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Being diligent and guarding trust

July 13, 2009
Celebrating 60 years

My Grandparents Celebrating 60 years

When you are working with seniors on a daily basis you hear a lot of stories. Personal stories about their lives and stories about how they lost the money they had planned for retirement. Some stories are about the stock market, some are about unexpected costs, raising grandchildren and even giving Ron Pearlman $200,000 in his Ponzi scheme. Yes, I have a client who was one of his victims.

All of these stories make me think about my own grandparents. They were married a total of 62 years and during most of my life they were very financially stable. They both passed away before the government insured the HECM program, and I am not going to profess that they would have done a reverse mortgage. But they were taken for a large amount of money in a scheme that is equally as fraudulent as a Ponzi scheme. They are an example of how it can happen to anyone, at any time. Even to your own loved ones.

I call this plot the “Substitute Parent” Scheme. This one works extremely well with seniors who are trusting and generous and is perpetrated by sales people who profess that the senior target is “like a parent” to them. I recall this line well. I was in my grandparents kitchen, helping with the dishes when I heard Bill, the salesman, tell my grandfather how deeply he respected him and that he was “like a dad”. Red flags should have gone up and alarms should have rung. But being the perfect salesman, Bill was able to close the deal and took my grandparents for over a quarter of a million of their retirement dollars. To each of their last breaths, I believe they were both stunned as well as hurt. Trust was never an option with them, it was in their souls. They always trusted, they were always generous. They were the perfect mark.

My personal family experience gives me a greater respect for the word, trust. I never want to abuse that trust or take it for granted. My clients aren’t like a parent to me. They are my client, I am their advisor. A reverse mortgage isn’t for everyone, that’s why everyone doesn’t have one. But once a senior receives the funds of a reverse mortgage, they need to be even more diligent in watching their money and in watching out for those people who now profess that they are their new family. People who want to part them from their money. Myadvice in that regard, if you are looking to add to your family, go to an animal shelter and adopt a pet. The reward will be far greater and the adoration will be sincere and endless.

My grandfather had a dog, Timmy, he was devoted to my grandpa. I think if Timmy had ever met Bill, he would have bit him. Dogs have great instinct when it comes to people, Timmy would have known!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Karen Gravenkamp permalink
    July 13, 2009 2:35 am

    Very well said!

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