My elderly stepfather and his pastor opened a bank account together. Is this normal?
My 83-year-old mother is not very healthy. She manages her finances and manages her property. My mother has been married to “John” for 48 years. John seems to have learning difficulties.
The pastor of John’s church opened a bank account and asked John to add his name. John will do almost anything for his pastor. I advised my mom to call the bank to see if John (or she) would be financially responsible if the pastor had to write checks and not return the funds.
My mom called the bank and was told yes, she and John would be in charge. My mom and John have a house together in California. My concern is that the pastor – knowing John’s mental state – is taking advantage of John, and may lead my mother into a financial hole.
My advice to my mom is to try and get some type of document that says John cannot legally sign any document that might jeopardize their property without his knowledge.
Can it be done? Is this normal?
No, this is not normal. If this pastor wanted to help your stepfather manage his finances, he shouldn’t be going behind his wife and stepson’s back. Plus, he’s a pastor, not a financial advisor. Not a CPA. He’s not even a lawyer or a doctor. Something is wrong. We don’t know if the pastor’s intentions are, well, honorable, but he shouldn’t have so much influence in your stepfather’s life, especially if he has a learning disability.
What is normal? This is not the first time that a cloth man has decided to take advantage of this position. In 2015, a priest in Detroit opened a secret bank account – obviously – and deposited $ 420,000 bequeathed to the parish by a deceased member of his congregation. He used another $ 43,000 of parishioners’ money. A Bishop from New Jersey also stole nearly $ 64,000 in a similar case a few years earlier by opening a secret bank account.
Talk to your stepfather – what is this account for? – consult their doctor and have their cognitive abilities and mental health assessed. Call and write the bank and let them know of your concerns – the bank’s response to your mother was woefully inadequate. You and / or your mother can apply for guardianship over your stepfather’s affairs.
If there are signs of elder financial abuse, report the pastor in question to the police and his church – and in that order. Unfortunately, some religious institutions have a long story prefer to deal with crimes in private, and have in the past had a great influence in convincing members of their congregation that everything will be taken care of.
Older Americans with disabilities are vulnerable to fraud, according to the American Bankers Association: âAdvances in technology can also make it difficult for older people to know who to trust and what is safe. Despite these threats, taking simple steps to protect personal information and being aware of the warning signs can protect aging men and women from financial abuse.
Good luck. And tell us how you are doing.
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