How to Protect Parents as They Age



September 10, 2015



Many of us have had the misfortune of seeing an aging parent or relative lose their capacity for making decisions. About the only thing worse is when mistakes or malfeasance add a financial tragedy to that personal one. It happens more often than most people know, because of the way financial decision making is usually transferred. A close relative, for example a daughter who lives nearby, often steps in and takes over. That works well for everyday things like paying bills. But what about making sure the investments are appropriately allocated, that available tax deductions are being taken, or charitable giving remains in line with the person’s wishes?


These duties devolve onto advisors who may not be in close contact with the daughter, or each other. The door is now wide open to miscommunication, honest mistakes or even theft. Fortunately, there is a way to avoid these problems. It’s called a microboard.


A microboard consists of a group of people who collaborate to manage the care and assets of an individual (or couple) who need some level of help. To whatever extent possible, the person in need of help directs the board according to their own wishes. When the board must act on its own, it does so while focusing on the welfare of that person. It might include arranging for daily assistance in the home, allocating investable assets, or making sure the will is in order.


The board is like a family who meets to discuss and coordinate for a relative in need. There are usually a small number of members.  And while a close family member or friend usually start the board, it should also include one or more trusted professional advisors such as:


  • Attorney
  • CPA / accountant
  • Care manager
  • Insurance agent
  • Financial advisor /PERSONALCFO


If you have a relative who could benefit from a microboard, you (and the relative, ideally) should first identify potential board members. Once a board is assembled, meetings can be held. Monthly might be best at first; later on it could be quarterly or semi-annually. The meetings ensure that everyone is communicating and considering the full-picture, so don’t sell them short—get together physically in the same room if possible. Trouble results in cases where one hand (or advisor) may not know what the others are doing.


Sitting on a microboard is a role we are comfortable with as our clients’ PERSONALCFO. In fact, the concept fits hand-in-glove with the PARTNERSINWEALTH philosophy: Optimal results come from a coordinated team that provides checks and balances against each other as they work for a common goal. It also helps everyone involved to relax, knowing the full spectrum of issues are being looked after in the best interest of the person at the center of it all. If you’d like to discuss starting a microboard, or other financial matters you are facing, please contact Jim Waters, CFP®, at 713.964.4028 or