Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

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phatkev
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Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by phatkev » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:34 pm

My family is going through an unfortunate situation that is continuing to unfold, and I suspect that the bogleheads could offer some words of wisdom.

This is a bit of a story, so please bear with me. My sister discovered a few weeks ago that her husband of 18 years (soon to be ex) has been raking up tremendous debt in both of their names. He has maxed out several credit cards to almost $300K and has borrowed $60K from my sister's very successful business that she owns. He owes almost $50K in back taxes and there is a lien against their house. For years, he had been the one who controlled all the finances of their home and her business, which was their larger source of income. She trusted him because for years, he handled the billing of her company, their household expenses, and investing because his job is a financial adviser. Everything had been fine up until 4 weeks ago when she started discovering these bills.

She is having a tough time, but working through it with her lawyers and slowly discovering all the things he has done. It's a horrible situation and is going to be a horrible divorce. They have 4 wonderful kids together and it's incredibly sad.

While this situation alone would be bad enough, I'm not looking for advice right now for my sister.

I'm more concerned about my mother. She is a wonderful woman who had as series of unfortunate and sad things happen to her. She had a brain tumor and a subsequent severe brain injury, leaving her in a very debilitated state. After years of rehab, she is finally in a stable living and medical situation, living in a retirement community with a 24 hour aid, which is being paid for by the state. Shortly before her initial surgery, we made me her medical POA (I'm a physician), and my aforementioned brother-in-law her financial POA. Now you can probably see the problem.

My brother-in-law assured me that my mother's money has not been touched and he was willing to hand over the financial POA material. He has been dodging me to get this done and has been hard to reach. Today, I discovered that he had opened up 2 credit cards in my mother's name and maxed both of them out to over $45K and her credit score is 522. He had not paid one credit card in over a year. For years, I had been telling my brother-in-law that I wanted to see her finances, know the investing strategy, and be made a co-financial POA. He kept dodging me, but I never really had any issues so I never pursued it. This was completely out of the blue.

I'm letting my sister handle her divorce issues, but I'm taking responsibility to make sure that my mother is protected. However, I don't know what to do now. I'm really scared for my mom, and I'm afraid that he has ruined her financially. My father had been paying alimony checks to her for the past 10 years, but had been giving them to my brother-in-law.

What do you think I should do to secure her money? How should I go about having me be the financial POA? How can I get more information about these credit cards? Can I call the companies to try to get access to her accounts? How can I get access to her bank accounts? What should I do?

I looked into getting an involuntary conservatorship for my mother, which sounds like it would be a big hassle and very expensive. There are many illegal things my brother-in-law has done so far, including forging my sister's signature on loan applications and tax returns, and I think he spent my mom's alimony checks that were given to her.

I would appreciate any advice you can offer for me with regards to my mother's financial situation. This has been hell and I'm really panicking.

Thank you for the advice.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by clip651 » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:52 pm

I have zero expertise here, but it sure sounds like you need some excellent legal advice. Perhaps your sister's divorce attorney could give you some names?? Sounds like an awful situation.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by cheese_breath » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:57 pm

if your mother is rational it seems the first thing to do is have her revoke the BIL's POA.
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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by Whakamole » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:58 pm

Note: I am not an attorney nor do I play one on TV.

Today, I discovered that he had opened up 2 credit cards in my mother's name and maxed both of them out to over $45K and her credit score is 522.


This is almost certainly fraud. I would involve your lawyer and likely the police as well; your lawyer should be able to help with that.

Your mother should not be held accountable for fraudulent transactions made in her name; of course your brother-in-law will likely face jail time but that seems to be a given at this point. I'm also wondering where all this money went.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by arsenalfan » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:58 pm

Deepest sympathies for an awful situation.

You'd need to revoke him as financial POA ASAP; while dealing with the legal mumbo jumbo of that, could you freeze your mother's credit at the 4 bureaus, to prevent any further identity theft?
Last edited by arsenalfan on Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by jabberwockOG » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:59 pm

Sorry this happened to your family. There are truly evil folks in the world. Besides consulting an an attorney, I'd also call the local police and make an appointment to speak to someone that works with fraud and cases involving theft of assets from family/parents. There may be sufficient grounds and evidence to press charges and have this person charged and arrested. At the very least this discussion may give you better insight into where you stand and what options you have.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by littlebird » Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:03 am

The theory is that your mother must revoke her POA and notify her son-in-law that he is no longer her attorney-in-fact. She also notifies every financial institution where her POA has been, or may be, used that she has revoked the POA and it should not be honored any further. How exactly to do this depends much on state law, creativity and persistence, I would say.

I hope someone with real world experience in this area will reply.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:08 am

How very unfortunate.

In addition to the above (attorney, police, freezing credit asap if possible, etc., and getting that POA revoked asap), if your mother is old enough, you should probably also contact Elder Services, which would include protection (both physical and financial).
They would also have experience with this sort of thing.

Your BIL is a FINANCIAL ADVISOR? Is he entrusted with client money or access to that?
If so, then he may well have made off with significant sums there, too.
You should have your sister ask her divorce attorney *fast* how she can best protect herself from those charge/payback requirements as best possible.

So sorry...

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by TIAX » Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:22 am

phatkev wrote:This is a bit of a story, so please bear with me. My sister discovered a few weeks ago that her husband of 18 years (soon to be ex) has been raking up tremendous debt in both of their names. He has maxed out several credit cards to almost $300K and has borrowed $60K from my sister's very successful business that she owns.

Was the loan from her business with her consent? Was he an authorized user on her credit cards?

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by BolderBoy » Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:23 am

Sounds like your BiL could use an up-close and personal experience with the criminal justice system - that might stop him dead in his tracks.

Your local DA can advise you about this.
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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by celia » Wed Dec 28, 2016 1:02 am

The first thing you should do (and fast) is get POA and have all your mom's mail redirected to you. Year-end statements and tax forms will soon be coming and each has a "story" to tell. Start collecting papers and set up some kind of filing system so you can find things easily.

Sorry to hear of this mess. If your sister can take care of her end, that splits the problems up somewhat.

If your mom cannot make decisions for herself, see if there are emergency procedures to have POA-financial set up quickly. I imagine many people who have done no estate planning and have a sudden health issue need someone to manage their finances.

An easy thing to do is to ask your dad to temporarily suspend making alimony payments or to send the checks to you until this is all figured out. Also ask your mom's assisted living if she has any unpaid bills they are aware of.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by Watty » Wed Dec 28, 2016 1:21 am

If they have not already done it it would also be good to put a credit freeze on your sisters and moms credit reports to prevent any new accounts from being opened.

If your mom as any other assets then he may have tricked her into her into changing her will or beneficiary on retirement accounts to leave the money to him so be sure to also check on that.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by Pajamas » Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:33 am

It's a terrible situation and it is probably even worse than you realize at this point.

Good advice has already been given. Stop the possibility of further losses, get law enforcement involved immediately, assess the financial damage and current situation all around, and try to minimize any future effects of it.

You should also consider that your brother-in-law is now at increased risk of flight or even suicide.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by carolinaman » Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:19 am

I am very sorry your mother, sister and you are having to deal with this.

I would advise contacting an attorney on behalf of your mother immediately. This is a big, complicated mess and the attorney should be able to advise appropriate steps to take including contacting police. If you or your mother do not have an attorney, your sister's attorney would be a logical choice given his familiarity with this guy's MO. As others have stated, if your mother is competent, she should rescind your BIL's POA. This probably should be done through attorney.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by ponyboy » Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:57 am

Sounds like a criminal act to me...what your bil did to your mother. I would contact authorities...how is this not fraud/personal identity theft?
Last edited by ponyboy on Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by livesoft » Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:58 am

I don't think a bogleheads.org was needed to give the advice to contact a lawyer, so that must have already been done. What did the lawyer tell you?
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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by Jags4186 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 9:02 am

You need to go to the police station.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by WhyNotUs » Wed Dec 28, 2016 9:06 am

My mom was victim of a former roommate and it was really a mess that financially destroyed her. Sounds like you have access to your Mom's credit report and that is a good start for tracking debts. As others have mentioned, a lawyer to change the POA and police for fraud are necessary steps.

Sounds like you BIL got into the financial death spiral and took some people with him, the person that stole from my mom had a drug addicted son that she was harboring and a gambling habit. We ignored what should have been some warning signs and accepted some lies that seemed more obvious in retrospect. The lies continued until the police officer showed up, then there was some confessional and fleeing.

What a horrible situation for your sister and mother.
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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by bsteiner » Wed Dec 28, 2016 9:12 am

phatkev wrote:... I looked into getting an involuntary conservatorship for my mother, which sounds like it would be a big hassle and very expensive. ....


Guardianships and conservatorships (the terminology varies from state to state) are indeed expensive and cumbersome. They have to be, since you're taking rights away from someone. That's why powers of attorney have become much more popular in recent years. However, occasionally there's no better choice.

Would your mother be willing to give up control for her own protection? If so, she could put her assets into a revocable trust but one in which she can't amend or revoke it without the consent of one or more other (very trusted) persons.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 9:15 am

Where did the money go? Did he buy himself Lamborghini that could be sold off to settle the debt? Did he take trips to Las Vegas and simply throw it all away? Are there accounts in his name somewhere that this money now sits in?
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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by bighatnohorse » Wed Dec 28, 2016 9:19 am

BolderBoy wrote:Sounds like your BiL could use an up-close and personal experience with the criminal justice system - that might stop him dead in his tracks.

Your local DA can advise you about this.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by BlackStrat » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:05 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:Where did the money go? Did he buy himself Lamborghini that could be sold off to settle the debt? Did he take trips to Las Vegas and simply throw it all away? Are there accounts in his name somewhere that this money now sits in?


This is was what I was wondering as well. How could he spend this kind of money without drawing attention for both his wife and family to notice (unless they were already used to an extravagant lifestyle). Of course, this is an easy question to ask in hindsight.

I'm really sorry for what you're going through...time to lawyer up big time and show no mercy for this heartless felon.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by terran » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:11 am

phatkev wrote:I'm more concerned about my mother. She is a wonderful woman who had as series of unfortunate and sad things happen to her. She had a brain tumor and a subsequent severe brain injury, leaving her in a very debilitated state. After years of rehab, she is finally in a stable living and medical situation, living in a retirement community with a 24 hour aid, which is being paid for by the state. Shortly before her initial surgery, we made me her medical POA (I'm a physician), and my aforementioned brother-in-law her financial POA. Now you can probably see the problem.


I haven't seen this mentioned yet, and it's something else to keep in mind since your mother's care is being paid for by the state (medicaid?). Depending on what happens after all is said and done, if there end up being any debts remaining in your mother's name, be very careful about how you go about paying those off. If anything could be considered financial support from you to your mom it could endanger her benefits from the state. In that case it would probably be best to work with your mom's social/case workers and an elder law attorney familiar with medicaid (or whatever program is paying for you mom's care) to make sure her benefits remain intact.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:16 am

BlackStrat wrote:
Jack FFR1846 wrote:Where did the money go? Did he buy himself Lamborghini that could be sold off to settle the debt? Did he take trips to Las Vegas and simply throw it all away? Are there accounts in his name somewhere that this money now sits in?


This is was what I was wondering as well. How could he spend this kind of money without drawing attention for both his wife and family to notice (unless they were already used to an extravagant lifestyle). Of course, this is an easy question to ask in hindsight.

I'm really sorry for what you're going through...time to lawyer up big time and show no mercy for this heartless felon.


"What was he doing?"
This might not be a trivial concern.

Was he involved in gambling, drug distribution, or other illicit activities?
(Or drug use himself? It's not always as easy to detect an alcoholic or drug user as it might seem.)
Might there be others to whom he owes money... who may not be pleased that his little gig is over?

And what else might he be doing that hasn't been detected yet?
He could be getting more creative, as some of the "old sources" are cut off.

I'm not tracking if your sister has children. If so, they will need significant help processing all of this.
It's bad enough for children if there is financial disaster because a business is lost or big earner laid off.
But this...? A very different critter.

And finally, is there *any* chance that your sister will be in danger from him?
Trapped animals can behave badly.

What a mess.
I just hope this is "most of it", and there's not a huge problem still undetected.

Best wishes are with all of you (except *him*).

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by boglebrain » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:19 am

cheese_breath wrote:if your mother is rational it seems the first thing to do is have her revoke the BIL's POA.


You may no want to make a single change to anything without first consulting a lawyer. For example, even if she could easily sign a document to grant POA to you immediately this may later hurt your argument in court with creditors who may come after her. That is you changed her POA on this day but later claim she wasn't of sound mind when she was being allegedly duped by brother-in-law (you said brain surgery and injury left her in a "debilitated state") so there would appear to be an inconsistency in your argument and this may impact any financial court judgements.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by cheese_breath » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:25 am

ResearchMed wrote:
BlackStrat wrote:
Jack FFR1846 wrote:Where did the money go? Did he buy himself Lamborghini that could be sold off to settle the debt? Did he take trips to Las Vegas and simply throw it all away? Are there accounts in his name somewhere that this money now sits in?


This is was what I was wondering as well. How could he spend this kind of money without drawing attention for both his wife and family to notice (unless they were already used to an extravagant lifestyle). Of course, this is an easy question to ask in hindsight.

I'm really sorry for what you're going through...time to lawyer up big time and show no mercy for this heartless felon.


"What was he doing?"
This might not be a trivial concern....

OP said he was a financial advisor. Did he work for a financial services firm, or was he an independent advisor? Is it possible he might have been using sister's and mother's money to prop up his business against big losses in the market? Just speculating.
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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by Wakefield1 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:30 am

The perp may have been moving money to an anonymous account or offshore in hopes of absconding and taking possession of it and having a great affluent life somewhere under a new alias -perhaps he didn't think he would get found out until he could complete such a plan

or he could simply have massive gambling or drug debt,out of control and be running from the sharks while paying them as much as he can from whatever he can steal

Big mess and Law Enforcement and Legal Counsel sound mandatory

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by nyclon » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:31 am

phatkev wrote:My family is going through an unfortunate situation that is continuing to unfold, and I suspect that the bogleheads could offer some words of wisdom.

This is a bit of a story, so please bear with me. My sister discovered a few weeks ago that her husband of 18 years (soon to be ex) has been raking up tremendous debt in both of their names. He has maxed out several credit cards to almost $300K and has borrowed $60K from my sister's very successful business that she owns. He owes almost $50K in back taxes and there is a lien against their house. For years, he had been the one who controlled all the finances of their home and her business, which was their larger source of income. She trusted him because for years, he handled the billing of her company, their household expenses, and investing because his job is a financial adviser. Everything had been fine up until 4 weeks ago when she started discovering these bills.

She is having a tough time, but working through it with her lawyers and slowly discovering all the things he has done. It's a horrible situation and is going to be a horrible divorce. They have 4 wonderful kids together and it's incredibly sad.

While this situation alone would be bad enough, I'm not looking for advice right now for my sister.

I'm more concerned about my mother. She is a wonderful woman who had as series of unfortunate and sad things happen to her. She had a brain tumor and a subsequent severe brain injury, leaving her in a very debilitated state. After years of rehab, she is finally in a stable living and medical situation, living in a retirement community with a 24 hour aid, which is being paid for by the state. Shortly before her initial surgery, we made me her medical POA (I'm a physician), and my aforementioned brother-in-law her financial POA. Now you can probably see the problem.

My brother-in-law assured me that my mother's money has not been touched and he was willing to hand over the financial POA material. He has been dodging me to get this done and has been hard to reach. Today, I discovered that he had opened up 2 credit cards in my mother's name and maxed both of them out to over $45K and her credit score is 522. He had not paid one credit card in over a year. For years, I had been telling my brother-in-law that I wanted to see her finances, know the investing strategy, and be made a co-financial POA. He kept dodging me, but I never really had any issues so I never pursued it. This was completely out of the blue.

I'm letting my sister handle her divorce issues, but I'm taking responsibility to make sure that my mother is protected. However, I don't know what to do now. I'm really scared for my mom, and I'm afraid that he has ruined her financially. My father had been paying alimony checks to her for the past 10 years, but had been giving them to my brother-in-law.

What do you think I should do to secure her money? How should I go about having me be the financial POA? How can I get more information about these credit cards? Can I call the companies to try to get access to her accounts? How can I get access to her bank accounts? What should I do?

I looked into getting an involuntary conservatorship for my mother, which sounds like it would be a big hassle and very expensive. There are many illegal things my brother-in-law has done so far, including forging my sister's signature on loan applications and tax returns, and I think he spent my mom's alimony checks that were given to her.

I would appreciate any advice you can offer for me with regards to my mother's financial situation. This has been hell and I'm really panicking.

Thank you for the advice.


You could get authorization from your mother to pull a credit report to see the open accounts and balances. It may not be an exhaustive list of debts since some debtors aren't included there, but may help.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by Herekittykitty » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:38 am

Condolences to you and your family for this situation.

I am not a lawyer nor do I have any experience in this kind of thing.

So I am only going to limit my comments to suggesting that you may want to make sure your finances including any accounts and also your credit have not been compromised by the BIL. Who knows what information about you he may have had access to over the years as a family member and so on. You may want to get expert advice on how to do this.

Best wishes.
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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by beardsworth » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:43 am

ResearchMed wrote:I'm not tracking if your sister has children. If so, they will need significant help processing all of this.


The original post mentioned that "It's a horrible situation and is going to be a horrible divorce. They have 4 wonderful kids together and it's incredibly sad."

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:46 am

cheese_breath wrote:
ResearchMed wrote:
BlackStrat wrote:
Jack FFR1846 wrote:Where did the money go? Did he buy himself Lamborghini that could be sold off to settle the debt? Did he take trips to Las Vegas and simply throw it all away? Are there accounts in his name somewhere that this money now sits in?


This is was what I was wondering as well. How could he spend this kind of money without drawing attention for both his wife and family to notice (unless they were already used to an extravagant lifestyle). Of course, this is an easy question to ask in hindsight.

I'm really sorry for what you're going through...time to lawyer up big time and show no mercy for this heartless felon.


"What was he doing?"
This might not be a trivial concern....

OP said he was a financial advisor. Did he work for a financial services firm, or was he an independent advisor? Is it possible he might have been using sister's and mother's money to prop up his business against big losses in the market? Just speculating.


I'm more concerned that he may have been bilking clients, to the tune of who-knows-how-much.

Sister NEEDS to get legal advice ASAP, and not just about divorce, but about protection from any such debts incurred. None of you might yet know about the full extent yet; neither might his clients, if this is "new news" to the family.

And if there are large sums there, then the flight risk, as mentioned above a few times, could be significant.
(It would be nice if the money was squirreled away and not completely squandered...)

But is there any reason to think Sister and children are in any danger from any "bad" associates?
Until you know "what" is/was happening, this should be at least a minor concern.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by Isabelle77 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:05 am

My husband has an uncle that did nearly this exact thing, also a financial advisor. He wound up doing 5 years in state prison.

He had a gambling problem and stole from his clients as well as his wife's family. I would assume that this man is also stealing from clients and I would get an attorney and law enforcement involved immediately. Likely there are drugs and/or gambling here.

Good luck.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by cheese_breath » Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:27 am

ResearchMed wrote:
cheese_breath wrote:
ResearchMed wrote:
BlackStrat wrote:
Jack FFR1846 wrote:Where did the money go? Did he buy himself Lamborghini that could be sold off to settle the debt? Did he take trips to Las Vegas and simply throw it all away? Are there accounts in his name somewhere that this money now sits in?


This is was what I was wondering as well. How could he spend this kind of money without drawing attention for both his wife and family to notice (unless they were already used to an extravagant lifestyle). Of course, this is an easy question to ask in hindsight.

I'm really sorry for what you're going through...time to lawyer up big time and show no mercy for this heartless felon.


"What was he doing?"
This might not be a trivial concern....

OP said he was a financial advisor. Did he work for a financial services firm, or was he an independent advisor? Is it possible he might have been using sister's and mother's money to prop up his business against big losses in the market? Just speculating.


I'm more concerned that he may have been bilking clients, to the tune of who-knows-how-much....

It could be both if he used mom's and sis's money to pay expected dividends and redemptions on client accounts that have been drained without their knowledge.
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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by TSR » Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:00 pm

cheese_breath wrote:It could be both if he used mom's and sis's money to pay expected dividends and redemptions on client accounts that have been drained without their knowledge.


Yep. I am an attorney who has had the pleasure of defending fraudsters such as this on occasion. It's usually a pyramid scheme of some sort or another. Assuming that money didn't go up his nose (which you would likely have SOME indication of), it was most likely spent propping up his business, buying flashy advertising ("The official financial adviser of the Wichita Wingnuts!"), or under one of the many "shells" in the shell-game he's been playing with his clients' money to make it look like he is better than he is at the financial game. When people like this get caught, there is usually nothing left under the shells. Sadly, the more that law enforcement gets involved, the more likely it is that ALL the people who are owed money will come calling, meaning less for mom and sister. I fear that's inevitable at this point, but it makes it awfully hard to give much advice. I think the best thing to do at this point is stop the bleeding (POA, credit freeze, etc.) and proceed under the assumption that ALL of this money is gone. With any luck, none of mom's or sister's own assets will be considered ill-gotten gains of his fraud and tied up in his own bankruptcy or restitution/forfeiture in a criminal case. My sincere condolences.
Last edited by TSR on Wed Dec 28, 2016 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by Epsilon Delta » Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:41 pm

I am not an attorney, but ... .

You should consider that your mothers interests, your sisters interests, your interests and the DA's interests will not align.

Each of you may need to consider what results you want, how that will effect the others and what you're willing to impose on the others. You may want individual advice, but assuming you want to remain on speaking terms you'll want to collaborate and includes being careful how you instruct any attorneys.

The DA will do what the DA wants to do, but you may have a choice in whether he is involved at all. Your sister may or may not want her ex to go to jail. Jail is not going to maximize child support.

You have my sympathy and I wish you good luck.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by White Coat Investor » Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:47 pm

I don't have any useful advice, but just wanted to say I'm sorry you and your family have to deal with this. I'll be curious to see how it all turns out so please update us.
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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by staybalanced » Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:52 pm

Very sad. Your BIL is obviously not well.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by PoppyA » Wed Dec 28, 2016 1:59 pm

Lots of good advice already.

Booze, bucks, & broads. This is an outdated version of the root of all crimes. Addiction, greed, ego is a more modern version.

Locks should be changed on any homes/places he has access to. He should be taken off the visitors list at your Moms facility.

If he has any assets left behind i.e.: a baseball card collection, etc. they should be secured.

If he is regulated by the state as a financial professional, the regulating agency should be contacted.

Police should have advice on who, where, what to do. There are resources available.

Passwords changed?

I would advise all 3rd parties involved (banks, etc) in writing.

Lastly, it is overwhelming. I know someone who went through this. Specifically for your sister, this too shall pass. The person I know now lives a good and full life.
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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by dm200 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 2:07 pm

While I am not an attorney, I am very familar with many aspects of Powers of Attorney. As best I understand, a PoA is always revocable by the grantor and she does not need anythig from him to revoke it. She should have revoked it imediately and so notifiy him. Now, revoke it immeidiately. As far as the credit cards he opened and used, I would look at the details of the PoA (perhaps consult an attorhey) and take immediate action to close these down and make attempts to recover the funds. There is usually a degree of due diligence that those accepting a PoA can do.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by dm200 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 2:09 pm

You could get authorization from your mother to pull a credit report to see the open accounts and balances. It may not be an exhaustive list of debts since some debtors aren't included there, but may help.


Excellent suggestion!

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by basspond » Wed Dec 28, 2016 2:22 pm

Other then the advice given, I would seek to get an injunction on your BIL to freeze all of his assets and try to find out if the money is hidden somewhere or he squandered it all.

Also thanks for sharing. We need all to be wary of any person that avoids giving us information on "our" financial business.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by cheese_breath » Wed Dec 28, 2016 2:56 pm

InvestorAdam wrote:Very sad. Your BIL is obviously not well.

That's a possibility, but we don't know it. Not every criminal is sick. Sometimes crooks are just crooks.
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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by gclancer » Wed Dec 28, 2016 2:58 pm

phatkev wrote:After years of rehab, she is finally in a stable living and medical situation, living in a retirement community with a 24 hour aid, which is being paid for by the state.


Is your mother's long term care being paid for by Medicaid? If so, Medicaid is a means tested entitlement, which means in order to qualify your mother would have had to divest pretty much all of her assets. If she doesn't have any assets anyway, she should consult with a bankruptcy attorney to see whether a Chapter 7 bankruptcy would be a viable option for her.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by staybalanced » Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:16 pm

cheese_breath wrote:
InvestorAdam wrote:Very sad. Your BIL is obviously not well.

That's a possibility, but we don't know it. Not every criminal is sick. Sometimes crooks are just crooks.


By saying not well, I just meant generally, not necessarily "sick". In my opinion, someone who would do those things is not well, maybe morally corrupt or a broken world view etc. Just my opinion though, others may differ.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by leonard » Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:19 pm

I can't imagine that someone who has had their identity stolen and CC's open are responsible for the fraudulent debt.
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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by cheese_breath » Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:24 pm

InvestorAdam wrote:
cheese_breath wrote:
InvestorAdam wrote:Very sad. Your BIL is obviously not well.

That's a possibility, but we don't know it. Not every criminal is sick. Sometimes crooks are just crooks.


By saying not well, I just meant generally, not necessarily "sick". In my opinion, someone who would do those things is not well, maybe morally corrupt or a broken world view etc. Just my opinion though, others may differ.

I can accept that. Thanks for the clarification.
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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by KlingKlang » Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:30 pm

phatkev wrote:My sister discovered a few weeks ago that her husband of 18 years (soon to be ex) has been raking up tremendous debt in both of their names. He has maxed out several credit cards to almost $300K and has borrowed $60K from my sister's very successful business that she owns. He owes almost $50K in back taxes and there is a lien against their house. For years, he had been the one who controlled all the finances of their home and her business, which was their larger source of income. She trusted him because for years, he handled the billing of her company, their household expenses, and investing because his job is a financial adviser. Everything had been fine up until 4 weeks ago when she started discovering these bills.

I'm more concerned about my mother. She is a wonderful woman who had as series of unfortunate and sad things happen to her. She had a brain tumor and a subsequent severe brain injury, leaving her in a very debilitated state. After years of rehab, she is finally in a stable living and medical situation, living in a retirement community with a 24 hour aid, which is being paid for by the state. Shortly before her initial surgery, we made me her medical POA (I'm a physician), and my aforementioned brother-in-law her financial POA.


I don't want to kick someone when they're down, but this sounds like a case of 'Penny wise, pound foolish.' at best and 'You can't cheat an honest man.' at worst.

Why would the owner of a "very successful business" let her husband control all of the finances and accounting without utilizing the services of a CPA? Why is the mother of a physician and a "very successful business" owner "living in a retirement community with a 24 hour aid, which is being paid for by the state."? Did your BIL ever try to talk you into a 'sure thing' investment?

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by JGoneRiding » Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:55 pm

Call the da and press charges for elder abuse and fraud. Declare bankruptcy for your mother on the credit card debt. He dug his grave let him rot, but you will never see a dime of that money. Your only hope is the alimony going fwd and that the state already pays the majority of her care. All the other money is gone.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by Swimmer » Wed Dec 28, 2016 6:00 pm

This is really heartbreaking. I'm very sorry for you and your family. One thing I would find out is who handled your moms application for Medicaid? States differ but I did this for my mom when she had finally spent down her assets, most of which went to Assisted Living before entering the nursing home. . She was permitted to have a nominal funeral fund set aside and something like $1500 cash. Period. Everything else (not much at that point) went to the nursing home.

If your mom has been on MA for a while, presumably the money was gone longer than you may think, assuming BIL did the MA app. Your state may possibly be more liberal than ours before placing an individual on Medicaid. In PA, though, I had to jump through multiple hoops and provide thorough documentation before she was finally approved. They left no stone unturned, as it should be. Each year I had to recertify her financial situation. You should be able to find such records among her things.

As far as law enforcement goes, you may want to contact your states Attorney Generals office. Here in FL, there is an organization known as Seniors Vs. Crime, which is an arm of the AG. Something akin to this may be a good starting point.

Best of luck to you.

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Re: Surprise financial disaster, severe debt $300K caused by brother-in-law - Please help!

Post by Good Listener » Wed Dec 28, 2016 6:15 pm

Jags4186 wrote:You need to go to the police station.

I disagree with this and the others saying similar things. Yes the man has done illegal things. However I think that him going to jail does not help pay off anything and he is the father of 4 children who are also the children of the sister,. Also, assuming her Medicaid application was legit, since the mother iiis on Medicaid as far as I can tell, she has no assets to protect anymore, right?
Last edited by Good Listener on Wed Dec 28, 2016 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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