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conservator accounts? hiding accounts from the ward
Old 03-22-2020, 10:21 AM   #1
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conservator accounts? hiding accounts from the ward

A short prelude:
* initial screenings show Dad has dementia. He's not running around naked wearing a napkin for a hat and initially presents fairly well, so its not blatant to strangers that dad is vulnerable. He is scheduled for a full neuropsych eval late next week.
* Dad attempted to give away a house to his home health aid. The home health aid (HHA) is registered in the state adult protective services registry as having exploited one or more clients in the past.
* We're in the process of obtaining guardian and conservatorship for my dad. The emergency hearing was early last week and my brother and I were appointed temporary guardian/conservators. I'm now waiting for the bonding company to approve which should be early next week (depending on the business shutdowns across the country). The final hearing is out in May.

The problem: sheltering accounts
The first must-do as conservator is I have to shelter all of Dad's financial accounts so that he can not find them nor access them. The atty says if Dad can locate an account (probably with help from the home health aid), he can take control of it, even with the conservatorship in place.

According to the atty and my reading so far, this means I have to find all new institutions and open new accounts to make finding the accounts harder.

From what I've googled, a conservator account must be opened in the name of the ward/trust, which means using Dad's SSN.
Maybe this isn't workable, but I am attempting to leave his existing checking account with a reduced balance as his spending money account to give him as much autonomy/normalcy/familiarity as possible. The new sheltered accounts would collect all/most of his income, pay his primary bills, etc and be the source of funds to top off his spending account as needed.

The concern is that when I transfer funds from a sheltered account into Dad's "allowance account", the transfer/deposit transactions will show the institution/etc that the funds came from. With some help from either dad's neighbors (until we get him into assisted living) or the HHA, the name of the originating institution would be visible and thus the account findable.

EIN: I'm exploring getting an EIN for the trust (revocable trust, but paperwork is being filed to assign me as "sole successor trustee" so that dad can not give away a house).
The thought is if accounts are under the trust EIN instead of Dad's SSN, the accounts would be harder to find and gain control of.
From what I've read so far EINs are not typical for revocable trusts.

I can't be the first person to have to do this, but I can't find anything about how to setup accounts for the wards funds while still protecting the accounts from access by the ward.

Does anybody on here have any experience with conservator accounts?
Any suggestions??

Maybe I have to go full tilt and abandon the idea of letting dad keep some fiscal autonomy over his spending money and just use a reloadable debit card.
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Old 03-22-2020, 10:34 AM   #2
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I never actually had to do it, but researched it a little on the Alzheimer's website: https://www.alzheimers.net/guardians...th-alzheimers/

I'd suggest getting an Eldercare lawyer. They probably have some brilliant ideas for dealing with this situation, as they've probably seen a million of 'em.

Good luck to you. I know what you're going through. Be nice to yourself.
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Old 03-22-2020, 10:44 AM   #3
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With an actual conservatorship in place your dad will not have signing access on the account... at least that's how it is for sure in my state. The whole point of a conservatorship of estate (as opposed to conservatorship of the person) is to protect them from themselves financially. You manage their money. There could also be a stupid bank employee so maybe going to a new bank is smart but it really should not be necessary. Just make sure it's a totally new account and probably with it's own tax ID number not dad's social. At least in California this is a highly specialized field and we always encourage people to find a true expert and not some attorney who just dabbles in it. At least here it is way more than filling out a few forms. Good luck!
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Old 03-22-2020, 11:04 AM   #4
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With an actual conservatorship in place your dad will not have signing access on the account... at least that's how it is for sure in my state. The whole point of a conservatorship of estate (as opposed to conservatorship of the person) is to protect them from themselves financially. You manage their money. There could also be a stupid bank employee so maybe going to a new bank is smart but it really should not be necessary. Just make sure it's a totally new account and probably with it's own tax ID number not dad's social. At least in California this is a highly specialized field and we always encourage people to find a true expert and not some attorney who just dabbles in it. At least here it is way more than filling out a few forms. Good luck!
The atty is big on warning us about "testamentary capacity", saying that if the ward can remember what his assets are and who his immediate family is, the ward can take control of the asset if the ward can find the asset. Even if the ward has been found incompetent to manage his affairs. Makes absolutely no sense to me. I'm still googling.
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Old 03-22-2020, 11:06 AM   #5
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Can you get rid of that home health aid?
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Old 03-22-2020, 11:39 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by SumDay View Post
I never actually had to do it, but researched it a little on the Alzheimer's website: https://www.alzheimers.net/guardians...th-alzheimers/

I'd suggest getting an Eldercare lawyer. They probably have some brilliant ideas for dealing with this situation, as they've probably seen a million of 'em.

Good luck to you. I know what you're going through. Be nice to yourself.
We've got an atty who is the one suggesting new institutions.
Their suggestion is a True Link debit card... apparently the specialize in clients with special needs. https://www.truelinkfinancial.com/

I was trying to find a way to let dad keep his existing checking account as his "mad money" but with a dramatically lower balance.
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Old 03-22-2020, 11:46 AM   #7
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Can you get rid of that home health aid?
Its on the list of high priority things to do... but we can't get a restraining order to prevent contact. All we can do is cut off $ so that dad can't pay her (there is another huge complicator in that the HHA is also a tenant in Dads rental property and the feds just halted all evictions for 60 days). Adult Protective Services is walking away from it because "his money is safe now".

And in a very strange twist of fate with the current world craziness, I'm not going to get rid of the exploiter until I have a replacement lined up. I have no idea if a reputable home health agency will take new customers under current world conditions/lock downs/travel bans/etc. At least this way there is SOMEBODY checking in on him 2x a week. I should know more by the end of this week if getting somebody like Bayada on board is going to happen or not.
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Old 03-22-2020, 12:07 PM   #8
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What you are saying about your father getting access to any account he locates is totatlly inconsistent with my experience as a conservator for a family member in California. I was required to place all the conservatee's assets in new accounts. Real estate had to be retitled. The bank's regulations for the conservator accounts were very strict. They would not allow anyone else to have access to the account (I asked because I wanted a sibling to have access.) They said they would need to see a court order before enabling anyone else to have access to the account.

Perhaps you should consult with another lawyer.
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Old 03-22-2020, 02:10 PM   #9
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Is the bank where his current checking account is a nation-wide bank? If so, you could withdraw cash from the new account at a new bank and walk it to the current bank and make a deposit ti give him his spending money. (Assuming you are allowed into the banks). That way he gets money without a traceable number to find the new account.

Alternatively, could you write a check from his new account to your account, then transfer the same amount from your account to his existing checking account?
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Old 03-22-2020, 02:40 PM   #10
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What you are saying about your father getting access to any account he locates is totatlly inconsistent with my experience as a conservator for a family member in California. I was required to place all the conservatee's assets in new accounts. Real estate had to be retitled. The bank's regulations for the conservator accounts were very strict. They would not allow anyone else to have access to the account (I asked because I wanted a sibling to have access.) They said they would need to see a court order before enabling anyone else to have access to the account.

Perhaps you should consult with another lawyer.
I agree. As a registered professional guardian in Florida, even with the powers of a 90 day emergency temporary guardianship, while waiting for the final hearing, I am expected to secure assets not only from exploitation but also from wasting by the ward. That means all current bank accounts are closed and a guardianship account is opened. I as the guardian am the ONLY one who can access the account. By the same token, the ward is no longer permitted to contract. That means they cannot hire help and they cannot gift anything. Their signature on any document becomes worthless the moment the judge grants the ETG.
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Old 03-22-2020, 05:01 PM   #11
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For those that had conservator accounts (scratchy and firemediceric so far)
did you use the wards SSN? Or obtain an EIN? or ?
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Old 03-22-2020, 05:02 PM   #12
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It sounds like maybe the lawyer didn't explain it well, but possibly was talking about practicality, not legality, in that if the ward can convince a bank employee that they're competent, or that there is no guardian, the ward could gain and spend or hide all their assets at that bank.
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Old 03-22-2020, 05:40 PM   #13
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Ward’s SS#.
I have an EIN for my business but for the guardianship checking accounts the bank has me use the ward’s Social Security number as well as my Social Security number.
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Old 03-22-2020, 05:58 PM   #14
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If your dad still has his checking account (notwithstanding lower balance) be sure he can't take out cash on a personal line of credit.
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Old 03-22-2020, 06:06 PM   #15
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If your dad still has his checking account (notwithstanding lower balance) be sure he can't take out cash on a personal line of credit.
Send guardianship letters to the three credit bureaus making it clear that no lines of credit are to be opened and any current lines are to be frozen, including credit cards.
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Old 03-23-2020, 07:59 AM   #16
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If your dad still has his checking account (notwithstanding lower balance) be sure he can't take out cash on a personal line of credit.
Good point. Time to start building a to-do list for each institution. Thanks.
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Old 03-23-2020, 08:03 AM   #17
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Send guardianship letters to the three credit bureaus making it clear that no lines of credit are to be opened and any current lines are to be frozen, including credit cards.
I froze his credit at the 4 agencies after one of the SS scams where he was instructed to take all of his money out of the bank and give it to some guy in the parking lot for safe keeping.

I'm assuming that since opening new accounts at new institutions will result in credit file hits, I'll send the letters after the replacement accounts are opened. Thanks.
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Old 03-23-2020, 08:54 AM   #18
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I am far from an expert, and agree that an eldercare attorney is who should be consulted. But I thought of a suggestion, could you put your father's assets into an irrevocable trust with you as the trustee? That would prevent your father from being able to do anything without you as trustee agreeing for any financial transactions. It is still his money, just that you are in charge of it.
The irrevocable trust gets an EIN, and you open a new trust bank account(s) where you pay any bills. Put house and any other major assets in trust name.
I guess the only potential issue is if your father is considered mentally competent enough to sign to authorize the irrevocable trust. Your current guardianship order was a smart move to at least get something down on record for now.
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Old 03-23-2020, 09:44 AM   #19
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^^^^^
this if not too expensive, relative to assets dad has left.
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Old 03-23-2020, 09:57 AM   #20
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I am far from an expert, and agree that an eldercare attorney is who should be consulted. But I thought of a suggestion, could you put your father's assets into an irrevocable trust with you as the trustee? That would prevent your father from being able to do anything without you as trustee agreeing for any financial transactions. It is still his money, just that you are in charge of it.
The irrevocable trust gets an EIN, and you open a new trust bank account(s) where you pay any bills. Put house and any other major assets in trust name.
I guess the only potential issue is if your father is considered mentally competent enough to sign to authorize the irrevocable trust. Your current guardianship order was a smart move to at least get something down on record for now.

We have an eldercare atty. It is the atty that is stating I need to open new accounts and that I need to hide them.

I've been named "sole successor trustee" on the revocable trust.
One thing a conservator can not do is change the terms of the trust.
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