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Important Update: Changes in FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage

The FDIC deposit insurance rules have undergone a series of changes starting in the fall of 2008. As a result, certain previously published information related to FDIC insurance coverage may not reflect the current rules. For details about the changes, visit Changes in FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage. For more information about FDIC insurance, go to www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/index.html or call toll-free 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342). For the hearing-impaired, the number is 1-800-925-4618.

Special 10th Anniversary Edition - Fall 2003

Financial Caregiving: A Survival Guide
How to prevent and deal with potential money problems, even from a distance, when a loved one is ill.

Caregivers are among America's unsung heroes. They're the millions of people assisting an ill or elderly spouse, parent, child or other loved one with everything from medications and bathing to money management and banking. Among the potential financial pitfalls: bad investment decisions that can reduce a relative's assets or standard of living. FDIC Consumer News offers these steps to consider.

Before an older relative becomes ill or disabled:

  • Make sure the family knows where to find personal and financial documents in an emergency. These include bank and brokerage statements, wills, insurance policies and pension records.
  • Get advice from a banker, attorney or other qualified professional about obtaining access to bank and brokerage accounts in case of an emergency. To write checks or withdraw funds, you or someone else your relative trusts should become a joint owner of a bank account or make arrangements to be authorized to conduct transactions as a legal representative with a power of attorney.
  • Consider automatic payment of important, recurring bills. You can arrange for utility bills, along with health insurance, mortgage and other regular commitments, to be paid electronically out of your loved one's checking account.
  • Think about the direct deposit of pay and benefit checks into bank and brokerage accounts.
  • Consider a "durable power of attorney," a legal document giving one or more people the authority to handle finances or other personal matters if the individual becomes mentally or physically incompetent.
  • Guard against scams. Fraud artists know that ill or elderly people tend to be lonely and willing to listen to and trust strangers who call on them — ideal candidates for telemarketing fraud, bogus home repairs, and get-rich-quick schemes. Be on the lookout for questionable solicitations or withdrawals.
After a crisis:
  • Contact bankers, lawyers, accountants, insurance agents or financial planners your family has dealt with in the past. Ask how they'd recommend you deal with matters and how they can assist.
  • Be aware of your potential liability. A caregiver may become a joint owner of a bank account, serve as a legal representative (through a power of attorney) or become someone's trustee or guardian. Any time you agree to share responsibility with or for someone else you may be taking on unexpected risks and liabilities.
  • Be smart about borrowing money. Your relative might need extra help to pay for medical or other expenses. In some cases, it might make sense to use a credit card or obtain a loan. First make sure the debt would be manageable, and research and discuss the pros and cons.
Excerpted from "Financial Caregiving: A Survival Guide," Summer 1997.

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Last Updated 12/12/2003 communications@fdic.gov