Category Archives: boomerang kids

Hitched then ditched by marriage ‘predator’

Galina Baron married an elderly man named Charlie Juzumas with a promise he'd never have to go to a nursing home. A judge later said she had "unclean hands" after her son's name was added to the title of Juzumas' house.

Galina Baron, 65, married Charlie Juzumas, 89, with the promise that he’d never have to go to a nursing home. He didn’t know it yet, but he had just become entangled in a predatory marriage.

She promised to be a caring bride who’d keep him out of a nursing home.

When the wedding was done, Galina Baron left her 89-year-old husband at a Toronto subway stop.

Charlie Juzumas took the TTC home, alone. He didn’t know it yet, but he had just become entangled in a predatory marriage.

Juzumas was Baron’s sixth or maybe eighth husband. She had trouble remembering them all, according to a 2012 Ontario Superior Court judgment filed after Juzumas tried to reclaim the house she took from him.

This story is based on Justice Susan Lang’s court judgment, an affidavit and interviews. Baron and her son, Yevgeni, refused to comment.

Juzumas was the husband who got away, but it was a precarious escape.

When Baron married him on Sept. 27, 2007, the 65-year-old bride had been offering caretaking to vulnerable widowers with the expectation of a mention in their will, according to the judgment.

Age was not Juzumas’ weakness. He did yard work, planted flowers and seemed entirely self-sufficient, although he once accepted a tenant’s offer to climb a ladder and remove storm windows. His vulnerability came from a fear of dying in a nursing home.

It’s unclear if Baron knew this when she knocked on his door in 2006. Both were born in Lithuania, 24 years apart. Baron spoke the language of his home country and offered housework.

He was reluctant but she kept coming back. As her visits increased to three times a week, he started to see her as a saviour who’d keep him at home.

Juzumas’ wife, Malvina, died a decade earlier and they had no children, but his memories lived in this house. It was a three-storey Victorian, with stained-glass windows near the west Toronto neighbourhood of Beaconsfield.

Baron pushed for marriage, saying she merely wanted a widow’s pension. She clinched the deal by promising he’d never go to a nursing home.

The day before they married, Baron and Juzumas went to see a lawyer named Stan Mamak in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood. The court judgment detailed Mamak’s actions.

In a recent interview, Mamak said he did his best to independently represent Juzumas’ interests and believed the elderly man was a willing participant. “Just because someone is old doesn’t mean they are infirm,” he said.

Without meeting Juzumas separately to ask his wishes, Mamak wrote a will making Baron the sole executor and beneficiary of his estate, the judgment found.

Baron never did move in, but she spent her daytime visits berating him, according to witness testimony, the judgment said. She got joint access to his bank account. He paid her $800 a month for housekeeping and she took all but $100 of his tenants’ $1,300 monthly rent, said the judgment, which found Baron had “unclean hands.”

According to her affidavit, his new tenant, Pamela Detlor, studied Juzumas’ reaction to Baron. The moment Baron marched through his front door, Juzumas’ shoulders slumped, Detlor said. He was so afraid to speak that she initially thought he was mute. Later, he’d confide his troubles in Detlor saying, “I am a stupid old man,” according to the judgment.

Two years after the wedding, Juzumas realized he’d made a mistake, both in marriage and in the will that gave Baron his estate. He went to a different lawyer who wrote a new will. (The judgment doesn’t say why he didn’t choose Mamak, the original lawyer who wrote the first will of their marriage.) Baron would now inherit $10,000. The rest was bequeathed to his niece in Lithuania. The bulk of his estate came from his home, worth roughly $600,000 in 2009.

Baron soon discovered this act of rebellion. She went to see Mamak. The judgment states that Mamak believed it was Baron who was the victim, a “wronged, vulnerable spouse/caregiver.”

Mamak told the Star that Baron described Juzumas as a violent man, saying she claimed he threatened to cut her in half with a sword.

“In retrospect, I feel she was probably trying to manipulate my image of her — that she was an innocent victim,” Mamak said.

Together, Baron and Mamak came up with the idea to transfer the title of the house to her son, Yevgeni, the judgment found. Mamak said he improved the agreement, letting Juzumas live in the house with his name on title until his death.

A meeting was arranged to add Baron’s son Yevgeni to the house title. That morning, 91-year-old Juzumas ate a bowl of Baron’s soup, becoming “dizzy, as if I’d taken a strong drink,” he later told court.

Tired and disoriented, Juzumas signed the papers, giving away his financial security to a young man he disliked. The judgment later found there was no evidence Mamak spoke to Juzumas without Baron in the room, nor did he tell him the new agreement was “virtually eviscerating” his recent will. (Mamak said he believes he spoke to Juzumas independently but has no notes to prove it.)

When Juzumas learned of Baron’s ruse through a legal followup letter two weeks later, Juzumas’ long-time neighbour, Ferne Sinkins, drove him to the lawyer’s office. Baron arrived a few minutes later, but was told to wait. Juzumas emerged from his meeting with Mamak saying he was told the transfer was “in the computer; it can’t be changed,” the judgment said.

He returned the following week with the same request. Again, Baron appeared — an “unexplained coincidence,” the judge found. (Mamak denied tipping off Baron, saying she was probably following Juzumas.) This time, she demanded a new will and power of attorney over his medical care.

At home, his tenant thought he was “doped up.” His neighbour questioned the large gash on his forehead. Juzumas said he passed out, adding that Baron told him he fell down the stairs. He didn’t want to go to the hospital, fearing he’d be taken to a nursing home. During a rare evening visit, Baron called an ambulance claiming Juzumas was sick. His tenant, Detlor, told the attendants of Baron’s abuse.

Questioned by hospital staff, Baron called Juzumas a violent, pathological liar who should be sent to a nursing home. Instead, staff sent him home where helpful tenant Detlor insisted he change the locks. The day Baron came to get a few possessions left on the porch, Juzumas lay flat on the couch so she couldn’t see him.

Juzumas took his case to court. Baron fought back. The judge gave him a divorce and reversed the transfer of his house, blaming it on Baron and Yevgeni’s “undue influence of a vulnerable elder.”

Two years later, Juzumas sold his home for $910,000 and, neighbours said, returned to Lithuania with his niece.

Source: Toronto Star  Investigative News reporter, Published on Sun Apr 17 2016

Galina Baron married an elderly man named Charlie Juzumas with a promise he'd never have to go to a nursing home. A judge later said she had "unclean hands" after her son's name was added to the title of Juzumas' house.

Tagged , , ,

Sean Cooper pays off mortgage in 3 years and earns online hate

Sean Cooper torches his loan papers at a mortgage burning party in Toronto. Not everyone admired his efforts.

When Sean Cooper burned his mortgage papers after going to extremes to pay off his house in three years, he never imagined it would get folks so fired up.

But after CBC News reported Cooper’s story late last year, reader comments flooded the internet, either praising or reviling the 30-year-old’s financial achievement.

“What is he going to do next, buy a car and sell one of his kidneys to pay for it?” snarled one reader.

An era of cheap interest rates has helped ignite an escalating and troubling household debt binge. The topic has become such a touchy one it can spark polarized opinions, finger pointing and even contempt.

Fuelling the debt fire

Not wanting to face a lifetime of debt, Cooper sacrificed three years of his life to pay down a $255,000 mortgage on a $425,000 Toronto home he bought in 2012.

He worked up to 100 hours a week at three jobs: pension analyst; financial writer; and supermarket clerk. Naturally, the bachelor’s social life suffered. Cooper also lived like a pauper, maintaining a strict budget and residing in the basement so he could collect rent on the rest of his house.

His story generated more than 2,000 comments on CBC News sites.​

“Well done! Worked your butt off to get away from debt,” wrote a jubilant reader about Cooper’s accomplishment. But others had only harsh words.

“He’ll probably die young,” opined one reader. “What a load of horse patty,” posted another, adding, “Work yourself to an early grave!”

Someone else chided, “Sean Cooper is the most boring man on earth. Life’s [too] short to live like a hobbit.”

Readers also invented details about Cooper’s life such as claiming he got his $170,000 down payment from his parents. Cooper said he saved the cash himself by, yes, living frugally.

Media across the globe have now jumped on the story and also taken sides. “Well done, big fella, congratulations, an inspirational guy,” gushed host David Koch on the Australian breakfast television program,Sunrise.

Sean Cooper on Aussie TV

Cooper appeared on the Australian breakfast television program Sunrise in December, where the hosts praised his accomplishment. (Sunrise)

But America’s Slate magazine had a different take, stating Cooper’s story implied our money troubles were entirely our own fault. The Slate article suggested cash-strapped people wanted real economic change rather than just “inspirational stories of sacrifice and pluck.”

Shaming and blaming

So just how much of our debt is our fault and why has Cooper’s story ignited such a furor?

There’s no denying some Canadians have money troubles. Thanks in large part to fat mortgages, Canada’s debt-to-income ratio is at a record high — on average people now owe $1.64 for every dollar of disposable income they earn.

Cooper said he understands not everyone is in a position to live the single, super frugal life. But he believes many lack the willpower to pay down their mortgage more quickly and that’s what inspired the nasty comments.

“They have different priorities in life, so I guess it’s just easier to kind of hate-on me for trying to accomplish this because they aren’t willing to do [it],” he said.

Financial writer Kerry K. Taylor agrees many people are not motivated to make the extra effort.

“Saving’s hard,” she said. “We want our stuff and we want it now,” added Taylor, who lives her own frugal lifestyle with her family in Toronto.

She has also written about the Cooper story and suggests his feat inspired hate because many of us don’t want to confront our own money problems. “It’s easier to poke holes in his lifestyle rather than take nuggets of advice from it.”

Taylor added that we have no one to blame but ourselves for our debt. “Look in the mirror,” she said.

Understanding the haters

Kitchener-based bankruptcy trustee Doug Hoyes is more sympathetic to the haters. While he applauds Cooper’s accomplishment, he said the 30-year-old’s extreme methods are out of reach for many. “That is not realistic for a single mother of a two-year-old kid,” he said.

He suggests some people find Cooper’s story offensive because they are not in a position to achieve the same goal.

“It could be interpreted that the finger is being pointed at me. Why am I not working 100 hours a week?”

Hoyes also believes individuals shouldn’t shoulder all the blame. While he feels personal choice definitely contributes to debt, so can many other factors such as bad luck, one’s health, a tough economy and policies that allow easy access to massive loans.

Cooper takes it in stride

For those who are inspired by Cooper’s achievement, he’ll soon be offering his services. In addition to his current pension analyst and freelance writer gigs, he’s planning a new venture: advising people how to get rid of their mortgage faster.

He’s working on a book on the same topic. The working title is “Burn Your Mortgage.”

He admits if he had do it again, he’d probably take a couple of more years to wipe out his debt so he would have had more time for socializing. But Cooper wants the haters to know that mortgage-free life is great.

“I’m in a financial situation that people are typically in in their 50s or 60s and I’m only 30 years old, so that’s a nice feeling to have,” he said.

Sean Cooper morgage burning

Cooper’s now owns his $425,000 home mortgage free. To help quickly pay off his mortgage, Cooper lived in the basement and rented out the rest of the house.

Source: By Sophia Harris, CBC News Posted: Jan 14, 2016 5:00 AM ET

Tagged , , ,

How transportation impacts real estate prices

Being around public transportation wasn’t always a good choice when it came to real estate. After World War II, downtown living was frowned upon and people flocked towards the suburbs in order to find larger and greener land. As a result, real estate prices rose outside the city.

Fast forward to today and we’re seeing the opposite effect. People want to live in the downtown core and public transportation is at the forefront of political debate.

Billions of dollars are being spent on new subways and streetcars in cities like Toronto and Vancouver. Calgary and Ottawa are also beefing up its public transit service in response to a higher demand from residents.

In fact, every major city across Canada has plans to focus on public transportation. It’s a response to increased population demands, and on minimizing the cost of economic and environmental resources.

Increased housing prices are a result of higher demand. In terms of housing near public transportation, this demand has increased because people want the convenience of walking to a subway or streetcar. This is an advantage because there is no requirement to pay for parking.

The millennial generation (those under 30 years old) also prefers to live close to public transportation. This generation of the population has made a conscious decision to drive less and walk more, thus, making them more dependent on public transportation.

This is especially true in the rental market where many renters opt to live in housing that is walking distance to a subway or streetcar route.

Transit is vital for building communities. It’s an essential service that provides mobility, creates jobs and takes cars off the street. As a result, congestion is reduced, fostering economic growth in the economy.

In terms of real estate prices, property values that are located close to public transit increase at a higher rate and have been shown to be more resilient to economic downturns.

A study created by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) concluded that “property values with good access to public transit remained much closer to their pre-recession levels than properties without access, even within the same city.”

This can also be seen in the short-term rental market. Properties listed on AirBnB and VRBO yield a higher return when they are located close to public transportation and to the downtown core.

As cities across Canada become more developed, it will be more and more difficult to commute downtown via car. Thus, properties that are located closer to the downtown and have good access to public transportation will continue to see growth in real estate prices.

Michael Rix is a co-founder of TurnKii, a Toronto-based company providing an all-in-one tool and service to support everyday landlords/real estate investors.

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth 25 Nov 2015

Tagged , , , ,

A hard look at tough love and financial planning.

Source: Credit Canada

by Laurie Campbell on Thursday, April 9, 2015

Baby boomer parents take note. There’s a time for love, and there’s a time for tough love. That’s my thinking if you are currently footing the bills for able-bodied adult children who remain dependent on you to get by. You might ask, is your support encouraging your kids to become self reliant and make a life of their own, or is it merely cultivating more dependency?

“Tough love can light a fire under the butt of a rumpus room slacker. It can rouse embittered millennials to new possibilities.”

Here I’m reminded of the old saying, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Truth is, love can sometimes be blind to behaviour that is not in a family’s best financial interest. Tough love, on the other hand, can open eyes to what benefits family finances – and family ties – most. It can light a fire under the butt of a rumpus room slacker. It can rouse jobless, embittered millennials to new explorations and possibilities. It can bring hope to any household.

If as a parent you are spending beyond your means to fulfill the extravagant wants rather than the pressing needs of your still dependent adult children, then you may require a wake up call, not to mention basic financial planning skills. Such spending can not only threaten your own longer-term financial security, it can discourage growth towards self-sufficiency in your offspring – a lose-lose situation.

“We find a couple in their mid 50s who devoted $32,000 of a meek $140,000retirement savings plan to their daughter’s wedding.”

Take a couple of examples of parental largesse as reported by Bloomberg News recently. We find a couple in their mid 50s who devoted $32,000 of a meek $140,000 retirement savings plan to their daughter’s wedding. We learn about another 50-something couple who cashed out $61,000 from their modest $200,000 nest egg to help pay for their daughter and son-in-law’s first home.

At first glance, the generosity seems admirable – how dearly the parents must love their children. But upon close review, the spending is foolish. Is this wedding tab and home payment worth about a quarter or more of mom and dad’s rather limited life savings by Canadian middle class standards?  Moreover, what is the mindset of the children who accepted such gifts given the parents’ financial status?

“Dependent adult children may need reminding that when parents with depleted savings eventually retire, the financial tables can easily turn.”

Are the parents pushovers? Are the kids spoiled? I’d say these are distinct possibilities. The importance of long-term financial planning– especially in relation to mom and dad’s retirement savings – seems to be lost on all parties.

Dependent adult children may need reminding that when overly generous parents eventually retire with depleted savings, the financial tables can easily turn. Mom and dad can become the needy ones, with calls for the children to cover living and health-related expenses that cannot be fully met for want of enough retirement income. This is a real concern in Canada today.

“Don’t abandon your kids. Just be realistic. Help your children within your means, without abandoning your own future.”

Recent studies show that a lot of Canadians are worried about their retirement nest eggs. Almost half of middle class couples believe they will not have the savings they need for their golden years. Many boomer parents believe they will have to continue to work well past retirement age in order to maintain a reasonably comfortable lifestyle.
Maybe it’s time more parents toughened up on spending involving their dependent adult children. I’m not saying abandon your kids. Just abandon overspending and stick to your savings plan. Be realistic about your finances and be firm in your resolve. Help your children only within your means. Above all, give your children the love, encouragement, and instruction they need to work toward independence.