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Watch Dad's and Mom's Credit!

Fingerprint-2904774_640I recently read an article about a 103-year-old man who got himself into a credit mess. 

His memory had recently begun to decline, so his son used a power of attorney to take over Dad’s finances, including his checkbook and credit cards.

Although Son took Dad to look at assisted living facilities, Dad did not want to leave his retirement community where he lives alone, drives his own golf cart, and dates a former beauty queen. Who can blame him?

However, Dad decided one day to spruce up his home, so he called a repair company which he had used for over ten years to inspect his air conditioning. He didn’t remember to consult his son. As a result, Dad agreed to pay more than $24,000 for two new AC units and a warranty. Because he did not have access to credit cards or checks, he took out a 12-year loan, which could have added an additional $18,000 in interest. 

Son was furious when he found out, and believed Dad had been taken advantage of, as Son felt Dad was not competent to sign a contract. However, the company said that when they dealt with Dad he seemed the same as he always had been, showed no signs of any mental deficiency, and they and no knowledge of his declining memory; they said they do inquire further if they have information of a competency issue. 

The good news: Son and the company negotiated a settlement reducing the price of the units and cancelling the warranty.

There do not appear to be any villains here, but this could have been prevented. Son did almost everything right to keep Dad from making bad financial decisions. The one thing that Son did not think about doing was to freeze Dad’s credit, which makes it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts, or a parent to open a credit line without the child knowing. How can that be done?

  • Contact the three credit agencies, Equifax (800-685-1111), Experian (888-397-3742), and TransUnion (888-909-8872).
  • Provide the person’s name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, and other relevant personal information.
  • Verify your identification, provide a court order, power of attorney, or other documents showing you have authority to act.
  • Request that notifications come to you.
  • If requested by telephone, the account must be frozen within one business day.
  • The company will provide a PIN or password, which you will need to lift the freeze.
  • If you request that the freeze be lifted, it must be done within one hour.

This can be an important, but often overlooked, step in protecting a parent from “creditors and predators”.

 

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How long will you live? It depends.

Clock-4003126_640Life expectancy increased in the U.S. by nearly four years from 1990 to 2016. Americans born today can expect to live to a ripe old age of 78.9 years old.

However, researchers are worried that increasingly, Americans are smoking and drinking too much, eating bad food, and suffering from more drug use disorders. It’s all having an effect on how long people can live healthy, disability- and disease-free lives.

According to a new JAMA study that tracked the state of health in the U.S. from 1990-2016, although Americans are living longer today than they used to, they’re not necessarily living much healthier lives.

The study traced the prevalence of 333 different health problem causes and 84 risk factors for death over that 26-year period, and found that the average American born today can expect to live 67.7 years illness- and injury-free, a healthy life expectancy average that’s just 2.4 years longer than it was in 1990.

The researchers are especially worried about growing rates of health problems like obesity and diabetes, the prevalence of drug use disorders (including opioid addiction), and alcohol use. Other health issues on the rise in the U.S. include cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and hearing loss, which are edging out what used to be some of the most common health issues in the country, like major depression, low back pain, and car crash injuries.

Lead study author Christopher Murray, who directs the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, says that obesity and substance use disorders are increasing health problems around the globe, and this most recent data shows that the U.S. is no exception.

In 1960 Americans had the highest life expectancy of any country in the world. But today, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the U.S. has plummeted to the bottom of the list of countries with a similar GDP and high average income. The number of years people can expect to live healthy, illness- and injury-free lives in the U.S. is over 70 years in only two states: Minnesota and Hawaii.

Here’s the full list of states, plus Washington D.C., in order from longest healthy life expectancy to shortest.

1 Minnesota – 70.3 years
2 Hawaii – 70.1 years
3 California – 69.9 years
4 Washington – 69.1 years
5 Vermont – 69 years
6 Connecticut – 69 years
7 Iowa – 68.9 years
8 Massachusetts – 68.9 years
9 Colorado – 68.9 years
10 New Jersey – 68.8 years
11 North Dakota – 68.8 years
12 Nebraska – 68.8 years
13 Wisconsin – 68.6 years
14 New Hampshire – 68.5 years
15 New York – 68.5 years
16 South Dakota – 68.4 years
17 Oregon – 68.4 years
18 Illinois – 68.3 years
19 Utah – 68.2 years
20 Rhode Island – 68.1 years
21 Maine – 68 years
22 Maryland – 68 years
23 Virginia – 68 years
24 Florida – 67.9 years
25 Idaho – 67.9 years
26 Kansas – 67.8 years
27 Arizona – 67.7 years
28 Montana – 67.7 years
29 Texas – 67.4 years
30 Wyoming – 67.4 years
31 Washington, DC – 67.4 years
32 North Carolina – 67.4 years
33 Alaska – 67.3 years
34 Delaware – 67.2 years
35 Michigan – 67 years
36 Nevada – 66.9 years
37 Pennsylvania – 66.8 years
38 Georgia – 66.6 years
39 Missouri – 66.5 years
40 New Mexico – 66.3 years
41 Ohio – 66.1 years
42 Indiana – 66 years
43 South Carolina – 65.8 years
44 Arkansas – 65.5 years
45 Tennessee – 65.4 years
46 Louisiana – 65 years
47 Mississippi – 64.9 years
48 Alabama – 64.6 years
49 Oklahoma – 64.5 years
50 Kentucky – 64.3 years
51 West Virginia – 63.8 years


Adapted from an article by Hilary BrueckJenny