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Managing Someone Else’s Money: Your Toolkit

Jurisdiction: 
This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
Reviewed: 
April 2019
Time to read: 
5 minutes

So, you’ve agreed to manage someone else’s financial affairs. You may be an attorney under a power of attorney or a representative under a standard representation agreement.

You’re taking on a commendable but potentially onerous and thankless job. Make your job as easy as possible when you start. When your friend or relative approaches you to help them manage their financial affairs, get organized! 

The tools below are designed to help you in your role.

So, you’ve agreed to manage someone else’s financial affairs. You may be an attorney under a power of attorney or a representative under a standard representation agreement.

You’re taking on a commendable but potentially onerous and thankless job. Make your job as easy as possible when you start. When your friend or relative approaches you to help them manage their financial affairs, get organized! 

The tools below are designed to help you in your role.

New attorney or representative checklist

When you start to act as an attorney or representative, here are the first things you should do.

  • Review the legal document. Understand when it takes effect and what powers it gives you. Are there multiple attorneys or representatives? Does it provide for you to be paid?
  • Learn about your legal responsibilities and key duties. For attorneys, see our pages about making a decision for someone else.
  • Discuss your role with the adult. Talk with the adult about your role. Be clear on when you will start acting as their attorney or representative. Discuss how you’ll support them in making decisions. Review how you’ll keep records.
  • Deliver copies of the legal document. Contact any banks, businesses, or people that the adult deals with and give them copies of the power of attorney or representation agreement. Never give out the original. (If required, a lawyer or notary public can certify a copy as a true copy of the original document.)   
  • Make a list of the adult’s property and liabilities. Make an inventory of the adult’s property and liabilities as of the date when you start to act on their behalf. Include an estimate of the value of the property and liabilities. See below for details.
  • Make a budget. Prepare a budget of the adult’s income and expenses. See below for details.
  • Set up record keeping. Set up a filing system for the records you will keep. See below for details.
  • Review the adult’s insurance. Make sure the adult’s property is adequately insured.

Download a checklist that you can mark off as you complete these tasks. 

Inventory

Keep a current list of the adult’s property and liabilities. The list should include an estimate of the value of the property and liabilities, if it’s reasonable to do so.

Your list of property and money might include:

  • personal property such as furniture, appliances, electronics, clothing, jewelry, collectibles and so on
  • real estate
  • cars and other vehicles
  • chequing and savings accounts
  • cash
  • investments such as any guaranteed investment certificates (GICs), stocks, bonds, registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs), and registered retirement income funds (RRIFs)
  • insurance policies
  • trusts for which the adult is a beneficiary

As well, the list should include liabilities such as any mortgage, loans, unpaid credit cards bills, lines of credit and so on.

You can download a template for an inventory from our website.

Here is an example of an inventory. 

Room/Area Item Estimated value Notes
Furniture      
Living room Couch $800

Bought in 2015 from IKEA

Living room Chair $400

Bought in 2012 from the Bay

... ... ... ...

Total est. value of furniture

  $6,500  
Transportation      
Garage Car $10,000

2012 Toyota Corolla

Garage Bicycle $500

2012 Norco

Total est. value of vehicles

  $10,500  
... ... ... ...

Budget

You should have a budget that lists sources of income and expenses for the adult. This isn’t specifically required under the law, but will help you keep track of spending. 

You can download a budget template from our website.

Here is an example of a budget. 

Area Item

Amount (Monthly)

Expenses    
Housing Mortgage or rent $750
  Electricity Gas$100
  Gas $50
  Insurance $50
  Maintenance $50

Total expenses for housing

  $1,000
Transportation

Car loan payment

$200
 

Car insurance payment

$125
  Gas $75
 

Bus pass

$100

Total expenses value for transportation

  $500
... ... ...
Total expenses   $2,000
Income    
Pensions

Old Age Security (OAS)

$850
 

Canada Pension Plan (CPP)

$650

Total income from pensions

  $1,500

Other

Rental income

$200
 

RRSP interest income

$300

Total income from other

  $500

Total income

  $2,000

Filing system

Set up a filing system for all the records you’ll keep.

You can set up a file folder for the monthly bank records and attached reconciliations. If there are reports for investments, put these into file folders. You will also need to prepare, file and keep a copy of annual income tax returns. You might set up one file folder for each year’s worth of income tax documentation.

For the other important documents, the adult may already have a filing system. If not, you could use a filing system with file folders, a binder with expanding sheet protector dividers, or even manila envelopes.

One option that can work well is an expanding poly file folder with multiple pockets to keep important documents all in one place, protected from the elements.

You can buy a 26 pocket poly file folder that will accommodate 26 important types of documents in the five categories of the PFILE filing system: Personal, Financial, Insurance, Legal, and Estate & Advance Planning.

  PFILE System
I Personal
1

Birth Certificate / Adoption Papers

2

Education / Military Service

3

Employment History / Resume or CV

4

Prenuptial Agreement / Marriage Licence / Divorce / Separation Agreement

5

Family History

6

Religious Documents

7

Medical History / List of Doctors / Prescriptions / Health Records

II Financial
8

List of Bank Accounts / Bank Statements / Safety Deposit Box

9

Credit Cards / Debit Cards

10

Income Tax Returns / Property Tax Statements

11

Certificates of Deposits / Savings Bonds / Mutual Funds / Stocks

12

RRSPs / RRIFs / LIFs-RLIFs / LIOs / Annuities & TCA 90

13

Old Age Security (OAS) / Canada Pension Plan (CPP) / Other Income

III Income
14

Fire (Property) Insurance

15

Auto Insurance

16

Life Insurance

17

Disability / Medical / Dental Insurance

IV Legal
18

Deed to House / Strata / Cottage or Lease

19

Mortgages / Loan Agreements

20

Passport / Citizenship Papers

21

Vehicle Title / Registration

22

Corporation / Partnership Documents

V Estate & Advance Planning
23

Power of Attorney

24

Representation Agreement / Advance Directive

25

Wills / Wills Registry Information / Codicils / Letter of Instructions to Executor

26

Trust Documents

Financial management software

There are software programs that can help with managing personal funds. Perhaps the best known is Quicken from Intuit. A free online service for personal finances is Mint, also from Intuit. These services help you set budgets, track spending and pay bills. They usually include a feature to download and reconcile bank account records with your own records. 

With financial management software, it is also much easier to provide any reports requested by the adult or others.

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Reviewed for legal accuracy by

Barrister & Solicitor

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