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Dont Be Too Quick To Hand Over Power Of Attorney To Your Children!
Old 12-15-2011, 03:31 PM   #1
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Dont Be Too Quick To Hand Over Power Of Attorney To Your Children!

This is a sad story in St. Louis paper about a son who stole a half million dollars from aging parents. After husband died wife gave son power of attorney to help handle affairs to make life easier for her. They were a classic depression era couple who saved voriciously and accumulated assets by LBYM, to be undone by unscrupulous son. Interesting sad article to read.

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/c...Campaign=email
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Old 12-15-2011, 05:07 PM   #2
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How tragic!

Parents are vulnerable to this, if we make decisions from the heart as many of us often do.

I found myself thinking, "It couldn't happen to ME", but she probably thought that too.
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Old 12-15-2011, 09:49 PM   #3
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I worry about my mother. I am the oldest child and the only one who is financially independent but she will not take my advice nor move closer to me. She supports my three younger brothers. No good can come of this but there seems to be nothing I can do.
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Old 12-16-2011, 05:28 AM   #4
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People are very concerned about identity theft and privacy violations, but most theft of financial assets is carried out by family members and friends. This case is unusual because not all banks will hand over account assets based on a POA, as attested to by Nords posts dealing with his Dad's matters.
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Old 12-16-2011, 07:19 AM   #5
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Horrible situation that no mother should have to go through. What gall that son has.

I would love to see criminal charges filed against the son - stealing is a crime. Then perhaps others with a fiduciary duty to the elderly will think twice before stealing from them.

The fact that he suddenly appeared on the scene after Dad died should have been a warning sign, but hindsight is 20/20.

At least one beauty is that I'm sure he will be cut out of whatever is left when the Mom's estate, so he may have screwed himself if the mother can recover the funds. I hope he has assets and is able to pay the Mom back and gets cut out of the will. That would be sweet justice.
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Old 12-16-2011, 11:15 AM   #6
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This is one area where having financial advisors has some merit. I have worked a lot with older folks to ensure that they didn't give away POA to someone who would steal from them, family or otherwise.
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Old 12-16-2011, 01:28 PM   #7
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Since my brother had POA he (stole) decided to make numerous (some into the tens of thousands) donations to charities from Mom's trust so he could be considered as a wonderful christian person in his church. He also distributed a large amount of money to his girlfriend, daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren contrary to my parents wishes. He had been told by them on many occasions when I was present that he was not to do this and that they were his responsibility not theirs. My father was adamant that the trust was to be use solely for the care of my mother. He would have been furious if he had been alive to see what was done.
When my sister and I found out we had to hire a lawyer to stop him. Fortunately we were able to force him to repay most of the money although I am sure he was able to hide some of the embezzelment. Of course he lied about all this to his daughters, etc. and made us out to be "bad guys". No big deal to me and my sister. We don't consider him to be family anymore and refuse to have any contact with him. We have no interest in claiming a relationship with anyone that is a thief, hypocrite, and liar. There is more to the story but that is the financial part.

Cheers!
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Old 12-16-2011, 01:52 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Sarah in SC View Post
This is one area where having financial advisors has some merit. I have worked a lot with older folks to ensure that they didn't give away POA to someone who would steal from them, family or otherwise.
This is a valid point. Still, for every case of theft there may be many more where family members were helpful and honest, but are just not reported. People - both family members and friends - that are going to steal will find a way to do so without a POA.
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Old 12-16-2011, 01:52 PM   #9
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I think in this case she will not get anything.... they said that he used some of the money to pay off $70K of credit card debt.... so I doubt if there are any assets that she can go after...

Hopefully he had some kind of insurance policy that would pay her a part of the judgement, but I doubt that there is one...
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Old 12-16-2011, 03:34 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Badger View Post
Since my brother had POA he (stole) decided to make numerous (some into the tens of thousands) donations to charities from Mom's trust so he could be considered as a wonderful christian person in his church. He also distributed a large amount of money to his girlfriend, daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren contrary to my parents wishes. He had been told by them on many occasions when I was present that he was not to do this and that they were his responsibility not theirs. My father was adamant that the trust was to be use solely for the care of my mother. He would have been furious if he had been alive to see what was done.
When my sister and I found out we had to hire a lawyer to stop him. Fortunately we were able to force him to repay most of the money although I am sure he was able to hide some of the embezzelment. Of course he lied about all this to his daughters, etc. and made us out to be "bad guys". No big deal to me and my sister. We don't consider him to be family anymore and refuse to have any contact with him. We have no interest in claiming a relationship with anyone that is a thief, hypocrite, and liar. There is more to the story but that is the financial part.

Cheers!
Some friends of our had a very similar experience after their parents passed with the eldest son, who was appointed executor of the estate, pilfering the estate to his advantage and that of his children. They finally had to go to court and get him removed. While it is doubtful that they will recover what he stole, at least they will get some of what their parents intended.

How can people like that look in the mirror or sleep at night?

I guess that I value my relationships with my siblings more than money.
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Old 12-16-2011, 04:15 PM   #11
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Note that on a related issue of guardians. My aunt who died in 2010 had a guardian appointed by the state because her daughter was not up to it, and everyone else lived out of state. The guardian handled multiple wards and took all their property for herself, such as in my aunts case a paid for home. Since my aunt was on medicaid, the guardian really defrauded the state. The guardian was convicted on some of the other peoples embezzlements, but my aunts was not prosecuted. So one needs to be careful about guardians as well, in particular court appointed ones.
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Old 12-16-2011, 04:20 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
Some friends of our had a very similar experience after their parents passed with the eldest son, who was appointed executor of the estate, pilfering the estate to his advantage and that of his children. They finally had to go to court and get him removed. While it is doubtful that they will recover what he stole, at least they will get some of what their parents intended.

How can people like that look in the mirror or sleep at night?

I guess that I value my relationships with my siblings more than money.
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Originally Posted by meierlde View Post
Note that on a related issue of guardians. My aunt who died in 2010 had a guardian appointed by the state because her daughter was not up to it, and everyone else lived out of state. The guardian handled multiple wards and took all their property for herself, such as in my aunts case a paid for home. Since my aunt was on medicaid, the guardian really defrauded the state. The guardian was convicted on some of the other peoples embezzlements, but my aunts was not prosecuted. So one needs to be careful about guardians as well, in particular court appointed ones.

A crook has no problem stealing from either family or friends much less someone else... and they probably sleep very well because they don't care... or justify it in their own mind....

I am glad that it is a small % of the population.... but I also think it is getting bigger as families seem to grow apart more than before...
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Old 12-16-2011, 08:48 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Texas Proud

A crook has no problem stealing from either family or friends much less someone else... and they probably sleep very well because they don't care... or justify it in their own mind....

I am glad that it is a small % of the population.... but I also think it is getting bigger as families seem to grow apart more than before...
Maybe its just me and only the anecdotal stories I read ( outside of Madoff), but I think the punishment for this is not severe enough. Many people have had their whole lifelong sacrifice of LBYM taken away from them. And exactly at the time in their life when they most vulnerable and unable to recover from it. I would have no trouble attending a few "open air ceremonies" in honor of these thiefs held on a wooden platform and attached rope. I know, I know, I was born 2 centuries, too late.
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Old 12-16-2011, 09:45 PM   #14
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This case is unusual because not all banks will hand over account assets based on a POA, as attested to by Nords posts dealing with his Dad's matters.
To be clear, I don't actually have any POAs. Dad wouldn't sign them when he was still competent, and now that he'll sign anything he's no longer considered competent to do so.

Even if you have a POA, it could be revoked at any time. That's especially likely to happen when your grantor meets a "special friend" who's willing to help them out if they'd just give them the POA. That's why when (at some point) your grantor becomes incompetent then you're supposed to petition the probate court for guardianship & conservatorship. Many states have legal-aid groups who can show you how to do it without even a lawyer, let alone a psychologist.

I think that many families never get past the POA step because there's never a problem. For every scary headline we read, there's probably a thousand perfectly boring family custodial arrangements that work just fine all the way up to the actual probate.
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Old 12-17-2011, 08:34 AM   #15
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How can people like that look in the mirror or sleep at night?

I guess that I value my relationships with my siblings more than money.
I've wondered about that too. I was executor of my mother's estate and it simply never occurred to me to do anything other than what was specified in her will, which was to divide the estate equally among the three siblings.

Even though I repeatedly offered to show them, neither of my sisters ever wanted to see the supporting documentation for the numbers I was giving them. A couple of years later I asked why not and they both said they knew I was incapable of anything untoward.

It's kinda nice to have family with that much trust.
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Old 12-17-2011, 10:55 AM   #16
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I've wondered about that too. I was executor of my mother's estate and it simply never occurred to me to do anything other than what was specified in her will, which was to divide the estate equally among the three siblings.

Even though I repeatedly offered to show them, neither of my sisters ever wanted to see the supporting documentation for the numbers I was giving them. A couple of years later I asked why not and they both said they knew I was incapable of anything untoward.

It's kinda nice to have family with that much trust.
My brother was executor, and did much the same. I trusted him completely, as well. To me, he is the gold standard by which trustworthiness is measured and defined.

As an executor, he e-mailed documentation and information on his progress to Bob (our other brother) and me weekly whether we wanted it or not. He never mentioned it but I noticed that whenever an amount to be distributed was not evenly divisible by three, he would short himself by one cent and give me and sometimes Bob an extra cent, as needed. Not that a penny here or there makes any difference, but I think it demonstrated his attitude towards the job.

Afterwards, I thanked him in person for his sterling job as executor of our mother's estate. His response? He took no personal credit for his honesty at all, saying "Mom raised me, you know, and instilled the same values in all of us. She would have wanted it done that way."
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