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I've mentioned this before but it came up again today and I'm wondering if there is a hard and fast rule for POAs and money.


My elderly parents have about $18K left to their names, and earn less than $1K/mo from SS. Yet today, my father spent $1,000 on a "free" book to tell him how to invest in bitcoin, promising me that the scam artist who wrote it has made millions. We were in a doctor's waiting room when he told me to watch for it, because he's having it sent to my house. I asked him what he knows about bitcoin. He said, "When they take over, money will be worthless! We'll all have chips implanted...they'll have everything and we won't have even food..." Whatever. I asked, "Do you mean aliens or the illuminati this time?" (because he's equally certain about both threats!) This time, it's for sure the illuminati. He wants to invest whatever money he has left in bitcoin...blah, blah, blah...


When the book(s) come, I'm going to send them back and demand a refund. But what I want to do it cut off their credit card (1) and turn off their internet (2) and throw their computers out the window (3). They both spend all day online, buying crap they cannot afford. In the last 10 days, he's announced he's buying a second car, a turbine (?!?!), and showed me a photo of some land he's buying in Florida for "when he retires completely". Well, ummm....he hasn't worked in 18 years, and he not only can he afford a place in FL, he can't even GET to FL without tons of help. I think they're just trying to spend money to feel free, but THEN...


My father swore that before he will let his wife move into a "nursing home", he'll shoot her dead(!) Thankfully, I convinced him to sell his guns a few months ago. But they'll BOTH be in state run nursing homes when the time comes, because they're burning through every penny as fast as they can.


I've given up on trying to persuade or be rational. May I just take away all their money? Am I allowed to do that? They signed the POA when they lived in Missouri, but now I've moved them to IL, in hopes that I could help them be a little less...wayward. No such luck!


Advice, please?

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I really think you should read over your POA documents carefully and see exactly what they say. There may be stipulations about when you become in charge of their money and assets and that time may not be now. I had a DPOA (Durable Power Of Attorney) for my father. It was stipulated within the official documents from the lawyer who made it up that my authority over his money and assets did not start until such time as he may become incapacitated due to illness or injury making him unable to manage his own affairs. These documents were done years in advance of me having to take over. During the time in between he pretty much wasted all of his money on nonsense and had huge bills that could not be paid upon his death because there was no money left to pay them with. You need to read over those POA documents carefully. It's very likely that your parents have a similar clause put into theirs like my father had.
In the meantime, you cannot cut off their credit cards, take away their computers, or stop them from squandering their money on total nonsense. You would have to go to the probate court in the town they live in and file for conservatorship over them both. It will have to be proven to the court's satisfaction that they are both incapacitated and not able to care for themselves, their property, or their financial matters any more.
Guaranteed if you try now to deny them access to their credit cards and bank accounts there will be legal trouble for you. From what you've said about them here and in a past post, these are not people who are going to willingly give up control of their money to anyone. You know I love it when people go on about the "illuminati" and "secret societies" controlling everyone's every move. I always ask if these secret societies controlling everything are so secret, why does everyone know about them?
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I just got the copy of the POA that my brother signed at an elder law attorney’s office. It was incredibly detailed. Find your copy and if it’s unclear find an elder law attorney to consult with—hopefully free!—and get clarity. Those attorneys understand the situations just like you’ve described. When I saw how much I could do I was so glad we got it done while he’s still able to understand what he’s doing by signing it. As far as I can tell you do have the power to cut off credit cards, etc. Don’t go on hearsay, consult with an attorney.
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BurntCaregiver Nov 30, 2020
Just read over the POA documents very carefully first before going to a lawyer. It's very likely that there's a clause in them about when their authority kicks in and why.
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Dpoattorny gives you more control than ever , please get your self to a good family law attorney and fast.......
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The Power of Attorney spells out what your authority is. If it gives you full authority then you can take over full control. You appear to have a doubt here so I suggest you consult with the Attorney that wrote it up for you.

This is a common problem. My wife had to take away the checkbook and credit cards from her parents for the same reason. She put an answering machine on the house landline phone so her Parents could hear who was calling before they answered. Her parents would answer the phone, do the same thing. After the answering machine was put in with a message saying if this is telemarketer please put on the for not call list about 99% of the scammer calls hung up, It took a little training to get the parents to wait to listen to the recording of who is calling before they picked up. As their conditions wained they just let all calls go the machine and let my wife handle whoever called later.
If they are running out of money I hope you have a plan B
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Reply to lacyisland
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If they're too confused to understand what you did and too confused to complain to someone else about it, you should probably control as much as you can. Rational people don't allow cognitively impaired people to throw their money away. At some point in the past, your parents were both probably much more rational and thrifty. Your parents of the past would WANT you to do whatever you need to now, in order to protect their sources.
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Beekee Nov 27, 2020
Don't call the bank, don't call the credit card company, just take action online.
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Imho, it is imperative that you stop him before the rather small (by today's standards) sum of $18,000 is frittered away on scams and non sensical things. Prayers sent.
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I feel you, I am experiencing the same thing however my brother is on a fixed military income, which I think he deserves more. However I am his POA and he has a few dollars left each month for personal items. I have brought all that he needs at present, clothing, furniture, personal items etc. He has a iphone and he uses that to order things he can't pay for. I am now trying to get the bank to not honor a automatice debit he created and never get the products. He now lives in an assitant living and does not follow the protocol for the COVID and maybe thrown out of there. It is a nightmare. What I have done is got him to give up his credit card and i give him cash not so good but its a limited amount. The card is close so he can't call or do email purchases. He is irritated however I can't keep paying or making payments with money he does not have. He is bull headed. He has no insurance either so i'm in the lurch if something happens. I need insurance for him but becasuse of his health issues it more than he can pay for...In The lurch..
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BurntCaregiver Nov 30, 2020
Carol2324 that's tough. Is there any way you can take the money he has left after expenses and get it onto a Visa debit card so he can spend it on whatever he wants to order? That way if he exceeds his monthly spending amount, he will not be able to make any more purchases. Your brother does not have insurance through the Veteran's Administration? If he's living on a military pension then he probably has it. There are a lot of programs through the VA that many people just don't know about. Did he serve out of the country in wartime? If he did then your local chapter of the VFW will help you get benefits for him.
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When I was made durable POA for married friends of mine due to their declining mental abilities, the first thing we did was go to their bank to have me put on their account as an acceptable check signer. Their POA forms were signed and notarized there. When I got the chance, I removed the credit cards from the wife's wallet, and eventually closed their account. Credit card companies were the worst to deal with, so I cut up the cards and returned the pieces to the credit card company with an account closed message. I monitored their spending on line for several months and saw magazine renewals every month for the same magazines. I started taking their mail and saw the bill-like ads being sent to them and asked this magazine billing company to stop sending them.
It wouldn't, so I contacted our state attorney general for help and she contacted the state attorney general for the state they were being sent from and together, they put the company out of business. I then wrote to the magazines and asked them to take several years off the subscriptions and return the money. It took months, but they did as I asked. When the wife died after 5 months in the memory care apartment I had found for them, I found out later I needed several originals of the death certificate because some places would not accept copies. After this, things have gone smoothly. Their investment company would not accept the POA forms the state uses, so I had to use the company's forms, which were accepted. That gave me complete control of all their money. Their bank was relieved that someone was helping them because of how confused this couple were and the frequent phone calls to the bank asking about their money. When I got their condo cleaned out and ready to sell, it sold the first day on the market and that money went right to their checking account. I eventually had to cash in some of their investments and that went right to their savings account. I make sure not one cent comes to me. Any money leaving their account is by a check that has a copy of the bill on file to show why it was sent. I am doing this even though I don't have to account to anyone for what I am doing because it is the right way to be. I am also the executor of their estate, though there won't be any estate due to the high monthly costs of their memory care apartment. Now the big task is to get his veteran's benefits started--what a pile of paperwork! Fortunately the county veteran's agent is guiding me with good advice. They are wanting to know about all the assets and how money has been spent. Fortunately, I can document this if needed.
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Carol2324 Nov 27, 2020
Hi Johnny,

I must send Kodo's to your for all that you do which is the right thing and I commend you for your honesty. It goes a long way. Helping loved ones who have aged is a challenge at times.

When it comes to the VA benefits if he or she does not have them coming in already you just need to call a fudiciary Hubl that takes care of his or her area where they live, and get them to send out paperwork and forms to fill out for their benefits or Contact the local VA benefits office they too can help with this. They can have or send what forms you need to fill out and make sure they know you are the POA and to put that on record, make sure you ask them how that can be done so that you show you are the POA. Aide and attendant helps with the living expenses this is a form you fill out for them. Thats if the facility takes that type of benefits or see if they can be sent to you. If the person is not getting benefits they will have to get an assessment of their condition before they let determine their percentage of being service connected and that will determine the amount they get each month. You may have this information however any little bit helps.
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SeniorStruggles,
As POA, you have the authority to lower credit limits or even cancel their cards altogether provided you have the POA on file with each credit card company.

The same applies to their checking account. So if you're not on their accounts, you need to be!

This won't stop them from writing checks, so maybe the checks should "disappear ".

You're doing the right thing by trying to save them from themselves!!

Best wishes!!
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Reply to xrayjodib
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We set up everything during dad's decline (POAs, wills, trust, etc) in 2006. He passed in 2008. When mom developed early dementia and started having trouble with finances, etc, I took over using those POAs. We revisited the Elder Law atty, but the POAs were never redone, so they were dated 2006 (took over for her around 2015 or 2016.) The CU didn't question anything, gave them a copy of the POA - changed address to my PO box, had checks and statements mailed to me. I contacted all the billers and had them change the billing address so I could make the payments through bill payer (I avoid auto-pay.) No one questioned anything. Two of us were on her CU account, but only mom was on the bank acct where her SS was deposited (she opened this to have a closer place to get cash.) Once I redirected her SS to the CU acct, I closed the bank acct and moved the funds to the CU acct (by check.) I was also able to manage her CC, to a degree. They wouldn't allow online access, but I could call, get info, cancel card, freeze card, etc. Thankfully she wasn't into blowing through money (no internet for her, never learned how to use it.) Her hearing was pretty bad, esp on the phone, so she didn't fall for scams (not that I know of!) I let her keep the card for a while, as she used it to buy groceries, but had them reduce the limit (by a lot!), and later after moving her to MC, froze it, then later closed it.

When I needed to change address for SS (she was beyond capability and you can't forward federal mail), I had to sign up as rep payee. This might be the first step you could take. Apply at a local office, for both of them. Once approved, you can set up special rep payee accts that only YOU can access. Legally this is really the only way SS approves one to manage another's SS income.

As for the remaining assets, can you try at the bank, with POA, to open a special savings account and move what assets remain to that account?

I have read people have difficulty getting banks, etc to accept the POA, but not one place I dealt with questioned it. I did NOT have any doctor paperwork stating mom had dementia. The various items I brought to SS when applying was never even looked at. They ask questions, update their forms and submit the application. I did NOT have to bring mom with me, and I did NOT go to her local SS office (I lived in a different state than she did at the time.)

Not one ever asked for any documentation. The only one that I had trouble with was her pension, but that's because it is federal and NO federal entities accept POAs. I did have to get a letter, with specific wording, from a doctor to become her rep. This shouldn't be an issue in your case. IF any of these places refuse to accept the POA, ask for a supervisor, threaten legal action. Squeaky wheel!!!

For the internet, I'm not familiar with the child-proofing, but if that's possible, implement that. It might allow them to browse, but not give away info or buy anything. If not familiar with how, ask the provider for assistance.

Someone else (Momasays) mentioned a decent phone, which can eliminate a lot of the unwanted calls - perhaps you could ask if she can tell you what brand it is and where to get it?

Contact the credit card company and explain you have POA (I had to mail a copy to them) and tell them mom/dad have given out the number to a scammer - they can cancel the card and issue a new one (they did require calling from mom's phone to req a new card - try to snag that when it comes!) If they approve your POA, you can also freeze or cancel the account. I would get them a reloadable debit card, not tied to any account and only load enough to buy necessities, when you know they are going to shop. If you are providing transport, you can pay by check instead, if you get the rep payee SS acct.

Only other option is going to court to get guardianship.
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NavyVet90 Nov 27, 2020
It's nice to hear that someone was able to navigate POA w/o being hassled.
It was a nightmare for me. (I had DPOA for both parents when they had to move into an ALF.) More financial institutions /other companies refused to accept the POAs than not. Even Spectrum refused to close the account when I turned in the cable boxes for the apartment they no longer lived at and I was the one who set up the account in the first place! Nearly every bank, insurance company, same thing, creating much more stress and hassle than it should have been. Maybe it depends on which state. Apparently, Florida sucks. I followed the law to the letter, but it was still difficult to get anything done. Thank goodness I am now dealing with a Trust estate - no probate - hope to close that out next May.
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I write from the patients perspective. I was diagnosed with Early-Onset AlZ four and a half years ago. My DW and I set up a Trust and I funded my half of all our property and gifted it to my DW four years ago. I still manage my SSDI payments and forward all but 300.00 per month to my DW's Trust.

As part of setting up the Trust, we did Advanced Medical Directives, Financial and Medical POA's. I have over the course of time given up driving on my own, and I know that I am slipping in my ability to manage our financial affairs. Basically now, I just have 300.00 in one bank account each month, and I give our youngest who is in Junior High 5.00 per week allowance as long as she has kept up with her household chores. When things aren't done, I fine her if she's not doing her part to help mom. Our two oldest are over 21 and still in college, so they are doing more of the yard work, climbing ladders that kind of thing, which I know I do not have the judgement to participate in.

My hope is that family members that read this will sit down with each other and learn about what to be keeping an eye out on like finances, credit cards, ATM Cards, and if they believe their LO is financially not responsible put the brakes on. Even more importantly, at the time a diagnosis of ALZ or other Dementia ask your doctor for advice on the issues of driving, finances, where we that patient may want to be placed for Memory Care. Meet with an Eldercare Attorney, or one that specializes in Trusts and decide what fits your family best. We've engaged both the Trust Attorney, and Elderlaw Specialist work together to help make our Medical & Financial decisions are legally sound to protect the spouse that is not ill and their assets are protected. Based on what I've read these last 4 plus years, many of us wait too late and find themselves in a jam. I am happy to say we can both sleep at night, knowing we've legally set ourselves on terre firma. My DW tells me point blank when she thinks I am doing something that isn't safe, or making sense and I follow up on her suggestions because I know, she's looking out now for our best interest and we trust each other. I hope my thoughts are of some help to you.
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The first step I would take is to talk to the family doctor and have them checked out for dementia, bipolar, or the like. The erratic spending can be due to this and a once logical person can become a dreamer. If you are POA, keep track of every transaction and start keeping a journal; if there are siblings involved, it will make the future much less complicated
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First, thing doing away with cash money snd having chips implanted in us is being talked about and I'm afraid your Dad's not far off about that. But investing at this late stage is really useless.

You should not take away their internet or computer, just set it on children's setting where they can still use it but not be able to order things.

As far as the Credit Card Co goes, you should ask them to lower the limit to $500.

You should also not take away everything from them as by the sound of things, they'll be in a Nursing Home soon enough.

If they're living with you just let them know that you need the money to continue to let them live with you or tell them they need to save their money to hire a Live In.

You don't have to agree with them about everything, but let them enjoy their last years as happy as they can.
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Reply to bevthegreat
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Contact police about the scammers. Contact bank(s) about the need to use your POA - most may want to make a photocopy of your POA (always keep original). Cancel all credit cards and debit cards for new ones that only you use. Give parents reloadable gift cards from AmEX, Visa, or MC with a limited amount for "personal use." When they spend their "money for the month" they are done. Tell them, "there won't be anything more until next pay day."

It is time to realize that your parents can not handle money wisely anymore. That is why you have a POA. Use it to pay their bills, manage their assets, and preserve for the time when they will not be able to live alone anymore.
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Reply to Taarna
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Please contact law enforcement and have the scammers charged with elder abuse and exploitation. If this scheme occurred across State lines you may want to contact a FBI office. People who are scamming the elderly need to be stopped.

See an eldercare attorney regarding your legal questions and if your parents are not on Medicaid, have them do that, which would make nursing home placement much easier. Each State has different laws, and an eldercare attorney can answer all your questions.
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Reply to cetude
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if you think they lack capacity, should they be living independently? Would they be able to get out and/or protect themselves if there was an emergency?

They are at an age where they are targeted for scams and once one gets through, more will follow.

My grandmother had two stockbrokers come to her independent living place and sell her a “great” investment that would purportedly give her lots of money to leave to her children.

The first guy came and then the second came as the “guest” of the first. She lost the entire investment and was so humiliated that she waited three years (past the statute of limitations) to tell family. There was nothing that we could do except report them to regulatory authorities.

Ask your parents if they can put you on their bank account so that you will get a text notification each time they spend or withdraw.
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Bellabosch Nov 27, 2020
First off, do not be put on their checking account because you will be financially responsible for any debt. Also YOUR income is considered when they apply for assisted living facility, etc. You can be listed as POA on their account, you’ll need to do an affidavit with the bank listing you and as POA that gives you authority to handle their finances. Do away with internet and redirect their mail to your home. Good luck and hope all goes well.
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If you don't have the authority to take over a person's bank account you sure as heck don't have the authority to take away his computer. That's why the OP hasn't already done that.

SenStruggles, are these transactions actually going through, do you know? I only ask because it's surprising that someone who's as fantastically credulous as your father appears to be can still manage the process of entering his payment and security details online. Are you sure he's not all talk?

If your POA is the durable springing type, then subject to due process (declaration of incompetence by suitably qualified person(s), that is) yes you would have the legal authority to take over your parents' financial affairs and remove their access to their money.

If not, or you can't get anyone to agree that they are now officially away with the fairies, and they really are sending a grand at a time to people who, let's face it, are not likely to be prompt with refunds... well. It won't take them to squander their remaining funds and then they'll be out of options anyway. How much trouble is it worth to you to stave off that result for a few months longer?
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We recently purchased a new portable phone system and we have the ability to block all unknown numbers. We stored all the regular numbers that we receive from. If an “actual person” calls from an unknown number they are instructed to input a passcode that is given to them and the call will ring through. Most telemarketing companies use computers to dial and the computers don’t have the ability to input the code. The phone doesn’t even ring. It doesn’t stop any local solicitation like firemen, police, etc. We love it! Also cell phones have the same type of blocking abilities. I wish TV did. I’d pay more for cable if I could get rid of ads. I hope this helps.
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Why do they even have a computer? It’s clear that they aren’t able to navigate the internet safely.

Don’t they have a television? They will find something else to occupy their time without a computer.

You don’t need to give them everything that they want. Children don’t need to be spoiled. Adults don’t need to be spoiled.

Today it’s a scam, tomorrow it will be identity theft.

As for spending money, set up a separate account with limited funds for them to spend. The rest is allocated for essentials or saved.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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I wouldn’t hesitate a bit about shutting down a credit card and access to money. Your dad entrusted you to make sound financial decisions when he no longer could, and that time is now. Become the representative payee on the SS, it’s not a hard process. Don’t discuss money with him again, he’s no longer rational so it’s a wasted effort. This is exactly what POA exists for
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When my brother was diagnosed with probable Early Lewy's Dementia he ASKED me to take over his trust and other accounts. We arranged for him to have his own "spending account" and that was the checking account that was his for spending money, other things. I handled all the bills. It sounds to me as though this is what you should now be arranging for your parents. While my brother died before Lewy's could do its worst to him, and only SAVED more money, it was a relief and blessing for him to know his money was safe. Once so acutely alert he would never fall for something I got a call from him one days to say "Hon, relieve my mind here. I got a call from someone saying they are Social Security and if I don't cooperate with their questions my check is now stopped from being automatically deposited; I think you will tell me this is a scam, and my money is fine, but is it?" I reassured him he did right, but there was a day he would have been right ON that, and he no longer was.
Your parents money is in danger. While it is not a huge amount, and would not go far were they to need assisted living of any kind, it is money I am certain no one wants to go into the scam sinkhole. They are more clever every day. A woman called Handel on the Law last show saying she "fell for" the "Amazon Scam" and they got into her computer, which was attached to her accounts and phone, and withdrew 2,000. She was lucky that was all that flew out the window.
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I think this situation is one which so many people experience, and it's so frustrating for caregivers even though it seems to energize it for those for whom we're caring.   

I don't have the education to analyze why people fall for these scams, but it's certainly not new.  Decades ago when Sen. Carl Levin and Sen. John Kerry were still active Senators, I watched a hearing at which Publishers' Clearing House and others had been subpoenaed to testify.  Their "testimony" was literally a dog and pony show, a more sophisticated version of carpetbaggers' approach.

Levin and Kerry lit into them, especially after a woman testified to the unbelievable amounts her mother had spent, and the bathtub full of junk which she had bought.    This kind of elder scamming isn't new.

Even though there were at one time congressional actions against the scammers, I doubt there's anything like that now.    So what can family do?

First, I think the big question is why do people fall for this?   In our situation, I realized it was to help others, animals and people.   So we went through the list of people with their hands out and selected ones that were reliable.  Then I researched salaries for the execs.   Anyone making over $100,000 annually was eliminated.    That turned out to be the key:  why would any organization have to solicit if it the funds to pay an exec big money as some of the orgs did?  That eliminated a lot of companies.

Then we selected ones which were good, like Leader Dogs for the Blind, WASPS, VFW, Salvation Army.   And we gave only to them.   When another solicitation was received, I checked it out, and (of course) all the companies paid execs over $100K, so they were eliminated immediately.

That worked for me; if your parents are buying to  HELP a company, you might try that.   As to the other excuses, like bit coins and Fl (swamp)land, the only thing I can suggest is that you create financial statements for them, showing how much they have now, how long before they run out, and present them with photos of nursing homes accompanied by monthly costs.   

You could also explain that running out of money would place them in the position of having to apply for Medicaid, which would even more severely limit their funding.

If TN Techie were still posting, she might able to tell you how to block the sites that advertise and solicit.  I don't know how; maybe others here do.   You could then tell them that the Russians hijacked the sites, or something like that, and that it takes a lot to restore them, which security experts are addressing.

With tv, can you privately eliminate the channels that has high pressure sales pitches?   Maybe the cable provider can cooperate on this.  

If you can, get new credit cards for you to use for them, cancel the old ones (if you have the authority to do that), but don't tell them.   When charges are declined, you could tell them that they're overspent and can't buy any more, and it's again time to assess their spending.

Facing these challenges head on and frankly doesn't seem to affect the need to spend.   So you may have to create work-arounds to figure out how to get them to spend healthily, only for good organizations, and perhaps even get involved in charitable activities (from home) especially as an alternative to watching tv all day long.

Are they both mobile?   Can they deliver Meals on Wheels?  Do any kind of charity work, especially from home?    What did they do when they were young?  If you can find alternatives for their all day free time, that might be a good step forward.
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Specific to your question about POA, you need to have your father’s consent/direction, OR you need an assessment that states that he is not capable of managing his own affairs and has designated you as his representative,

IF YOU ARE VERY LUCKY, you have been designated as his ONLY POA, and he has no other relatives that will challenge you when you assume responsibility for him and for your mother. That will mean that when you take charge of any assets you will open a checking account with his name and yours as POA. You will have their Social Security and any other forms of income directed to that account, and you will use it solely for their expenses.

If there is another POA, or if there are relatives who will want a cut, speak to the lawyer who drafted the POA that you hold so that you are in a position to handle any financial questions/conflicts before they become problematic.

Keep up your good work. You’re definitely on the right track.
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When the books come, write REFUSED on the box/envelope. Do not open! When they are received back his acct should be credited. Or call the company and ask how they would like the return handled. When my sister died, Mom found books still unopened. She wrote refused on them and was credited.
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Take their cards and lock their accounts so the scammers can't get anything even if they give out their info maybe? Then it likely wouldn't matter TOO much if they talked to whoever called them.

I want to hear more about the schemes of the aliens.
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SeniorStruggles - If I were in your situation, I would immediately cancel the internet so the free spenders can't get online and squander their last dollars. If they cry about not being able to get on the internet, make up some excuses, blame it on COVID, wide spread infection, so company shuts down, union strike, whatever. If they get bored, they can watch TV, or find something else to do.
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SeniorStruggles Nov 24, 2020
That's half the problem: the internet. But at least it keeps my dad amused all day. Otherwise, he'd just use his irritable energy to growl around at my meek stepmom 24/7. They bicker constantly anyway.

The TV is internet based, but I could switch that. Hmmmm. The other big issue is that they fall for every scam call that comes in, usually giving away all their information. Last week, she called to tell me some "nice man named Clive" called and said I'd told him to call (no) and told him to tell her to give him her credit card information (which she did). The money they get still goes into the account linked to the credit card, and I can't access it thanks to Covid and B of A's ridiculous security issues. So I can't even protect them! I want to take away their phones, their internet and their one credit card! But that feels incredibly invasive for two old people who have absolutely nothing to do all day except talk on the phone and watch TV.
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