How to Step Into Another’s Shoes: Preparing An Administrative Backup & Continuity Plan for Someone
Updated: Mar 1, 2020
Plan A + Plan B + Plan C
When most sports teams have a regular player who cannot participate any longer for whatever reason, there is almost always someone else on the roster who can adequately step into his or her shoes for the rest of the season. They have the knowledge and the skill of the sport and their team's strategy to quickly assume the missing player's place and cover their assignments.
So, too, can a carefully planned and drafted backup plan and designated individual analogously act as your backup should you, or whoever manages your administrative matters, no longer be available or able to do so. I suggest calling this an Administrative Backup and Continuity (ABC) Plan. The creation of this should be thought of as an organic document that can be continually adapted to your specific changing circumstances and requirements.
Keeping with alphabet-based acronyms, let’s also follow on by calling the person you designate to implement this as an Administrative Backup and Continuity-Designee (ABC-Designee). Of course, this can also involve more than one person. Once your ABC-Designee is about to assume this role, I highly recommend going over every single part of your ABC Plan in specific detail with this person and making certain that all of your expectations and requirements are transparently clear.
Whom to choose for this role should also be carefully considered. It will likely be best to discuss this with a legal and a financial professional to make certain that all of your information remains fully protected and confidential. Your choice may also require someone who is a fiduciary to you.
This post is intended to at least get you thinking about this possibility and, if you are so inclined, proceed to creating such a plan. Please consider what follows to be just a nudge in that direction with suggested guidelines for your plan’s structure and content.
Keys to the Kingdom
Your recurring administrative tasks for your ABC-Designee can include any or all types of activities such as, among many others, budgeting, managing personal finances, scheduling and paying bills, setting up appointments, maintaining paper and electronic files of important documents, and renewing services and subscriptions. Over time, fulfilling these tasks can get quite complex with respect to making certain that all of them are dispatched in a reliable, responsible and timely manner. No one wants to face the consequences of missing a bill payment, losing track of an appointment, or misplacing an important document that could have been otherwise avoided.
Therefore, drafting and implementing an ABC Plan in anticipation of this situation arising, can provide a workable structure for someone else whom you designate to quickly and efficiently assume responsibility for these activities. Moreover, it can produce some additional peace of mind for you and the people who care about you.
Whether your ABC Plan needs to be further memorialized as a form of service contract (including fees, expenses and scheduling), is up to you and your legal and accounting professionals. Alternatively, this possibility might not be needed depending on your individual circumstances, the content of your ABC Plan, and whomever you chose for this role. Once again, it will be helpful to discuss this with your attorney and accountant.
The ABC Plan should be written as clearly and concisely as possible. It should read like an instruction manual that delineates the who, what, when, where and how to cover all of your personal informational and administrative requirements. Drafting this will require quite of bit of thought about how everything actually gets done from the perspective of someone who is not yet familiar with all of the parties and procedures involved. Therefore, I suggest making certain the plan document also passes the "Man from Mars" test whereby even a visitor from space can, when provided with this document, be able to figure who’s who and what’s what in attending to your administrative affairs.
Three considerations are absolutely essential in preparing an ABC Plan. First and foremost, this is a description and narrative document. To maintain your privacy and security, do not include any account numbers or passwords. Rather, if you choose to store and share this information with whomever will be designated to implement your ABC Plan, do this in a separate and safe manner such as an online password manager or creating a separate handwritten list (not stored on your computer or other online storage space because these can potentially be hacked).
Second, the person who will be assuming your administrative responsibilities will need to be someone whom you completely trust and, as a fiduciary, will need to have a Power of Attorney agreement signed by both you and this individual. This document enables them to execute legal documents and undertake responsibilities for you such as signing legally binding documents, the authority to pays bills and enter into other financial obligations, and other responsibilities specified in this document. A Power of Attorney document is most often prepared by an attorney and has a wide range of powers listed in it that can be selectively chosen to meet your particular needs and intentions.
Third, all confidential medical matters and records should be excluded from the ABC Plan. These responsibilities and obligations for personal confidential medical information are legally covered by federal HIPAA regulations.
ABC Plan Contents
Section 1: An Annotated Inventory of Electronic and Paper Files
Your personal administrative information is now likely located in various paper and electronic formats. Begin by taking an inventory of the overall categories of these files and where they are located. Begin building this list in the order of their importance.
The following is a suggested list of categories to get you started. Please improvise, add, subtract, multiply, divide or take the square root of any of this, however needed, so it will fit your own unique system, needs and level of comfort. To begin taking stock of this consider the following:
Bills and payment receipts for utilities, telecom, and other goods and services
Credit card bills and documents
Checking account statements and checkbooks
Brokerage, investment and retirement account statements
Real estate ownership, sales and purchases, leasing and rental documents
Insurance policy documents
Government benefit documents
Section 2: A Detailed Listing of Your Regular Weekly, Monthly and Yearly Administrative Procedures and Obligations
This section should be used to plot out your administrative infrastructure. This can cover:
Who gets paid what, when, and from where
What accounts are authorized by you to be used for payments
Who are your existing contacts at various organizations that can be contacted on your behalf
Where regular mail and relevant online communications are received and sorted out for further action and filing
Some suggested requirements to list here include:
Sources of funds to be used for paying bills and other obligations
Which obligations are paid automatically each month by electronic fund transfers (EFTs)
How and where you maintain your electronic and paper filing system(s)
When regular billing obligations occur and your schedule for paying them
Specific procedures you used to maintain your checkbook and other financial accounts
Additional information that might be needed when paying or contacting relevant parties concerning the rent, mortgage, utilities, phones, credit cards, and so on
The names and contact information of your attorney, accountant, financial planner, other relevant service providers and vendors, family members, any other caregiving individuals and organizations
Rent for your apartment is paid to the XYZ Management Company on the first of every month. XYZ provides a mailing envelope and returnable invoice. The check is written from the regular checking account with the Acme First National Bank. The check and invoice are copied and placed into the “Monthly Rent” folder. The apartment is registered the rent stabilization law.
Mobile phone service is billed on a monthly basis by the Happy Phone Wireless Company. A paper bill arrives in the mail each month and then this bill is paid online on the provider’s website. The funds are debited from my regular checking account. The paper bill is marked “Paid” with the date of the online payment, and kept in the “Current Bills” paper file for one month until the next bill arrives.
Section 3: How and When ABC-Designees Should Report Back to You
Use this section to be specific about your expectations of when and how you expect regular reports on all of the activities your ABC-Designee. Among some of the considerations to be assessed include:
When and where reports should be made (weekly, monthly, quarterly, and so on)?
Can reporting and discussions be by phone, in person or both? How often should they be scheduled?
Will documents presented during reporting include paper and/or electronic/online documents and their presentation?
How will access to files and documents be secured and shared?
If follow up on any matter is required, what are your expectations for getting things done in terms of timing and completeness?
For any financial transactions, are any form of pro forma budget projections expected? That is, to avoid or minimize any unforeseen financial developments, are you and your ABC-Designee generating pro forma projections?
Finally, any of your comments here with feedback, questions or similar experiences in creating administrative backup arrangements would be greatly appreciated.