Our 89-year-old dad got himself into a credit card situation, and has to pay $1400 per month. He wants us to pay, but we don't have it. What are our options?

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I'd look into bankruptcy or at least credit counseling for him. This is not your debt. If he truly cannot pay, that will be figured out. Let him know he's not alone and there are options. You may want to consult a bankruptcy attorney.
Good luck,
Carol
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If your Dad does not have any monetary assets, the creditors cannot take his social security. Call the credit card company and explain that he is on SSI and you have to close his credit card account. The credit card companies should never allow someone whose income is SSI have a credit card in the first place. So it is their loss. If you get court papers regarding suit on this credit card bill; call them and tell them he is on SSI. Same goes for Court papers. If you need further assistance go through your Judicare System through you county who has attorneys that can assist you Pro Bono (free of charge).
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I think Carol had the best suggestion. Bankruptcy will protect assets like his home, vehicle, etc. At 89, those things should be sold to pay for his care in assisted living or nursing home if and when he needs it. Racking up enough debt to equal a payment of $1400 is a huge red flag and means it's probably time that you and your siblings start watching his spending, perhaps even get a Power of Attorney (PoA) so you can conduct business on his behalf. A PoA does NOT mean you're responsible for his debts - unless you abuse it and run up his credit cards, then the law will be after you. The most important thing is that you keep up with his utility bills and any supplemental health insurance, those companies will jump at the chance to drop anyone of advanced age! I would also go through his mail regularily - or have it come to you first to remove all credit card applications, catalogs or other junk where he could get into financial trouble.

I believe we should not rack up debt we can't pay off. That said, I don't want to sound like a jerk but - what kind of company would give huge credit limits to someone his age? I suspect some predatory practices - taking advantage of his age - to sell a credit card. In that case I sort of feel that bankruptcy is not so shameful. Those companies are the ones who should be ashamed!!
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Cannot believe that your Dad asked you to pay of his debts to the tune of $1,400./mo. As Carol said, do not make his debts your problem. Never intermingle your financial business with his or co-sign on loans, etc.
There are all kinds of reputable debt counseling services that are approved by the government. Doesn't Obama have some sort of debt forgiveness program? (saw something about it on TV).
Does your Dad have assets he can liquidate or borrow against?
Also, have him cut up his credit cards. Over-spending of this severity is an addiction and he cannot be trusted to use credit wisely.
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In checking this out, in your behalf, this is what I found:

However much you dread it, you can make the debt conversation go more smoothly. Here's how:

Be upfront. "I prefer the direct approach: 'I know this is none of my business, but I'm concerned, and I want to ask you about your credit card issues,'" says Sharon Burns, author of "How to Care for Your Parents' Money While Caring for Your Parents." The first time, your parents might agree with you that it's none of your business. On the other hand, they may want to talk later, once they know you're clued in to the problem.
Look for an opening. An onslaught of credit card offers may indicate rising debt levels, so ask about it if you see a letter lying on the table: "Do you get a lot of these offers? Are you looking for a new credit card?" Or volunteer to help with the physical task of paying bills or filing an income tax return. You'll get a close-up look at their finances -- and a better sense of whether they're really in trouble.
Show your good intentions. When your parents understand that your concern about their debt stems from love and not a greedy scrabbling for inheritance cash, they're less likely to go on the defensive. Try saying, "I care about you, and I want to make sure you're as well taken care of as you deserve for raising us," or, "I want you to have smooth sailing as you go forward."
Offer collaboration. "Don't say things that imply they're not capable; that's every older person's fear," says Coon. Instead of telling your parents what they're doing wrong and dictating solutions, work together to brainstorm positive approaches to the problem and remind them that they're not the only ones in this situation.
Defuse hurt feelings. Despite your best efforts, the conversation may not go well. You can keep it from turning into a shouting match by keeping your own tone even-keeled and offering a measured response: "I can see that what I said has upset you, and that's not what I intended. I just don't want you to feel like you have to go this alone."
Hopefully some of these suggestions will be of help to you~
Hap
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I am with Carol on this. DO NOT INSERT YOURSELF INTO ANY DISCUSSION WITH YOUR FATHER'S CREDITORS unless you have to exercise Financial POA and/or the advice of an Elder Law Attorney. The Creditor would like nothing better than to have YOU assume responsibility for your father's debt. Under current Federal law they can do this by simply recording your agreement on the phone to do so. This is one of the areas being addressed by the Financial Reform Act--if it ever gets passed into law. Your job for now is to protect your father's assets so that he will have something besides SSI to fall back on if he needs long term care or must move into an Assisted Living Facility. At the same time you have to look out for your own family if you have dependents.
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I think the bankrupcy thing is a good idea. My father will have to do the same thing. He has a "mortgage" where he pays at least $1400 per month, after refinancing the house a hundred times to "pay off bills", plus a Sam's Club Discover card where he owes over $5K! I remember when he paid off that house in the 90's. He's 78 yrs old with this kind of outrageous debt. I am unable to help due to my mortgages and cost of living. He does have 2 grown sons living with him though who need to be paying that mortgage. I think I heard him say that he is going to call the BK attorney.....sigh...it's sad to see someone go out like this :-(
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Thank you everyone! Your ideas have been so helpful, but it's more important to know that there are people out there who understand. Since my opening statement was limited by space, let me add that we do owe him some money from his years as a banker ( ! ) when he wrote us loans to start ranching. We pay him on a set schedule, but he's borrowed $8000 so far this year, which my husband is using Visa checks to give him as "he's my father and I can't say no". So it's just transferring his credit card debt to ours, essentially, and it's breaking us as we have three boys of our own to raise.
I was going to call the credit card company myself, but thanks to your wise advise, I will stick to letting him do the communication. I do have them convinced to sell their house, which, yes, Psmitty, has a second mortgage also, and moving into an apartment in a town closer to us. I convinced them they would be helping the grandsons out as they could work in town and stay with them.
My big question is this: he is paying $714 every three months and his wife is paying $680 for life insurance policies, insisting that "everything will take care of itself when I'm dead". I think they should just cancel the policies as we don't want any inheritance; we just want them to enjoy their later years without all this money worry. They have Social Security and a modest Retirement income. I think this line of thinking is just crazy -or am I the crazy one?
I will tell you this - I have already told my own boys to forget about inheritance, that they need to make their own way in this world. People who spend their lives waiting around for someone to die are sad people, indeed.
Thank you all so much!
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I would encourage you to speak with an attorney who specializes in elder law and get his/her best advice....Does you Father have dementia or perhaps another health issue that affects his ability to reason well??? I would NOT accept responsibility for the debt if I were you... take care, J
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PLEASE EXPLAIN : "CREDIT CARD SITUATION."

You are not responsible for another's credit card debt unless you are on the app. or on the card with your signature on file with them.
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