Losing the capacity to manage your financial affairs is a frightening prospect, and watching a loved one lose capacity is just as daunting. It seems incredible that anyone would take advantage of such circumstances, but unfortunately it is all too common.
In June of 2016 My brother Miguel and I Flew to San Diego to check on my mother and her finances. We had scheduled a doctor’s appointment and an Elder evaluation by Jewish Family Services as well as a visit to her bank. Before going out to San Diego my older brother Miguel had sent an email to Samuel in an attempt to talk to him regarding the money situation.
Recently it came to my attention that you borrowed $1,000 from Mami a couple of months ago. My understanding is that you told her that you needed this money because you couldn’t pay your rent. The truth is that Mami didn’t have the money to spare either but yet she gave it to you not knowing how adversely it would impact her own finances. I am requesting that you return that money to her as soon as possible. It is obvious that a 51 year old son should not be asking his 85 year old mother for help with rent. If your finances are in such dire conditions, get some help but don’t go preying on a frail, easily taken advantage of 85 year old woman (your mother!).
Elwin and I are going to soon spend 3 days in June with Mami to help her get some things together. We may or may not see you but that may be a good time for a reconciliation between us. I certainly welcome that if you are open to it. I have heard that you are upset that we don’t communicate with you or keep you apprised of what it is we are planning in regards to our mother, but you should understand our reluctance to keep you in the loop: your recent behavior does not make you a trustworthy person in our eyes.
Prior to going out to San Diego we had been trying to get a hold of our brother Samuel Hornedo to discuss and try to understand the situation. Calls, texts and emails were never answered until prior to our arrival where Miguel got the following text:
Hello, please do not make an effort to see me when you’re here. I have way too much other stuff going on and don’t want the additional stress. I’m firm on this and would appreciate you both to respect my wishes.
Sent from my iPhone
We were a little bit astonished but not entirely surprised as all we got was silence from Samuel. When we arrived in San Diego, Miguel and I picked up our mother and went to her bank. We informed the bank of the Elder Financial Abuse and decided to open a joint account that my brother and I would share with her and manage. At this point we transferred most of her money to the Joint account and I proceeded to set up all of her bills on auto pay so she wouldn’t have to write checks or even have any need for them. This way when she needed money (Cash) we would transfer money into her account so she could withdraw it and we would know where the money was going. The reason we took over her finances was that we suspected that she was in the early stages of dementia and in her diminished capacity would continue to miss bill payments and continue to be taken advantage of by my brother Samuel Hornedo. After we made the bank aware of the financial abuse they informed us that they would watch out for my mother and call us if she came in for a cash withdrawal and who she was with.
We gained access to her checking account and started going through her transactions and found that she was still writing checks to Samuel. In the prior year he had managed to get approximately $13,000 in checks and cash from my mother. Between overdraft Loans and Fees it totaled over $16,000. We also found that Samuel had used her credit cards to pay the registration on his 3 cars, purchases from Guitar Center and multiple PayPal payments to a woman (not his wife Christina).
As I promised I contacted Adult Protective Services after I got back from San Diego and opened up an investigation into the Financial Abuse perpetrated by my brother Samuel Hornedo. In the next post I will detail the depth of the financial abuse. What would you have done?