If your sibs are helping themselves to your parent's assets...

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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.

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I know what you mean about being cautious about anyone who comes into your parent's orbit. You would expect a paid caregivers to be friendly and professional, however, if they start insinuating themselves as "family" it should send up a red flag. When seniors reach this point in life they become vulnerable, lonely, and sometimes lose those internal signals that helps them determine whether someone has their best interests at heart. Family caregivers have to make tough decisions for their parents that their parents sometimes resent. So the paid caregiver becomes the "ally" and drives a wedge between a client and his or her family. This may sound harsh, but I would remove a caregiver if I saw that situation developing....especially if they started asking for money! Really, we need to be vigilant of any person who is in constant contact with a senior. We would have no qualms about checking the background of someone who would care for a young child - not to mention constantly monitoring their interactions.
Crowe, you had every right to speak up to protect your mother and I certainly think that the step-brother needed to know. Whether he decides to do anything about it is his concern. I spoke with a director of an ALF today who said that she takes the time to help one gentleman sort through his mail because sweepstakes companies followed him wherever he moved and bilked him out of thousands of dollars. He still thinks that these companies are okay.
Really....does it seem that, as we age, the world becomes more "Darwinian?"....i.e., survival of the fittest. All these vultures and scam artists just seem to come out of the woodwork to try and scam seniors out of their lifelong earnings. I wish all these creeps a hot rock in hell....but that's just me. :o)
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4. If someone is putting extreme pressure on your parent for a loan or money, contact adult protective services and ask for their advice.

I found these people will not do anything until a crime has been committed. Thus, I brought this up with my mom's neurologist, whom she loves, and he had a good talk with her about whom to trust and mom got the message. I let the person know who was trying to get $40,000 from my mother no and don't try again. I also let my step-brother know this took place which did bother him, and my step-dad know which did not bother him because my mother has a history of rescuing people. The person who tried to get this money is my step-dad's helper and I don't trust her at all, but she is his employee not mine. My step-brother is afraid to get involved in the emotional dependency issues between his dad and that care taker of his.
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