Q. Three months ago, my widowed father hired a caregiver who comes to his condo. She cooks, cleans, runs errands and is great for company. My father is 74 years old and legally blind with some physical disabilities. Recently, I was looking over his last bank statement and noticed several withdrawals that I asked him about. He was unable to explain what they were for. The caregiver helps him sign cheques and has access to his bank PIN. What can I do, so this does not happen again? — Terry
A. Good caregivers do become very close to their charges. They take over roles that were previously performed by family members. That said, an employer and employee can have a cordial relationship, as in any business. But there must be guidelines and controls in place to protect and benefit both parties.
It is in your father and caregiver’s interest to maintain a professional employer-employee relationship. The caregiver should not be given responsibilities beyond what she was hired. It is not fair for her to take on tasks where her character and integrity may be in question.
Power of attorney to access bank accounts should be restricted to the bank holder or a family member. Unauthorized individuals should not use bank cards and PINs.
Unfortunately, when you are dealing with money, it tends to disappear faster than a magician’s sleight of hand, now you see it, now you don’t. What follows are horror stories by worker and employer alike. Family members must take a more active role. Great as they may be, “caregivers do not a family make.”
To avoid penalties by Canada Revenue Agency, caregivers should be on the payroll and file remittances periodically. T4s should be issued at year-end.
Contact CRA or a tax professional who can advise you.
Family members should check regularly:
• Banking access and authorization.
• Changes to wills, etc., with lawyers.
• Investment accounts.
• Accountants and financial advisers.
– Henry Choo Chong, CGA, can be reached at email@example.com.