Scams Hurting The Elderly! – Protect Your Loved Ones!

Just imagine what you would think if someone called and said that your child/grandchild was hurt and you needed to send money right away!  What would you do?  I would be reaching for my purse.  BUT, this is how some people are scamming others.

Or, they may say that you owe the IRS money and there is an arrest warrant out for you, your utilities are going to be shut off, your house auctioned for back taxes, etc.

These people will call with things that threaten the things most important to youyour family, your home, your freedom.

It is sad to say that we have to become jaded and not believe all the things we see, read or hear.

My mother would believe most anything.  It was not that she was not smart, she just believed in people.  She donated a LOT of money to veteran’s charities without checking to see if they were legitimate.  Why would she, no one would lie about something like that, she use to say.

So, how do we protect our friends or families that are not as jaded as we are?  Good question.  I started by going through mom’s mail before I gave it to her.  That is illegal, you say?  Yes, tampering with the federal mail is illegal.  It just happened that some of it fell in the trash before it got to mom’s table.  She was getting at least 10 “give me money” letters on average every day.  I also sent letters to many of them telling them to stop but it didn’t help.

Mom has been gone almost 3 years and I still get mail saying that she agreed on the phone to give them $10.00 or something like that.  CREEPS!

Mom was a very caring person.  She was raised in a time when everyone helped each other without questioning them.  Unfortunately, those days are gone. 

We would go through the remaining mail and sort out what she needed to do something with and what she wanted to throw away.  She still gave to some groups that were legitimate but not as many as before.

What about those frightening phone calls?  Those would be harder to handle.  We finally got Mom a call identifier and answering machine.  I told her if she didn’t know the number, to let it go to the answering machine.  Generally I have found that scams, “sales” calls, etc. hang up after 4 rings.  So,  we told mom to not answer the phone till after 4 rings.  Not really a problem because it usually took her longer than that to do it anyway.  Unfortunately, her answering machine could only be set to answer after 4 rings too so sometimes, we would have to call, let it go to voice mail and then call right back.  She would then be at the phone and could see our numbers.  On a side note, we do not answer our home phone till after 4 rings so have told family and friends to just let it ring.

Although it is good to sit people down and explain to them that there are bad people in the world, it is harder sometimes with someone who might be forgetful.  I would talk with mom about the latest scams in the news but knew the best way to get around them was to not let them get in contact with mom.

Bottom line, keep on eye on those you love.  Talk about how some people are taking advantage.  IF you can, help with their banking.  Keep on eye on their accounts.  With e banking now, it is easy to supervise from a distance.

You have to give people their dignity to make their own decisions but yet be able to protect them from the people in the world that would hurt them.  Very hard to do.

WHAT STEPS HAVE YOU TAKEN THAT WORKED/DIDN’T WORK?

 

 

Legal – Wills – We all need them.

Once again – I am not a lawyer.  This is my understanding.  Consult your attorney for clarification in your area.

We all should have these in place but if you are like me, you probably don’t.  Everyone should have a will especially when kids are involved. Then as life changes, we should always keep them updated.

My mother did not have a will.  She just assumed that everything would be divided between the four kids. So, we made an appointment and went to the lawyer.  For a reasonable amount of money she wrote out a basic will.  I thought we had it all covered with a few specific items going to my brothers that had meaning for them and the balance divided between all us kids equally.

The lawyer advised to change the beneficiaries on the life insurances to the estate of MOM.  But, mom didn’t tell me there were multiple life insurance policies.  I changed them on the two I knew about.  Now, we have found others so I may have messed up the funds without meaning to.  Also, her checking account and savings account were not set up right so they might revert to the person on the account with mom.  The lawyer has to talk to the bank and see exactly how they were set up.

It is very important to understand the differences between and, and/or, payable upon death, with rights of survivorship, etc so that you make sure everything is written they way the person wants. What did she actually mean to happen we will never know.

Bottom line, make sure you understand exactly how everything is titled (like vehicles and houses), know about all the life insurance policies and accounts (IRA, CDs, 401K, etc.) and how they are set up.  Have your lawyer go over exactly what will happen when your loved one passes so they understand it.  By doing this, you can make sure that their final wishes are carried out.

Having the talk – What to do when your parents should no longer stay home alone.

nursign hoFor the sake of these posts, I am going to post as if the person(s) we are talking about are your parents.  Naturally they don’t have to be.  It could be a family friend, other relative, etc.  More specifically, I will be referring to ‘she’ as this is mostly coming through my experience with my mother.

Additionally, I am not a lawyer or doctor so make sure you double check all I talk about here with your legal or medical team.  The laws in my state may be different than in your state.  This is all meant to be a guideline, not a rule.

Talk……sounds simple right.  But, how do you talk to your parents about what is going on in their private lives without sounding like you are interfering?

My mother was always a private person.  We could discuss kids, work, home life, etc. but we really did not talk about what she wanted for the future.  When she started to get older, it became necessary to discuss some very sensitive subjects.  For me, the easiest way was just to ask.  Depending on your family situation, this could be done at a family meeting or just one-on-one.  I would definitely let them know if you are going to discuss this with all family members as your parent might want to be ready.

What did she want done when her health got so she couldn’t stay at home?  Of course, she said this would never happen.  I told her that I would like it if I could move her in with me as long as our health allowed it.  She didn’t say yes or no, just ignored it.  She did say she didn’t ever want to go to an ‘old folk’s home’.  In her mind that was a place that people went to die.  The very word made her think of the sights and smells that use to be in some facilities.  I told her that nursing homes and/or assisted living facilities were much improved from what they were.  She still insisted that she did not ever want to go to one.  I promised her that if it was in my power, she never would go to one.

Where she wanted to be buried at?  This was easy as my father was buried in a double plot that already had a headstone on but I live in a different state so I wanted to make sure she wanted to be brought “home”.  It just made sense that she did but she flatly refused to make any funeral arrangements or discuss it at all.  This is understandable as it means thinking about dying.  I think the older you get, the harder that is.

Who did she want making decision for her if she could not make them herself?  Since Mom had gone through a very serious illness previously, I suspected she would want me to do this as I knew her medical conditions but I did not want to assume something so important.  Also, due to a health condition I had, I wanted to make sure who would be second in line.

Would she want to be kept alive if there was no hope?  This one was very difficult.  No one wants to think of this possibility.  This took a lot of thought as to what no hope meant.  To some it might mean if they were hooked up to a breathing machine, dialysis, feeding tube, etc.  After much talking, we decided that if there no way she could live without all that machinery and no hope that she would ever be off it, that she would rather not be here.  She had seen her own mother being kept alive during a fight with cancer when there was no hope and she didn’t want the family to go through that.

Who should make her financial decisions?  Due to her earlier illness, I was already on her checking account and safety deposit box but I wanted this to be clear.  I was not on her savings account, my oldest brother was.

Where all her financial papers are?  Does she have multiple checking and savings accounts?  Where are they?  Does she have life insurance?  Where is her health insurance through?  Does she have both Medicare and secondary insurance or Medicaid?  Does she have CDs, IRAs, etc?  Are there any other assets that you need to know about?  Where is the deed to the house, title to car, etc?  What all automatic deposits or withdrawals come out of her account.

Of course, just talking about all this did not make it legal.  We would have to go see a lawyer and get both financial and medical powers of attorneys,  a living will and a regular will.  More about that later.

The most important this is to start talking about this BEFORE it is too late.