What's The Best Way To Help Manage A Relative's Finances Without Jeopardizing Your Own?

A tipster wants to know whether adding his name to his mother’s accounts will open him up to credit issues should something go wrong.

I have a question for the hive mind. My mother … wants to add my name to her accounts so that when she dies, I will be able to write checks to pay her bills, etc. The problem is, her money management skills leave something to be desired. I’m wondering if, by adding my name to her accounts, I will be liable for any debts she may or will have. Is this a bad move on my part to be included on her accounts? Is there a way for me to pay her bills without opening myself up to liability?

I’ll get the IANAL ball rolling: My first thought is that what you want is to be named the executor of your mother’s estate, so when the time comes you’ll have the legal authority to close all of her accounts, settle her debts if possible, and take care of any other loose ends.

However, if you’re preparing for the possibility that you might need to help her with her finances while she’s still alive–you don’t say that above, but it’s another common issue–then I think a Power of Attorney is probably more appropriate.

In either case, you’ll want to consult with a real lawyer first, obviously.

Take it away, readers–what’s the best advice for someone in this situation?