Choose your financial advocatePicking a financial advocate is an important first step in making sure your money is safe as you age and used the way you want in the future.
What can a financial advocate do?
- Pay for things you need, like groceries and other essentials
- Pay your bills and manage other expenses
- Navigate insurance policies and file claims
- Pay back money you owe
- Monitor your savings and checking account balances
- Monitor and manage your investments
- File and pay your taxes
- Interview, hire, and pay for professional services
- Manage your property
- Make donations to the charities you want to support
- Securely store your financial records
- Protect your money
Open this handout for more information on the many roles of a financial advocate.
Making the Best Choice
We interviewed more than 100 older adults. Here are the key qualities that they think a financial advocate should have:
Look for these positive qualities
- Understands your needs and what is important to you
- Reliable and available to help
- Smart decision-maker
- Good communicator
- Good listener
- Puts your needs first
Avoid these attributes
- Dishonest or secretive
- Likes to gamble
- Owes money
- Doesn't pay bills on time
- Has a serious mental health or addiction issue
- Faces personal legal or financial troubles
- Has a strong sense of entitlement
Remember that at some point, one of you will be aging alone. Or there may come a time when the partner in charge of your finances is not able to manage any longer because of a serious health issue.
That’s why you should also pick an alternate financial advocate who is younger and someone both you and your partner would trust to help with money matters. Many people pick an adult child or grandchild to be their alternate. Or perhaps there is a trusted niece, nephew, cousin, close friend, or younger sibling available.
...you don’t know anyone who has all of these qualities?
Aside from being trustworthy, loyal, and honest, which are absolutely essential, you can compromise on some of the qualities. You can always divvy up the jobs between different people you trust based on the strengths those people bring to the table. Just remember that you’ll need to do more paperwork if you pick more than one person, and that the people you pick must be able to work together and get along.
...no one you know seems right for the role?
You may consider hiring a daily money manager to be your financial advocate or alternate financial advocate. Trust officers, attorneys, and certified accountants might also manage your money, for a fee. Remember to check references before hiring someone!
...you are aging solo?
Not to worry. We understand that these decisions can be harder if you aren’t married or partnered or don’t have adult children. Download this handout on other options.
...you are very healthy?
You never know what lies around the next corner. You might be healthy today, but a sudden illness or serious accident can set you off course tomorrow. Your financial advocate is there as a back-up if the unexpected happens. Plus, you need to create a plan now while you are healthy and have the best judgement. If your preferences change later you can always revise your plan, but it's better to get it done now rather than risk missing your opportunity.
Remember, it’s your money and you’re in charge. Appointing a financial advocate doesn’t mean you can no longer manage your money, or that you will not have a say in future financial decisions. Here’s a helpful tip sheet that you can share with your advocate to show them what it means to be your agent under a financial power of attorney and what the expectations are for keeping your money safe.