DEAR ABBY: You've recently printed letters from people who have been victims of weight-loss or male-potency scams. Please warn your readers about another one: "senior financial workshops"!
They are usually advertised on inserts in newspapers and claim to teach seniors how to legally avoid paying income and estate taxes, how to increase spendable income, and how to "protect yourself" from nursing home expenses. The workshops are always "free" for seniors 60 years and older, and of course they "will sell you nothing."
My father died last year, and I have never been so horrified in my life. By the time the lawyers, accountants and trustees get their share, there will be barely enough left to take care of my mother.
What is most ludicrous of all is that my husband is an attorney. If only Dad had talked to him or any other honest lawyer, he would have been advised that none of this foolishness was necessary.
Abby, please warn senior citizens to be aware of these scams. Some honest people do conduct these seminars, but they are hardly "free." If seniors must attend, they should ask a lawyer or trusted friend to go with them, because unfortunately there are accountants, consultants and some lawyers who are only interested in robbing their client's survivors. -- ANGUISHED ATTORNEY'S WIFE
DEAR ANGUISHED: Your story is frightening. I hope all seniors, and readers of every age, will think twice before making investments or signing agreements with people they do not know and haven't thoroughly checked out.
Beware if the salesperson tells you, for instance, to borrow money on a credit card, to take out a mortgage on your home, or to cash in your IRA to invest -- with the assurance you will quickly double or triple your money with little risk. Select a broker or investment adviser who understands your financial objectives. Interview two or three to compare experience, education and professional background.
When it comes to taxes, investments, financial and estate planning, it is best to talk to professionals you know or who have been highly recommended by a trusted family member or friend who has an established, positive history with the agent and firm.
DEAR ABBY: You missed an opportunity to tell "Left Out in Minneapolis" the REAL "facts of life." She complained that although she and her boyfriend had lived together for more than 15 years, her name was omitted from the list of relatives in his sister's obituary. You told her that, technically, she is a friend -- not a relative -- and only family members are listed.
You should have told her two other things: (1) An obituary, like a marriage certificate, is just a piece of paper, so it's no big deal not being included in it; and (2) if she thinks his relatives were unkind to her then, wait until she sees what they do to her 50 percent of the home furnishings, cars, money, retirement savings, etc. that she thinks she and Tony jointly own, should he die before she does! -- TOO SMART NOT TO HAVE THAT "PIECE OF PAPER" IN NEW YORK
DEAR SMART: The lady didn't ask me what I thought the financial liabilities could be because of her choice of lifestyle. Had she done so, I would have pointed out the security and benefits of having a marriage certificate -- not the least of which are rights of inheritance and being able to make medical decisions should one's spouse become ill and unable to speak for himself or herself.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600