I have tried several times talking with my 90 year old Aunt (who moved in with my Mom and myself) to stop paying her credit card debts and use her SS money to start pre-paying her funeral.

My Aunt's response is she "needs" to do the right thing and pay her cards off. She owes about $9,000 in debt. I then asked her if she talked to an attorney and he told her what I told her would that make a difference and she said no. Very stubborn lady.

Is there anything else I could say to her to get through to her? I love my Aunt dearly and I'm scared that by the time she does pay her debt that she will pass away and won't be buried next to my Uncle which I know means so much to her. I can't afford to pay for her funeral when her time comes.


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JennaRose, sometimes we need to use "therapeutic fibs" to get our elders to do things in their best interest.

Your Aunt may be old enough to remember what is a "potter's field". If she does know what that means, it may be enough to scare her into pre-paying for a funeral. These fields were used in the olden days for those who had passed but could not afford a burial plot or funeral.

You can remind your Aunt that with a potter's field, she would be buried where there is room, pine box, no headstone. Your Aunt would be only identified as a number. Actually all of that is true, but potter's field stopped being used in the 1960's. You can fib saying they still are active. Hope that will rattle your Aunt enough to make her do something about her funeral.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to freqflyer
JennaRose Jun 1, 2019
Thanks freqflyer, if the meeting with the credit counselor doesn't work out to consolidate all her debts and hopefully take out a personal loan to pre-pay her funeral then I will try that.  I never heard of a "potter's field" before so thanks for sharing that with me.

I think because my Aunt has a perfect credit score, has been paying her CC bills on time, maybe the credit counselor could figure something out that would make my Aunt happy.  

I'm trying to help my Aunt because I love her and I don't understand why she gets so defensive with me.   Maybe I come off too strong, I don't know.
She needs to stop using the cards, freeze them.

Call your Office of Aging and ask if they have a credit counselor or know of one that will work on scale. Hopefully Aunt has a good credit score. She maybe able to consolidate and have one payment, to the bank.

In the meantime pay more than the minimum amt. All that does is cover the interest, not much to the principle. Don't let her be delinquent. It adds to the balance and finance charges are figured in.

I think at this point, she will not be able to save for a 10k funeral. Maybe u could check out a funeral insurance policy. See what the cost would be and how long she would need to be alive to receive the money. Some insurance policies its 2 yrs.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to JoAnn29
JennaRose Jun 1, 2019
My Aunt has a perfect credit score.  I will take her to my bank and have her sit with a very smart lady I know so she can consolidate and have the one payment to the bank.

For the past 5 months she has been paying about 7 or 8 times more than the minimum amount on her cards (she has 3 cards I believe).  She is never late.  

I think the best idea is for my Aunt to talk to someone at my bank about all this.   She shouldn't have to pay all that interest.  

Thanks!  Jenna
Put the pre-paid funeral expenses on the credit card.
Refinance the CC debt to a flat rate, lower interest personal loan when the rates go down.
Plan to pay off all debt by voluntarily paying down the loan by adding extra payments. Paying an extra payment towards the end of the month may increase one's fico score.
Stop using the credit cards after that.

If your aunt means that it is important to pay off debt, she will demonstrate this by
not using credit, and spending much less. That may mean, no gifts to anyone.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Sendhelp
JennaRose Jun 1, 2019
That's an idea to pre-pay her funeral expenses on her credit card.

She doesn't spend anything except on the food she eats, food for her cat, doctor bills (what medicare doesn't cover), her medication.  She pays cash for everything except the cat food (she doesn't understand the one of her credit (bank) cards is also a debit card which she can use online.

I was thinking since she has a perfect credit rating that I will take her to my bank and have her sit with a lady I know to talk about consolidating her CC debts so she can take a loan from the bank and pay 1 bill a month. 

She doesn't give her daughter or grandson's any money at all.

Thanks!  Jenna
If she ran up the debts, she has an obligation to pay them. Not doing so deliberately is stealing from the credit card companies.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to OkieGranny
JennaRose May 31, 2019
I agree with that but I'm also thinking because she is not in the best of health that she has other options.
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Are you absolutely sure she didn’t purchase a plot or internment rights when her husband’s plot was purchased? Because if she did, it shouldn’t cost but a few hundred to open the grave when the time comes. Have you asked her about that?
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to worriedinCali
JennaRose May 31, 2019
No, she didn't purchase anything.  When my Uncle passed she paid $10,000 for his funeral.
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It’s great she wants to pay off her debt... perhaps unrealistic. What are her health issues? Competent? Generally healthy? On medications?
Is she still using the cards?
A credit counselor could possibly help her negotiate lower balances on her cc debt Put her on a 24 month plan with a funeral payment included?? Might be worth making a few phone calls.
It could be that knowing her bills are paid is more important to her than knowing she will be buried next to her husband.
I know that’s not much comfort to you since you will be left to deal with the situation.
I assume she has no assets, no savings, no other family. Does she pay her own expenses? Is she paying to live with you and mom?
Maybe make death a little more real to her. Find out what happens to the bodies of the indigent who die in your county and share that with her and know for yourself. If her care becomes more than you can handle and she has to go into a NH on medicaid, she will not be able to make CC payments as her check will go for her share of cost towards her care.
In Atul Gawsndes book “Being Mortal” he gives us five questions to discuss near the end of life. These questions might be helpful to start conversations with both your aunt and your mom. He recommends asking these questions before you are in a crisis situation.
“We need to know:
1. What is your understanding of where you are and of your illness?
2. Your fears or worries for the future
3. Your goals and priorities
4. What outcomes are unacceptable to you? What are you willing to sacrifice and not?
And later,
5. What would a good day look like?
Asking these allows everybody to understand what the goal really is — what are you really fighting for? It’s for a life that contains certain things.”

At this point your aunt is saying she is willing to sacrifice being buried by your uncle. I think if that is her choice and she understands it, you have to work on accepting it.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to 97yroldmom
JennaRose May 31, 2019
I think at 90 years old with heart problems (a-fib) as well as borderline diabetes in which she does take a lot of medication it's unrealistic for her to pay off her debts.  She doesn't own any property, cars, etc.  All she gets is her social security. 

She uses one card to buy cat food because it's online and I told her after she moved here from another state that once she opens up a bank account here she can use her debit card instead. 

She has a daughter (my cousin) who is totally useless and never worked a day in her life because my Aunt enabled her (same with her 2 grandsons) so she put herself in debt by taking care of her family.  Now they are left to fend for themselves.

I agreed to let her live in my house rent-free for many reasons:  to pay off her debt, to get away from my cousin because they were always screaming at each other, etc.  Now it's 5 months later and my Aunt looks 20 years younger because she doesn't have as much stress.

The way my Aunt has talked she really wants to be buried next to her husband and I don't think she is facing the reality that she is not a healthy person and should be prepaying her funeral. 

I did read that an attorney could write a letter to her CC companies so they won't bother her or she could declare bankruptcy. 

Also, it's against her religion to be cremated but that's what will happen if she doesn't face reality.  I'm trying to help her but if she wants to be stubborn and not listen to an attorney then I guess I have to accept her wishes.

Your idea of making death more real to her is a good one.  

Thanks, Jenna

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