Social Security theft dangers

Estimates say there are somewhere between 300 and 450 people at or above age 110 alive today in the world. But a report from Social Security’s inspector general says that Social Security records say there are about 6.5 million Americans above the age of 112 that haven’t yet passed away.

While Social Security isn’t paying out benefits to those 6.5 million, only about 13 are actually receiving benefits, their Social Security numbers are still active and can be used. That can be a problem. A real, live person with an active Social Security number is in danger of identity theft, and report and clear it up when it occurs. A dead person is much less likely to have someone looking out for them when it comes to identity theft.

Social Security numbers are used for multiple financial purposes — everything from verifying employment eligibility to opening bank accounts and maintaining credit scores. That’s on top of their purpose of tracking Social Security eligibility and benefit levels.

Living people whose IDs are stolen can eventually get the problem fixed and also help authorities when their IDs are being misused. As the old adage says, “dead men tell no tales.” With still-active, real Social Security numbers of people who have passed away, it’s a lot easier for scammers to fly under the radar.

But there are things you can do to prevent such abuse. If you’re the executor or next of kin of a person who passed away, be sure that person’s death has been reported to Social Security. You can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, to report a death. You can also visit your local Social Security office (locations available here) to report a death in person. Funeral homes are willing to report the death on your behalf, but you would have to provide the funeral home the deceased’s Social Security number.

In addition to taking care of reporting those that have died, take care to protect your own Social Security number. Know the times you actually need to divulge your Social Security number and the times you don’t, and don’t give out your number unless you’re obligated to.

Your employer needs to collect your Social Security number to get your income and tax reporting correct, as do financial institutions like your mortgage bank and brokerage. While you do have to give your Social Security number to those institutions, you should be smart about how you give it out. Additionally, you do have to put your Social Security number on your tax return.

While you do have to divulge your Social Security number to those institutions, be careful in how you share it. For instance, don’t give your Social Security number out if someone claiming to be from some institution calls you and asks you for it. It may be a scam looking to steal your identity.

Despite these issues, the Social Security program is an important one that, among other things, provides a minimum income for retirees. Do what you can to keep your and your loved ones’ information out of the hands of those who’d misuse it. This way it will ensure you get what you’ve earned from Social Security.

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Man spends inheritance proving father murdered mother

A Salt Lake City man spent his entire proving  inheritence his father murdered his mother.

Back in 2012, when Pelle Walls and his siblings were told by their father that their mother committed suicide they were obviously devastated. But, the father’s behavior in the weeks following the suicide had Pelle thinking it was not, suicide, but murder, and his father was responsible for the death of his mother.

John  Brickman Walls ex-wife was a well-known German scientist, Uta von Schwedler who was found dead in her bathtub and Salt Lake City, Utah, authorities rule it a suicide. But Pelle had other ideas.

Pelle started noticing his father acting strange, saying things like ‘What if I did it and don’t remember?’, and asking for both his mother and his lawyer.

Even though the verdict was suicide. Pelle decided to seek justice for his mother. A year after her death he moved out of his father’s home and in with a friend, and soon after managed to get all of his younger siblings taken away from his father and put in the care of family and friends.

When he turned 21, Pelle decided to use the inheritance from his mother to sue his father in a wrongful death suit, which meant his father could be questioned under oath in a court. Taking the stand, his father’s story of Uta’s death soon showed cracks as he repeatedly changed his story.

Pelle was also able to tell the court of his father’s strange behavior after breaking the news to his children of their mother’s death. Various press reports say Pelle recalled, ‘He was kind of babbling and rambling. But he was saying things along the lines of, “Am I a monster?” and “What if I did it and I can’t remember?” I think he also said, “I want my mom or I want my mommy.”

Pelle hired an expert forensic scientist who testified that his mother’s body showed signs of a struggle before her death. The court found the father guilty of murder an he was sentenced from 15 years to life

The court case cost Pelle his entire inheritance.

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Property tax group sues NYC and NY State

An acting Manhattan Supreme Court, Justice Gerald Lebovits denied NYC and New York State’s Governments motion to dismiss a lawsuit by group of renters and property owners called Tax Equity Now NY.

The group filed the lawsuit in April 2017, alleging that New York City’s property-tax system discriminates against low-income homeowners and landlords. The organization includes the Rent Stabilization Association, prominent landlords and social welfare groups such as the NAACP and the Black Institute.

Justice Gerald Lebovits denied the de Blasio administration’s motion to dismiss, but left the State off the hook, finding the group has standing to bring the suit against the City.

They claimed it violated the equal protection clause, Fair Housing Act, and state property tax laws.

The group is being allowed to move forward with all 16 of their claims against the city, including that its property tax system violates the FHA because it disproportionately affects minority neighborhoods and perpetuates racial discrimination in housing.

In the suit, filed in 2017, Tax Equity NY argues the property tax system tends to undervalue condominiums and cooperatives compared with rental apartments, causing more financial hardship for renters in the form of higher property taxes for landlords that are passed along to the tenants.

In a press release, Martha Stark, director of policy for Tax Equity Now wrote “We filed our suit because the current system unfairly burdens homeowners in lower-income and minority communities, primarily in the outer boroughs.”

 

 

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Health Care Proxy. Should you have one?

Under the New York Health Care Proxy Law you can appoint someone you trust to make health care decisions for you if you lose the ability to make those decisions yourself. That person is considered your health care proxy or agent

A health care proxy is a way to eliminate confusion among your loved ones and health care providers about your health care wishes should you no longer b able t make those decsions yourself. Hospitals, doctors, and other medical providers must follow the agent’s decisions as if they were your own.

Here are a some common questions and answers about health care proxies:

Who can be your health care agent?

Anyone 18 years of age or older, including a family member or close friend can be your health care proxy.

A doctor can act either as your proxy or your attending doctor, but not as both simultaneously. A number of special rules apply to patients or residents of a nursing home, hospital, or mental health facility who want to name a staff member as an agent.

What powers do health care proxies have?

Your proxy can decide how your wishes apply as your medical condition changes, but he or she is legally obligated to always act in your best interest.

The person you select as your health care agent will have as little or as much authority as you want. You may allow your agent to make all health care decisions or only certain ones.

A health care proxy is different from a living will because it does not require that you know in advance all the decisions that may arise. Nevertheless, you may give your agent instructions that he or she must follow and specify on the form the treatments you do or do not want.

Also, note that you can continue to make health care decisions for yourself as long as you’re able. You can also cancel the authority given to your agent by informing him or her or your health care provider orally or in writing.

To appoint a health care proxy, you and your agent must sign a New York health care proxy form in the presence of two adult witnesses. This is best done in an attorney’s office like the Law Offices of Jeffrey Weinstein. Mr Weinstein is an estate professional and can guide you through what you need to do to insure your wishes are carried out.

Here are some instances when you would need a proxy:

  • You are in a coma from an accident or illness.
  • You are terminally ill and not expected to recover.
  • You have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
  • You are under general anesthesia, when something unexpected occurs.
  • You are in a persistent vegetative state.
  • You suffered from an illness that left you unable to communicate.

 

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The curious case of the homeless millionaire

Colorado’s probate courts have been mired in controversy for years. Two state audits in the last eleven years have found screening and monitoring of guardians and conservators as lacking. There have also been instances of neglect, theft, fraud and a general lack of accountability. Attempts to reform, the system has been moving at a glacial pace.

One person caught up in this mess is homeless millionaire Alan Fantin. That’s right, a homeless millionaire.  Fantin has a net worth in the millions but he has had trouble getting accessing it for years. He has been under a conservatorship that was created thirty years ago after a car accident left him with a severe head injury and partial paralysis.

He owns a house which is mostly paid off. But right now it’s ridden with black mold and there are squatters in the basement who don’t pay rent and won’t leave. And Fantin hasn’t been allowed near the house since he was arrested last month and charged with assaulting his live-in girlfriend. His pre-trial monitoring says he can’t come within one-mile of his alleged victim’s residence, which is also his home, or it it was.

On top of all that he is currently engaged in a legal tussle with the guy who controls his funds, a court-appointed conservator named Scott Christian. Christian was appointed in early 2015. Since then the two have battled constantly over financial matters, ranging from the amount of Fantin’s cable bills to his marijuana use. Christian has described Fantin’s weed smoking as a “substance abuse habit.”

Fantin has had a license to use marijuana for medical purposes since 2001.

In a report in Westword, Fantin says the weed helps him with the seizures he’s bee experiencing since his accident. “When I run out of pot, my seizures are more aggressive and they tend to last longer.”

Westword also reports

…Christian refused to provide any funds for his lodging after he was banned from his house; directed him to use a public defender in his domestic-violence case rather than hire his own attorney; threatened to cut off his phone if he continued to complain; and has been less and less responsive to Fantin’s pleas for help even as his firm’s fees for the conservatorship have steadily increased.

The case offers a rare glimpse behind the closed doors of probate court, where a professional cadre of attorneys, care managers, estate administrators and others are entrusted with guarding the interests and funds of some of society’s most vulnerable people. In many instances, they may be doing just that, protecting the elderly, the sick, the mentally or physically disabled from unscrupulous relatives or neighbors — and sometimes protecting them from themselves.

It’s a fascinating story which we suggest you read. Homeless Millionaire Alan Fantin Wants His Day in Probate Court

 

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