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He has early stage Alzheimer's. We are trying to get him Medicaid eligible so he can stay at home and get services. He has nothing in his name but social security and a very small pension. He has been paying on these credit cards and has racked up unbelievable interest on these cards. He is making minimum payments. Am I responsible for his debt? They are not in my name. I don't want Medicaid to be denied because he lied to me about these debts. Thanks

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Be very careful choosing a credit counselor. Some are for-profit, and will only increase your debt without helping your situation at all. Look for a state or federal department of consumer protection to get advice on finding a good one!
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speech, glad to see this again, been wondering, glad to see you have an attorney, really wish hub's aunt and uncle did, she keeps saying she's going to but never does, and glad to see he's advising you not to even pay on them, especially no more than his pension is, don't quite understand you saying something turned over to him when his mother died, so is/was it actually hers, so he doesn't actually have one of his own? do you know why the interest rates on the cards increased? from not being paid properly, know that's what happened with ours. my husband's much younger but sometimes I wonder, he has some of them - if not all, gets confusing - on automatic - but then that gets all mixed up with extra checks - but some I do think are on a he has to call system and then sometimes he'll forget. And we don't even have bank statements come anywhere, everything is electronic, which I'd wondered what was going on with hub's aunt, as well, she was telling me she wasn't getting her bank statements, either, and I had thought some banks had gone to quarterly rather than monthly but then think I learned either I was wrong or they went back but anyway then one day she'd started having her paperwork out in the open and I found her monthly statements, so not sure if they started sending them again after she started calling the bank so often or if she'd been getting them all along and just didn't realize it or would forget and since she'd been keeping them put where I couldn't see them I couldn't know but anyway I'd needed at least 3 of them for some help she'd been wanting me to get for her but 2 things, one of them, the last one, had the IRA distribution I'd needed the information about that she also didn't know anything about because it had been set up automatically and also that same one also had a new account that had been set up, apparently by family that had been put on their account, for the very purpose of the help that she'd been wanting me to get for them, that they had apparently also been working on, so still couldn't do anything until we found out what was going on with that, which then led to other things being found out with then later statements, like money being shifted and transferred and then possibly being taken out of their accounts, maybe ostensibly for their help but none has been seen yet and now more money's been coming out of their account that we think we know what's going on now, especially since some other people are ending up being involved, we're waiting now to see about some checks that somehow have wound up at somebody else's house, not the people on the account. It's possible the whole order of checks got diverted until she called the bank to ask about them and then they seemed to mysteriously appear, which I know could be attributed to the dementia she supposedly has but also sometimes people with paranoia really do have enemies and when you do have somebody who really is doing things it really is possible these things are really happening. The problem is, maybe because of the seeming dementia, maybe not, but she doesn't have POA over him, which is somewhat confusing as to whether this checking account is joint - I'm assuming, speech, by what you've said, your husband's was not? which is why you have POA, which how did you get that then? with my dad he put me on his checking account after my mom died, which she says she's on his but speech, so glad to find from you again, had wondered, so glad you have an attorney and that he's advising you not to pay on the credit cards,
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Can you get a Debt Counselor to assist you in negotiating the interest rates down? Is there any chance of him declaring bankruptcy? I would look into that if he cannot pay back the debt. Of course limiting his ability to spend is #1 at this point.
Good Luck
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Had friends who got in debt early in their marriage. They were able to get a consolidated loan. The loan paid all the creditors and then they only had one payment at a lot less interest. I wish they taught kids in school how Credit Cards worked. I found out a lot when I was late by one day.
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Forgot to mention. My husband gave up driving ( not something he wanted to do) right after he retired. He had an accident several mos earlier and months later drove through our closed garage door not realizing it wasn't open). This affected his mental state even more bc he lost his independence : retirement and no longer driving. More depression and frustrations. While he was still driving all his business bills were being sent to a PO box at our local PO. So he was able to get his bills and hide them from me that way. I finally cancelled the PO box bc we really didn't need to be paying for it and had all mail forwarded to our home. Guess that is when he came up w the idea of having the bills sent to his friend instead of here. He really got himself into a financial mess!! I still cannot believe he convinced his friend to let the bills go to his house.
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Hi again. Sorry. Couldn't find this thread - finally back to ans questions. I appreciate everyone's responses. My husband's pension is $192 a month. Very small. Something that was turned over to him when his mother died years ago.
Our Elder Atty has advised not paying even the minimum amts on the credit cards. He said to send him any letters that may come from the credit card companies. Very grateful he will handle this for us even w his fee. My husband's Alzheimer's may have started long before I realized it esp when it comes to financial errors w his business. I knew his business wasn't doing well the last couple of years but he kept telling me he was managing. I offered to help pay any bills as he was getting ready to retire. He did let me pay some but kept the rest hidden from me bc he was afraid to tell me. He figured he could pay those cards off gradually w his SS. Except the interest rates were unreal and it increased on all 3 cards very fast. He diverted the bills to a friend w me not knowing. The friend would either rip them up or give to him when they saw each other. My husband would do a phone call to the credit card company to pay on them monthly. Even his checking acct statements stopped coming in the mail to our house. I kept asking him why. He had changed the address on those too!!! So as much as his dementia has affected our lives, he knew enough to lie to me about all these debts. I finally went to bank w my POA paperwork and the bank filed it so I now have access to see his checking acct. he had numerous overdraft fees and insufficient funds!!! I hit the roof which of course had emotional affects at home. They almost cancelled his checking acct. I added a little money so he would have a balance. Now his direct dep of his SS and small pension will still be there and he has a positive balance.
Thanks so much to all of you for letting me vent. We are both seeing a psychologist.... Me for stress. he has seen one for years : depression, anxiety and OCD.
So grateful for his caregivers forum. Thanks again to all
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ferris, I understand that in typical situations, yes, but in this case, I really don't think the interest accumulating is even the issue, and I still believe in situations like this they're going to want his wife to then be responsible, which is the very thing she's trying to avoid; she's not wanting to take care of these bills and I don't really blame her, since she didn't know anything about them; she's got her hands full just trying to take care of him now, but she does need to find out about this pension
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You contact the credit card companies debdaughter to stop the interest that keeps accumulating. It is always a good thing to communicate what is going on in your life.
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why would you contact the credit card companies? they're likely then to want to make her responsible, but you do need to find out about the pension
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Above all else, contact the credit card companies, explain the situation and they probably will "write-off" the debt. After all, it is unlikely he would be able to pay them off due to his diagnosis. Best wishes!
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How do you decide if it was dementia at that stage?
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You can probably get the credit card company to forgive the debts. That happened a lot during the Great Recession. If he has dementia and very limited income, he won't be able to pay. If they forgive the debt, it will show up as "income" on a form called a 1099-C. You can negotiate that with the IRS too.

Dementia probably caused at least some of his poor money management. That's the sort of thing that starts to break down before you notice any problems. You must be furious, but try to cut him some slack. Imagine how it was for him, watching things fall apart around him, unable to fix it, feeling ashamed and trying to hide things. It wasn't the smart way to handle it, but it was kinda natural and human and fallible.
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but, ferris, the issue here is, he no longer has the business, he only has his SS, which probably won't cover those debts no matter how much they reduce the interest, although the pension does concern me somewhat; nobody's really addressed it or how much it is, just that they can't garnish his SS
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Joann, sorry just now getting back on this; they want us to not pay; said that would show a hardship, that we can't pay, which not sure what's going to happen now; with the tax refund - which was supposed to go somewhere else, which is whole other issue - hub caught up so we're not behind anymore, which I guess they're glad of, but I do wonder if they wonder how, since they'd given us till they were due before they were going to call us back to see what we had worked out but now they 've got a payment but what's going to happen now - good question
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First of all, you need to go to Social Security and get yourself made "Representative Payee". SS has a form for his doctor to fill out stating his dementia will be permanent. SS does not recognize a POA, so it is vital you get his payments sent with a separate account naming you as RP. Chase bank made me open a different account, and you will be reporting every year how you spent his money. Next, I can recommend American Consumer Credit Counseling (consumercredit.com) to put him (you are not responsible for his debt) under a negotiated payment plan with reduced interest rates. ACCC charges $5.00 per account up to $35.00, but never over that amount. The money goes from you to them to the creditor, and that's how you save on interest and reduce the amount sooner. They have been handling my accounts for over a year and I have been satisfied. You can see your accounts online and it is very safe.
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I also worked for Penny's catalog taking peoples card payments. I was shocked when I found out how credit cards work.
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Debsdaughter, really. What do they want u to do? You don't want to be late because that is a late charge on topnof the finance charge that is taken before they deduct your payment. This is why people owe so much on credit cards they don't pay off monthly.
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GA, your "expert" rep was mentioned on her, maybe not in relation to this situation involving accounting, but the caregiving in general.

I, like you, have taken a few courses in it as well but far from a CPA.

But guess meant small margins as well, when said capitalization, really probably more so, because the caps would be assets more so than income, just point being business sounds like it was being run on credit.
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oh, and JoAnn, as a former collector, maybe you know more about this than I do, but we were told, though not from the credit card company itself, but from one of the other agencies, that they would not help us if we continued to pay even just the minimum, let alone any more than
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ooh, JoAnn, you used to be one of those collectors? oh my, although, honestly, I've not found them to be as bad as these debt buyers. and I somewhat agree, although I think she just doesn't want to be responsible and no, unless you live in a community property state, which sounds like you do, nope, debts are individual, for just this type thing, but, yes, we've found them to be easy to work with; my husband just did that; one thing we have learned is they're consolidating themselves; like we have 3 that are all owned by one company and don't remember exactly what he was having worked out with that company itself but I had talked to a debt management company - guess that's one of the agencies you're talking about - or a debt consolidator, that works out the lower amount, which is okay, in their situation, where your credit might not matter, or, like in their case, where the creditor can't do anything anyway - in our case one of the cards was to a home improvement store that I hated to close and not have that availability and I guess they hadn't realized the consolidation themselves because the next time I talked to them, you couldn't not close it and close their others - all or none - hm...so - because one of them is our biggest one. Anyway she's just trying to get him on Medicaid
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Oh yes, in the meantime pay more than the mimium payment. At this point it is only covering the interest not the principle.
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I always thought that debts are a marital thing no matter which spouse incurs them. As a former collector, I would call the credit card company to work something out. They may negotiate a lower amount. There are also agencies that will negotiate for you. Call your Office of the aging, they may be able to help.
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Deb, I'm flattered but I am far from a resident expert on anything, although you're kind to think that.

I've only taken a few courses in accounting, which is why I prefaced my remarks that I didn't know that much about business accounting.

I think you're right on the capitalization issue, probably small margins as well.
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GA, I know you're the resident expert here on a lot of things, but I don't think this situation would be considered uncollectible debts; these are debts he's owed on his business for the hearing aids; they were returned; just sounds like his business wasn't well capitalized and he was relying on credit to try to stay afloat - have another friend whose husband also has his own business who was doing - and to some extent still is - the same thing, just not with credit cards
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speech, sorry, was going back and reading and hadn't really registered that you'd already been advised not to keep making the minimum payments on the bills, since his only income - and I assume assets, or not? going back to the lien thing - is SS; my dad had a similar situation as far as income re a car loan he co-signed for, just that the issue was what little money he had left, which was too much to qualify for Medicaid, maybe I/he shouldn't have been concerned about it but since was a collateralized loan, but then we could have just kept it; maybe we just should have, but then that's not your situation.
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speech, not sure why just now seeing this for 3 days, sorry - question based on something similar - can you actually not pay the debt or do you just not want to be responsible - because if you actually can't they'll probably work with you on a hardship basis, even if you are joint; and re the lien on jointly owned property, will try to check with friend re their business and not sure about how titled and know this credit card and not sure how laws/requirements are but know her husband got her to sign on the loan for a boat and they've definitely held her responsible for it, lot does depend on what you've signed for, not that that helps now.
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In my state when I got divorced and found out my ex had racked up all these bills w/o my knowledge, I was told I was responsible anyway as it was a community property state and debt was part of it. I walked away with 60K debt that I did not incur.
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guestshopadmin is correct. Find the documents for the business! My father was a sole proprietor, but put the corporation in his wife's name so he could get minority bidder status.
Bear in mind that his debt can become a lien on jointly owned property, such as your home or vehicle or joint bank accounts. Much depends on how the business is titled.
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This is not formal tax advice BUT these factors will come into play:
1. If sole proprietorship was declared as being owned jointly by you and husband or by him alone. This can be found on the tax returned filed with IRS on Schedule C or C-EZ. This paper has a block that will indicate whether he said it was jointly owned.
2. If you filed a joint tax return with federal and/or state taxing authorities, you could be held liable for some of the business debt if you are considered one of the owners of the business.
3. If a personal credit card that was also used for business purposes is the source of debt and it's a jointly held credit card, you may be liable for some of the debt.
You need to get the accountant who prepared the tax return and your elder attorney talking to each other. If your husband prepared return himself, you need to get a good accountant and/or tax attorney to work with your elder attorney. Once they sort out what the division of the business would be, your team should be able to determine if Medicaid application will be affected. In the least you will need help later telling the IRS that any debt written off is phantom income and that you don't owe taxes on it.
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Speech, did your husband prepare his own taxes or did he have an accountant? If the latter, contact him and ask if there's any way these debts could be charged off as uncollectible business debts. I don't know enough about business accounting to know if such uncollectible debts could be used, together with the medical expenses for his illness, to claim that he's judgment proof; therefore, the debt collectors wouldn't be able to collect against no assets. But it's worth a try.
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