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Trying to locate grandpa's assets

  1. Jan 20, 2014 #1
    My grandfather is for the first time alone and has never had to make financial decisions (always left up to grandma) and now that she is gone the wolves are coming to prey on an innocent unsuspecting sweet old man.

    We now have power of attorney but have not been able to locate all of his assets. Our appointment with the attorney isn't until Friday but I feel the need to get a jump on this. So far we have managed to protect his bank accounts, safe deposit boxes and (we hope) all his credit cards.

    I know there are asset search companies but it is very difficult to tell which are reputable and which are not.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 20, 2014 #2


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    I haven't dealt with asset search companies but I would think twice before dealing with them.

    You can verify all of his credit cards by getting a free credit report through the official government site (www.annualcreditreport.com). I wouldn't get all three right away since most of the information should be the same. Get a different report every four months and start the cycle again the next year. That way you can keep an eye on any fraudulant accounts. Don't be afraid to put a credit alert on the accounts if you see anything suspicious.
  4. Jan 20, 2014 #3


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    I would cancel all but one CC, and watch that monthly statement carefully. The next thing I would do is to catalog all valuables in his house/property and document them with digital photos. That way, if the vultures start stealing tangible assets from him, you can prove it. Sometimes older people have some pretty pricey stuff in their homes and crooks that watch Antiques Road Show or similar can get greedy when they see it. Good luck!
  5. Jan 20, 2014 #4
    Who are the wolves? People he owes money to?
  6. Jan 20, 2014 #5
    Exactly my concern as well. The credit reports are a good idea.

    His valuables at home are not worth much (he was robbed earlier last year). It is his brokerage, bank and credit accounts that we are most concerned about now.

    We are not sure but phone records show they started making contact almost immediately after the obituary for grandma was ran in our local paper. He doesn't owe anyone anything and they have managed to convince him to send out just over $50,000 in cash to various addresses throughout the country with promises of sending him 'large sums of cash in return'. It's like the Nigerian scam except it is run on American soil.

    According to local police this is a common scam ran on older people during their most vulnerable time. It took these scumbags less than six weeks to con my grandpa out of a big chunk of his retirement.

    We believe we have control of his primary assets to prevent this from happening again although we thought that last week only to find out he cash advanced $20,100.00 from his credit cards, luckily my dad caught him at the post office before he sent out one package with $9100.00 in cash in it.

    The family now has him on 24/7 watch (we just tell him we are visiting) but there are financial records missing from his home and we are fairly sure some of these people have been there. My brother picked up the phone during one conversation with a man saying, "do not tell anyone I am coming, I have some paperwork for you to sign...". He didn't show after my brother demanded to know who the hell he was and what was his business.

    We won't know how bad this really is until we look at everything which has been a painfully slow process.

    On another note, as sad as this is to say, it is no longer safe to run obituaries!
  7. Jan 20, 2014 #6


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    I've no idea about the situation in the US, but there are reputable companies elsewhere, e.g. http://www.prosearchassets.com/

    Extrapolating from that one data point, a good check would be if the search company is used by other reputable companies to manage their shareholder records, try to clean up unclaimed payments or inactive accounts, etc.

    With hindsight, if your grandfather is as naive and/or dysfunctional as your posts suggest, something should have been done about this long before it turned into an emergency - but of course even family members don't like to interfere with each other's lives.
  8. Jan 20, 2014 #7
    My grandfather has been happily taking care of himself for over 93 years. When I visited last week he was out mowing his lawn (In AZ this is a year round chore) and he still drove to church and volunteered every week. Everything appeared to be fine and speaking with him showed no different.

    The people who came in are experts in running scams on older people during their most vulnerable state and are very good at making sure their victims protect their abusers. If there were even an inkling of an issue it would have been dealt with but everything 'seemed' fine.

    It drives me nuts to think they were there this whole time and I have had nothing but guilt for not seeing what was happening. This is my grandpa, my family, and a man I have always had a great deal of respect for and to find out this happened has been awful and I feel like a failure for it.
  9. Jan 20, 2014 #8


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    If there are any unclaimed assets that have been turned over to the state, this is the site that will list everything they have. Be sure to check each state that he might have lived in or done business in. I once found over $3,000.00 in money I had no idea was being held for me from various refunds, insurance, stocks, etc... This will take you to the government sites that hold the unclaimed assets, there is no fee. Unfortunately scam artists may have already cleaned his accounts out.

    I highly recommend that every member do a search, my daughter also found that she had money being held for her. Amazing. They are very fast and very helpful. Once you send in the claim, you'll have a check in a few days. At least that was my experience. If it shows you have assets, just give them a call. This can also be used to search for money held in the names of deceased relatives.

    It also includes part of Canada and US holdings.

    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
  10. Jan 20, 2014 #9


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    Something you want to watch out for, as you have power-of-attorney to say get lost, are the a-holes claiming he owes for medical charges never preformed and other medical related frauds trying to ripe you off.

    Been there, Done that.
  11. Jan 20, 2014 #10
    I found that site today, it looks useful for finding assets already claimed by the state,

    We received a few of those with grandma but that has been settled and grandpa is healthy and in good shape with no medical bills, yet.

    Here is a longshot, is there an equivalent Lawyersforum to the Physicsforum?
  12. Jan 20, 2014 #11


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    Did you call the state treasurer's office and see if any money had been recently claimed? I don't know if they would normally disclose that, but if you advised them fraud was involved, they might be willing to assist you.

    It is best to call your local bar association and ask for a referral. There are sites set up to defend the elderly, but usually they have to be below the poverty line or are being discriminated against due to their age.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
  13. Jan 20, 2014 #12
    That is an excellent idea.

    If anyone else has something to add please do so.
  14. Jan 21, 2014 #13


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    I thought you said you want to run away from scammers, not to invite them.

    At all law forums I have seen you will at best get very general advice, and at some point they will tell you "this is getting too detailed, seek the pro in your area" (honest ones), or "contact me privately and I will gladly take some of your money to help you" (the rest).

    Sometimes I wonder if the honest ones are not just bots used to make the rest look better.
  15. Jan 21, 2014 #14


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    Ostensibly there are tax records. Usually there are 1099 forms for investment accounts. One could also go to the banks to review checking accounts. Also, aren't there brokerage statements? Didn't grandma keep records?
  16. Jan 21, 2014 #15
    Then that would not be an equivalent respectable site to the PhysicsForums. It was a 'long shot'.

    Excellent points. I like Evo's suggestion of using the bar association to start.

    I believe most (if not all) of the banks have been covered.

    Grandma was great at record keeping but many files are missing since this all happened. Trying to find assets without records has been an arduous process. Looking through the mail and seeing what bank/credit cards grandpa had laying around has yielded most of what we have found so far.

    It would seem a good idea to ask the IRS for records? This should have most everything I would imagine, thanks for the tips Astronuc!
  17. Jan 21, 2014 #16
    Hey mesa. What a trip. And you'd agree if you were on it the last few years. Yeah, the assets. That's what they want. Old people assets. They've saved a life-time for it usually. Worked very hard for it in many cases.

    My advice to you: pick at it over the days, weeks and months. Keep searching, contacting people, digging. stay on it. It'll all come together if you focus, focus, focus on the task at hand. Good luck. I myself have gone through it and am now done.

  18. Jan 21, 2014 #17


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    And (if any) those should arrive by the end of next month, for the 2013 tax year.
  19. Jan 21, 2014 #18


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    Not knowing what paperwork was sent to those people, addresses could have been changed.
  20. Jan 22, 2014 #19
    Thanks man, it's getting better although today my brother intercepted another call where they were trying to convince grandpa to take out a bank loan on his house. The local police (DPS) said they will intervene once we have a medical evaluation performed, that is happening tomorrow.

    Yes, and that is good timing.

    I hope that is not the case.

    We found grandpa's financial advisor and have a meeting for Friday. Today was interesting. We went to the bank with the P.O.A. and grandma's death certificate in hand to clear up her accounts. Inside her safe deposit box we found a 100 shares each of IBM, GE and GM along with several $32,000 bonds. Luckily the crooks never got this far.

    The majority of grandpas assets are now safe and will be able to provide him with all the care he requires well into the future. With the new family schedule and hired help grandpa will also now always have someone around to take care of him.

    It's been rough, and it's still not finished but I finally feel like I can sleep at night.

    Thank you everyone for the help and wonderful advice!
  21. Jan 22, 2014 #20


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    IBM has done very well, GE hasn't recovered much since 2009 crash, and if GM shares are from prior to their bankruptcy, those share may have little or no value.
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