"I have a relative who I think is in trouble financially and needs professional help. What are the signs and I can approach this subject?

  • Excellent question.  Your relative is lucky to have you being attentive and spotting trouble.  It is alway better to prevent problems if possible and if not, knowing what to do is key.  I often see a person for a free consultation and they are there for their child, parent, significant other, ex spouse, friend or colleague. I provide them with information and ideas for sharing it with that person.

Signs that someone is in financial trouble:  What do I look for?
Unable to pay their mortgage, loss of their job, divorce, loss of spouse, medical bills they can’t pay, exhausting savings accounts, cashing in IRA’s, cashing in life insurance policy’s, cash advances on credit cards, balance transfers on credit cards,   Even temporary set backs such as a car accident, your business closed for three months due to construction, medical condition that requires time off of work, transitioning from one job to another, moving from place to place or State to State. Identity theft is a big problem, especially in Florida.  Applying for home equity loans to pay debt, applying for reverse mortgages to pay for debt.
How can I approach this sensitive topic?
It is not easy, I understand.  It seems people are more comfortable discussing sex, politics and religion, but not their finances. And let’s face it, when they want to seek professional advice who do they ask for a referral or ideas?  People covet their anonymity when it comes to financial problems.
I would suggest starting a conversation with that person and bringing up something  you saw on the internet, read about in the newspaper or saw on TV.  to that person.  People are more receptive when learning about other people who have similar problems. Even bringing up new credit card guidelines you read about in the paper or starting out with, “I was talking to John and Lois and they are three months behind on their mortgage, they didn’t know where to turn and sought advice by searching the internet.”
I particularly like weaving into the conversation, “I didn’t know everyone one is entitled to three free credit reports on-line a year, did you?  I better hurry up there’s only five days left in 2015.”

Sherry Ellis Law, PLLC