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MilliBillie - the creditors are relentless now aren't they? My MIL had 6 figure debt and really whoever what I learned is that whomever is dealing with it needs to stay calm & never ever agree to anything. About the filial responsiblity law, that seems to be a stretch in actuality. I know PA has used it but it seemed the cases were private pay NH in which the family member signed off on financially responsible and then wouldn't. Filial is more old English law so the older east coast US states have more of these on the books. I'm in LA and we are French law based. I think it's more used as a leverage threat by the creditor. The key is to always, always sign whatever by the NH resident themselves or if you have to sign, then do it in their name (as DPOA you can).Not my signature, not my problem.
But everybody who get's Medicaid is subject to MERP - Medicaid Estate Recovery (or Recoup) Program (or Policy). MERP is required in all states in order for the state to get federal $ for Medicaid program. MERP is very state law dependent as the vehicle for doing MERP is via probate court. My mom is in a NH on Medicaid and still has her home (empty), so MERP is something on my radar.
Debt is very tricky. There are several current articles on the Internet about dying in debt, seniors in debt and so on.
My mom was exploited by my only sibling and left impoverished. He also reactivated old credit card debt and charged thousands of dollars. I was able to get the banks to hold my brother responsible, but my point to you is this- Citibank is relentless and most banks are and will use many techniques to wear you down.
If you are a co-signer, then you are responsible. You can look online for grants for impoverished seniors for help with credit card debt. Call your local Council on Aging and ask them if they know of programs. You can call debt consolidation companies, but only use ones that are set up as non profits.
Like the idea of getting a mail box.
Was any of the debt used for your mom's care? Are you her DPOA? Some creditors feel the POA is responsible for the debt, but that's another tactic they use. Know your state's laws and try to get advice from a reputable attorney. If the debt is sizable, the credit card companies will be aggressive. Read, "Dying in Debt" on the Internet. It will give you some answers. You can also talk to a social worker about your situation.
If she has any savings at all you could offer it to them for settlement. Sometimes they will take a little and write off the rest. A lot depends on how much is owed.
Be prepared to provide proof to them about the amount being charged at the AL and how much income she has. Good luck to you as this may take a while to settle.
1. income other than social security or other retirement income protected from creditors &
2. has no "assets" that a lien can be placed against (like her home if that is allowed in her state, so states like TX do not allow for a CC debtor to place a lien on a homesteaded property). Then she just stops paying the cc debt. It will not be pretty as the debt collectors will be ruthless and constant and could do this for years and years as the debt gets sold and re-sold. But really if the above is the case, there is nothing they can do. Mom isn't likely to go and get a job or win the lottery now is she.....
My late MIL was a real financial terrorist and we dealt with some of these issues. My experience is that the facility (IL, AL - which are usually private pay) really frowns on having residents with these issues. They do NOT want process servers showing up or calls to the front office on Jane Smith's debt. What you can do is go out and rent a mail box for mom. The type at at UPS store or other mailing service. Then mom does a change of address for everything to the newly rented box and also sends a letter to all creditors that everything is to go to the new address and must be in writing. (so no barrage of phone calls to her at the new AL) Try to get one that is close to you if you will be dealing with this paperwork. The whole debt CC could get ugly but as long as you are not legally responsible - as Selfish Siblings said - well it's just too bad for them.
If creditors write off the debt, be sure to be on the look-out every January for a 1099-C. This is a Cancellation of Debt from the creditor. 1099-C is sticky in that the IRS views whatever is the amount on the 1099-C as INCOME. But it's totally phantom invisible income. So if it was 20K in CC debt, the 1099-C could easily be with interest, fines and penalties $ 24,756;38 after a year or more. You have to have mom file taxes on this and she will have to do an impoverishment form so that she doesn't have to pay taxes on this income . Personally, it's not a do-it-yourself Turbo Tax type of project, imho. Good luck and keep a sense of humor as you'll need it to deal with debt collectors.