The Pledge to Care, created by The Family Firm Inc., in Bethesda, Md., helps establish an understanding among family members about why and how they will approach managing an elderly parent’s financial affairs, should it be necessary.
Family Firm founder Mary Malgoire emphasizes that a pledge may be tailored for the situation. A possible start:
As your ______________ (e.g., son, cousin, caring friend), I am grateful for the wonderful years we’ve had together and all that you have given me in life. I especially appreciate ____________________________ (e.g., your caretaking of me in my younger years, the education you made possible for me, your kindness as a neighbor, etc.). Fortunately, we have the pleasure of growing old together, and you are getting to the point where I really would like to watch out for you. I want to do this respectfully, keep you fully informed and keep you in control. I will approach this from a place of kindness and respect, and have created this Pledge to Care to help guide us through this period. While this is not a legal document, it is an agreement to provide clarity and understanding to each other regarding the management of your personal finances.
Although a signed pledge is not legally binding, Malgoire points out that it’s consistent with a fiduciary approach to handling financial responsibilities. Most importantly, it provides the elderly person with information—and hopefully peace of mind—about how these responsibilities will be handled.