Managing someone else’s money can be overwhelming. Whether serving as a conservator, an agent under a durable power of attorney, or as a trustee of a trust, the responsibilities are significant and the potential problems numerous. In addition, if you aren’t careful – i.e. prudent under the law – you can face personal liability.
In the legal realm, a person managing someone else’s money is known as a fiduciary. A fiduciary is obligated to act in the best interests of the person for whom they are managing money or other resources. Ignorance is no excuse – a fiduciary is required to adhere to the standard of care at all times.
The American Bar Association has created guides for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help non-lawyers understand their responsibilities when managing someone else’s money. There are four guides depending on type of fiduciary capacity in which someone is serving and they can be found at http://www.consumer finance.gov/ managing-someone-elses-money/. These guides are not a substitute for experienced legal counsel, but they can help keep you out of trouble.