I have read so many posts recently about siblings who are trying to "seperate" parents from their money. I just wanted to share some tips to help protect them:
1. The direct caregiver should have both the medical and financial Powers of Attorney. This document is not difficult to create. See an attorney or go online for forms.
2. Set up an online banking account to monitor your parent's transactions. If something seems suspicious or there are checks being cashed regularly or for large amounts, call the bank and see what security measures they offer, i.e., seeing if a "password" can be placed on the account, limiting the maximum amount for a single check cashed, or become a "signer" on the account (this will not make you financially responsible.)
3. Check their credit reports (one per year is free). If you find that their credit account has been accessed regularly, someone may be trying to take out a loan in their name. Check your state's attorney general's office about placing a "freeze" on the account. Any business who wishes to process a loan, must contact the account holder directly. Also, a temporary "fraud alert" can be placed on a credit report. (I believe it lasts 90 days.)
4. If someone is putting extreme pressure on your parent for a loan or money, contact adult protective services and ask for their advice.
5. Take away checkbooks/ATM cards/credit cards from your parent and limit other means of accessing an account. Parents are particularly vulnerable if they are suffering from diminished mental capacity.
6. If anyone moves in with your parent - family member or paid caregiver - remove all important papers, valuables, and cash.
7. Call the Federal Trade Commission for more information: 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
8. Stop advertising and "sweepstakes" calls by placing their telephone number on the "do not call list:" 1-888-382-1222
9. If your parent has substantial liquid assets talk to an attorney or accountant about placing them in a trust or investing in CDs. This makes their funds less vulnerable to predators.
10. Have a frank discussion with your parent and tell them why you are taking these measures. Remind them of how expensive medical care is and that you are just trying to insure that they have enought to cover their expenses. Tell them that if anyone asks for money, to ask them to speak with the caregiver directly. Depending on your parent's personality, this may or may not work. Many parents become defensive and will think you are limiting their freedom, etc or they like being the "rescuer." But, remember that you are doing what is in their best interests.
11. Take any step to protect your parents from predators. Whatever assets they have are THEIRS and not to be accessed for anything else but their care. Ruffling the family "feathers" should be the last thing you should worry about. Announce to the family that the "bank" is closed and that security measures have been put into place.