Follow
Share

I am the medical and financial POA for my 84 year old grandmother who is 3.5 hours from me. My mom and aunt live in the same city as my grandmother, but are of little help as they feel slighted that my grandmother left me in charge of her affairs. Granny has been at a nursing home since January 2018, she initially went there for rehabilitation after she burned her leg at home. She has dementia and her cognitive skills just declined more after being in rehab and it was not safe for her to go back home without 24 hour care, which is why she is still at the nursing home. Last month, she was diagnosed with colon cancer, and the doctor put in orders for hospice care. I am now going through all of her documents trying to figure out if she had insurance policies, will etc. It has opened up an Pandora's box of issues. I discovered that the house that Granny has been paying on for the last 28 years, she does not own. The house was set up as some sort of rent to own scam and the contract was in her son's name (my uncle), who died 9 years ago. The contract was never revised to reflect my Granny as the person responsible. The contract states a 15.5% interest rate for a 30 year loan on $17K!! I am an accountant, so I almost had a heart attack when I saw this. So essentially my Granny has been paying on a property that she does not own because she is not listed on the shady contract. This entire situation makes my head hurt trying to figure out. If I wanted to just pay off the balance of this loan, would the deed to the home go in my deceased uncle's name or can I get an attorney to transfer the deed to my Granny's name as my uncle did not have any kids, wife and died with no will. Would I need to get an estate attorney or an elder law attorney? This company knew that my Granny was paying on this loan for years, they sent correspondences to her, they never did any repairs on the home. I feel like the contract was definitely predatory in nature, but my Grandmother was not obligated to pay it, my uncle was. My thought is to file a complaint with the state attorney general office and let them investigate this company. Additionally, I found some documents with life insurance policy info and my grandmother does not remember anything about the policy. I am currently working to get the policy updated to reflect that I am my granny's POA so that they can give me additional information the policy. How do I know if she has any other life insurance policies out there if she doesn't remember them? This is such a big mess...

I had to dig through my parents financial info. It took me more than a year. Your Granny lived at the same address for several years, right? When you forward her address then almost 100% of annual statements will come to you. Most will be in the form of tax statements in the first quarter. Insurance statements should also be sent indicating changes in value. You may be able to look at past tax statements.
As far as finding the proper attorney, in this case you may want to look at a firm that has both elder law and real estate attorneys for internal collaboration. They may be pricey but you can gain some peace of mind knowing that her assets can work for her.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to MACinCT
Report

Well, why don't you first of all call the home rent to buy company and see what they can suggest? As you say, they've been cheerfully taking payments from your grandmother, you have records and numbers, a de facto contract has been in existence and they may be prepared to help you resolve the problems. If you don't ask, you won't get.

There are search tools for finding insurance policies and similar financial products. With the one you know about, if your grandmother is up to it she can give her insurer permission to discuss her policy with you. Ask an administrator at the NH for help with this if you can't get over there to do it yourself. The quickest way would be for your grandmother, with help, to call the customer services people and instruct them to call you.

I think many people's financial affairs are not kept orderly; you're probably the good exception, being an accountant and all :) It will be a mess, but I can't think who'd be better able to unpick it than you, one piece of paper at a time. Come here and vent whenever you'd like to. Hugs
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Countrymouse
Report

I'm approaching only the real estate issue. You've gotten good suggestions on locating insurance policies.

Liz'sDaughter, I just did a quick check of your earlier answers for possible additional information that might help, while thinking over this very, troublesome and confusing situation.

1. Interest Rate Issues.

"15.5% interest rate for a 30 year loan on $17K!! " - that's incredible, clearly predatory, and probably usurious.

2. Contact with rental company (or whatever it is).

Not to contradict CM, whose insight and wit I respect, but given the fraudulent issues involved, I wouldn't contact the rental company or anyone involved in what I think is a scheme, w/o first speaking with an attorney.

3. Owner of Record.

There's another issue that troubles me. Have you done a check in the Register of Deeds office to see what other interests exist on this property? I think that, given the fraud (and potential additional fraud issues), I definitely WOULD NOT pay off the contract, which may not even be legitimate, i.e, do you know who REALLY owns the property?

Owners of record and other potential conflicting interests ABSOLUTELY need to be determined before any more money is paid out. You could end up literally putting money into an empty well if the record owners aren't identified. I.e., how would you know any conveyance is legitimate, and that these people have clear title in order to convey their interest?

I have a very uncomfortable feeling that this shady rental outfit might not even own the property.

4. Claims Against Title.

It also wouldn't surprise me if liens are outstanding against the property. A foreclosure search will reflect that. It will also reflect any outstanding property taxes. You might want to contact the community Treasurer's Office to find out if property taxes are current or delinquent.

5. Personal Safety Issues.

And contacting any aspect or participant of this scam could jeopardize yours and your granny's safety, as well as compromise legal action by tipping off the scammers.

I've learned and read of scams in which the scammer pretends to own a property but really doesn't.

6. Legal Action.

So I think your best course of action now is to find a few attorneys, preferably in the same firm. A transactional or real estate attorney can obtain a foreclosure search (rather than a title commitment which you would need if you purchased property sold legitimately).

A foreclosure search literally scours the title and identifies any and all entities with an interest in the property, which interest would have to be extinguished before clear title could be obtained.

We did this when I worked for foreclosure law firms, and it was done to flush out all contractors or others with interests, so those interests could be addressed and foreclosed out in order to get clear title for the mortgagee.

In addition, it literally identifies and "brings the bugs out of the woodwork."

7. Fraud Issues and Criminal Legal Action.

Another issue may be involved: criminal fraud prosecution. I think usurious interests rates fall into a fraud category as well, so when you get the foreclosure search and discuss the results with a real estate or transactional law (the umbrella practice including real estate and finance) attorney, raise the issue of whether to contact the police or prosecutor to refer the case for criminal prosecution.

If there are interstate companies involved, I think a US District Attorney would be the appropriate contact.

Also ask the real estate attorney to do check on ownership of the various entities involved. That'll provide some information on the people behind this scam. A prosecutor at either local or federal level can do a US wide search to look for other scams.

If this has been perpetuated for sometime, and there's a pattern of fraud (or racketeering), RICO charges might be appropriate.

8. Another caution.

I think you've stumbled on a real hornet's nest, and that's one of the reasons I would advise no contact with anyone. These kinds of people can be nasty and retaliate. I would also provide a confidential alert to your GM's nursing home staff and ask about additional protection.....just to be on the safe side. I HOPE that this doesn't happen, but it's best to be prepared.


9. Late payment notices.

If you do get late notices from the so-called rental company, I wouldn't even respond w/o discussing it with the real estate attorney.

10. Law firm practice areas.

Generally, mid to large to mammoth sized law firms have tax, litigation and other similar practice areas, but the larger, mega attorney law firms sometimes have attorneys who handle white collar crime. I would consider locating one of these firms so you have two attorneys working in tandem.

You could also inquire of either the real estate attorney, or a civil litigation attorney whether your grandmother has a cause of action against the scammers arising from misrepresentation, although I'm not really sure about this since she wasn't a party to the original contract.

When did your uncle die? His heirs may also have some level of claim, but a transactional attorney would be best to review and determine this.


This is really quite a convoluted, and unsettling discovery. I'd appreciate it if you update us on at least this aspect.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to GardenArtist
Report

GardenArtist has given you some excellent suggestions and I think that she is right that you should NOT contact anyone about the property problems until you have talked with a lawyer.

Also, I agree that you need to put a "Confidential Alert" on your Granny's chart that states that NO ONE can contact your Granny or take her out of the facility or that the facility can even admit that your Granny is a resident at the nursing home staff. Unfortunately you may have to include your Mom and Aunt in the "DO NOT CONTACT" order if it is discovered that they knew about the house scam and did nothing about it.

Is it possible that the reason your mom and aunt "feel slighted" is because they KNEW WHAT YOUR UNCLE was doing regarding your Granny's house??? So I think that you SHOULD NOT DISCUSS anything about your Granny's financial circumstances with your Mom and Aunt just in case they were/are involved in the house scam.

Maybe that is why your Granny left you in charge of her affairs because she knew that you would do what is right and what is legal regarding her finances.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
shakingdustoff, in the 1960's and 1970's it was common practice to RENT your phone from the phone company and most people didn't blink an eye at that because it was an expected service that phone company provided. It has only been the last 20 years, when the cell phone started being more affordable, that owning a phone became the route to have a phone. It is amazing how life has changed over the past 50 years. I remember when computers were the size of rooms and we had to use "Punch Cards" to "communicate with the computer. My, how times have changed!! :)
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to DeeAnna
Report

Liz, if Grandmother had worked for business and that business is still around, check with the Human Resource office to see if the company had offered life insurance polices to their employees. Or if Grandmother's husband had worked for a large business.

Or try Consumers Report article on how to find missing insurance policies. www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/02/how-to-find-lost-life-insurance-policies/index.htm or type into Google "missingmoney".
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to freqflyer
Report

One thing to note, 28 years ago back in the 1980's interest rates were up in the teens.

With a rent-to-buy, the rate was probably a bit higher where the owner of the house was putting into a savings a certain amount for your Grandparents to use when they took the option to purchase the house. Apparently the option was never used, and your Uncle and his Mother just kept paying the rent.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to freqflyer
Report

DeeAnna just gave me another idea. Put fraud alerts or credit freezes on your GM's accounts. Order the credit reports themselves and review them.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to GardenArtist
Report

eapps.naic.org/life-policy-locator/#/welcome

Even though this website is for those who are deceased, they may still be able to locate policy (ies) for your grandma.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to shad250
Report

as for if she has other policies,, just watch you mail like a hawk. If anything is still active you should get mail at least once a year with the updates. However, if the accounts were not dealt with in any way for awhile,, they may be marked inactive. When MIL was executor for her brother,, they had to drive to about every bank in our area.. and found a lot of small accounts that added up to decent money. He liked to put money everywhere,, they had a terrible time with this.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to pamzimmrrt
Report

FF, good comment on interest rates decades ago. My whole premise of fraud and usurious rates might therefore be inaccurate. But the interest rate should have been adjusted downward as the prime rate was.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to GardenArtist
Report

See All Answers