How do I "check out" my mom's new boyfriend?

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My mom was widowed 6 months ago after 62 years of marriage. She is extremely naive, has no conception of handling money, lives alone (in a home I own) and is very lonely. She met an 80 something man in church last week. They went to lunch and spent the rest of the day and evening together. I have not met him yet, but family and friends are telling me I should have him "checked out". How do I insure my mother and what little savings she has in not put at risk?

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Thank you all so much for these very very helpful suggestions! I am on it.
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Regardless of the intentions of this gentleman, it seems a good time to talk with your Mom about financial planning as she ages. Many years ago when Dad was completely able to take care of his affairs, he put a revocable trust in place. At some point, I became a co-trustee and started to help him with his bills. When it appeared that Dad was highly open to suggestions, we followed the process put in place in the Trust and he resigned as trustee and my sister became co-trustee. This requires real trust on my Dad's part that we will make good decisions.

I am careful to ensure that he always has money in an account outside of the Trust with which he can do whatever he pleases (including giving it away). The Trust just means that no one can trick him into signing away all his assets. A side benefit of creating the trust is that it also includes a healthcare directive, a will and a financial power of attorney. We had to track down life insurance policies, deeds, everything as part of the process. It was easier to do this over time than to wait until he passed away and then try to sort it all out. Another benefit is that when I have a question about what to do, the Trust attorney who sees these concerns every day is a great resource. He can sometimes talk to Dad. As an objective outsider, the attorney's advice can be more persuasive.

There are many people who take advantage of the elderly. We had issues with caregivers and close family friends coming to my Dad with sad stories. At one time, I got a call from his mechanic who was concerned that Dad was sending a person who worked in the grocery store to have her car fixed and Dad was going to pay the bill. In another case, I am still finding receipts that in the end added up to thousands of dollars sent to a young woman who had convinced Dad that his sister had promised her that Dad would help her after his sister died. In both of these cases, no amount of searching on-line or "checking out" would have uncovered the fraud. I am proud of my Dad for his big heart AND I can sleep at night knowing that the bulk of his assets are protected.

In the end, I hope that your concerns are unfounded and that your Mom has found a nice companion.
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Boy, am I glad that both my daughters live out West. Here I am in the Midwest, and can do as I please. To be honest, I would hate it if anyone intrude in my private life, be it my daughters or anyone for this matter.

That being said, like ohjeez pointed out, you can do your search online. Where I am from, you can do a public records search on the clerk of courts site and the muni courts websites, too. Also real estate property info on the auditor website. This state is extremely user friendly. Not so in some others.
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Carlita 5 - not sure what state you live in. In Oregon, you can go down to the county courthouse and access a database (called OJIN here, Oregon Judicial Information Network), which is searchable by name, no social security # needed. It gives information on all court activity (civil and criminal even parking tickets) on individuals. It does not give specific details, but it is a great tool. I would bet there is something like this in every state.
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If his name comes up again arrange to meet him. Invite them over for lunch or visit her when he is there. Get to know him and insure he knows you and knows you are involved in your mom's life. If people are talking to you about him ask them how they know him, is it just gossip or do they personally know him or his family, and always take it with a grain of salt.
If it was you what would she have done? If it your teenage daughter what would you do?
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He just might be a boy-friend; not a beau or something close to that. I'd stop beating around the bush and congratulate her for making an effort to be social despite her recent loss. Tell her you've heard wonderful things about him and encourage her to invite him to dinner. That'll give you a chance to check him out first hand. Throw a bunch of open-ended questions and let him do all the talking. Straight from the horse's mouth is the best way to ascertain what his (and her) motives really are.
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You can do a background check on the gentleman via the Internet and get pertinent data as to some of his background which might assist you in determining his intent. Speak with people you know at church about him or find out where he lives and pose questions to his neighbors. Lastly, you might convince your mom to put you on her financial accounts so you can view financial statements online, this will give you an idea of her expenditures. Some old codgers can be quite deceptive and you are correct in wanting to know as much as possible about him and his motives. He just might have a secret agenda, better safe than sorry, I say!
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Unless you are willing to risk your mother not speaking to you again, I would tread lightly with this issue. I realize you want to protect her and her assets from possible "misuse", but they are hers to do with as she pleases. Why don't you invite both of them to your home for dinner and get to know him? Perhaps they are both just looking for some companionship.....after all having been with someone for 62 years would leave a huge hole of emptiness. If you are truly afraid that mom might do something "silly", why not sit down with her, and do not bring up the BF, and talk about finances in the future....as in get your name on her accounts and you would be able to monitor them more closely. I know this is frightening as so many elderly are taken advantage of and I hope that's not the case for your mom.
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