Financial Planning

Get Help to Tackle Paperwork

A daily money manager will pay bills, sort through mail and file insurance claims.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published in the May 2008 issue of Kiplinger's Retirement Report. To subscribe, click here.

Marguerite Holloway can't say enough about the daily money manager she hired for her mother two years ago. Back then, the financial affairs of Holloway's mother, now 72, were in disarray. She had a mountain of papers, several certificates of deposit and an endless stream of unpaid bills. She also had bond certificates hidden under a rug.

So Holloway decided to look into hiring a daily money manager, who sets up a system to pay the bills, organize the finances and get estate planning under control. She found Rebecca Eddy, a partner at Eddy & Schein In-Home Administrators for Seniors (www.eddyandschein.com), in New York City. Eddy visited the Manhattan home of Holloway's mother for a consultation. After deciding she felt comfortable with Eddy, Holloway gave Eddy the green light.

In addition to organizing documents, Eddy automated some of the bills, consolidated the CDs and recommended a lawyer to set up a trust. "The room full of papers is gone, replaced by two file boxes," says Holloway, 44, an assistant professor at Columbia University. "It was extraordinary."

Hiring a daily money manager can be a godsend, particularly if you're a caregiver who doesn't have time or expertise to handle a parent's bills, mail and brokerage statements. You could also use one to help clear out the paperwork after a parent dies.

Eddy says "some crisis" usually precipitates a call to her office. "It might be someone who just got out of the hospital who's overwhelmed by the paperwork," she says. In that situation, Eddy says, "we do some sorting out of the health insurance."

Most daily money managers have a background in finance, accounting or law. They make house calls. They sort through the mail. And they serve as mediators between their clients and other professionals, such as lawyers, doctors and credit-card providers. For example, daily money managers can help clients file appeals with insurance companies if a claim is denied. And they will help compile the documents you need to give to your accountant.

One client of daily money manager Pamela Brehler, owner of Personal Finances Management (www.dailymoneymanagement.com), in Chapel Hill, N.C., never bothered to fill out the paperwork for her annuity because it seemed too complicated. Once Brehler did so, the client received a check for $150,000. Another client neglected to buy collision insurance for a new car. When Brehler discovered this, she made sure the client purchased a policy.

Finding the Right Assistant

When searching for a daily money manager, ask an elder-law attorney, accountant, financial planner or other specialist to recommend one. "You want to get a referral from another professional," Brehler says. "Do the homework that needs to be done so you really feel comfortable."

If no one you know can give you a referral, look for specialists on the Web site of the American Association of Daily Money Managers (www.aadmm.com, click "Find a DMM"). The group has 500 members, although not all daily money managers belong.

Once you have a name, set up a consultation to see whether you think the two of you would be compatible. Some charge for the initial consultation. Ask about the hourly rate, which can be as much as $100 to $150.

After being hired, the manager will spend several hours at the client's home, sorting through papers and discussing the issues that need to be resolved. The manager will return on a regular basis, perhaps every two weeks.

Ask if the manager is certified by the money manager association, which began certifying last fall. Certified managers must have 1,500 hours of experience over the past three years. They must also pass an exam that tests their skills and knowledge of basic finances, taxes and bill-paying. If the manager you like isn't certified, check references.

For more authoritative guidance on retirement investing, slashing taxes and getting the best health care, click here for a FREE sample issue of Kiplinger's Retirement Report.

Most Popular

The Perfect Storm for Retirees
retirement planning

The Perfect Storm for Retirees

Today’s retirees could face a perfect storm because they are living longer and spending more time in retirement, while at the same time losing access …
April 18, 2021
The Wrong Way to Achieve Wealth
personal finance

The Wrong Way to Achieve Wealth

For some down-to-earth, basic advice on money and life, I have a book to recommend: “Your Total Wealth: The Heart and Soul of Financial Literacy.”
April 17, 2021
Child Tax Credit 2021: Who Gets $3,600? Will I Get Monthly Payments? And Other FAQs
Coronavirus and Your Money

Child Tax Credit 2021: Who Gets $3,600? Will I Get Monthly Payments? And Other FAQs

People have lots of questions about the new $3,000 or $3,600 child tax credit and the advance payments that the IRS will send to most families in 2021…
April 14, 2021

Recommended

Medical Expenses Retirees (and Others) Can Deduct on Their Taxes
tax deductions

Medical Expenses Retirees (and Others) Can Deduct on Their Taxes

The list of medical deductions is broad and includes items such as expenses for service animals and the cost of long-term care.
April 14, 2021
Social Security Recipients Are Finally Getting Their Third Stimulus Check
Coronavirus and Your Money

Social Security Recipients Are Finally Getting Their Third Stimulus Check

The IRS is finally sending third stimulus check payments for Social Security and other federal beneficiaries who didn't file a 2019 or 2020 tax return…
April 13, 2021
10 Questions Retirees Often Get Wrong About Taxes in Retirement
retirement

10 Questions Retirees Often Get Wrong About Taxes in Retirement

You worked hard to build your retirement nest egg. But do you know how to minimize taxes on your savings?
April 7, 2021
14 Social Security Tasks You Can Do Online
retirement

14 Social Security Tasks You Can Do Online

Why visit a government office to get your Social Security business done? You can do much of that online.
April 2, 2021