Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Fiduciary?

A fiduciary is a trained and knowledgeable individual who provides financial services and oversight for clients. Fiduciary services can include basic tasks such as bill-paying, organization and filing of bills and financial statements, checkbook balancing, account reconciliation and accounting reports generated for tax professionals as well as more complex financial tasks such as serving as trustee, successor trustee, representative payee or conservator. The term “fiduciary” literally means “One who stands in a special relation of trust, confidence, or responsibility in certain obligations to others.”

What is important to look for in a Fiduciary?

It is essential that individuals looking for any financial help for themselves or their loved ones find someone who is licensed as a Certified Professional Fiduciary and check several references for the individual in order to determine that the fiduciary professional is honest and trustworthy. The Professional Fiduciaries Association of California provides listings of certified fiduciaries and stipulates, “All fiduciaries affiliated with the Professional Fiduciary Association of California (PFAC) must fulfill education and experience requirements. In addition, PFAC members are governed by a stringent Code of Ethics. PFAC members must meet annual educational requirements and standards set by the organization.” In answer to the question “Who oversees fiduciaries?” PFAC guidelines further state, “Private Fiduciaries are governed by state statute. Each California county has Probate Court as part of its Superior Court system. Courts may appoint a PFAC member as a neutral third party to protect vulnerable and incapacitated people from abuse, neglect and exploitation. PFAC members must abide by the PFAC Code of Ethics.”

What is a Care Manager?

A Care Manager is a trained and experienced professional who provides assessment of the various challenges confronting older or disabled adult individuals and their loved ones. A Care Manager is knowledgeable about the nonprofit agencies, governmental resources and private individuals who offer services in their local community. Knowing many of the service providers by reputation and direct experience, a Care Manager can coordinate referrals to honest and competent resources. In her assessment, a Care Manager examines the whole range of issues affecting each client’s well-being — including safety and fall prevention, transportation issues, daily care needs, relevant relationship challenges, advocacy needs with medical providers, and more. A competent Care Manager will interview the client and the client’s loved ones and other support network members to begin to build and strengthen a circle of support and community around the client. At Marchi & Smith, we work to keep our clients and their support network members in close communication with each other so that the client does not “fall between the cracks.”

Why do we call ourselves Care Managers rather than Case Managers?

At Marchi & Smith, we don’t think of our clients as “cases.” We genuinely consider each client as a unique individual with special needs, circumstances, desires and challenges. We also see opportunities for graceful aging in almost every situation and usually find we contribute significantly to that goal. We refer to ourselves as “Client-Centered Care Managers” because our clients drive our specialized services. There is no one-size-fits-all model or prescription that works for everyone. After our assessments, we can recommend wise choices and possible solutions, propose an individualized Care Plan, continue to reassess and amend the Care Plan as we go along, and regularly report on progress to the client and his/her chosen circle of support.

Why choose Marchi, Smith & Levin as Fiduciaries?

Gene Marchi is a Charter Member of the Professional Fiduciary Association of California and has served on the Board of Directors of that organization. Over his almost 30 years working as a leader in the field of elder care and fiduciary services, Gene has maintained a sterling reputation for honesty and integrity. In fact, the Superior Court of San Francisco mandates that all non-professional conservators attend Gene’s one-day workshop on conservatorships before they can be appointed as conservators. Gene has taught these court-mandated educational workshops in San Francisco for 20 years. An experienced administrative staff supports our clients to maintain records, calendars and accountings in compliance with the highest standards.

How do I know if I need a Care Manager?

You may need a Care Manager …

  • if you or your loved one is unable to manage all of the tasks inherent in running a household
  • if you are thinking that a move to a different living situation might be necessary
  • if you are thinking that isolation and/or a growing safety risk might be mounting issues
  • if you would like advice about services, solutions, alternatives and resources for older individuals in your area

What does Marchi, Smith & Levin charge for care management services?

At Marchi, Smith & Levin we tailor your care plan to fit your specific needs, and our prices reflect this variation. Typical charges include, for example, an assessment interview, the development of an individualized Care Plan, referrals to and management of service professionals such as transportation agencies and caregivers, regular communication and advocacy with the client’s health care and housing providers, updating of Care Plans as situations change, and regular reports to the client and family.  These services are provided on an hourly basis.

How do Fiduciaries charge for their services?

Fiduciaries usually charge by the hour for basic finance-related services or by a percentage of the estate for more complex cases. According to PFAC, “In most court-supervised cases, the Probate Court approves reasonable fees. In non-court-supervised cases, fees may be addressed in the estate planning documents.”