How far back and deep should you delve ?

Image via hobvias sudoneighm

Image via hobvias sudoneighm

As the years have gone by, we have learned the many twists that can come up when becoming the guardian for a person who has had dementia for years or decades. It is often surprising how deep and far back we need to go to resolve issues.

Case in point — we became the guardian for a windowed gal, Cynthia, in 2013. She was a retired civil servant who had worked for decades as a government contracts-comptroller and in an H.R. pension support position.

She was very astute to the business world, to how pensions worked and how life and health insurance worked. She was a very detailed bookkeeper who had appeared to be organized, disciplined and methodical in her personal business affairs by the old records we found.

However, we also found that in the more recent years, she wrote reminders to herself,  hundreds and hundreds of reminders, for the same actions: pay a bill, call the tax office, file a claim form. But it appeared that she did not take those actions,  she just kept reminding herself to-do’s, still leaving them undone.

So after many months of fighting with the pension provider to accept the letters of guardianship, we finally got a copy of her pension check stub with the gross amounts and the details of the amounts being withheld from her retirement check and for what.

We were shocked to find that there was an ongoing deduction, each month, for a spouse’s life insurance policy.

Why were we shocked? Her spouse had been deceased since 2005, and she had never remarried.

In speaking with her friends, they could not understand why she was still paying life insurance premiums for her husband, who had been dead for 8 years. Since she worked in H.R and in pension support in her career, she would have understood how this all worked.

This made us wonder: had she ever filed the claim on his life insurance(s) when he passed? We dug in and, as it turned out, NOPE.

So we filed the claim for $ 25,000, and then we started the fight to get the years of premiums (paid on a dead fella) back from the federal government.

So, back to the question: how far back and deep should you delve? You decide. 🙂

Should l rent my loved one’s home while she is in a facility?

house for rent

Image via Brooke Raymond

Whether or not you should rent your loved one’s home while she is in a facility is a loaded question. Let’s look at just a few of the things to consider.


First, there is the emotional “cost” of this choice. If she is expecting to get back home as soon as her rehab stay is over, this may feel to her like she cannot ever go home and take away her hope. Then there are tons of financial, legal, insurance, liability and more pieces that factor into this choice. Please consider talking with the experts- her Attorney, CPA, Realtor, and Insurance Agent-  to get a full, clear picture about this decision.


Here are a few thoughts to mull over:

#1. What will you do with the personal property, personal memorabilia and her personal/financial records in the home? Consider the cost to sort, pack, move and store – and then potentially bring it all back to the home.


#2. What will happen to her homeowner’s insurance if you rent the property? Consider the cost of a proper policy to protect your loved one and the home.


#3. What will happened to her homestead property tax exemption if you rent the property?


#4.  How would this impact her future need for Medicaid?


#5. How will this impact her income tax status?


#6. Are there any HOA or condo rules that forbid the renting of the home?


#7. Are her insurances tied together – auto, home, umbrella, renters?


#8. Who will be the property/tenant manager ?


#9. What will happen if tenants cause damage, don’t pay rent or need to be evicted?


#10. If you don’t rent it, are you throwing away money that she needs to pay for her care ?


# 11. If don’t rent it, what are the problems of an empty home ?

Forensic Data Mining with Guardianships and Estates Forensic Data Mining with Guardianship and Estates

Image Credit: Duncan Hull

Back in the old days, say 5 or 10 years ago, most folks over the age of 65 DID NOT do their personal banking and shopping through ecommerce. Instead, they did business through the snail mail, receiving paper bank statements, mailing paper tax returns, and having 1099’s sent to their home. And they sent checks, letters, and forms out through the mail.


Fast forward to today, many folks, even those in their 80’s and 90’s, have practically stopped using snail mail all together. They pay their household bills online, order stuff from Amazon, and even sign their tax returns electronically.


So when you are appointed as a guardian or PR to an estate for one of these tech oriented seniors, how do you get ALL of the information you need to do your job? How do you learn about all the online services they use, and acquire logins and access to those many accounts?


And, do you have the legal authority to do so?


This new digital world is making it increasingly difficult to determine all of the online services a client may use. Where do you even start? And, how do you acquire the skills to actually determine what is being done online?


This is another area we find ourselves struggling with. What about you? How do you locate this information for you clients? Are there services you use, or do you have a savvy tech person who helps with this?