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We've taken over my bf's mother's finances. She's only 65, but has never been good with money and we discovered recently she was taking out title loans, etc, just to pay basic bills. I am trying to get her car title in our possession so she can't go behind our back and get another loan. She's very suggestible (as in... walk in anywhere and within ten minutes she's convinced she needs to sign up for this gym membership or that cable package) and we are worried she's going to sign up for more things to dig her into her debt hole. If we have a power of attorney, can we take it somewhere and void any contracts she may sign after the date of the PoA? She seems okay and relieved we've taken over, and I'm an accountant that talks to a lot of elderly about their money, so I try to be patient and explain to her how much she's going to get for her "spending money" every week (gas & groceries) and that she can ask us any questions about where her money is going, etc, so she doesn't feel like she has no control. Unfortunately, she's not telling us the truth about what she owes to people. We do have access to her credit report so we have some idea of her collections, loan balances, and that sort of thing... but we've discovered a lot of little debts (power bill, phone bill, a laptop she bought, etc) that are piling up quickly. She has piles of mail all over her apartment (slowly getting everything turned over to email delivery for us since she never opens stuff) and I want to go in and just start collecting just so I can figure out who else she might owe, but as open as she has been about things so far, she is REALLY holding off on us looking through her paper bills/mail. We're not trying to shame her, we just need to know about things to take care of it. How do we go about looking through her paperwork without her freaking out on us?

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Thay, first thing I would do is go into the 3 major credit bureau websites and have boyfriend's mother's credit "frozen" so that she cannot get any more loans. It's pretty simple if you feel like you can answer any financial questions the bureau websites will ask. The credit bureau will charge you around $10 for each freeze, or you may be in a State where there is no charge.

Any possibility of getting a post office box and have all of his Mom's mail directed to the box? At least that will give you an idea what bills and statements she is getting. You can make up some therapeutic fib saying mail is being taken from her mailbox out front, so to play it safe you are getting a post office box for her :)

Another way, if your boyfriend could take Mom out for the day, then you could have a chance to look at whatever paperwork she has around. it's not unusual for an elder to hide paperwork or misfile it. My parents had been very organized but over the years they were misfiling things. Then Dad was throwing bills into the recycling thinking the bills were junk mail... oh dear.
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I’m a huge fan of getting a mail box. You don’t want her mail coming to you at your home address as debt collectors will start send you the bill, contacting you, pressing upon you that your responsible.

For mail box I’d suggest you rent one from an independent pack & ship type of store. Not USPO or UPS. If you have a college or university nearby there will be such a type of mailing center. You or you BF will need to open it as you have to show ID but it’s rented to you all and his mom. The advantages are that you develop a relationship with staff and they call, text you when something comes in that’s interesting or required a signature or when the box is full. Having a mail box also makes it easier to get a system going to do her bills.... you go a set time twice a mo and then deal with that batch.

If you are planning on having her close accounts, I’d asap rent the box so you have the new address and mail a minimum payment with the change of address done. So new address in creditors system, then close out accounts.

Get everything moved to the new address including her SS, retirements, insurance, etc. Eventually with Parkinson’s, she won’t be able to deal with all this at all, so it’s good to switch now & start 2018 afresh for organizing.

BUT do realize that even with her son getting dPOA, that she still can do things to put herself back into debt. & without your knowledge unless you are with her 24/7 to stop it.  Only if he was to go to court and get complete Guardianship over her can this be prevented. To me, it’s something you & your BF should discuss and revisit a few months from now IF his mom just can’t let go of placing herself in debt.
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It is very nice of you to want to help your boyfriend's mother.

I'm not sure you should touch the POA with a stick. While this lady remains technically competent (i.e. in the legal sense, i.e. of sound mind) you will not be able to prevent her from doing as she pleases - or as somebody selling her something pleases, for that matter. But you could, unless you're very careful indeed, find yourself tainted through a perceived failure to take control of her finances. POA could land you with "responsibility without power": a most unhappy combination; and as you are an accounting professional there could even be worse complications if you're considered at some future date to have an enhanced duty of care.

So all in all, as things are... I wouldn't go there.

Do you happen to know any debt counsellors?
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You, or boyfriend should get POA. But she can still create big messes even if you have poa unless you’re able to get total control of her finances. I’ve had poa for my parents for years but they were still susceptible to phone scams and crap charities because they still had one charge card and a checkbook.
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But on what grounds do they petition for guardianship? A 65 year old who compulsively overspends, stockpiles bills, takes out loans, won't face her debts and lies to others about them isn't legally incompetent, just financially so. This lady needs an Alvin Hall.
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Guardianship may be the only way in this case. POAs can be revoked and it does not stop someone from still trying to act on their own behalf. If she is making irrational decisions and is susceptible to abuse or fraud then you may need to go this route.
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What I did with my mom in addition to freezing her credit was create two checkbook accounts. One was for deposits from retirement accounts and bill paying. The other was for daily expenses. She has control of daily expenses. Gas, groceries, movies etc. The other checkbook was used for bill paying and I then had all her bills paperless and auto payment or payment online by me through that account. I have the one checkbook and she has the other. We did this with her permission. She has a debit card to her account as well. This allowed her to have spending money without the worry of paying the household bills and running short because she made so many mistakes. Each statement that would come she thought was a bill. It's easier for her to just keep track of daily living and entertainment.
I am POA and set that up with her so we could manage what she had more efficiently and not get into overpaying accounts or missing payments on critical bills.

Certainly, it's a lot easier if the person is agreeable to this setup. But perhaps if presented the right way it would work for you. Plus my mom has a nice retirement income so she really does not have to worry too much.
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When I was made POA for married friends of mine due to dementia and memory problems, the first thing we did was go to their bank to for me to meet them and let them know I would be a check signer from then on. I began by just monitoring their check writing online to make sure they weren't being scammed. I noticed they kept renewing two magazine subscriptions about every 3 months as the only odd thing. Mail was piling up in their den, so I started sorting through things to through away junk mail and find bills that needed paying. The wife wanted to keep it all, but I put the junk stuff in a bag as I sorted it and then took it with me to dispose of. They had a filing system no longer being kept up, so I had a place to put bill receipts. I was able to get her wallet and remove the credit cards. They weren't being impulsive spenders, though, so I didn't face the battle you are facing. I had all their mail come to me so I could take care of it and when I did, I found the bill-like statements about renewing the subscriptions. I contacted them to quit sending these, but they did not, so I wrote to the state attorney general's office and they started to investigate. At their request, the company stopped, but as the investigation continued, they changed their name and began again. But, since the mail came to me, my friends were "safe" from such "bills". Once I got them into a memory care apartment, they really were totally safe. No one knew how to reach them or their new phone number. I was the only one that took them anywhere where they could spend money and then I was there when they tried and helped them do it correctly. But, there was little they needed, so problems were few. Eventually I closed their credit card accounts. The companies refused to recognize my financial authority over my friends, so I cut up the credit cards and mailed the pieces back as proof the account was now closed. So, getting the mail, changing the phone number, closing credit card accounts are ways to intervene and keep her safe from come-ons. Good luck.
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We did the same - opened a new checking that she has a debit card to for her groceries and gas. Kept her current account where SS and her ex-husband's pension is deposited for us to pay her big bills.

We explained this method and asked if she was okay with it. She said she was, we all went to the bank and added my bf to her accounts. We told her we would transfer money over every Sunday to the debit card account she has access to.

And then, she decided to call the bank and transfer over a huge chunk of her SS without telling us and proceeded to go grocery shopping three times in three days. And has ate into what we needed to pay bills for next month. And then we discovered she had a payday loan due and they keep trying to cash the check... insufficient funds.

Anytime bf tries to remind her she only has $X in her account for her personal spending, she just responds that if it's too stressful for us to take care of her expenses she'll do it herself. Problem is she was doing it herself... and has a maxed out credit card, line of credit, overdue two months on phone and utility bills, stopped paying the IRS on her installment agreement, and owed on a title loan and payday loan.

She only gets about $1500 every month and with some tight planning I made it work... except she's telling us okay and then throwing it all out the window the second we're not looking.
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FF is on point. My mom had tons of junk mail. I would grab a bunch each week & stuff it in a bag & go thru it at my home. I found refund checks too. I cancelled all the credit cards (many had fraudulent purchases by my brother). Keep up the good work.
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