Brought home the bacon but don't know how to cook it.
February 6, 2012 8:34 PM   Subscribe

I need to hire someone to help my mom handle her finances. Would this be an accountant? A lawyer? Something else?

Mom lives far away in a US territory with a large mainland US population. She is newly divorce and in her 60s and is struggling with managing and understanding her finances. I can do most of this remotely, but it's hard, and it bothers her to burden me with it. She has the means to hire a financial advisor of some sort so we think this will be best for her and best for our relationship.

So if she opens a phone book, what kind of professional does she look for? Are their personal accountants? Do estate lawyers offer these services? (She also needs to write a will, although a separate visit to a lawyer for that is fine.)

She's super overwhelmed right now and i juswant to get her poi ted in the right direction.
posted by elizeh to Work & Money (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would advise that she find a solid financial advisor at a bank, recommended by someone who has some long term experience with that individual. Opening a "phone book", virtual or paper, is NOT the way to find that individual.

The will is a job for an attorney.
posted by HuronBob at 8:50 PM on February 6, 2012

I agree with HuronBob. The financial advisor will help direct her to an accountant if she needs one. Unless there are complicated tax issues, I doubt a lawyer is necessary or useful, except to write the will.
posted by smorange at 9:25 PM on February 6, 2012

There are various financial professionals who perform services like this, including financial advisors, accountants, private client staff or trust officers at a bank.

No matter which you choose, the magic question to ask — and to get in writing — is whether they will have a fiduciary duty to her. This means that they will have a legal obligation to act in her best interest, rather than their own (i.e. to make commissions).
posted by tomwheeler at 9:36 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

It depends what is being handled ...

I work with auditors, bookkeepers and financial advisors in my work. from my experience

My bookkeeper keeps my records. She records my bank statements, makes sure my invoices are paid, provides monthly statements to tell me how I am doing, if I am on budget.

My auditors provide confirmation to my organizations' members that things are in order, and an official year end statement of what is going on. They also review our procedures and ensure we are not vulnerable to fraud, and observe while we count inventory etc. Useful for providing a confirmation that everything is above board and properly managed.

My credit union provides advice on the type of short & long term investments we make, and which banking product best suits our needs.

None of these people ever need to handle your money to do their job. They may need to see records (bank statements, cheque books, receipts, invoices)

So ... for your mom you want to make sure she (a) understands her financial situation well enough to make good decisions without worrying -- a bookkeeper (b) she may have significant assets to sort out post-divorce and make sure they are all done according to any agreed settlement -- an accountant - but this is unlikely without major assets or a sense that something is wrong (c) she may wish to change her investments or even set up a system of investments so that regular income is deposited in her account for spending -- for this she needs the bank/credit union.
posted by chapps at 12:55 AM on February 7, 2012

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