One of the best things about my job is the clients. Yes, some can be the pits but many are a joy to see each year. But each year we all get a little older and clients are no different. It’s sad to read or hear about a client passing away. But also it’s hard when the client slips mentally and physically especially when that impacts their taxes. Clients who were always prepared for our meetings with their source documents and notes organized begin to forget basic things like 1099Rs. Their notes stop being organized and become confusing. I get all the info I need but it takes several long calls to get what’s missing..
But it also means that I run into tax issues I would have never seen when they were are the top of their game. Balance dues and estimates not paid, minimum distributions from IRAs not taken, stocks sold but with no idea of what they paid for it. You get the idea.
Oh, and one other, family members sticking their nose in after the damage is done. I’m not talking about the son who brings dad in for his appointment and helps answer my questions. Or the granddaughter who drop off grandma’s stuff because grandma can’t drive but can answer my questions if I call. No, I’m talking about the family member who calls because they find a tax bill or they are shown a return with a big balance due. They call wanting answers I can’t give without a release from my client (too often they are family members that I’ve never dealt with before.) They rant and try to blame me. They don’t want to get a release but they want answers. Too often they want an easy, for them, solution.
I can’t control what happens when I give the client their copy of the return and anything they need to file or pay. The same goes for decisions made that impact on taxes. I’m only brought in to do the return. The family has to recognize that they may have to start stepping in and taking control of their loved one’s tax situation. It’s a delicate situation. I had to do it for both parents and a Grandmother. You want them to feel they have control over their taxes but at the same time you want to make sure everything is done correctly. What can you do? Become familiar with their return so you know what needs to be paid or filed. If there is talk about moving money, suggest they talk to their tax pro and offer to go with them. Get a tax power of attorney if necessary.
Any good tax pro is going to try to file the most accurate return possible. But that’s all we can do. The rest is up to the client and their family if the taxpayer can’t do it any longer.