How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Phillips Esq. Your Own Question

Phillips Esq.
Phillips Esq., Attorney-at-Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 12832
Experience:  B.A.; M.B.A.; J.D.
Type Your Family Law Question Here...
Phillips Esq. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Hi, I am looking for advice to prevent elder abuse for our

Resolved Question:

Hi,

I am looking for advice to prevent elder abuse for our 83-year old mother. She lives in her own home and since falling and breaking her hip two years ago, she is dependent upon our brother for her independence. However, our brothers has gambling problems and is taking advantage of the living situation. Can we, with her consent, set up a limited account at her bank that could, for example, include a debit card and perhaps checks and have a spending limit (either per transaction or total) and arrange with the bank to investigate checks written for more? We are even hesitant to leave a checking account for her because she just wrote $11,000 in check to my brother, $6,000 for a car that already has mechanical problems, and $5,000 in cash for which he has already gambled 50%. My sister has limited power of attorney and can write checks for major expenses and monitor her account. She was supposed to call her prior to writing any checks to our brother, but did so anyway.

I know a tough situation. If not for our brother, she would need to go to a nursing home and she does not want to do that, but we don't think she realizes she is only abetting his gambling problems. He gambles away his paycheck every month. The cost of a nursing home would quickly dissipate the $170,000 she has in an annuity. Thank you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to assist you. Kindly use CONTINUE or REPLY button to ask for clarification or follow-up questions.

Hi,

I am looking for advice to prevent elder abuse for our 83-year old mother. She lives in her own home and since falling and breaking her hip two years ago, she is dependent upon our brother for her independence. However, our brothers has gambling problems and is taking advantage of the living situation. Can we, with her consent, set up a limited account at her bank that could, for example, include a debit card and perhaps checks and have a spending limit (either per transaction or total) and arrange with the bank to investigate checks written for more? We are even hesitant to leave a checking account for her because she just wrote $11,000 in check to my brother, $6,000 for a car that already has mechanical problems, and $5,000 in cash for which he has already gambled 50%. My sister has limited power of attorney and can write checks for major expenses and monitor her account. She was supposed to call her prior to writing any checks to our brother, but did so anyway.

I know a tough situation. If not for our brother, she would need to go to a nursing home and she does not want to do that, but we don't think she realizes she is only abetting his gambling problems. He gambles away his paycheck every month. The cost of a nursing home would quickly dissipate the $170,000 she has in an annuity. Thank you.

Response: Unfortunately, what you are proposing would not solve your problem. Instead, your sister with the Power of Attorney should take your mother to the bank to open a new account with your mother and put restriction on your mother's signature. That is, on the signature card, a restriction would be put that if your mother signs the check, two signatures would be required, that of your mother and your sister. However, only one signature is required for your sister.

Once the account is set up and the funds transferred from her old account to a new one, your mother cannot write any more checks signed by her only. If the bank cashes any check with your mother's signature only, then the bank would be responsible.

Your mother should not have access to a debit card because that would defeat the signature restriction.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

That would not work. My sister lives in a Denver and is only visiting for a week. Why do you state that what I am proposing would not solve our problem?

 

Set up a limited account. If you’re concerned about your relative’s abilities to make financial decisions, set up a small account at a local bank for her. The account could, for instance, include a debit card and checks and have a spending limit of, say, $300. Arrange with the bank to investigate checks written for more.

 

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/01/protecting-mom-dad-s-money/index.htm (page 7)

 

 

Consider setting up a custodial account. The bank collects the senior’s income and pays the senior’s bills. If the senior needs money, the bank will issue a check or debit card so the senior has access to cash.

 

http://www.csa.us/BankFraudProtection.aspx

 

(We have most of her monthly expenses taken out of her checking account automatically. Our sister has on-line acccess to her bank accounts and could transfer funds as needed and pay large expenses; e.g., life insurance, property tax. The bank coud issue a check or debit card so our Mother has access to cash. Is that not workable? Do you have a better plan? Thank you.)

 

I realize that the debtor card would not have the signature restriction, but we hope to mitigate that limitation by having the funds available restricted, with the majority of her money in a separate account that would require dual signatures to access.

 

Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 1 year ago.

That would not work. My sister lives in a Denver and is only visiting for a week. Why do you state that what I am proposing would not solve our problem?

Response 1: Hello: I see that you gave me a negative rating for attempting to address your question. Your question has no easy answer. That's why nobody picked it up until I came along. I was offline when you responded as I do not work on the site 24/7. That's the reason that you did receive a response from me in a timely manner.

The information that I gave you was based on my experience over the years working in several departments of major New England Banks. The recommendation that you received is easier said than done. There is no guarantee that the bank would meet your goals especially if you are dealing with a small account. The bank simply cannot expend so much labor administrating that account. That is the reality. Also, you never indicated that your sister was only visiting for a week, but yet you are apparently penalizing me for not considering information that was never a part of your original post.

 


Set up a limited account. If you’re concerned about your relative’s abilities to make financial decisions, set up a small account at a local bank for her. The account could, for instance, include a debit card and checks and have a spending limit of, say, $300. Arrange with the bank to investigate checks written for more.

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/01/protecting-mom-dad-s-money/index.htm (page 7)

 


Response 2: See my response #1

 


Consider setting up a custodial account. The bank collects the senior’s income and pays the senior’s bills. If the senior needs money, the bank will issue a check or debit card so the senior has access to cash.

http://www.csa.us/BankFraudProtection.aspx

 


Response 3: I do not see any need for this. Your sister can simply set up an account as Power of Attorney and pay her bills from that account.

(We have most of her monthly expenses taken out of her checking account automatically. Our sister has on-line acccess to her bank accounts and could transfer funds as needed and pay large expenses; e.g., life insurance, property tax. The bank coud issue a check or debit card so our Mother has access to cash. Is that not workable? Do you have a better plan? Thank you.)


Response 4: It would be workable if your brother would not talk your mother into withdrawing funds for his benefits. After all, this is the primary purpose for the attempt to restrict your mother's access to her account.

I realize that the debtor card would not have the signature restriction, but we hope to mitigate that limitation by having the funds available restricted, with the majority of her money in a separate account that would require dual signatures to access.


Response 5: That sounds more like it. If the funds in the account would be relatively small, then it would not be a problem even if your brother manages to talk her into withdrawing funds from the account for his benefits. You mother could only withdraw so much and the damage would not be quite noticeable.


Let me know if you need further clarification.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for replying. I was too quick in assessing your answer. My sister is in town for just a few more days so we have to take any action promptly.


 


Regarding your responses, talking to my brother about not accessing our Mother's account is dubious at best. Earlier this year he twice spent all his paycheck on gambling and assorted purchases and then relied upon our Mother for two checks of $5,000 to prevent his checks from bouncing. My sister had an agreement with our Mother to call her before she wrote any checks to my brother, but that control did not work. When we ask her why she wrote the checks, she just responds that she doesn’t know.


 


Just the last couple weeks, he talked her into "loaning" her $6,000 to buy a new truck (which he bought "as is" and already has mechanical problems) and $5,000 to pay off his second loan on his 401 K so he could take out another loan on the 401K to pay her back (apparently you cannot take out more than two loans). However, he found out that the $5,000 was not sufficient to pay off the second loan, and subsequently gambled and spent $2,800 of that amount in a couple weeks.


 


My sister found out and helped to sell his old truck. He was going to sell it for $650 and my sister got $1,950 for the vehicle. She also was able to force my brother to turn over the remaining $2,200 to return to our Mother's account. We decided and he agreed to reduce his share of her life insurance because there is no way he can pay her back. Our agent recommends that we disinherit him altogether.


 


The situation has become quite stressful for my sister and me. Neither of us lives in South Dakota; my sister is there for a pleasant visit that turned out to be anything but. She is returning to Denver on Saturday.


 


Our mother would almost certainly agree to any plan we recommend. My sister is contemplating taking our Mother's checkbook with her when she returns to Denver (with our Mother’s consent), and giving my mother a Prepaid Visa Card each month approximately equal to her social security check and my late father's pension less her automatic withdrawals. With my late father's pension and her social security, that she be plenty for her to live on.


 


A weakness in that plan is that my brother could still drive my Mother to the bank and have her withdraw money. He has done that before. Could we set up two accounts: one that our mother cannot access and that my sister can access online to transfer funds to a second account my mother would have access to? The first account would have the majority of her money, and the second account would have just enough funds each month to equal her social security plus pension? My sister would pay the major expenses herself (she has signature authority) such as property tax, home insurance et al.


 


Or would the first account at least require joint signatures? That would be less desirable because my sister leaves is Denver, unless there is a way for her to sign from Colorado.


 


Appreciate your advice, judgment and innovative suggestions. Thank you.


 

Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hello: Thank you for the getting back to me. I am just getting back online. I had a hectic day. Kindly give me few minutes to review your latest information and get back to you.

Thank you for your patience.
Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for replying. I was too quick in assessing your answer. My sister is in town for just a few more days so we have to take any action promptly.

Response 1: I appreciate the opportunity to clarify the issue.

Regarding your responses, talking to my brother about not accessing our Mother's account is dubious at best. Earlier this year he twice spent all his paycheck on gambling and assorted purchases and then relied upon our Mother for two checks of $5,000 to prevent his checks from bouncing. My sister had an agreement with our Mother to call her before she wrote any checks to my brother, but that control did not work. When we ask her why she wrote the checks, she just responds that she doesn’t know.

Response 2: I did not suggest that your brother be talked to. It was early in the morning when I was writing, but this is what I wrote:

(We have most of her monthly expenses taken out of her checking account automatically. Our sister has on-line acccess to her bank accounts and could transfer funds as needed and pay large expenses; e.g., life insurance, property tax. The bank coud issue a check or debit card so our Mother has access to cash. Is that not workable? Do you have a better plan? Thank you.)

Response 4: It would be workable if your brother would not talk your mother into withdrawing funds for his benefits. After all, this is the primary purpose for the attempt to restrict your mother's access to her account.



Just the last couple weeks, he talked her into "loaning" her $6,000 to buy a new truck (which he bought "as is" and already has mechanical problems) and $5,000 to pay off his second loan on his 401 K so he could take out another loan on the 401K to pay her back (apparently you cannot take out more than two loans). However, he found out that the $5,000 was not sufficient to pay off the second loan, and subsequently gambled and spent $2,800 of that amount in a couple weeks.

My sister found out and helped to sell his old truck. He was going to sell it for $650 and my sister got $1,950 for the vehicle. She also was able to force my brother to turn over the remaining $2,200 to return to our Mother's account. We decided and he agreed to reduce his share of her life insurance because there is no way he can pay her back. Our agent recommends that we disinherit him altogether.

The situation has become quite stressful for my sister and me. Neither of us lives in South Dakota; my sister is there for a pleasant visit that turned out to be anything but. She is returning to Denver on Saturday.

Our mother would almost certainly agree to any plan we recommend. My sister is contemplating taking our Mother's checkbook with her when she returns to Denver (with our Mother’s consent), and giving my mother a Prepaid Visa Card each month approximately equal to her social security check and my late father's pension less her automatic withdrawals. With my late father's pension and her social security, that she be plenty for her to live on.

A weakness in that plan is that my brother could still drive my Mother to the bank and have her withdraw money. He has done that before. Could we set up two accounts: one that our mother cannot access and that my sister can access online to transfer funds to a second account my mother would have access to? The first account would have the majority of her money, and the second account would have just enough funds each month to equal her social security plus pension? My sister would pay the major expenses herself (she has signature authority) such as property tax, home insurance et al.

Or would the first account at least require joint signatures? That would be less desirable because my sister leaves is Denver, unless there is a way for her to sign from Colorado.

Appreciate your advice, judgment and innovative suggestions. Thank you.

Response 3: Your situation has no easy answer, apparently. Pre-paid account is also good idea. However, there is no way to guarantee that your brother would not interfere. Regrettably, as long as your brother is living with your mother, all you and your sister can do is to try to limit the damage by doing one of the following:

(a) Establishing joint account with signature restrictions;

(b) Establishing a small account with spending limit;

(c) Getting a pre-paid visa card.

Phillips Esq., Attorney-at-Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 12832
Experience: B.A.; M.B.A.; J.D.
Phillips Esq. and 6 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Not only did he answer my Michigan divorce question but was also able to help me out with it, too. I have since won my legal case on this matter and thank you so much for it. Lee Michigan
< Last | Next >
  • Not only did he answer my Michigan divorce question but was also able to help me out with it, too. I have since won my legal case on this matter and thank you so much for it. Lee Michigan
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Ely

    Counselor at Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    8085
    Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RA/ratioscripta/2012-6-13_2955_foto3.64x64.jpg Ely's Avatar

    Ely

    Counselor at Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    8085
    Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/LA/LawTalk/2012-6-6_17379_LawTalk.64x64.JPG LawTalk's Avatar

    LawTalk

    Attorney and Counselor at Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    6424
    27+ years legal experience. I remain current in Family Law through regular continuing education.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/FL/FLAandNYLawyer/2012-1-27_14349_3Fotolia25855429M.64x64.jpg FiveStarLaw's Avatar

    FiveStarLaw

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    6336
    25 years of experience helping people like you.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/dkaplun/2009-05-17_173121_headshot_1_2.jpg Dimitry K., Esq.'s Avatar

    Dimitry K., Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    5987
    I provide family and divorce law advice to my clients in my firm.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/MU/multistatelaw/2011-11-27_173951_Tinaglamourshotworkglow102011.64x64.jpg Tina's Avatar

    Tina

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    5773
    JD, 15 years legal experience including family law
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/BrianTMayer/2010-01-06_200119_BM.jpg Brandon M.'s Avatar

    Brandon M.

    Family Law Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    3810
    Attorney experienced in all aspects of family law
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/TU/TUSA/2012-6-6_55219_test.64x64.png Thoreau (T-USA)'s Avatar

    Thoreau (T-USA)

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    2634
    Attorney