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The Case Of The Evil Yoga Teacher For An Aging Parent

This is a real case and the facts are as reported to us by Wanda (real names changed, of course), the wife of an elder.

Wanda is 82 and her husband, Kurt is 81. They have amassed significant wealth, though Kurt was always in charge of managing it. But a few years ago, Kurt got persuaded by a woman who “got close” to him, to give her several hundred thousand dollars. It was the first time Wanda had ever seen him do something so irrational with their finances. She was furious! But the money was gone. She did not see this as possible warning signal of changes in Kurt’s judgment about money.

Kurt’s Decline

Years passed. Kurt gradually became more irrational. He spent months at their home in another country with Wanda, where they had friends, medical care, enjoyment of the locale and the culture. While they were there, Kurt’s doctor suggested he try yoga. He had suffered back pain and the doctor said yoga would help. He referred Kurt to a young female yoga teacher who came to their home. She immediately “got close” to Kurt, meaning taking an intense interest in his personal life and sharing details of her life as well. She had a sob story about her struggles as a single mother whose husband had left her. He began to give her money. She kept asking for more. Wanda found out and put her foot down. She moved Kurt back to their home in the U.S. and finally had Kurt evaluated by two different doctors back home. He was diagnosed with dementia and the doctors said he should not handle finances any longer. He kept giving money to the yoga teacher anyway.

This meant that Wanda had to take over as Kurt’s assigned power of attorney and successor to him on their multiple trusts. Wanda had never managed their money before. The doctors told Kurt directly to stop dealing with finances but he ignored this, fought Wanda and argued that he was fine. What he really wanted was to give the yoga teacher more and more money. He was obsessed. Wanda came to for advice. How could she stop Kurt from continued abuse by the wicked yoga teacher?

The advice was complex in nature and dealt with many aspects of control over Kurt. We summarize some of the action items we advised Wanda to do about finances right away. Many of these things were suggested to Wanda by Kurt’s doctor, but she had not started to do them. She needed to move forward with guidance.

Action Steps For Wanda

  1. With legal authority as a power of attorney, she needed to take away all Kurt’s credit cards and give him only one: a limited TrueLink prepaid credit card over which she had real time updates, and the ability to allow charges only where she approved them.
  2. Wanda needed to bring the Certification of Trust, the document that officially said she was now the trustee, and Kurt was not, to all the institutions where the couple had accounts. The lawyer had prepared it but Wanda had not presented it. She needed to inform all the institutions that Kurt no longer had authority to do any financial transactions.
  3. Wanda needed to report the ongoing financial abuse by the yoga teacher to the country where this manipulator had started to bilk Kurt. Fortunately they were cooperative and notified the yoga person to stop contacting Kurt or she would be arrested. That was outside the U.S.
  4. Wanda needed to cut off the yoga teacher’s ability to reach Kurt. She blocked her from his phone, blocked her on his Facebook, the teacher’s favorite way to reach Kurt, and blocked her from his email.
  5. Of course, Wanda had reported the yoga teacher’s financial abuse of Kurt to law enforcement and Adult Protective Services in the U.S., but they took no action. We advised Wanda to keep monitoring Kurt’s social media and phone to be sure the predator did not invent a way around the blocks to further manipulate him. She was crafty and determined.

The Wife’s Burden

Wanda has a burden now to try to protect her husband, to manage his increasing physical care with his caregivers, and to handle all the finances she never handled before. We got her in touch with an ethical Certified Financial Planner to help her learn and get support and direction with her decisions.

She suspected that the doctor who referred the yoga teacher was in cahoots with her and could have been getting a kickback. In retrospect, she thought the referral to the yoga manipulator was suspicious. She reported him to the local authorities there also. She will continue to have questions as her husband’s needs increase. The saga continues but Kurt is safer now and has no access to their substantial funds.

The Takeaway:

In any family, if an elder does something very irregular and out of character with money, take it as a warning sign. Financial judgment is the first ability to decline with dementias. It can develop slowly over years. Seek legal advice from a competent lawyer who understands dementia. And know that such understanding is not something lawyers get in law school. Some learn it on their own through professional organizations, classes and continuing education courses. Get advice so that financial abuse does not happen nor recur.

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