My husband has dementia which is why I learned to do our taxes! Was it enjoyable? No, but now that it’s over, I’m thrilled that I understand the process of compiling a year’s worth of income and whittling it down to a minimum number to determine how much goes to the IRS.
I have also inherited my husband’s bills – most of which I knew nothing about. In one case, he lost his credit card. How did I find out? He handed me a letter from the company stating that it was past due. I immediately called, but the bank would not allow me to pay a past-due credit card bill over the phone. I have his social security number, checking account number, and date of birth, but those don’t count – they need the credit card number. They would much rather have me write a letter and show up at the branch to wait in line for assistance from a “personal banker” than make it convenient for me. I can’t imagine what it is like to be an Elder who has lost a credit card and no longer has the necessary information to complete a basic transaction.
The Problem with Banks
Banks are highly regulated due to their ineptitude and fraud. Remember the Savings and Loan (S&L) debacle that led to the recession of 1990/1991, followed by the bad mortgage tranches that brought about the financial institution and real estate collapse of 2007/2008? And Wells Fargo, one of the largest banks in the United States, defrauded customers out of millions of dollars and damaged their credit scores by setting up millions of bank accounts, credit card accounts, and banking services without the customer’s knowledge or consent. Yet, we pay the price. And I can’t pay a lost credit card debt without doing somersaults.
I have a client who is recovering from a stroke he suffered at the age of 75. None of his banks made it easy for him when it was time to fund his trust. In each case, he was required to appear in person (not an easy task when the left side of the body doesn’t function) and sit in the office while a “banker” called an office in some remote location to change the account from one titled in his name to one titled “The SameName Living Trust.” Nothing changed … not even the account number, but he was charged $55.00 for new checks.
Can’t Banks Make Things Easier for Seniors?
Why aren’t banks watching out for our elders? They know when we’re one day late on a payment but can’t alert us when $50,000 is suddenly transferred “online?” (It’s possible to transfer up to $99,000 at a time.)) At a minimum, send an alert to the account. Why not use technology to protect seniors from scammers? We need to change the culture so that banks function for the clients’ convenience, not the other way around.
You or a family member may struggle to make routine financial transactions. It’s possible to designate someone else to conduct these transactions for you using a Power of Attorney. Please reach out to me at Parent Your Parents in Miami, Florida. I can make your life a little easier. I also provide articles, videos, and information about a variety of senior issues. Whether you live in Florida or not, I am a senior advocate who points you in the right direction. Contact me, Frances Reaves, for a free consultation and elder law support for multiple senior concerns all in one place. If you prefer, you can call 786-418-3303 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.