passwords, and locations of legal documents so we could begin taking care of bill paying and financial organizing. After he passed away, Mindful Money Management assisted her wife in closing her estate, including changing the name on all the accounts, filing for veteran’s benefits and life insurance, and supervising the selling her car and the family home. When Mrs. Berezin moved to be near her daughter, we were easily able to transfer responsibility for Mrs. Berezin’s affairs to the daughter.

Brent lived alone and no longer worked. Although approaching retirement age, he had not retired as much as simply stopped working. her sister, knowing that he struggled with depression, planned a visit. When she arrived she found months of unopened mail. Her brother had little food in the fridge and, it appeared, had rarely been leaving the apartment. She called Mindful Money Management, LLC to sort through the mail, identify bills that needed to be paid or submitted to insurance and other important papers. We threw out notices that were not needed, processed forms that required replies, and negotiated settlements on bills that had accrued late fees. We completed tax organizers for each of four years which her accountant used to prepare and file Brent’s taxes. Brent and her sister agreed that Brent should move to an assisted living, and that her mail, including bills and insurance statements, should be delivered to and processed by Mindful Money Management. Ther ensured that her bills were reviewed for accuracy and fraudulent charges, were paid on time, and that her insurance was paying what it should for medical bills.

Teri, a retiree, lived alone, maintained her house, led busy social life and managed her finances without a lot of attention to detail. When she had a stroke that resulted in severe short term memory loss, she wanted to continue to live in her house. Teri’s friend who was Teri’s Agent Under Power of Attorney (PoA) came over once or twice a month to make sure Teri’s bills were paid. When the friend planned to move away, Teri’s accountant suggested that they call Mindful Money Management, LLC to take over managing Teri’s affairs. Mindful Money Management went through Teri’s new mail bi-weekly, and also went through an entire room full of papers. We found multiple life insurance policies, multiple retirement accounts, and a long term care insurance policy. We consulted Teri’s financial planner who suggested cashing out the insurance policies and consolidating the retirement accounts, which Teri’s PoA approved. We calculated how Teri’s income compared to her monthly expenditures, and eliminated unnecessary expenses to keep her cash flow positive. Because of the long-term care insurance, Teri was able to afford a home health aide. We managed the long-term care insurance claim process and suggested a choice of home health agencies with which to work. We managed the maintenance of Teri’s house and yard, including, when her basement flooded, filing and managing the claim and clean up processes with the water company. We managed Teri’s calendar, scheduling her aides and her social events. We identified a pharmacy that could bubble pack her prescriptions, so there was one morning bubble and one evening bubble, with multiple prescriptions each, which enabled him to administer her medications himself. With all these supports, plus frequent visits from friends, Teri was able to stay in her home for several more years.

Margaret was a woman with a very giving heart and a disability which interfered with her ability to consistently make decisions in her own best interest.When people would call her and ask for donations, she would say yes. It did not occur to her that some of the charities could have been fraudulent. When they asked if she would give her credit card number to make a monthly donation, she would say yes. When her brother and PoA became aware that she was carrying a large credit card debt to pay for all this giving, he called Mindful Money Management, LLC for help. We worked with a non-profit loan consolidation company to combine the credit card debts into one payment with a reduced interest rate. We stopped the automatic donations from her credit cards, and we rehearsed a script with her for refusing to give donations. We helped Margaret freeze her credit to avoid her opening new credit cards and prevent fraudulent cards from being opened in her name. We created a budget for Margaret, looking at her income and all her expenses, separating the expenses into committed expenses, such as rent and utilities, other things she needed such as food, and discretionary spending which included donations. We arranged with Margaret and her brother that we would manage her recurring bills to be sure they were paid, and each month we would give her a pre-paid credit card for her discretionary spending. We began educating Margaret about planning to whom she would want to give money and giving money to causes that were important to her. This was something she understood in a calm conversation, but we knew she would still be very easily swayed by an emotional appeal. By limiting the amount Margaret could spend on donations to the amount on the pre-paid card, we were able to limit the amount she donated to an amount she could afford, while still preserving her independence and dignity.

Problem solving for vulnerable people is our passion. Keeping people financially safe is our responsibility.

SPEAKER
Vera Kurlantzick

Founder and Owner

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