Monday, February 10, 2020

Well this is a nice excuse to get out of jury duty

There is a court case, and I'm going to publish this after the estimated end, where a home heath aid is accused of stealing money from an old person. I don't know the details except, this experience here, was a reason I could not serve on the jury.

I've served on a federal grand jury for 18 months. That was informative. And there was no way I could have gotten out of that. And I served on a petite jury for a case involving a Latino guy whacking a bunch of other Latino guys with a machete. That was worse. It was in Spanish and English, and I would not wish that kind of experience on anyone. It was hella boring. I got removed from the jury pool once because I knew too much about a factor in the trial.

So with that experience I was hoping there was something that would help me out of this jury pool. The judge asked 12 questions and we were to write down the number if the answer to the question was yes. Did I know the lawyers or the defendant or the judge? No. Did I have a family member who was in jail? Yes. There are a lot of people on my dad's side with problems. Then the judge mentioned the substance of the case and asked if any member of my family experienced something similar.

Later, because there were 40 people in the pool, and those of us with higher numbers were allowed to go out for 45 minutes, I was called up to the bench. The judge asked me about the questions I answered yes to. The first one was no biggie and he dismissed that. The second one... I mentioned what happened with Carol and Sonya. I mentioned this blog. I mentioned the stress trying to deal with it had on our marriage. When he restated what I said he made Sonya the focus, and I countered him, and pointed out my mother in law was the victim and this led to her early death. So to the question did I think I could be impartial, the answer was no. And thus, I got out of jury duty.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Oh look what I found under the tree, forgiveness

I was on my way to deal with a problem in another city, when it dawned on me that I believe I have forgiven Sonya.

Forgiveness is not forgetting.

Love the sinner, hate the sin. What she did was horrible. But she herself is deserving of forgiveness. We can blame it on her mental health. We can blame it on her season of life. She can be redeemed.

So what does that mean now? Well this site is not going away. As I said, forgiveness isn't forgetting. It this site can help someone else who may be in the same boat, then hopefully they too can see the warning signs and do what needs to be done before they are forced to let their relative become a ward of the state or become conservator. Both are bad. There are still other relatives who could be abused by Sonya, pretending this never happened could come to harm them.

It means I'm not going to seek harm to Sonya. I've stopped asking Mike, her brother, to seek criminal charges against her. Years back I kept hounding him, and bugging him to file charges. He didn't then because he was busy trying to care for his mom. Now there is no interest and we all want to move on with our lives.

So we will move forward. Lawyers are f*cking expensive, but they provide a protective buffer for our family against any future abuse or claims by Sonya so we can move forward without thinking about her. Also Mike is big on the forgetting so forgiveness seems to be a part of it.

Where's Sonya? Last we heard, homeless, in a vehicle with no money in Oregon or Washington State. She may have made it back to California. She had requested the phone number of a relative who lived in Oregon and Mike, without thinking, gave her the number. When he told me, I told him he should give the relative a heads up. So he called the relative, left a message, a very vague message that Sonya was experiencing some trouble but not saying what. Sigh.

Anyway, on ward and forward.

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.