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A Lesson from Sherlock Holmes: Financial Sleuthing

The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”
-Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles

Attention to detail is a necessary attribute in a sleuth, whether the clues are fingerprints, footprints, or an out of place detail. While sleuth is most often used in reference to detectives, anyone who seeks information fits the bill. Sherlock Holmes, a consummate collector of clues, valued the most minute evidence as greatly as the gigantic canine tracks that set him sleuthing on the trail of a murderer in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles. As financial sleuths, our clues rarely present themselves in paw print form. Our focus as we get to know clients and their situations is on the details of their finances, legal documents, and insurance.

Data! Data! Data!” he cried impatiently. “I can’t make bricks without clay.”
-Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

Why It’s Important to Build a Great Elder Care Team

Manny is an 83-year-old client with hoarding tendencies and a fading short-term memory. Prior to our involvement, Manny’s relatives had become increasingly concerned about him remaining in his home. There had been talk of moving him to an assisted living facility, though he lived on his own and maintained an active lifestyle, often attending lectures at a local college.

Manny’s house cleaner came two or three times a week, with the only other frequent visitor being the weekly pool maintenance guy. After six months of neglecting to pay the bill, Manny’s water was turned off. His accountant was called in for assistance, which set in motion the systems that resulted in him getting the sort of care he needed.

With the accountant running point, Manny’s team began to take shape. A referral by a local Aging Life Care Professional (ALCP) led the accountant to contact Eddy & Schein. We immediately put Manny’s bills on autopay to prevent a repeat of the water shut-off problem, and got to work addressing the other issues we found.

 

Who Will Administer My Social Security Income if I Become Incapacitated?

April was been designated as “Social Security Month.” To bring awareness to this important income source, we would like to share a client’s story and provide some information about Social Security.

Joanne was in a nursing home, and it seemed as though she would not be able to leave any time soon. Eddy & Schein was called up to aid in the successful effort to bring her home. At that time, Gideon Schein was appointed her agent under power of attorney.

When we onboard a new client, one of our initial activities is to identify sources of income. In doing so, we determined that Joanne was no longer receiving her Social Security checks. When we asked where they were going, the Social Security Administration (SSA) told us they could not speak to us, since we were not her representative payee, nor would they tell us who the representative payee was.

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Do You Have Too Many Credit Cards?

Managing credit card debt can be a challenge for anyone. It is common for Daily Money Managers to find clients dealing with a number of extra credit cards. Unfortunately, with all of the promotional deals and pre-approval offers that come to one’s mailbox, it is very easy to amass a large number of credit cards and the situation can quickly get out of hand.

Recently, Eddy & Schein was called to help a client manage his finances. Frank had 13 different active credit cards, including department store cards with high interest rates. Some were getting paid regularly, others were being left, but most were not being paid in full and were collecting interest.

Understanding the Effects of Memory Loss on Finances

Failure to pay bills is a common early sign of memory loss; the longer it goes unidentified, the more troublesome credit card companies can be, as they may view erratic payments as a sign of risk. Managing bank accounts online may also prove difficult for those with signs of memory loss, especially since incorrect login attempts will be red flagged. 

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