Can I Remain in Control and Have Assistance with Bill Pay?
Yes. This can be accomplished quite easily with a limited or special power of attorney. If you have an estate plan, you may have a trust and a power of attorney, so it's important to understand the distinction between these documents and how they operate.
First, you may have assets held in your trust. Trust assets are managed by a trustee, and the person acting as trustee may be changed from time to time. In your trust, you likely to designate successor trustees to act in the event you are unable or unwilling to continue serving as trustee. If you resign as trustee, you will no longer have full control of the trust assets, but you may continue to have some limited control as a settlor and a beneficiary, though the exercise of that control will become more difficult.
Separately, you may have assets that are held outside of the trust. The assets outside of the trust are managed by you directly, by an agent that you have designated under a power of attorney, or by a conservator of your estate. If you have a general power of attorney, the person you designated may have authority to manage your non-trust assets. If you do not have a general power of attorney, but wish to place someone on your bank account to assist with bill payment, then you can contact your bank and execute a special power of attorney for a specific account--banks typically require their own forms for this type of transaction. This means that if you have a bank account with a low value, then your agent can get on title as an agent and assist you with bill payment.
Under this second scenario, you have not lost any control over your assets. If you suddenly decide to revoke your agent's authority, you may close the bank account and open another or remove the assets from that financial institution entirely.
Additionally, to ensure there are sufficient funds for bill payment, you can set up automatic or periodic payments from an account that you still fully control (perhaps a trust account) to be paid into this new account with your agent on title. This way, there will be funds available for bill payment, though you will still generally maintain control over your assets.
Of course, any person assisting you in such a manner should create a record-keeping system, maintain records of all incoming and outgoing transactions from any accounts that the agent has access to, and prepare periodic accountings.
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