I would like to share a story with you which is how we got started in our bill paying service.
A Real Case Study
Joseph G. Kober, CPA MST
It all began several years ago when an elderly couple came to us for assistance. They were in their mid-eighties at the time and thought they had a handle on their finances. They had received a notice of tax lien on their Florida residence, and could not understand why. As we investigated the cause we found that they had not paid their real estate taxes for several periods. Working with the local tax collector in Florida, we managed to avoid any serious problems and get the back taxes paid.
A short time later it was discovered that their car insurance as well as their auto registrations were expired or cancelled for non-payment. Again, as their advocates, we contacted the proper authorities and made payments to reinstate both insurance and registration. Please understand that neither of these two instances were because of a lack of money. It was just becoming too much for them to handle.
Because of our relationship with this couple as long-time clients, and their family, we started looking at other things they may or may not have paid. We found that they were behind on payments to the local water authority, the telephone company, their credit cards, and their condo association. With the help of their son, we got the parents to agree to letting us take over their bill paying. We made a schedule of bills that needed to be paid for each of their three residences and brought all their accounts back to a “current status”, saving them hundreds of dollars a month in late fees alone.
Included in this pile-up of un-paid bills was an overdue premium notice on their life insurance policies. They were concerned that paying the life insurance premiums was a waste of their money at this point in time and were going to let the policies lapse. Had this happened all of the sophisticated planning they did years earlier would have been negated and at the time of their deaths, a large amount of tax would have to be paid out of their estate. Because we intervened, and the premiums were paid, a family legacy can continue.
After several months of bill paying, we noticed that their credit card spending was very high. Even with the money they had put away for comfortable retirement, they could not sustain this kind of spending. When we questioned the couple about this, they told us it was their granddaughters buying things with their permission. Not wanting to upset them, or question their right to spend their own money, we left things alone for a while.
Almost a year went by, and while in a review meeting with the son and parents, we brought up the credit card spending. This upset the son tremendously to discover that his nieces were spending so much of the grandparents’ money. When the son asked his parents why this was going on for so long, they responded that the girls threatened suicide if they stopped them from their spending rampage. The amount that these girls milked from their grandparents would have made anyone sick, and to do this by threat, made it sicker. With our help the family was able to resolve the situation amicably.
Elder abuse can manifest in many ways and does not have to be a physical abuse. Because of our involvement with this family, we were able to stop the mental abuse these girls were inflicting on their grandparents, and allow them to live out their remaining years in peace and comfort. May they now rest in peace!
If this scenario sounds familiar to you, whether it is you or your parents, we may be able to help. We are a CPA firm specializing in tax, and we offer this bill paying service for those who cannot, are no longer capable, or simply do not want to take care of their financial responsibilities on their own anymore. This service is a great fit for people with disabilities, divorcees, widows/widowers, and the ageing. Let us help you take the “ill out of paying a Bill.”