I need whuffles.
(aka dementia update)→
[More:]I haven't been keeping you up on what's happening with me lately (quite a bit, some that I have a hard time writing about), so I'll just have to plunge into this.
My dad finally got a diagnosis of mild cognitive disorder around September, and is scheduled for a broader battery of tests in Madison next month (Boxing Day). It's probably Alzheimer's. (The diagnosis is the only good thing that came out of him wrecking the van last June.)
We had been trying to get him to cooperate in handing over more of the bookkeeping to my mom and I, but he was stonewalling and procrastinating on everything we asked for. I finally dove into the books, most of which is in Quicken, and because of corrupted database issues (!) he has been unable to rename accounts or create new ones for about two or three years, but I could never get him to solve that by starting a new uncorrupted datafile (!).
It turns out that there were some important accounts with seemingly unimportant names. Like a $5000 credit card balance marked "2002 Trip to Italy". There are lots of other issues like misusing expense categories for income and vice versa. Ultimately none of the "how'm I doin'" features of Quicken are really usable because of this chaos, but he still knows where everything is so it doesn't bother him in the least.
Then there's the way he kites checks -- he has all his life -- and when you charge something on a credit card it gets paid by one account and then he has to move money from two other physical banks to cover it, so even the simplest transactions are potential major drama if any link in the chain breaks.
And now because of his dementia (?) or diabetes or thyroid or heart or depression or whatever, he spends 20 hours a day lying on the sofa, and can't keep up with the daily requirements of bookkeeping (and that's ALL he does, apart from taking dementia-wandering-type walks around town bothering people we know and perfect strangers in turn).
So my Mom got power of attorney last month and we began the process of figuring what all there was. There are the house, three rental properties, three mortgages between them (but only 60% of the rental property is even livable and producing income, and some of the rest is on "sweetheart" leases that he kindly has kept up for people he knows, so it's way under-performing as an investment). That was as I expected, and they're decent mortgages at least -- even the ARM is a standard conversion with no balloon payments or anything to worry about.
But there turned out to be over 20 consumer debt accounts, with over $100,000 in debt. And the average interest rate had been jacked up to nearly 25%. The total minimum payments
added with the mortgages is close to the monthly income from salaries and rents, with almost nothing left over for living expenses.
Basically, my mom, who is working past retirement, is working from morning to lunch to pay interest
on consumer debt she didn't even know she had. He played so many games with credit cards -- she never knew which one to use on any given day -- that there are even closed credit card accounts charging +20% interest that are only getting minimum payments
The worst was that I found out he had been covering for the increased costs (as well as higher gas/food costs) by just sucking money out of his personal IRA -- $30,000 this year. Almost all of it to maintain consumer debt balances in place. And that's a taxable distribution
So my Mom had cried one night and begged him to get things organized so we could start working on the debt, because she was worried about bankruptcy. His response, the next day, was to go into the lawyer and "start bankruptcy", like that, with no discussion.
Normally I would agree with this course of action, but I want to save the property, on which there's substantial equity, to create a trust for my brother's learning-disabled kids. (He's sort of filed and forgotten my numerous requests for him to set something up over the years.)
So we've met with a credit union and another lender and been referred to consumer credit counseling. But of course they're full up until December. If we can get a payment plan that's in budget, I believe it can all be paid down by 2011, especially if we increase the rental income, letting her retire in 2010.
FINALLY THE ACTUAL CRISIS
Meantime, one of the mortgages has come through Friday, and there was no money in the account. It was returned, and there will be a bank fee and a returned check fee of course, neither of which we can afford. We yelled at him about that, and he goes into a juvenile mode, sticking his fingers in his ears and growling at us for being "rude". We at least seem to get another promise of cooperation.
Then an hour or so ago (mind you it's past 10 CST), he's on the phone with the mortgage, because he went online to the bank and found that the mortgage went through again
. The thing is, he can be perfectly charming and "in control" when he's on the phone with these people, and he always engages them in his "small world" tangents where he tries to find out if there's a connection (and even if they're in India, we have one, because my second cousin married an Indian-American girl -- you can see how important this is to someone in Bangalore who's trying to get a $1000 note paid). But he's blaming the lender for screwing up! He believes he put a repayment in for the 28th instead of the 18th and it's their fault. But of course he doesn't really know where the money will come from by the 28th either, because there are all sorts of utility bills and whatnot coming in on autopay all the time.
So my Mom and I have to go to an attorney tomorrow to seek guardianship. Yes, we already have POA, but POA doesn't always work. In fact one bank already told us that outright, that it wasn't enough, and that was just changing the account beneficiary status (an account for a disabled 19 year old! yeah, right, let the Alzheimer's patient retain control, idiots). We also can't use the family attorney, because during the last meeting we had he signaled pretty clearly that he considered my dad an old friend and his primary client.
But there's no. Fucking. Way.
Unless we get a judge to take it away from him, he's still going to have the "right" and will take it to interfere and arrange things blithely unaware of the havoc that he's caused. We can't just redirect the mail and change the web passwords, because he still retains all the rights and can just call the bank and change it back.
My mom can't pay for medications, has to worry about cash for food, and we're probably going to have to raid an insurance account just to get the mortgage paid until we can get the consumer debt service reduced.
Sorry. It's like I wake up from a nightmare and I'm still in the nightmare.
I really want to believe that I'm right, that I'm not being foolish like my dad, and that we can right this ship after a couple of frugal years. It won't solve everything but at least there will be something for my mom to retire on and something to provide for the kids after my parents, who have raised them since infancy, are gone. (My brother is out of the picture, and their mother is neither flush nor particularly savvy.) But he's fighting us every step of the way, and not because of pride so much as that he just doesn't get it