Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 3.
Financial caregivers--those 90 million Americans tasked with caring for a loved one suffering from disease, injury or advanced age--have a huge responsibility in making the correct money management decisions for those individuals, and need to prepare accordingly.
That's the outlook from the Washington, D.C.-based Caregiver Action Network, which cites the 90 million figure and notes that "financial caregivers play an important role in ensuring that all finances -- from routine to complex -- are managed wisely, helping their loved ones maintain the best quality of life possible."
"Financial caregivers play a major part in helping their loved ones live stable and viable lives," says Corey Carlisle, foundation executive director at the American Bankers Association Foundation, which works closely with the CAN in educating financial caregivers. "It's extremely important that caregivers understand their role in managing day-to-day finances and planning for future expenses to ensure that all their loved ones' needs are met."
To give caregivers more tools to make their jobs easier, and their financial management performance more effective, the ABA -- and other experts contacted by TheStreet -- offer a list of tips for caregivers to better understand their roles.
Know the legal ramifications. "Financial caregivers, such as those with a power of attorney, trustees, and federal benefits fiduciaries, are fiduciaries with a duty to act and make decisions on their loved one's behalf," the ABA states. "Learn the legal responsibilities of your assigned authority in order to better execute your role."
Budget accordingly. Caregivers may be in charge of daily, unexpected and future expenses their loved one may incur, the ABA adds: "Especially if the beneficiary has a fixed income or limited finances, it's extremely important that caregivers minimize unnecessary costs and budget accordingly to ensure that all money is properly allocated."