How do I handle my father's excessive donations to charities?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 24, 2016
Cjriggs asked...

My father is in the middle stages of Alzheimer's. One of the things he is doing is writing checks to charities all over the country. He would NEVER have done this before. Last winter his bank called me concerned because he had overdrawn his checking account. He had given over 40,000 dollars to different charity's. Talking to him is getting me no where. Do you have any advice how I should deal with this.


Expert Answers

Barbara Steinberg is the CEO and founder of BLS Eldercare Financial Solutions, which specializes in helping families pay for long-term care for their loved ones. A registered financial gerontologist, she speaks regularly on the topic of paying for long-term care and is a financial expert for Caring.com.

I've had several clients with similar experiences. You have to get the checkbook away from him and take control of his financial affairs. Do you have a durable power of attorney? If so, you can add your name to the account. But you must get the checkbook out of his hands. If he won't give you the checkbook, you can close the account and open a new one in his name with your name on it as well. If you don't have power of attorney, you will need to have his cooperation, if he is capable, or apply for guardianship. Guardianship is a drawn out, costly process, so you don't want to go down this road unless absolutely necessary.


Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

I have ran into this problem also. She will donate to anyone that sends her something in the mail. Only like $5 to $20 but it adds up when you're giving to a 100 different places. And when she only has SS, she can overdraw fast. I set up a PO box and all her mail is going there. I throw out everything she can donate to. She only is allowed the junk mail that she can't send any money to. Then we sit down together and I have her fill out the check for her bills and then I balance the check register. I can also watch her bank accounts daily/weekly by checking online. Too many scammers out there that want to take advantage of our parents.


Charlee answered...

That is good advice about a PO Box. When my mother was doing this I didn't have that option but I was able to set up online account access to help me monitor her accounts long-distance. Luckily I had a Durable Power of Attorney so I was able to stop some of the outflow, but not after hundreds of dollars departed to so-called charities. I'm so sorry your father wasted so much. Be on the lookout for spending on items from infomercials and shopping channels, too, in addition to racking up fees they wouldn't have when they were in their full capacity. My mother seemed to think that if she cut up her credit card it magically negated the balance due on a credit card. If only! On one store card she owed over $100 in late fees on a $30 purchase. I was able to get them to forgive some of it by explaining the situation, but about $50 of fees still had to be paid. Good luck getting control!