How can I protect elderly father from his own family taking his money? - AgingCare.com

How can I protect elderly father from his own family taking his money?

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My elderly father is now unable to live alone and hospitalized. Since I have POA, I have been paying his bills and sifting through his finances. I am trying to make his money last as long as possible for him. However, I have found in the past few years multiple times that family members have taken large sums of cash from him. I have even found where a neighbor lady was getting money from him. This makes me so angry! I am one of three children. I have always been financially independent and never needed money from a parent. I understand people might get in a bad situation and need help, but this is just plain robbery. Taking thousands of dollars from an 80+ year old man is theft! The hard part is that now he is hospitalized and is having problems with his mind, I'm afraid they are going to try to take his every last cent. I am considering hiring an attorney, but I'm not sure if there is anything that can be done. I feel so helpless trying to protect my father from his own children. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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I am guessing others here will have some very specific ideas. But as POA here are some things I would suggest. First, remove anything of value and all financial statements and related items from his home. If his pension and social security are deposited directly, change the accounts they are deposited to - so only you have access to his accounts and money. Make it a different institution so there is no history that the predators can prey on. (You keep those records in your place under lock and key) If he has credit cards or ATM cards, make them invalid. Assess whether or not he needs these items. If yes, get a new credit card with a VERY low limit. Don't leave anything of value around. If (for some reason) Dad wants an ATM card, Leave a SMALL amount in the previous institution and his card . (like under $100). Keep these changes to yourself. Your Dad chose you to keep over things. Do it with vigilance. AND for goodness sake, keep meticulous records of his finances. If anyone would steal from their Dad, they might also make a fuss over whatever you do.
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Thanks to all for the great advice. I'm trying to cover all the bases. It just bothers me that I feel like this. I don't like to distrust people, but in this case it's warranted. I thought perhaps if I combed through email communication I could get a better picture of what has been happening. It is worse than I imagined. They have been preying on Dad for years. It is well documented through email what he gave them. One email even instructing him to send a $2,000 money order and not a check because a personal check was traceable. One email where he reluctantly loaned a small amount $900 and kept pleading to be paid back since he was getting old. I really don't want this battle and the money means nothing to me. However, my Dad's medical care and dignity do. I will continue to protect and care for him. How can people be so cruel? He was moved to hospice today.
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Good and thorough advice from GeeWhiz.

I would add that it wouldn't hurt to add fraud alerts to his credit files. I file the 90 day alerts every 3 months. You are entitled to one free copy of his credit file annually. The acknowledgements which you should get from each of the 3 credit reporting agencies will have code numbers for the alerts.

Get them and go over them well; if there are hands in the till, you never know what else they may have asked for, including co-responsibility for loans. Best to find out now and address it.
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All good advice already given. In addition to protecting your father from friends and relatives you have to consider that dad may need protection from himself. My mom was giving away large sums of money to any and every "charity" that sent her a sob story in the mail. I hate to sound jaded to the plight of others - but for example, one charity was a pig sanctuary! Anyhow - I was only able to do something that really made a difference once my moms dementia went from moderate to pretty sevear. Now as DPOA, my mom has no checks, no credit cards - I have them and mom doesn't even know what bank her checking/savings accounts are at. If mom needs cash for something I give it to her the week of her appointment or outing. I share information with my brothers when they ask but that does not include account numbers. If I thought either one of my brothers would actually try to take my mother to her bank - I wouldn't even tell them where moms accounts are. I know this is extream and a harda$$ approach but as it is enough damage has already been done - including mom making herself ineligible for Medicaid due to the large "gifts". I'm just thankful moms remaining money will carry her through the next five years.
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Misfit, I had a SIL, who lived clear accross the country, and who stole over 68 thousand dollars from her own Mother, without her consent or knowledge, by opening up 4 different credit cards, having had access of her Mom's SS#, from a previous business alliance, where my MIL was the Secretary, but this business was dismantled years before. All of the money went towards booze and living expenses, nothing tangible! The only reason she (MIL) found out, was she tried and failed to open up a credit card at a major department store, to have window dressings made. MIL asked me to help her investigate, and by requesting her credit information through a CC security protection agency, they were discovered. Unfortunately, my MIL did not press charges against her daughter (her choice), as MIL was having severe medical issues relating to her COPD, and she chose to instead, close the accounts, have security measures applied to her credit with same credit protection agency, and wrote letters to these CC companies, who each wrote off a portion of the debt, but she still had to agree to pay a huge amount of money back to them, And the Daughter walked away Scott Free! Its sickening, and it destroyed their relationship which was shaky at best, at the end of my MIL'S life. So sad when family does this to the frail and unsuspecting senior! I agree with all of the above helpful posters, and good luck with your ventures protection your Dad!
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One step better, and this according to fraud experts is to go online and place a freeze on your dad's credit reports. It is normally no charge to do this at his age. He has no need for credit inquiries and this prevents people whether family or otherwise from applying for credit in his name or stealing his identity. It is simple and you must do it with all 3 credit reporting agencies. I've done this for my dad and for ours to. You can unfreeze them if you ever need to apply for a loan or credit. I've also created an account for my dad with social security so that no one can file a fraudulent tax return in his name. Trust me, this is the new fraud out there. You have to be one step ahead of the criminals.
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GeeWhiz gave some excellent advice. And doing all the things she suggested will not take that long and once in place it will protect your fathers assets and will make you feel a lot better!!
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Your Dad is blessed to have you looking out for him and fending off the vultures. Sorry you had to find out about human nature the hard way among your own family and friends. If he does need more than just your help saying NO, it is not a bad idea to hire a lawyer, and said lawyer could even put his name on a letter requesting repayments.
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MisFit, all those e-mails you found will contribute to evidence of elder abuse; save them offline to a disk, make a duplicate just to be safe, and print them out. Take them with you when you go to the PD to file elder abuse charges.

This is so trying - your father going into hospice, financial abuse....what a challenging time it must be for you. I hope you do take some time to unwind and help ensure there is some calm to your days.
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You can restrict visitors where he is staying. Let the facility know about how he has been taken advantage of and you can give them an approved list of visitors and ask for limits for time also.
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