My in-laws can't handle their finances. They live on very little, how much, we have no idea. They fall for every scam in the book. Its all legal. Is there a service available to advise?

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Need help! My in-laws live on very little, how much, we have no idea. They fall for every scam in the book. Its all legal. We've spent hours setting up their health insurance plans, etc. Then someone comes to the door or meets them in church and wham, they sign on the dotted line and change everything we set up. The most recent is another purchase of a cell phone contract they can't afford. Every week its something else. They have a motocross trick bicycle, brand new hanging in the garage that someone talked them into buying for my mother-in-law. She can't ride a bike! We don't know where to start. Is there a service available to advise? BTW, they have two of those electric wheel chairs as seen on T.V. and two medical chairs in their house that some scammer got them to buy with their health insurance. SEE? Its never ending... Help!

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All good advice, but let me share another option: you could hire what is called a Daily Money Manager to help administer your in-law's personal finances. DMMs are financial professionals who specialize in the nitty-gritty aspects of personal finance like paying bills, dealing with vendors, and tracking insurance claim. A great deal of time is spent guarding people from fraud and exploitation. (My wife and I own a daily money management firm that has been around since 1985, in the interests of full disclosure.)

Often times, going with a DMM instead of through some of the legal methods described above is more palatable to the senior because they still feel that they are in charge and part of the process.
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Liliput is so right.
This is going to be a bit long. I've had to deal with this with
maiden aunts, a MIL w/terrible financial sense, Medicaid for my mom & MIL and a disabled (polio 1950's) cousin.

OK do you or hubby have DPOA, MPOA on them? If so this is going to be much, much easier. If not you will need to get this done for them at some point - if they resist &/or refuse on this, it's going to be very difficult. But what you are doing is for the best good and you know the best way to approach them on it.

Probably the first thing is to truly find out what their financial situation is. All their debts and assets. My experience is that they don't want any paper's leaving their house. If their good about this, you can gather all together and go with them to Kinko's and get 2 sets of Xeroxing on everything that seems important. 2 sets - really. If their adamant on nothing leaving the house, then go a get a cheap printer and a couple of extra cartriges and a ream of paper. If the house is cluttered, then bring your own folding table to work from and xtension cords.

If their $$ is a big mess, it can seem overwhelming so having
your organized "zone" will be a sanity saver

If you have DPOA you can go to their banks and get a copy of their last 3 without charge. Then have your name put on for signature and get a few counter checks if the MIL's won't part with the checkbook. Then you want to have the ability to go on-line to look at the accounts, so get that done too.

If you don't have DPOA, go to the bank anyway to explain the situation and that you want a bank officer to contact you for any check over whatever amount you think needs to be. 500/1,000.
Take a letter with you that states who you are, the relationship to the account holder and a copy of your state ID &/or passport.
If they have alot of $$, the passport is important as it establishes your citizenship as there's a form the banks need to do for amounts exceeding 10K that requires that. Ask that that letter be attached to their files. They can scan it right then & there into the account. All of this need to be done with a bank officer not a teller.

If they are getting scammed then they are on a hit list of easy prey. They are probalby getting a ton of mail and phone calls.
The mail can be dealt with by getting a postal mail box as their "new" address. Not at the USPO. What worked best for me is a local package and shipping store that has mail boxes. You develop a relationship with them so that they call you when there's mail or packages. The fact that packages get delivered to them there is important because the can REFUSE the delivery if you have that order on file OR they can take the package and then you can come to see what's what, copy the paperwork inside it and return to sender so your MIL's don't have to pay for whatever and you can mark cancelled/refused on the invoice. Most PMB's have a mini-office with fax and copy machine so you can do it all there efficiently.

The PMB is important because you are establishing a neutral address for them. If say 5 years from now, another family member complains that you took their money, you can show that the money was specifically put in a separate address for their use. That you did not take the money and put it into your bank accounts. That the money did not go to you at your home. Nothing co-mingled with you or your hubby.

If they don't have an answer machine, get them one. Then check it to see who is calling them (debt/recovery companies, scams, etc.) Keep a log of this. If you don't have DPOA and need to seek guardianship or conservatorship in the future, you can use this to show why you should get it (you were actively looking out for their interest). It doesn't automatically go to family, the judge can appoint an independent administrator who get's paid out of the assets to do this.

Request a current from the big 3 - Experian, etc. to see what's on their credit report. You want this sent to the PMB address.
Lilliput is spot on about the credit report freeze.

If they have a bunch of bank & or investment accounts these need to be consolidated. Bank stuff should be easy to do. My aunt had about 2 dz accounts and it filled a small shoebox every month in paper - a whole bookshelf of unopened mail in cardboard. For the bank accounts, if they are getting social security, that should be direct deposited into it's own free-standing account. This account should NEVER be co-mingled with any other money.

SS is federally protected from asset seizure - so if they get sued or have a judgement against them, it's just too f*** bad for the creditors as it can't be touched. But this only works if the account is "pure" and not with other money. If they get other federal retirement, like RR or other 100% federal, most of those are protected too. So open an account just for SS, then go online to SS to have it direct deposited. Most retirement systems want direct deposit done, so look to find out how to do this with their retirement. Everything goes to the new PMB.

Investments are sticky - it really needs a sit-down with their advisor. If they have investments with a "wire-house" like Smith Barney or other brokerage house and the advisor doesn't seem
to want to deal with you...tell him "thank you and you want the name and contact information for the compliance officer for his district". That will change the attitude instantly. Complaining to the manager of the office won't do it. Compliance is it's own distinct unit, federally required. I've never had to deal with insurance company based investments but I think they have different regulations on consumer concerns.

If they have a home you can go on-line to assessors or conveyance office to see if there are any judgements against them attached to the house. Also check to see if any permits have been issued - like for roofing, plumbing, etc - at the address. I had to deal with a open roofing permit, nothing major, but needed to be gone to have a clear title on property.

If you don't have DPOA, MPOA & incapacities done, then you really should find an elder care attorney to draw all these up for you. It should be one who practices in the county where your IL's own property/homestead. It needs to be "durable" power of attorney not just POA.

If your IL's won't sign the POA's and they have not been diagnosed with dementia, then it's going to be hard to do all this. It can all spiral out of control for them so fast and then their left without their life's savings and a jumble of debt.
You will then need an attorney to represent you for guardianship as those are sticky to do on your own.

Also if you ever have to sign for them and you are DPOA,
make sure the signature reads: "XXX as DPOA for YYY only".
Otherwise you could find yourself financially responsible for
the next motocross bike!

Cancel any not really needed department store credit cards.
To be on the safe side, send these cancellation letters certified mail with return registered receipt.

If they have a mortgage, be cautious on this. With the current real estate meltdown if the mortgage company gets a whiff that there could be financial issues, they can demand that the mortgage be paid off if there has ever been any late payment or lapse in insurance required. So you want to leave any mortgage stuff let sleeping dogs lay.

We had to take the phone away from an aunt. She had dementia and legally could not enter any agreements. But when she would get calls she would agree to whatever salesperson wanted. She was on the scammers list. It took about 18 mos. to get the predator creditor stuff gone. Still there is the occasional junk-debt collector who sends her a demand letter even though she is dead. They are ruthless & you need to be that way too. Good luck.
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This situation sounds extreme, however scam artists are around every corner. When Mom first moved here every "sweepstakes" company on the planet called her (that was before I had the time to sign her up for the "do not call" list) Phone companies must be selling this information along with the customer's ages.
The only way to be absolutely certain that your inlaws will not be scammed again is to have someone take over their finances permanently. You could start with getting their financial POA. This would allow the trustee to at least access the accounts and check for irregularities. Another way is to seek guardianship which is much more involved, but it would give one complete control over finances. You would need to take away check books, ATM cards, and credit cards. Put a freeze on their credit report so that no one can access it to take out a loan in their name. Ask their bank what other protections they offer. Mom's bank allows me to put a password on the account. Also, remove any valuables and sensitive paperwork from their home.
Do they live alone? Does either have dementia? I would act swiftly so that they are not completely cleaned out. If this continues they may lose everything they have.
good luck
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