Friday, June 15, 2018

CalSTRS not helpful

If you become the conservator or have (power of attorney) POA for a person who is getting a California Teacher's pension (CalSTRS), you may find them horribly unhelpful.

It Takes A Month Or 3 To Change Direct Deposit

On one level being slow and hard to reach in some way could protect members from abuse. But it made it very difficult when Mike, who became conservator for his mother Carol, was trying to get her pension to go into a conservatorship account, as opposed to a compromised account. Sonya, the daughter who had financially abused the mother Carol, had closed the account Carol had and where her pension was being deposited, and opened a new account. As far as I can tell Sonya did not inform CalSTRS and there was some confusion of where the pension was going. When Mike became conservator there was some problem getting CalSTRS to recognize him as conservator.

Once they finally recognized Mike as the conservator of Carol who was a member of CalSTRS, they told him they needed a whole pay period before they could have the direct deposit going into the new account. Mike turned into the paperwork and waited for a month for the pension payment to appear so he could pay for his mother's care. Unfortunately, CalSTRS did not feel a rush to tell him that there was something missing in his paperwork. So when the date when her pension was to appear passed, he had to inquire with the bank then CalSTRS and discovered that there was missing information and had to wait another month for the pension payment.

CalSTRS Assumes Members Will Always Be Independent


Mike's interactions with CalSTRS when he needed to inquire about something was like pulling teeth. My heart goes out to any caregiver of a CalSTRS member. It seemed CalSTRS only frame of reference might have been the POA. When I inquired on my husband's behalf, because the whole trying to care for his mother thing was overwhelming, I didn't get anything other than an automated response.... if that.

The website is only for members. Not caregivers acting on their behalf. We asked. They will not allow for the conservator to take over.

When you look at the CalSTRS website the only thing they have about abuse, which Carol was a victim of, it is only about members abusing CalSTRS, as if members can only be perpetrators not victims.

So it appears that CalSTRS has the mindset that members will be fully mentally functional and independent. So it becomes part of the nightmare when a child of a member or a caregiver who comes in blind has to try to figure out where to start.

CalSTRS Not Helpful

We found CalSTRS not particularly helpful. Maybe in all the encounters with CalSTRS maybe one person tried to be helpful and understand my husband's situation in trying to care for his mom 3000 miles away. I'm sure if he were in California it would have been a little less stressful.

Lastly, let me end with a positive. Those CalSTRS payments were very generous. Carol's pension was a little less than my take home pay as a full time Federal worker, and more than what my husband makes per month. That amount of money was very helpful in making it possible to stretch out what was left to pay for better end of life care for Carol.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Lies about access and screwing the landlord

I'm a landlady so re-reading these texts from Sonya to Mike looks like a word salad of BS as she talks about finally leaving the house she rented with their mother's money. I gather it was dawning on her that at some point the social workers from Adult Protective Services would be right and the account she had access to would be frozen and her ability to use the money to maintain the lifestyle of which she was accustomed to, but not accustomed to funding, would be gone.

The lease was supposed to end in April. But she, despite her brother Mike asking her to just let the year lease end, decided she was going to continue to live there. And live off her mother's money without the bother of caring for their mother.

Without much further ado, here are the texts. Compare them to the spending that occurred in May, by looking at the statements there.




Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Forgiveness, what it is and isn't

steeple damageI'm going to cross post this with my other blog.

This Sunday was my monthly visit to my husband's church and the sermon topic was taken from Matthew 18:21-35;  Romans 12: 9-21; Colossians 3:13, forgiveness. Sonya, my sister in law, did something horrible. She stole and she lied. She inadvertently placed a burden on her brother, because conservatorships are a huge expensive PITA, that constantly set him up for failure. Eldercare abuse takes years off of the victims and in my eyes her actions killed her mother. I also know that I will forgive her. This was the sermon I needed to hear.

First the pastor defined what forgiveness was not. It is not forgetting. As long as we can remember this episode we will remember. However, my husband is taking on my aunt's (and mother's) habit of 'selective memory' as a coping mechanism. I remember too much. It is not denying pain. And there is pain. Some of the pain is part of the lies told by Sonya regarding other things, such as her children's custody. I can attest to the financial pain. We used funds from our emergency fund to pay for the lawyers for the conservatorship. Money set aside to cover our mortgage was taken to pay for my mother in law's medications. My mother in law, like my husband, can get some things very close to the vest, but there were hints that she was hurt by her daughter Sonya, and probably felt betrayed. Forgiveness is not denying there are consequences. Pardon is optional. It seems my husband has given Sonya pardon by not pursuing pressing charges against her as the conservator of his mother and her estate. I highly doubt he will before the statute of limitations runs out. His mother is dead. The credit bureaus, Social Security, Kaiser Mid-Atlantic, the bank, CalSTRs, and everyone who needed to know,  have been informed she is dead. Her death was a consequence of what her daughter did. The money Sonya spent on trips to Wal-Mart and Ubers for her son, was not there to fix her mother's teeth, That would have been $8,000. The money used to support Sonya and her lifestyle was not there to allow her brother to place their mother back at the Atria, and thus she had to rot in the cheapest accommodation in San Jose, where there was nothing left to do but wait for death and watch TV. Forgiveness does not mean you have to trust the person. Loss of trust was another consequence of this whole episode and it unfortunately globed on to other people. Most of the time my husband is a very trusting guy, maybe too trusting. He does not trust his sister, There are some other family members who were bit players, and innocents who are seen with a bit of distrust as well. He's not sure if they are in league with or under the influence of Sonya. And there are those we know weren't siding with Sonya and were also hurt by her, that my husband is not too sure of either. I don't like this side of him, it makes him seem paranoid. We don't trust Sonya, she has lied too much. Forgiveness does not mean you have to like the person. Jesus calls us to love our enemies. Love meaning wanting the best for them. We want Sonya to get the professional mental health services she needs, and we want her to stick with a good program. We want her to keep a job and serve her clients by being dependable. We want her to marry someone who can help provide stability for her remaining minor child, or at least learn to love herself and not feel that she needs a man around. Lastly, forgiveness does not mean you throw out justice. An injustice was done. A woman who trusted her daughter to care for her, gave that daughter access to her nest egg and made herself vulnerable. That daughter took advantage and has not been made to answer for the crime of financial elder abuse. That sense of injustice is why I wrote this blog, Financial Eldercare Abuse Observed.

But then what is forgiveness? Forgiveness is letting go of the anger and bitterness. This is slowly happening. It happens with my husband because of that 'selective memory'. By going over the financials, I think it is getting out of my system. Sonya is more than likely homeless, due to her mental illness and inability to support herself, I can't really punish her more than what life has already done. Forgiveness is not bringing it up again. We are commanded to stop treating the person like they still owe the debt. She couldn't pay the debt even if she got her life together and if by some crazy miracle she got a million dollars, who would she pay the debt to? The victim is dead. We can't un-cremate my mother in law and bring her back to life with all the money in the world. Forgiveness is giving G-d the ultimate vengeance. We are all sinners. I believe Sonya will have to answer to the Father, even if she doesn't believe in him. There is another point but it doesn't fit neatly so I'm leaving it off.

Jesus has forgiven us for the heap of sin we placed on him and that he washed away with his blood. Like the servant in Matthew 18, we owe a huge debt that we could never repay* and it has been forgiven. We can stand to forgive others who, comparatively owe us a smaller debt. I will forgive Sonya as we continue to clean up the mess she made and the damage done.



*Debt is one way of seeing it, trespass is another, but let's go with debt since we're hanging with the Presbyterians.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Let's compare Februarys 2016 vs 2017

I know I said I was going to go over August to December 2016 under the conservatorship but I think with this post I will have made my point about the financial abuse and I'll turn to the lies and mistreatment by the abusing adult child towards their mother, brother and step mother. I wrote this blog to vent my frustrations. I know that at some point I will forgive Sonya for what she did to her mother, but I need to work this out of my system.
So let's look at just page 1 from Carol's account when Sonya, her daughter and the one with the POA, in February 2016.

And compare that with page 1 from the Conservatorship under Mike, Sonya's brother, and the son of the victim, Carol.
Mike did not use his mother's account to fix his 2001 car. Mike did not use it to let me ride around in Ubers. There were eight withdrawals. One and two were on Feb 6th for Dr. Wong, Carol's doctor. That check was for $361.00 but the total charge was $368.50, so $7.50 for a cashier's check? Man, that is cheap for a cashier's check, Wells Fargo charged me something like $20 for a cashier's check. Three and four were the charges of $23.75 from the Riverdale, MD post office, to FedEx something to Kirkwood Villa on the 26th and 28th. This is where I will criticize Mike. He doesn't think holistically or look too far ahead, which is where there will be inefficiencies in his dealings. A mailing that late in the month is probably for rent for Kirkwood Villa and maybe reimbursement for medications. To be fair, he found communicating with Rose, the woman who ran Kirkwood, difficult to understand and everything was a crisis that had to be dealt with, with a grand gesture. For some odd reason it did not occur to him to have automatic payments...... He just doesn't think that way, that's why I am in charge of the finances in our house.

I digressed.

I accounted for 4 of the 8 withdrawals. Four checks were written. One was for $3,300, that was for Kirkwood Villa. I'd have to hunt down Mike's register but I'd bet they were for medicines and services for Carol. I can't remember if this was another period where Carol lost her Medicare part whatever because the Medicare people weren't sending anything to Mike. It will take me a while to get that memory from Mike because it was so frustrating and traumatizing to him. Let's just say he knows the 1-800 number for Social Security by heart. ...digressed again... So Mike was using CVS's scripts service to get medications mailed to his mother and would pay by check. Okay another complaint about my beloved, if there is a quick and easy way, or a hard and complicated way, he'd pick hard and complicated.

So the first with the charges for Ubers and Wal-mart is NOT how to care for an elderly family member's accounts. The second IS reflective of how you care for them and their finances. You use their money to help them, to make sure their rent shows up by the 1st so they don't get kicked out. So you use their money for postage.

Very Conservative Conservatorship- Or sort of how it should have been done June-July 2016

Looking at the conservatorship account and the spending there, it is a complete swing of the pendulum from spending like a crazy person to barely spending at all.
Below is the JPG. Click for a larger image

 Instead of republishing the bank statements, which are somewhere, I just exported the data, removed some identifying information and put it in an Excel spreadsheet.

In two months, there are seven transactions. Under Sonya she would have had seven transactions in about 2 days. To be slightly fair June was sort of a wash because Mike, the son of the victim, was still having trouble communicating to the bank. Earlier that month he had to beg the staff to send a check on Carol, his mother and the victim, to Kirkwood Villa to pay for the June rent. July was also messy as CalSTRs weren't sending Carol's pension to the new account yet.

A lot you don't see here is the money Mike and I spent in regards to Carol from our own accounts. We'd already dipped into our savings for about $7000 for a retainer fee for the lawyers to make the conservatorship happen. When Mike did get access to his mother's funds, or what little was left after Sonya devoured their mother's retirement savings, he had to deal with the first health crises of his conservatorship, trying to get diabetes medicine to his mother who just lost her Medicare prescription parts. We were very willing to spend our own money to try to get her the medication she needed.

So let's review July 2016

July 1st there is a withdrawal of $3,300 via check #101. That was for Carol's stay at Kirkwood Villa. July 7th, there was a transfer of $3085.98 from one of Carol's accounts. I will guess it is from the frozen account that Sonya, prior to the freeze had access. It looks like it is the CalSTRs pension money. I do remember we were very anxious about transferring that as quickly as possible so Sonya would not be able to get her hands on any more of Carol's money. July 31st the bank charged a service fee of $6 and provided a dividend of zilch.

Because Mike wanted to make sure he was following the rules, he barely spent any money. By 2017 he learned to spend a little bit more, splurging for a nurse/companion to take Carol out on day trips and to the doctor, so she wouldn't be stuck inside all week. The problem was that Carol's pension of about $3000 a month did not cover her stay at Kirkwood Villa which was $3300 a month, about a $300 a month difference. This doesn't even begin to cover her medical bills. Going back to the $10,000 Sonya took for Child Support, that could have covered the deficit for several years. Thankfully, Sonya did not get all the savings, there was still a little something left in the investment account and there was this pesky other investment that we couldn't figure out what the heck it was. Thankfully, neither could Sonya.

This was more of the right way. Funds under the conservatorship were spent to care for Carol. Finds should not to cover Uber trips for teenagers or supplies for the POA's business ventures.

Steal from your mother to pay child support April-May 2016 part 3

Please see parts 1 and 2.
So I confronted Sonya with this image.


In it I asked, "Why is a 73 year old woman living in a senior home paying child support??" and "Did Carole get to ride in the Ubers? Did she make calls to people in prison? She paid for it. And moving money isn't fooling anyone. If you can prove that the money isn't fooling anyone. If you can prove that the money you spent on yourself and your kids is from money you made and not just spending down your mother's retirement, I'll eat crow. You squandered your mother's retirement nest egg. Her health has suffered as a result, When she dies, part of it will be your fault."

Up until then I had held my tongue, and just said there was a rift between brother and sister. I had mentioned this to Kay and maybe Mike1, Sonya's sons. But as I said, I was on parental leave with Mike2 and maybe had too much time on my hands. Mike2 was a 3 month old at this time so, I was running on no sleep so I was weak. However, my sense of justice is still annoyed that she was able to get away with doing this to the woman who raised her.

Anyway, this was her answer:

I'm going to try to translate this into Standard English.  I'm also going to comment:
"Well finally some communication and yes, I see your point. Now I am able to explain these things. I will show my bank statement for US Bank that shows that $10,000 from child support was levied out of the account and I got $8,500 from my tax return, that was paid to them, so ultimately, $1,500 was her money."
Okay, I'm a Humanities major so I don't do math all that well, but this is BS. If she had her own bank account why wasn't she using that for the medical weed and the cigarettes? I doubt such an account exists. Regardless of how much Sonya got from her tax return, the $10,000 was all Carol's money, not $1,500. Sonya should not have been mixing her own spending with her mother's account. She abused her role as POA.
"and I will talk about me moving and breaking the lease in 14 days from March 2016 when he had the conservatorship freeze the accounts. I had days to pay the rent or quit. I was left destitute having to move with the kids and there was no explanation as the what the Hell was going on."
She decides to switch the topic. She also has mistaken me for her brother Mike, and thinks I can be guilt tripped. She has since discovered she can't manipulate me, and has asked Mike to keep me out of the loop and asked me never to contact her. The situation she is talking about here is something I like to point out to Mike to show him there was nothing he could have done to stop his sister from becoming the POA and ruining their mother's life. The lease for the house she rented for their mother was supposed to end either in late March or April. Sonya got it in her head that she could continue to rent the place. Mike asked her to let the lease end, and of course, she ignored him. There was no reason why Carol, the mother and real victim here, should have had to pay for a house that was in better condition than the place she was living in, and pay for the room where Carol was living. 
During this time the Santa Clara Adult Protective services social workers were probably telling her that the accounts were frozen in March and April. Looking at the bank statements, it doesn't matter because there are more than 6 pages of spending for those months. And the credit union, which I'll call the bank for simplicity's sake, did not freeze the account until the 1st of June. And Mike didn't get any sort of conservatorship powers until May, and even then a lot of places kind of ignored it.
Another thing, and I'll get back to Sonya's screed, once Carol was out of the three bedroom house Sonya should have realized that the end was near and she'd have to put on her big girl pants and support herself.
"The District Attorney for Adult Protective Services came to my house to interview me and potentially arrest me for the claims made my anonymous people of financial abuse."
Hi, I'm Mike's wife and this blog is about how Sonya abused her mother. I gather the bank and later the social workers at Kaiser tipped them off. Sadly, nobody arrested Sonya.
"The District Attorney after the interview and a detailed investigation of that very Alliance account with a fine tooth comb, said there is absolutely no proof of these crimes and found me innocent on all charges and closed the case. So the law says I did not do that."
What stopped the investigation was Mike becoming the conservator in order to save his sister from going to jail. Mike is horribly loyal, sometimes for the wrong reasons, and that's why it has been so frustratingly hard for me to get him to file charges. To my knowledge she was never brought to court so no one has found her innocent.
"The freeze was lifted and I was left being homeless and ultimately having to find a home."
Sonya had used money on May 16, 2016 to get a U-haul for $330. So no freeze then.
"My business was on the brink. I had just opened the doors not even a month , which was going to pay all the money back, but unfortunately Michael chose to read without question and make me out to be this bad person. I have an answer to all these and it's all very long, involved and many intricate details..."
And all BS. 
"I will not accept that I spent all my mom's savings, that's absolute bullsh!t. And he has no idea of how it is to be on the frontlines to care for her, my 3 kids, and 6 student interns, as well as a plethora of clients to be shut down at a screeching halt. There was more to the story than the account and I was never asked or talked to or concerned with an alternative route so we would all be ok."
Denial, denial denial, then me, me, me. Obfuscate, obfuscate, obfuscate. One of those 3 kids is a grown man in college. As far as never being asked, Mike could never get a word in, so he never had an opportunity to ask and even if he did, Sonya would probably lie to him, like she did about the child support.
"My mom was forced to short sell her house in three days by Gene only getting about $500,000.00 when her house was worth $700-$800,000. Then she was forced to move into a senior community costing $7000 a month for two years. Anyway he can blame me, but how cowardly of him, when he didn't lift a finger to actually care for her a day in his life. As for him saying it will be my fault for her death, I will say the same about him."
According to Redfin.com, on December 5th the house was listed for sale for $545,000, it was under contract on the 11th and sold January 15, 2014 for $552,000. It's kind of hard for me to find comps for that area for 2014 in 2018. Yes, now houses are going for $700-$800K, but I did manage to find another house in the area selling in January 2016 for $625K. The house across the street sold in the Summer of 2010 for $350K. Carol and Gene had to sell because they kept falling in the driveway and having to call 911 to pick them up. Gene was a double amputee with a big a$$ truck. Because they were married the house belonged to both of them. Doesn't matter that it was Sonya and Mike's childhood home. The kids did not own the house.
Carol and Gene had to move into a senior community for their health. There was the constant falling because they were on a steep hill. Carol had worsening Parkinson's in addition to her Diabetes Type 1. Gene was also diabetic, with anger management issues. Senior care costs money. Sonya had complained about the last place Carol lived, nickle and diming their mother. No that was for services rendered! But all Sonya probably could see was money she wrongfully thought was hers slipping away. 
Then she ends with another guilt bomb. The family dynamics at play here did not lend themselves to Mike doing more for his mother until the conservatorship. While Carol was married to Gene, Mike could just call his mother and have annual visits. Gene was a miserable old bastard and very untrusting. Carol was vague. Mike and Carol's phone and in person conversations (that I witnessed) had the depth of a thimble. Sonya and Gene hated each other. Mike tries to be the peacemaker, he didn't care for Gene but usually tried to be nice to him. Mike also respected the fact that his mother was married to Gene and there are things in a marriage that make the wishes of the adult children secondary. Gene had only been dead a month before Sonya became their mother's POA.

"I have more to say but I'm too heated and will message back when I find my documentation. Until then I'm not going to accept his irrational judgements against me period."
Never got any documentation... probably because there is none. Yes, these claims that we have with hundred's of pages of bank statements, the court investigator's report, and conflicting messages, all irrational.... This is why I fear for N Kim's (the little girl) safety. I want to reach out to her father because a woman who would deny the facts in front of her when presented would also be in denial if one of her loser boyfriends harmed that little girl. I will sleep on in. Next month, if I feel this way, I will.
"I did my best I could without having much opportunity to work and make an income. Even the law pays a family member to care for family, but because she was a teacher and didn't pay into Social Security, she was not eligible for those types of services. How was I supposed to care full time with no income."
She could have left well enough alone, and allowed Carol to stay at the Atria. But no, she decided to take her mother out of the hands of professionals and DIY it. There might be a program that provides some money for family members who care for other family members. That was probably though MediCal. Because of the generous pension Carol had, I don't know if she would have qualified. I was under the impression that it was Medi-Cal or Medicare that was providing the nurse who came in to care Carol... before Sonya threw her son across the room and frightened the nurse away.
Did Sonya do her best? Maybe the best that a chronically unemployed chronic enthusiast with anger management and other mental health issues who dropped out of school could manage. But even if she wasn't a crazy stoner high school drop out, the way she saw her mother, and brother as ATMs that she could use, would have resulted in the same way. We thought it was mismanagement, it was greed.
"The Uber stuff was Mike1 using the card to get himself to school and basketball practice everyday. So yes, I agree that was bad. But I also had faith all would work out because my business was already making a return."
Well one thing she admits not being good.
Why the heck did Mike1 have access to Carol's account? I don't blame the teen, he's a minor. Sonya gave him access. 

So there we have it. Sonya only admits letting her teenage son have access to his grandmother's money was bad. But stealing her mother's money for child support and other things, she's in complete denial. There is no point confronting her with this unless I can convince (she's not the only one in the family who plays the denial game) her brother, to file charges. She cannot repay what she stole. Sonya has a negative net worth. She is no good at making money. Last we heard, she was homeless. I highly suspect Carol was providing Sonya with financial help well before the sale of the house and the moves to senior housing. The spigot has been turned off and Sonya is now forced with having to figure out how to live after burning (no, exploding) all her bridges.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Steal from your mother to pay child support April-May 2016 part 2

Please see part one.

In an effort to keep this simple I am not going to reprint the a couple year's worth of Facebook messages. I will sum them up because Sonya's messages to her brother are lengthy. Also at a point Mike, the brother of Sonya and the son of the victim Carol, stops communicating via Facebook and I'm the one managing his Facebook page.

Mike became conservator of his mother in the Summer of 2016 and began the difficult task of trying to care for her 3000 miles away. July 15, 2016 Sonya sent a short message asking for help with rent. This was a month after she was cut off from her mother's funds. Mike responded that day that we could not help her as we were dipping into our savings to deal with Carol's various health crises, part of which was caused by Sonya not making sure Medicare and Kaiser were paid. By that time we had dipped into savings to pay for lawyers and a bond, along with the other things Carol needed. December 2016, Mike sent a FB message to Sonya asking her to see their mother. Apparently, she had their mother hang out with some of Sonya's friends from DC.

August 8, 2017 Mike sent a FB message telling Sonya he was taking their mom out of California to care for her. Sonya hadn't been visiting their mother on any regular basis, and as usual Sonya's phone number had changed and Mike had no way of reaching her. Mike contacted Sonya's ex who gave a number but we're not sure if it was valid. August came and went and Mike brought Carol to live at Independence Court in Hyattsville, MD. Mike visited at least once or twice a week.

October 15, 2017 Sonya contacted Mike via FB messenger asking for money on behalf of her son Mike1. By this time Mike was fully aware of the lies Sonya had told and did not trust this. Mike did not respond so this was followed by a long rant from Sonya trying to send Mike on another guilt trip. This was followed by three audio recordings of Sonya, Mike1 and Rocci, where Sonya claimed Rocci was verbally abusing the teenage son Mike1. I only listened to two of the recordings. Everyone is horrible. She then sends another message telling Mike never to contact her or her kids.

By December 2017 Mike gave up on FB because our friends can get too political. I updated it from time to time to keep the people at Mike's church updated with Carol's health so they could pray for them. That's when I caught a message Sonya sent, all apologetic and sweet. I responded, letting her know it was me, and I'd pass it on to Mike. She did not care for me acting as a filter between her and her brother and mother. That same day, mean nasty Sonya was back. She set off my own mean streak, so in between updating her about her mom's health, I also egged her on. I'm going to blame being bored and being stuck home with a new baby (Mike2). So here is the exchange.

 Later

In part 3 I'll go over this last part.