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My father who is 80, sick, broke and in assisted living has enormous past debt. He has absolutely no money and only gets his social security check monthly which pays for his residence in assisted living. He cannot even make small payments, he has nothing. Although I am helping in every way I can, I am unemployed and a single mother and have no way of helping him financially get out of this mess. Any advice??

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Ferris 1: I posted on this site for some kind advice and support. You know nothing about my life, or my father's for that matter, except what I have disclosed about his unfortunate financial situation. I find your comments insensitive and mean, please refrain from responding to my future posts. Thank you.
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Tell them he's in a nursing home and tell them never to call you again or you will file a lawsuit for unfair debt collection. Report them to the state attorney general's office. They cannot harass you or call you if it is not your debt.
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I understand about people who think they can repay debt, and it isn't just the elderly with memory impairment. Most everyone can get hooked and it is a very seductive mistress that I know too well. I'm doing much better now that I am responsible for all debt, paying bills, etc. So if I screw up, I have no one to blame but myself.
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That's the sad thing, ferris1 – the elderly who take on the credit can't exercise the judgement necessary to understand that they can't pay it back. In my father's case, he could calculate the total of the many credit card payments he made each month, but had lost all ability to budget. He simply couldn't understand the long-term consequences.
Also, many came of age at a time when it was difficult to get a credit card. Master Charge (as it was known) was tough to get. For the most part, consumers could rely not only on their own judgement, but also on the strict requirements of the credit card companies. They didn't extend the credit if you weren't capable of paying them back. Seems simple, right? It all went out the window with deregulation. Companies could make their money (lots of it) by buying bad debt, charging crazy fees and sky-high interest rates. As you point out, where money is involved, right and wrong goes out the window. When there are no regulations, greed is in charge and greed has no boundaries and lots of victims.
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please everyone remember this-if you have a parent that is deep debt and has no income except social security-creditors cannot freeze their bank account-its against the law. Furthermore do not start making payments in their behalf and last letters should be sent to every creditor telling them never to contact you or anyone regarding said debt-phone or mail and this letter needs to be certified-signature required and keep the return signature. Non need to file bankruptcy.
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JennyM - Don't you know where money is involved people and businesses lose all sight of what is ethical or moral? Moral: Don't borrow money you cannot pay back.
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I, too have been in this situation. I agree with Eyerishlass, your dad has no need for a good credit rating. STOP PAYING THEM and don't give it another thought. I didn't communicate with the creditors at all. When I took over my dad's finances, I found that he had been 'robbing Peter to pay Paul' - taking advances from one credit card to pay another and then paying all of them with exhorbitant late fees. It was a real mess. All of his debt was unsecured. When I dug into the details of his accounts, I quickly set aside any scruples I had about walking away from the obligation. No company (before deregulation) would ever have extended credit to him. He had no assets and a small fixed income. Their motive was strictly predatory – looking to profit from the inevitable fees and incredibly high interest.
The harrassment was continual. They never got to me, but they called him non-stop. He refused my offer to change his phone number.
It's been several years and one by one, his creditors are giving up. He receives a couple of 'forgiveness of debt' letters each year. We had to go to court once. I didn't get a lawyer, I simply explained to the debt collection company's lawyer that you can get blood from a stone (they take you aside and make pennies on the dollar type of offer before you go into the courtroom). We went before the judge anyway and the judge tore into the lawyer for the sloppy documentation that these collection companies maintain. The debt gets sold so many times that they can't prove they actually own the right to collect on it. I did lots of googling ahead of time and it played out exactly as my research suggested it would. It's happening all over - judges are sick of these companies bringing cases before them.
Check each creditor to make sure the debt is unsecured and in your father's name only. Then stop paying. I'm pretty careful with my finances and I hated the 'loose ends' feeling, but resist the urge to try to get any kind of closure from the creditors. If the continual mail bothers you, get a box and stuff it in there each month.
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I continue to find it amazing that companies give credit to those who have no means of repaying it and then are allowed to hound them to the grave (and beyond) in the attempt to collect. Don't these companies have any culpabilty in this mess?
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How are you able to provide for your child and yourself with NO income? Talk with your father's debt collectors and tell them his situation. They may or may not write it off. If no payments are made, in seven years they will disappear from his credit bureau statements. I hope your situation improves for your child's sake, otherwise you are just repeating your father's financial situation. Good luck.
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I was in the exact same situation, Tamara. But to address the bankruptcy, yes, it costs money to file for bankruptcy, hundreds of dollars. Tons of paperwork.

My dad was in a NH, he owned nothing but had substantial debt. I tried to keep up with his bills for a while but then thought, "Why am I doing this?" My dad was getting worse and his credit rating didn't matter anymore so I went delinquent on all of his accounts. I called his creditors and explained the situation however they kept after him. The one mistake I made was calling his creditors from my cell phone. After that they had another contact number for my dad and they used it. I wasn't on the hook for his debts, nothing was in my name, but as they called my cell one by one I told them that the number was MY number and to not call the number again. I talked with them at several intervals, letting them know that my dad was in a nursing home and that he was on hospice, they said they'd "notate the account" but the letters kept coming. Finally I just stopped talking to them. Then my dad died and while it still wasn't my responsibility I called all of his creditors to let them know. The letters stopped for the most part but I still get some each month (when my dad went into the nursing home I changed his address to my address so he wouldn't have to deal with his mail). I get a letter each month addressed to "The Estate of _________". And it's a nasty collections letter. I called them just last night and read them the riot act. I had informed these people of his death AND sent a copy of the death certificate. Last night on the phone I offered to bring my dad's ashes down to their office.

At the age of 80, is your dad's credit rating important anymore? Is your name on any of his accounts? If not, why keep paying his bills? Obviously the NH has to be paid but all the other stuff? I say go delinquent and not worry about it anymore. In a perfect world I would have had the money to make good on all of my dad's bills but he didn't have the money and I sure as heck didn't have the money. My dad was worried about his bills in the beginning after he first went to the NH but soon I was able to say to him, "Dad, at any time in your adult life have you ever not had to worry about bills?" Then I told him that he didn't have to worry about bills anymore, that I took care of it. He was at the beginning stages of encephalopathy so his mind was going and he didn't really ask any questions about his bills anymore. I still received the odd call from a creditor now and then but I'd go through the routine of explaining the situation to them, inform them that they had called my cell phone and that my dad was not only unavailable at that cell phone number but he was unavailable, period. It was a hassle and it was frustrating but we really had no choice. My dad had no money and what money had did have coming in every month went to the NH.

We did consider bankruptcy. It seemed more....responsible. But when we contacted a lawyer we found out it would cost $800 and my dad would have to sign a ton of paperwork. He was growing more confused by the day and we didn't think he'd be able to get through all of that paperwork. Plus, my dad had kept sloppy and incomplete records (but he thought he kept good records) and the thought of filing for bankruptcy and getting together all necessary paperwork was too daunting for us. Dad didn't need good credit any longer so we went another route and it worked out ok for us.
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Don't you have to pay to file bankruptcy?
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Bankruptcy.
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