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Finances with vulnerable seniors?


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Ok, I need some experience/wisdom here. Senior, age 70, *vulnerable* due to memory loss, declining abilities, etc. So far as we understand, the options are:

-go to court for guardianship

-have doctor declare him financially incapacitated

-something else we haven't figured out that we assume involves moving funds out of senior's name

I'm not sure any of those are great. I'm not sure a doctor would sign off on the incapacitated. This person has decreased ability and finds handling their finances *stressful* but is still working at it. Said person also has significant anxiety and riles up if you change too much too quickly. And there are family members who would be upset if estate holdings were transferred to say my name. I don't think we're talking about enough to need a trust. 

What are in between options that protect the senior while still allowing them the ability to gift and do what they can? 

The problem is, the stakes are high. This person recently got approached by a scammer and is having trouble sorting things out. They are vulnerable. And I'm signed on the line for their assisted living placement, meaning I'm liable if their cost of living were to outpace the retirement COL increases. It's very important that the estate be protected to assure said person's quality of life while not creating conflict and allowing them to do what they *can* do. 

See anything here? Any experience?

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Is the Senior at all open to you setting up automatic payments for their regular bills?  To giving them access to an "allowance fund" for gifts and small expenditures?  To taking their credit cards?  (My mom complained bitterly about the last but we had to do it after she gave her cc numbers to scammers). 

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I am in a very similar situation.  The person I care for, who has dementia but can still make many of their own decisions, consented to having a DPOA set up.  They also consented to me taking over the regular financial affairs.....although now sometimes forgets that and we have conflict....so not perfect.  They still have full access to their CC and bank account but I have set things up to minimize any damage should they be scammed.  The first thing we did was freeze their credit at all three credit reporting agencies.  This can be reversed with a simple phone call but prevents anyone from fraudulently opening any kind of credit in their name.  I also cancelled all but one CC and lowered the limit to $2000 so any potential scamming would be minimized.  There has been at least one time when they needed to go over that amount, in which case I called the CC to instantly pay the current balance, freeing up their line of credit to make the needed purchase.  I also opened a separate POA account in their name.  This will be needed if I ever end up with conservatorship, so I figured I might as well have it in place as it is far easier to do when the person agrees and cooperates.  I then set up their investments so that any disbursements go to that account.  This was recommended by their financial advisor as there was concern that someone up to no good could talk them into requesting additional disbursements.  If that somehow happens, it can only end up in the safe account. This is also where we could park any extra money.  They are on a fixed income so their regular bank account never has too much for a scammer to get to but if there ever was excess, I'd put that in the POA account.   I then put all of their monthly payments on autopay, sent the DPOA paperwork to every company or doctor that they ever deal with so I can advocate for them at any time.  And we set up online accounts for everything so I can log in and check that all activity is legit every few days.

There are still a lot of holes in this plan.  Dealing with Medicare and Social Security is especially difficult and I don't have that worked out yet.  You really need conservatorship to deal directly with them.  

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26 minutes ago, skimomma said:

I am in a very similar situation.

Thank you for writing all this out. It's incredibly helpful. I'm going to have to dissect it line by line and get back to you. We've done some of those things, but there are some others I know we haven't done. I think I'm going to have about 18 questions here, lol.

1 hour ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

Is the Senior at all open to you setting up automatic payments for their regular bills?  To giving them access to an "allowance fund" for gifts and small expenditures?  To taking their credit cards?  (My mom complained bitterly about the last but we had to do it after she gave her cc numbers to scammers). 

Yup, did all that. One card, everything we know of on autopay, etc.

1 hour ago, Laura Corin said:

Power of Attorney in the UK can work alongside the old person.  They can still make decisions but you can keep an eye on things. Would that work for you?

I have PoA and have used it. Ski is mentioning a durable POA and I need to figure out if that's different from what I have. I need to rest my brain and come back. 

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29 minutes ago, skimomma said:

consented to having a DPOA set up.

Need to google. Is this different from a POA? I have that. I used it to sign the papers for him to go into assisted living.

29 minutes ago, skimomma said:

They also consented to me taking over the regular financial affairs.

This is the tricky part. Thing is, I think we could get there with the point that he is *stressed* by stuff. Reducing stress is good. I'm getting pressured to do something more radical that involves changing accounts, moving money, and I'm trying to be very careful here. Protective but careful. Respectful. I don't want it to look like I have the person's money. It should only be that I'm caretaking.

31 minutes ago, skimomma said:

 They still have full access to their CC and bank account but I have set things up to minimize any damage should they be scammed.

YES, this is the stuff we need to figure out how to do. And the bank can't just take his name off his account and we don't want to have to fiddle with all the auto deposits and auto pays. So the account needs to stay with his name on it but he needs to be using maybe a *different* account or something. And yes, we took him down to one CC on auto pay. 

So the problem is technically he still has access to the money in the main account, even if I set up another account with his name. And I'm not sure how many "accounts" he can have. I can talk with the bank. 

33 minutes ago, skimomma said:

 I also opened a separate POA account in their name.

Ok, what is this? I'm POA and on his bank accounts. He voluntarily added me several years ago. Is this something different?

34 minutes ago, skimomma said:

The first thing we did was freeze their credit at all three credit reporting agencies.  This can be reversed with a simple phone call but prevents anyone from fraudulently opening any kind of credit in their name.

I did not think of this and it's an AMAZING idea. How do I do this? I need to find out. We've been worried he would suddenly, for instance, decide to buy a car. He can't live his assisted living right now anyway, but that would mean a huge chunk disappearing with no discussing. Freezing his credit, if done without his knowledge, would give us a flag and slow that down, right? He would be able to pay cash but not if we rearrange the finances to move him to a more limited free to spend account.

36 minutes ago, skimomma said:

 I also cancelled all but one CC and lowered the limit to $2000 so any potential scamming would be minimized.

Again, such a smart move. 

 

36 minutes ago, skimomma said:

This will be needed if I ever end up with conservatorship

Ok, I need to google this term. We were being told things like go to court for guardianship or get an MD to sign a paper of financial incapacitation. I need to figure out if conservatorship is different and available.

38 minutes ago, skimomma said:

I then set up their investments so that any disbursements go to that account.  This was recommended by their financial advisor as there was concern that someone up to no good could talk them into requesting additional disbursements.  If that somehow happens, it can only end up in the safe account.

I'm thinking really hard here. When you say that account, you mean the POA account? Who helped you figure all this out? We must be asking the wrong people, because we have not been getting answers this thorough. So yes there are investments and the firm he has been with is too far from where he currently lives (for weird reasons). I have to decide whether we're trying to keep the accounts in his name and simply move them to a closer, higher quality financial advisor, or whether we're doing something more radical (guardianship, pulling them to our state). So it's awkward because we're handling things across state lines. Having a low quality financial advisor for him has made that harder. I didn't interfere before, but it would be an easy fix that I'm sure I could get him to agree to. But it's sort of a lot of hassle if you're going for something more severe. Thing is, I think just moving to a higher quality, more accessible financial advisor would solve some of that. And if they could help us with these logistics, that could be fabulous. It's kind of sneaky, subtle protections we hadn't thought of that aren't quite to "you can't say where your money goes" but more like "it just takes longer if you try to make things happen."

I'm liking this. 

41 minutes ago, skimomma said:

This is also where we could park any extra money.

So there is retirement income and there's the regular withdrawal to pay for assisted living (significant). Beyond that, there are taxes to be saved for, money for his discretionary spending (which we could get him to agree to), and the gap that I agree would be defined as savings. That's the stuff we want not to disappear because, in general, it needs to be collecting to assure that he can afford to stay where he is as the COL outpaces his retirement COL increases. But you see how many accounts that is, lol. I need to look up this POA account. So it's in his name but he can't operate it? That would be awesome.

I'm googling, and I'm not clear. I am pretty sure I'm POA on his bank accounts and I get the duplicate forms. 

47 minutes ago, skimomma said:

I then put all of their monthly payments on autopay

The one that mystifies me are his taxes. Everything else is on autopay, and for some reason he keeps telling me he's writing quarterly checks for taxes. Makes no sense.

47 minutes ago, skimomma said:

sent the DPOA paperwork to every company or doctor that they ever deal with so I can advocate for them at any time.

Oh THAT is smart. You're right, like the CC company, whomever, I could send it to them and get that lined up.

48 minutes ago, skimomma said:

And we set up online accounts for everything so I can log in and check that all activity is legit every few days.

I have the bank online account but not the rest. Good point.

48 minutes ago, skimomma said:

Dealing with Medicare and Social Security is especially difficult and I don't have that worked out yet.  You really need conservatorship to deal directly with them.  

Oh dear. Well I will google conservatorship. Ok, I'm back. That has a lot of hoops.

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14 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

Most likely these are the estimated tax payments for his investment income. The amount should have been determined when his income taxes were done. You can read about it on the IRS website and the state website -- he has to pay a certain amount quarterly to avoid penalties.

That finally makes sense! So I think if I move his financial advisor closer, we can make sure his investments are positioned properly. I don't think he had confidence in the place he has been using, and maybe his burden is unnecessarily high. And then it looks like we can shift those payments to electronic/automatic, which would lower his stress. 

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I am terrible at the multi-quote thing so I will just address in order.

POA rules vary by state.  In my state, a POA can only be used if the person is unable to make their own decisions.  A DPOA can be used when the person is capable of making their own decisions but has consented to allow someone else to act for them anyway.  This is best in a transitionary situation, like dementia, where one might still be capable of doing some things for themselves but not others.

Getting the OK to handle finances can be really hard, especially when dementia is involved.  I am pretty certain I could go to court and get conservatorship, but I would rather avoid that if possible because I'd like for my person to be able to do as much as they can for as long as they can.  They sometimes get upset when they forget we agreed to my handling the bills and such.  It is what it is.  One day at a time. They could revoke my DPOA at any time.  That is a risk I have decided I am willing to deal with.

POA banks accounts might also be by state but they are different than simply being a joint owner as POA on a person's account.  In our case, it is a bank account that can only be used by me but is in my person's name.  And I am subject to scrutiny as to how I use that account.  I must keep records of every expenditure and be able to prove that it was for the named person's benefit only.  I too live far way from my person so I set up the POA account at a bank that is local to me.  I am also on their regular account but it is not a local bank and I can only do so much when not in person.  But we need to keep it so I don't have to switch all auto pay or auto deposits.  That would be a nightmare.  Plus my person is used to their bank and pre-covid would go there in person to withdraw cash and such so I did not want to do anything confusing.  What you can do is maintain his current account but limit how much money you keep in it so if someone does try to take advantage, the damage is minimized.  This is where you can use the POA account by transferring excess cash to that account until it is needed.  Again, document document document!  A POA account will be required if you ever become his Representative Payee on their SSA.  This cannot be done via a jointly owned account.

Freezing credit is quite easy.  It can all be done online if you can sit down with him and go through it together.  If you are not in the same location, it can be done by phone.  The hard part is that you have to correctly answer questions to verify his identity.  My person could answer some of the questions but did not remember others.  Luckily, we were together, in person, and I knew the answers they did not.  We had trouble with one of the three as neither of us knew the correct answers.  For that one, I did have to file the POA with them, and request the freeze in writing.  It took a few weeks. 

My person's financial advisor has been an incredible resource.  He had a lot of great advice, like freezing credit and lowering CC limits, but he also referred me to an elder lawyer.  She is the one who set up the DPOA and medical directive with my person.  I was not even there.  She is also the one who advised that I get a POA bank account.  Your person is likely paying quarterly taxes because they did not have the proper amount withheld by the financial advisor from monthly withdrawals.  This may NOT be the financial advisor's fault.  In my person's case, they were requesting extra withdrawals willy nilly....due to confusion, and that had big tax implications, including penalties and fees.  Once we got that cleared up, I worked with my person's tax preparer to make sure we were doing things the best we could going forward.

My person is also in assisted living and the costs are insane!  Luckily, they have long term care insurance.  But that means a great deal of money is paid for the facility each month and a great deal of money is then reimbursed from insurance.  I handle all of this from the POA account so it is super clean and there is never a big chunk of cash sitting in their regular account that could be vulnerable to misuse or fraud.

Whew!  That's a LOT.  I had no idea what I was doing when this all started and I am still sorting things out as they come.  It has been about two years and it is a lot of work.  There is no way around that.  I was spending a couple of hours each day on the phone as my person's everything was a total mess.  It took me months to even figure out how many CCs they had!  There were bounced checks and debts all over the place.  The one big tip I can suggest is starting a shared Google Drive with the next person in line.  In my case that's my sister.  I log every call, action, discovery, idea, etc... in that drive.  I also keep track of every contact I have used (doctors, tax person, lawyer, etc...) in there and scans of important documents like insurance policies and the title to their car.  Basically, a way for someone else to take over in case I am incapacitated.  It also keeps everything transparent so my sister knows exactly what I have done, when, and why.  I refer back to things in there very frequently because it does get confusing after awhile.

Best of luck!  Feel free to PM me.  

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42 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

That finally makes sense! So I think if I move his financial advisor closer, we can make sure his investments are positioned properly. I don't think he had confidence in the place he has been using, and maybe his burden is unnecessarily high. And then it looks like we can shift those payments to electronic/automatic, which would lower his stress. 

I am not sure why the location of the financial advisor matters.  Most financial transactions are handled electronically today with location (within the US) being irrelevant. 

It sounds as if there are two things to be sorted out: (1) what financial items does the person need help with and is willing to receive help with--for those items the person needs to give you permission and (2) is it a concern that the person is not mentally capable of making financial decisions and needs to be prevented from making decisions.  Just because you have a power of attorney to make certain financial decisions on behalf of the individual does not necessarily preclude the individual from making financial decisions on their own.

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Maybe just me — but I tend to think if there is enough money to have a financial advisor there might be enough money to look at a trust.  
 

Or he might not need a financial advisor.  
 

I think sometimes financial advisors churn accounts with elderly clients and stress them out over things.  
 

I would want to look into that if there was stress about decisions.  
 

My relative gets stressed out just from knowing he can’t manage his things by himself, though.  That is where his stress is coming from.

 

I have seen another relative receive confusing phone calls from a financial advisor asking if she wanted to make some transaction and it did seem like there was some motivation to collect a transaction fee and not look out for her best interests.  She changed to a different person though.  

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Listening in--these threads are always educational.

Our bank allows us to have alerts sent to e-mail or text when balances go below a set threshold (set by the user, not the bank). The alerts list the current balance. For my debit card, I set my threshold quite low so that I see the available balance mostly daily, and if I don't get a text, that means DH's direct deposit went through. It's a great way to keep track pretty passively. There may be other types of alerts you can set up, but I don't know. If there is an alert for withdrawals or payments over a certain amount, maybe that could be helpful to you, and might be something easy to set up via online banking in minutes while you figure out whether to set up a POA account of some type. 

I don't know if your person uses a debit or ATM card, or is more old-fashioned with deposit slips and such, but you can ask for some but not all accounts to be linked to various ATM and debit cards. That could be one way of streamlining spending on his end while having multiple bank accounts from which to transfer money into a specific spending account for him. Nothing is truly inaccessible, but then we're not accidentally taking money out of the wrong account. We also find that it's easier to not mix automated payments, paper checks, and debit transactions all in one account. Depending on how he spends and banks, for instance, you could set him up with one CC (with safeguards) and one debit card linked to one account while you handle bills and get banking alerts by text.

If it doesn't confuse you to have multiple bank accounts, I don't think most banks care how many accounts you have. We have at least three savings plus three checking/debit accounts. They serve different purposes and keep us from having to micromanage budget categories. One checking account is really for checking. One is for automated mortgage payments because they stopped doing automated payments from savings accounts. The last one is for debit card only.

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I haven't read all the responses because I am in the middle of a bunch of stuff with my own mom (see: post to come).  

My 97yo mom lives with my sister.  Mom is clearly failing in her memory.  I will be posting about this in another thread.

So that is why I am being brisk here.  Let me ask you this:  how is your relationship with your siblings?  I completely trust my sister.  That makes a huge difference.  My sister has access to all my mom's financial accounts.  All of them.  She could rob me blind but a) she wouldn't--she is pathologically honest  and b) I don't care if she isn't.   

That simplifies everything.  My sister takes care of all the financial stuff, and I don't pay the slightest bit of attention to any of it.

I know I am lucky to have an impeccably scrupulous sibling.  But she is also lucky to have a sibling who trusts her to do the best she can...even if it means that sometimes she doesn't do things exactly the way I would have done them.  Because I am also not doing any caretaking and I know she is doing the best she can.

I watched my mom take care of her mom, and her brother (who did jack ____ to help in any bit of actual care) nag and question and accuse my mom of wrongdoing over monetary issues in the double digits (like $20).  It was awful.  My sister and I vowed that it would not be like this.  Thank God my  sister is an honorable person.  But even if she were not...she is doing the caretaking and she can do whatever she wants and I. will. not. care.  

This screed might be completely off topic by this point.  Please forgive me if it is.  I am a bit in the thick of it at the moment, and it helped me to say all of these things.  I really wish you the best as you work out your situation.  We are really not prepared for all of this.

 

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12 hours ago, Lecka said:

I have seen another relative receive confusing phone calls from a financial advisor asking if she wanted to make some transaction and it did seem like there was some motivation to collect a transaction fee and not look out for her best interests.

That's an interesting point. 

 

15 hours ago, Bootsie said:

I am not sure why the location of the financial advisor matters. 

Investments and lawyers don't work across state lines, at least not for this.

6 hours ago, Patty Joanna said:

relationship with your siblings

Exactly. It complicates everything. It's not only personality but how the sibling views the parent. I talk with this parent every. single. day. Sibling has been way behind the 8 ball on recognizing the needs and challenges, pushing back against things where I said parent needed support. So even though I have the legal paperwork, even though the parent has made clear who they want driving things, I still get blowback. AND just for bonus, the sibling will likely interfere. It's fun stuff. 

Reality is, the large percentage of elder abuse occurs by family. *I* don't want to run the risk that it looks that way or that I screw it up. I'm still chewing on @skimomma's posts because I have some more things to check, some phone calls to make. I didn't realize there were multiple types of POA, so I need to see what I have. It may be a DPOA for all I know. I just don't know. So I've got stuff to sort out.

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I used to have non-durable POAs during my husband’s deployments and they would have a date when the POA ended.  
 

Okay — to “manage” things — why can’t they be managed across state lines by phone or using a website?  I think that is common and often needed for situations like this!

 

We just did some POAs for my Dad (naming my sister) and some places require their own specific form.  We had this at a bank and maybe at a doctors office (I think we did).  Otherwise my sister printed off a POA from the Internet (just saying what we did).  The bank and doctors office provided their own form.  They would require a notary, but someone at my sister’s job was a notary.  I know locally Wal-Mart will notarize for $3.50, in their “Money Services.”

 

This has been 10 years ago, but filing taxes required its own POA or something (maybe it was specific wording or something).  I don’t quite remember, but it was a thing for some reason.  It might have been that some people only got POAs for filing taxes, I’m not sure.  It’s been an issue this year because of the stimulus, we get notifications from the VA about it — you apparently have to file or fill out a form. Edit:  I’m not sure but it’s something to look into if he receives money from the VA and doesn’t file taxes.

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13 hours ago, Lecka said:

Maybe just me — but I tend to think if there is enough money to have a financial advisor there might be enough money to look at a trust.  
 

 

I really don't know a whole lot about financial advisors but in my person's case, there is very little money involved.  They have lived on and used up most of what was there at some point.  But the advisor is still managing what is left.  And while it is not much, my person will need it at some point (they are currently living on other income).  It certainly is not enough to seriously consider a trust.  In our case, the advisor has been very helpful but I am sure they are not all helpful or trustworthy so the OP should absolutely switch if the one they have is not both of those things.

If the OP is going to be managing her person's money and has a DPOA, she can arrange with the advisor (whoever that ends up being) to contact her only when decisions must be made.  I am familiar with those confusing calls as my person was getting them and either did not know how to answer or was not following through with whatever it was they were supposed to do.  This is how we got into a bit of a tax mess....when the advisor was calling to alert them about extra taxes being owed due to extra withdrawals, my person did not follow through with paying estimated taxes.   But the advisor was absolutely doing the right thing.   

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48 minutes ago, Lecka said:

I used to have non-durable POAs during my husband’s deployments and they would have a date when the POA ended.  
 

Okay — to “manage” things — why can’t they be managed across state lines by phone or using a website?  I think that is common and often needed for situations like this!

 

We just did some POAs for my Dad (naming my sister) and some places require their own specific form.  We had this at a bank and maybe at a doctors office (I think we did).  Otherwise my sister printed off a POA from the Internet (just saying what we did).  The bank and doctors office provided their own form.  They would require a notary, but someone at my sister’s job was a notary.  I know locally Wal-Mart will notarize for $3.50, in their “Money Services.”

 

This has been 10 years ago, but filing taxes required its own POA or something (maybe it was specific wording or something).  I don’t quite remember, but it was a thing for some reason.  It might have been that some people only got POAs for filing taxes, I’m not sure.  It’s been an issue this year because of the stimulus, we get notifications from the VA about it — you apparently have to file or fill out a form. Edit:  I’m not sure but it’s something to look into if he receives money from the VA and doesn’t file taxes.

Each POA, whether durable or not, will outline exactly what the holder can do.  The one I have specifies that I can conduct any and all financial affairs, including taxes, for my person.  I simply file and sign indicating that I am the POA.  I even was able to manage the sale of property that my person did not even remember they owned on their behalf.

It is true that there are additional special instructions for some things.  And as I mentioned before, SSA will absolutely not allow anyone to manage someone else's SSA affairs without conservatorship or guardianship.  POAs mean nothing to them.  I understand why but that makes this process so very onerous for helpers.  I have a great deal of education, consider myself to be pretty intelligent, have plenty of free time (compared to many others anyway), and a great support network and I have found this whole process to be very confusing and complicated.  I really don't understand how many people manage this type of thing.

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8 hours ago, Patty Joanna said:

I haven't read all the responses because I am in the middle of a bunch of stuff with my own mom (see: post to come).  

My 97yo mom lives with my sister.  Mom is clearly failing in her memory.  I will be posting about this in another thread.

So that is why I am being brisk here.  Let me ask you this:  how is your relationship with your siblings?  I completely trust my sister.  That makes a huge difference.  My sister has access to all my mom's financial accounts.  All of them.  She could rob me blind but a) she wouldn't--she is pathologically honest  and b) I don't care if she isn't.   

That simplifies everything.  My sister takes care of all the financial stuff, and I don't pay the slightest bit of attention to any of it.

I know I am lucky to have an impeccably scrupulous sibling.  But she is also lucky to have a sibling who trusts her to do the best she can...even if it means that sometimes she doesn't do things exactly the way I would have done them.  Because I am also not doing any caretaking and I know she is doing the best she can.

I watched my mom take care of her mom, and her brother (who did jack ____ to help in any bit of actual care) nag and question and accuse my mom of wrongdoing over monetary issues in the double digits (like $20).  It was awful.  My sister and I vowed that it would not be like this.  Thank God my  sister is an honorable person.  But even if she were not...she is doing the caretaking and she can do whatever she wants and I. will. not. care.  

This screed might be completely off topic by this point.  Please forgive me if it is.  I am a bit in the thick of it at the moment, and it helped me to say all of these things.  I really wish you the best as you work out your situation.  We are really not prepared for all of this.

 

This is such a great point.  I only have one interested family member and they are not directly involved in any care for my person but are named second in all the POA documentation.  They are not in a position to help at all right now, unless forced to in the event that I am no longer able to do what I do.  Luckily we do trust each other and while we might do things differently we generally believe each is/would be doing the best they can.  My biggest problem is that they do second guess or suggest multiple options after I have already done something.  There is a lack of understanding that I just don't have the time or resources to scour every single possibility and often what I have already done was onerous enough.  Or just having to take the time to explain that I did actually research X, Y, and Z and found what I did not be the best option is a burden. It sucks up even more time and stress.  This is why I have the google shared drive.  I still field questions on a regular basis but now I can just send the link to my notes rather than re-explain and justify decisions.

 

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Wrt having a POA for my husband I was told that some places will not accept a “general” POA.  
 

But it’s a different situation.

 

With my Dad’s bank, if they had asked if we could fill out their personal form and we’d said “no,” I bet they would have worked with us.  But we said we could fill out their form.  It was their preference for sure.  

Edit:  for my husband, we were advised to have a general POA for a certain time period, and then specific POAs for anything we knew was going to come up, in case they didn’t want to accept the general POA.  It’s one of those things — they are supposed to take the general POA but they wouldn’t always take it.  I think to some extent you have to check with every place, and see what they will accept.  And then too, if it’s something where it takes 5 minutes to fill out a form that’s different than if it’s just not possible and then they might not care about their preferred form.  

 

 

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39 minutes ago, skimomma said:

If the OP is going to be managing her person's money and has a DPOA, she can arrange with the advisor (whoever that ends up being) to contact her only when decisions must be made.

Yes, I'm hoping I can sort through this today. I have to see what kind of POA I have and then call the people I'm thinking of transferring to, etc. I'm hoping, like you say, that when I get the right person they'll have these kind of suggestions to get us all straightened out.

 

35 minutes ago, skimomma said:

Each POA, whether durable or not, will outline exactly what the holder can do.

I need to pull out the document and see. I'm in the middle of my ds' morning routine, lol.

36 minutes ago, skimomma said:

SSA will absolutely not allow anyone to manage someone else's SSA affairs without conservatorship or guardianship.

I need to see. This person does not have long term care insurance but may end up living in assisted living 20+ years. I only know *tidbits* from my mother's care of her mother, but I think the idea was the medicare system was paying for my grandma's nursing home and end of life stuff. In this case, that is not what is happening and the whole use down the estate and then the gov't pays isn't happening. So I have to protect the estate to make sure the person is properly cared for.

At the moment I'm kind of feeling like an IDIOT that I didn't think to make the financial advisor change happen earlier. I'm just totally kicking myself on that. That was a solvable problem. In my (slight) defense, I've been busy with ds' IEP stuff, interventions, therapies so he can talk, minor details like that. But I'm seeing now that we're frustrated because the senior was unable to make those things happen for himself and didn't have me catching his back on it either. That was my bad. The good news is, it seems to me that solving that gives us a workable in between plan between independence and conservatorship. 

41 minutes ago, skimomma said:

I have a great deal of education, consider myself to be pretty intelligent, have plenty of free time (compared to many others anyway), and a great support network and I have found this whole process to be very confusing and complicated.  I really don't understand how many people manage this type of thing.

Yes, and I was allowing my dh to ask how to do it (because I was busy, blah blah) and the answers he came back with didn't make sense. But I think he consulted his regular attorney, not an elder law attorney. And the attorney was like zipped lips, can't help you, crosses state lines. But I also think he just wasn't the right person. So even when you TRY, if you ask the wrong people you still don't get the right advice. I've been googling and googling and was getting stupid answers that didn't make sense or didn't match what professionals said when I called them or were just too vague to be actionable. Your list has actually been actionable and I REALLY APPRECIATE IT. I started googling elder law and found websites that were listing the kinds of things you're talking about. I think we are better positioned than we thought but need to make sure we have our missing pieces and get our team updated and coordinated better. 

Mercifully, we don't have anything DIRE happening yet. 

24 minutes ago, skimomma said:

they are not directly involved in any care for my person but are named second in all the POA documentation

Well thankfully we headed that one off. The sibling issues were pre-existing (long unnecessary story) and I told parent when parent updated wills, made documentation, etc. that there was going to be ONE PERSON as the POA, not both, and that he was to CHOOSE and not look back. So one parent chose one and the other parent chose the other. I had told sibling I would never second guess his (poor) advice to the parent he supervises and suggested he return the courtesy. Isn't really what happens, so it's a little sticky. But yeah, that one I headed off cuz no way in the WORLD was I willing to share POA with sibling. End of discussion. Sibling gets informed after the fact, so there's hopefully communication without disputation. 

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Ok friends, I'm back. I have a DPOA for fiduciary and a health care POA for incapacity. So I think it strikes the right balance. As long as the person can make their own medical decisions, they will. But for financials and the estate, I already have the DPOA. That explains why I was able to sign. It also may mean that technically I personally am not on the hook for his assisted living bills, not sure. I signed it by showing my DPOA and they have that on file. But there's not really an issue there. It has just been on my mind.

So good. That means I have the legal right and ability to go to the bank right now, set up whatever accounts need to be made, consult with the financial advisor, and even move his services to the new advisor I choose. 

I think I need to talk with some financial advisors and see if I'm understanding straight the whole residency and in/out of state thing. That should be easy to sort out. I don't mind working with a financial advisor in his state if they have a well run office and communicate well. It's really not a problem to zoom and get things done. It's just no one likes the current financial advisor, meaning that needs to be changed.

So I see this coming together now, whew. I didn't quite understand the whole POA thing, but I already have the power to effect the changes that need to happen, without any further court/lawyer involvement. It's more just assembling a better team that communicates better. I don't like that I'm out of the loop on the lawyer and don't have a copy of his taxes to submit for review. These are solvable problems.

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1 minute ago, HeighHo said:

The estimated payments are determined in consultation with whoever does his taxes and are paid by the dates the IRS has determined.  The financial advisor has nothing to do with it, other than any assistance needed with cash flow.  Sept and January are  tough months for seniors here...property based taxes due as well as a quarterly payment plus January is usually a pay the deductible month for health insurance.

Yeah, he's had a lawyer doing them and I haven't interfered up to this point. Now it has gotten to where I want to see those tax filings and supervise a bit. 

I think the financial advisor could help with arranging investments to lower tax burden. And I need to get the accounts set up and the amounts acknowledged of the IRS payments so I can get them onto e-payments.

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Ok @skimomma what would have to *change* for you to alter your current arrangement and move from using the DPOA and POA bank accounts to doing a conservatorship? Or you're saying the need for SSA funding would drive that? Something else?

I'm just thinking about this. It seems like the DPOA for fiduciary gets me a lot of the way there. I'm not sure what more I need. It's more just logistics and getting him situated better. I had the power all along and didn't realize it. I will say, my action list here is getting kind of long, lol. 

Another question. Are you joint owner on the spending account your senior uses? And then you're POA with the other account in the senior's name? I keep thinking about this, that if I'm joint owner (not just POA) on his current account, that that creates liability for him. Or that that money is vulnerable through me (law suits, whatever). I'm trying to figure out if it's *necessary* to have both the POA account *and* the spending accounts, or if it's adequate to have one assuming compliance. The problem is, we're trying to minimize risk. The person has been known to spend erratically large sums of money based, so it's more protective for that person *not* to have access to their savings, the money that is there to pay their bills, etc. It's more protective to keep it separate. 

I guess I'm just thinking it through out loud here. I think we had talked about separating the accounts before and the person balked. But that was several years ago when we set all this up. Things have changed a bit, including the lockdown. The person's stress handling financials has increased too. I just think that liability with a joint account is a big deal. If it's more protective for him *not* to have his real savings (money for bills, taxes, etc.) in the joint account, then I'd rather see that money pulled to the other account. I don't know if he'd see it that way, lol.

I think that's a call to the bank.

Reporting back. I'm not joint, only POA on the bank account. So that's good, really good.

Edited by PeterPan
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@skimomma How do I preclude him from taking out more credit cards? I was just looking through things and found he took out another card when we had canceled everything down to one. Does freezing his credit do that? Ironically, the card he added was through the bank or frozen and reactivated or something. But it was through the bank. Since he has accounts there, they wouldn't be doing a credit check. 

I could cancel the non bank card, move everything to debit, freeze credit, and then quietly *cancel* anything he opens. Is that it?

My head is spinning, lol.

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2 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Investments and lawyers don't work across state lines, at least not for this.

I don't understand what you mean about investments don't work across state lines.  If you need legal advice, yes, that can depend upon state laws.  What kind of investments are you talking about that don't work across state lines?  

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Ok, I think I got the first piece figured out. I'm POA but not joint on his current bank accounts. So I can create a new account with debit card for his spending money and keep all his bills autopaying as they are from his current accounts. FABULOUS. So so much easier. Zero drama there. It's easy to frame it that the taxes will auto pay, to make sure it works we set you up with a spending account with debit card and the rest of the money is for paying your bills and saving. And he gives me the checkbook for his current account and receives a checkbook for the new one. 

That part is easy. Whew. That I can swing without any difficulty or drama at all. He'll love losing the stress of the taxes and we get the assurance that he's not overspending and is saving. PERFECT. 

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3 minutes ago, Bootsie said:

I don't understand what you mean about investments don't work across state lines.  If you need legal advice, yes, that can depend upon state laws.  What kind of investments are you talking about that don't work across state lines?  

I'm going to have to make calls today. I'm getting too much 2nd hand information. All I know is what my dh told me. I'm going to call the advisors myself and act like a halfway intelligent woman and sort it out. Big girl and all that, lol. 

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4 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

I'm going to have to make calls today. I'm getting too much 2nd hand information. All I know is what my dh told me. I'm going to call the advisors myself and act like a halfway intelligent woman and sort it out. Big girl and all that, lol. 

There are a number of different types of people who are labelled as "financial advisors" and these individuals will give different levels of advice and charge differently.  As a starting point, I would suggest knowing exactly what type of financial advisor you are dealing with at this point and what type of investments you are dealing with.  Is this an account with stocks and mutual funds?  Is it through a retirement account? (If it is a retirement account or an IRA there may be required minimum distributions that the senior must take out of the account each year)  Is it with a major brokerage firm such as Schwab or Fidelity?  These firms will have financial advisors for clients to work with. 

There are also independent financial advisors who act more like a consultant.  If you are not talking about a large sum of money, this probably is not needed in this situation.  

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Ok, this is nuts. If I try to set him up with a debit card with Discover or some place other than the bank, I have to have him sign forms, even though I have a durable power of attorney. And I'm not even really confident the bank will set up a new checking account with POA. But we'll see. But if I do a debit, seems like I need to do it through the bank just to reduce steps. But I hate that because bank debit cards aren't as safe as Discover.

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1 hour ago, PeterPan said:

Ok, this is nuts. If I try to set him up with a debit card with Discover or some place other than the bank, I have to have him sign forms, even though I have a durable power of attorney. And I'm not even really confident the bank will set up a new checking account with POA. But we'll see. But if I do a debit, seems like I need to do it through the bank just to reduce steps. But I hate that because bank debit cards aren't as safe as Discover.

Why do you think the bank debit card isn't as safe?  What type of safety features are you concerned about with the debit card?

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24 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

Fin advisors may be licensed to do business in certain states, but not others, just like insurance agents.

Score! That's what one of the places said when I called. I called 4+ offices, all from the same national company, and got different answers every time, lol. But one of them did say that was the thing, finding a FA licensed in both states.

Well things are sorting out. Turns out I dropped the ball on something that would have made this easier, ugh. But beyond that, it's coming together. It's just going to be some legwork.

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25 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Score! That's what one of the places said when I called. I called 4+ offices, all from the same national company, and got different answers every time, lol. But one of them did say that was the thing, finding a FA licensed in both states.

Well things are sorting out. Turns out I dropped the ball on something that would have made this easier, ugh. But beyond that, it's coming together. It's just going to be some legwork.

There is a broad range of people who may be considered a "financial advisor".  While insurance is heavily regulated at the state level, much of the investment market is regulated at the national level and through the SEC.  I am not sure what the proportion of people who consider themselves a financial advisor fall under state licensure requirements--but I would think that for the majority, they have SEC registration rather than a state license.   

Some financial advisors are going to be helping with things such as budget and planning for college savings.  It doesn't sound like you need those type of financial planning services.  Some financial advisors put together portfolios of stocks, deciding for example if you should own Microsoft or Apple stock.  Others will provide you information about what they think about different stocks but don't actually put together the portfolio.  Then there are some who are providing a platform to buy and sell investments and handle the paperwork for that without much advising. Some are really insurance agents who are earning a commission for selling their products.  It is important to know what you mean by financial advisor and that the person you are talking to meets what you mean by that.  

If the person is not in need of long-range financial planning for goals such as retirement and kids' college and doesn't have a large amount of money in a complicated portfolio, then using a company such as TD Ameritrade in which the money is invested in some indexed mutual funds is often the most cost-effective way to hold the money.   

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4 hours ago, PeterPan said:

 

I need to see. This person does not have long term care insurance but may end up living in assisted living 20+ years. I only know *tidbits* from my mother's care of her mother, but I think the idea was the medicare system was paying for my grandma's nursing home and end of life stuff. In this case, that is not what is happening and the whole use down the estate and then the gov't pays isn't happening. So I have to protect the estate to make sure the person is properly cared for.

 

This is the part I am working through right now.  My person's long term care insurance (LTCI) will only last for about 4 years.  They are in assisted living and have no unmanageable health issues other than dementia.  After 4 years, their financial resources will run out within another 1-2 years.  I am in a quandary after that.  If they are still well enough to be in a assisted living, rather than a nursing home, we will have no way to pay for it.  If in a nursing home, then once their money is spent down, they will have to be on medicaid.  It is terrifying and I try not to think about it since everything with this situation has taken different turns than I expected so far....so no way to say what will really happen in 5-6 years.  It could have been so much worse.  When I stepped in, their LTCI policy was about to be cancelled for non-payment.  Then we would really be up a creek.  

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4 hours ago, HeighHo said:

The estimated payments are determined in consultation with whoever does his taxes and are paid by the dates the IRS has determined.  The financial advisor has nothing to do with it, other than any assistance needed with cash flow.  Sept and January are  tough months for seniors here...property based taxes due as well as a quarterly payment plus January is usually a pay the deductible month for health insurance.

 

Well, the financial advisor can adjust withholdings (with their client's permission) based on disbursements so that their client does not owe the taxes at tax time and be subject to fees and penalties.  They can also help advise clients on how/when to take disbursements in a way that is the most tax-advantageous.    In our case, I work with both the advisor and tax preparer to set things to be the best for my person.

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4 hours ago, PeterPan said:

 

So good. That means I have the legal right and ability to go to the bank right now, set up whatever accounts need to be made, consult with the financial advisor, and even move his services to the new advisor I choose. 

 

Maybe.  I hate to bring any bad news but I have run up against problems with my person's bank.  I was a joint owner on the account (without my knowledge) going back 20+ years.  I must have signed something but have zero recollection.  I wanted to get OFF the account for various reasons but that was going to make it nearly impossible for me to do everything I needed to....specifically online access to the account.  I needed to be able to move money into the account, make sure there was sufficient funding, verify bills were being paid, order new checks when my person needs them, etc....  My person's bank does not allow someone with a DPOA to have that kind of access.  I could physically go TO the bank and do these things but not via phone or internet.  Seeing as it is 10 hours away by car, this was not going to work.  YMMV.

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21 minutes ago, skimomma said:

My person's long term care insurance (LTCI) will only last for about 4 years.

Oh wow, I didn't realize it had limits! It makes sense. At least now I don't feel guilty about not havig it.

 

15 minutes ago, skimomma said:

I could physically go TO the bank

Mercifully, this bank has a branch near us, easy peasy.

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3 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Ok @skimomma what would have to *change* for you to alter your current arrangement and move from using the DPOA and POA bank accounts to doing a conservatorship? Or you're saying the need for SSA funding would drive that? Something else?

I'm just thinking about this. It seems like the DPOA for fiduciary gets me a lot of the way there. I'm not sure what more I need. It's more just logistics and getting him situated better. I had the power all along and didn't realize it. I will say, my action list here is getting kind of long, lol. 

Another question. Are you joint owner on the spending account your senior uses? And then you're POA with the other account in the senior's name? I keep thinking about this, that if I'm joint owner (not just POA) on his current account, that that creates liability for him. Or that that money is vulnerable through me (law suits, whatever). I'm trying to figure out if it's *necessary* to have both the POA account *and* the spending accounts, or if it's adequate to have one assuming compliance. The problem is, we're trying to minimize risk. The person has been known to spend erratically large sums of money based, so it's more protective for that person *not* to have access to their savings, the money that is there to pay their bills, etc. It's more protective to keep it separate. 

I guess I'm just thinking it through out loud here. I think we had talked about separating the accounts before and the person balked. But that was several years ago when we set all this up. Things have changed a bit, including the lockdown. The person's stress handling financials has increased too. I just think that liability with a joint account is a big deal. If it's more protective for him *not* to have his real savings (money for bills, taxes, etc.) in the joint account, then I'd rather see that money pulled to the other account. I don't know if he'd see it that way, lol.

I think that's a call to the bank.

Reporting back. I'm not joint, only POA on the bank account. So that's good, really good.

When/if my person needs to go on medicaid, I will have to apply for conservatorship.  That is the moment when I will need to manage their SSA and therefore will need conservatorship.  Right now, their SSA payments go directly to their own account and their auto pay bills come directly from that so other than periodically checking to make sure there is no unusual activity and ample funds in the account, I do nothing with it.  

I am a joint owner on that account and would prefer not to be for the reasons you mention.  However, that account does not carry much money, it is pretty much in and out for monthly expenses.  So there is not a lot of liability involved.  But that is why I set up the POA account, so that the larger sums of money coming in and out from LTCI would not be subject to liability.

My person too can be easily convinced to give people large sums of money, double pay large bills, and make unusual large purchases that don't make sense.  So a lot of the protections I have put into place are also to protect them from making a financial blunder that could result in becoming homeless.  Although, my first worry was when they were moving into assisted living where staff and visitors would have ready access to paperwork that could open them up to fraud or identity theft.  The staff there is awesome and my fears were probably an overreaction, but you never know!

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4 hours ago, PeterPan said:

@skimomma How do I preclude him from taking out more credit cards? I was just looking through things and found he took out another card when we had canceled everything down to one. Does freezing his credit do that? Ironically, the card he added was through the bank or frozen and reactivated or something. But it was through the bank. Since he has accounts there, they wouldn't be doing a credit check. 

I could cancel the non bank card, move everything to debit, freeze credit, and then quietly *cancel* anything he opens. Is that it?

My head is spinning, lol.

Frozen credit should prevent someone from taking out CCs.  I don't know if there is a loophole with bank-issued CCs.  We have not gone there.  But that was exactly why the elder lawyer suggested freezing their credit.....so someone could not get their hands on some paperwork and open up CCs in their name.  I could also see my person potentially taking out a store CC or something and then not paying the bill.  Or worse yet, they have been threatening to buy a house!  I don't think they would ever actually do that but knowing that we would have to thaw their credit before anything like that could happen keeps the midnight anxiety attacks under control for me!  I actually had to use the credit reports to find out what cards my person even had.  Most of them were physically lost but had balances!  Big ones from non-payment.  That was a fun week......

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3 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Ok, this is nuts. If I try to set him up with a debit card with Discover or some place other than the bank, I have to have him sign forms, even though I have a durable power of attorney. And I'm not even really confident the bank will set up a new checking account with POA. But we'll see. But if I do a debit, seems like I need to do it through the bank just to reduce steps. But I hate that because bank debit cards aren't as safe as Discover.

Yep.  This is some of the pushback you will get despite having a POA.  I have found the best course is to just be upfront with whoever you are talking to about what you are trying to do.  I always explain the dementia.  Sometimes they will ask me to three-way call my person to get them on the phone at the same time so they can consent.  Usually, once the banker or whoever hears what is going on, they are helpful.  My person always gives consent once something is explained but then they will go on a ten minute tangent about the squirrels outside their window or the Reagan administration or or or.....  That usually does it.....

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14 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Oh wow, I didn't realize it had limits! It makes sense. At least now I don't feel guilty about not havig it.

 

Mercifully, this bank has a branch near us, easy peasy.

Yeah.  And this policy is one of the better ones, according to the financial advisor.  When I told him they had such a policy, he was not hopeful that it would be very helpful.  We were both pleasantly surprised.  And don't feel guilty because it is almost impossible to get a decent one now or within the last 10-20 years.  We only lucked out because this one was opened 30 years ago when the premiums and benefits were reasonable.  I have looked into it for myself and there is no way I could afford it. There was a story about this on NPR this very morning where they said that there were 200 companies offering LTCI 20 years ago and now there are just 12.

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5 hours ago, skimomma said:

Or worse yet, they have been threatening to buy a house!

Yes, my person has considered buying another car. 

 

5 hours ago, skimomma said:

 I actually had to use the credit reports to find out what cards my person even had.  Most of them were physically lost but had balances!  Big ones from non-payment.  That was a fun week......

Oh dear, I had not thought to do that. Now I *think* probably it's fine, but you're right, who knows... 

 

4 hours ago, skimomma said:

This is some of the pushback you will get despite having a POA.  I have found the best course is to just be upfront with whoever you are talking to about what you are trying to do.  I always explain the dementia.  Sometimes they will ask me to three-way call my person

So the bank was willing to do anything within the bank but couldn't alter the bank credit card. So that was a bummer because I want it stopped. But I have some tools left. And, like you say, my person is compliant. And I'm going to change the autopay on it so it only pays from their new spending account, not the bigger account. So they know, hey, you go be an idiot and charge stuff beyond what you have, you'll be in a pickle. But hopefully he'll just give me the card and call and cancel it again. Giving up the card would do. 

And yeah, the card had been marked for fraud to stop it and this bank (a smaller national-ish chain) was STILL letting charges go through. Unbelievable. That's what we had done to end it and he was able to charge anyway. Crazy. 

A three way call is pretty complicated with him. We've done calls where we're there and put him on speaker. He can handle that. So yes, some transactions have to be done that way.

4 hours ago, skimomma said:

There was a story about this on NPR this very morning where they said that there were 200 companies offering LTCI 20 years ago and now there are just 12.

Wow. But when you think about the cost... The amount you'd have to pay, even starting many years ago, for it to pan out, would be really high. But starting 30 years ago was really smart!

Well the bank appointment went well today. I have some more appointments tomorrow to interview and keep lining things up. There's some paperwork I had dropped the ball on that needs to be done (again). So it's coming together. Just lots of little details at this point. 

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