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My mother is a hoarder and an internet shopper. She has a decent retirement and SS check but was paying out more than she was taking in due to a multitude of reasons. I tried to help her years ago and she wouldn't let me. She is 84 and of sound mind but has declining health issues due to two needed surgeries that got her down very quickly. These were in a short period of time and VERY invasive. So our problem is that we didn't know how bad off she was in her home and financially till we got in there and started assessing.


I was already a POA for everything so we began working on her debts first. She was a victim of magazine scams for thousands of dollars. This caused her legit bills to all bounce and lots of bank fees weekly. Auto pay on everything is awful!! They had her debit card #. We got her direct deposits moved to a new acct….closed that acct...and changed her phone #. That has helped. However she still has a rather substantial outstanding debt. She needs a safe place to live and this was the best for her. My husband and I fear for trying to pay her outstanding debts with what's left! I did things in a way that I won't be liable, but it's still scary for us. We hate to file bankruptcy and her lawyer prefers to not put her through that. We are at a loss how to continue paying credit cards and consolidation loans!

OMG that is truly a nightmare. I'm glad you are getting things in order.
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Reply to Rabanette
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I had a similar situation with spending and causing ridiculous bank fees because my mother kept switching money from one to another. Fortunately we don't have a debt situation as an incident caused me to step in and take over. I feel for you as I understand the stress. I know money is an issue but are you able to have one meeting with an elder care lawyer regarding her situation? I hope you find some resolution.
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Reply to Riverdale
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Definitely bankruptcy is the right thing to do however your lawyer sees it differently and perhaps he/she feels that spending any money to remove this issue is not something wise . I find it strange because it would seem many would file liens as I am reasonably sure you know . But take time to seriously ask him WHY .,. this is not a hard thing at all for someone to go through and actually it sounds like you can make the decisions and sign for her and she never needs to go through anything . Maybe you are wondering this too . I suspect you need to bottom line it with her lawyer and if he / she is not honest enough to tell you exactly why then find a lawyer who can do a cheap bankruptcy ,it does NOT have to cost a ton of money . Hope this helps . God bless you !
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Reply to LynninIowa
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If this were my Momma , I am sure I'd have a limit put on it and if she is online I surely would know her password, etc. Whether it's a theft online or her spending without thought of reality you definitely want to pay attention before an elephant shows up to pick her up ! LOL .God bless and I sure love the way you love her . LynnMarie Collver

P.S. Could not post a cute pic but send me your email if you like and I can send it direct to you . Keep smiling !
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Reply to LynninIowa
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My nephew works for a company that investigates scam and fraud. He told us if our Dad got any mail that looked like a scam to take it to the sheriff’s station. My Dad was getting mail for “surveys” that looked like real surveys but wanted personal information. Publisher’s Clearing House was the worst. He ran up so much debt buying junk from them because he thought it gave him a better chance to win.
He also bought a device that was supposed to give him really cheap phone service, but had a contract with it for 5 years that ended up being more than $100 per month because they sent him 2 devices. That bill he took to his bank, and the bank manager got involved. After a few phone calls, and some threats, the $$ charges were stopped.
I hope there is a special place in hell for these people that take advantage of the elderly.
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Reply to PrairieLake
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If she owns her own home, put it in a land trust, if you just place it in your name medicaid will want the current market value from you or it will go against her spend down. A land trust allows her to still be the owner of the home but will automatically be deeded to the beneficiaries listed on the trust avoiding probate on the physical property at that time. Rent the home making sure enough charged for taxes and insurance. Put a freeze on her credit reports so no new accounts can be opened. Contact cc companies to inform them of her living situation, do not give them your contact information, hospitals and doctors are willing to work with you, if she is on Medicaid most will accept what insurance has paid and write off the rest. DO NOT offer to pay outstanding balances even as her representative, if collection companies call you do not tell them anything other than she doesn't reside with you and to please remove your name and number from yheir system, keep track of times and date of request, if they call a second time, reiterated no contact request and if it happens again you will report them to attorney general. Not your debt to pay, they will end up writing debt off. Freeze credit cards/ cancel if they will let you, explain no money to pay them, shes in NH / AL, I'm thinking that most of her cc balance is intrest and late fees. Make sure to pay yourselves as rental property manager.
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Reply to Takincare
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When I became POA for two friends of mine and started monitoring their checking account online, I noticed frequent payments to two magazines. When I looked into it, I found invoice like cards warning them it was time to renew. One magazine subscription was good to 2024 and one to 2026. When I started to get all their mail, I weeded these out and asked the company to stop sending them. They ignored me, so I contacted our state attorney general for help and she, along with the state the company was in, went after them. They stopped sending these "bills", then changed their name so they could begin again.

I contacted the magazines and explained what had happened and ask them to shorten the subscriptions and return some of the money. It took about 6 months for this to happen, but they complied. My friends had enough money, so that wasn't the issue. It was the scamming of older people who couldn't keep track of these things that mattered to me, plus my friends cold no longer process the content of the magazines, so they were a waste. I ended up bringing the magazines to the school my friend used to teach at for the teachers there to be able to use.

So, get the credit card so no more spending will take place, and contact those magazines to see if some money can be returned. When I got my friends moved into a memory care apartment, I stopped their phone service, too. There was no way to contact them and they were safe.
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Reply to JohnnyJ
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When looking at the debt take notice of how much of it is fees and interest. Oftentimes the actual purchases are not very much.
Just trying to put perspective on the situation.
They can make adjustments on accounts and that’s what a credit counseling service negotiates. They will also offer to combine all the debt but that one payment will seem undoable.
As long as they have no access to your mom by phone or mail, I like the advice given by the attorney. Pay the debt last, after living expenses.
They took advantage of a little old lady. I wouldn’t worry too much about them except for protecting her home.
Charlotte
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Reply to CharK60
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If she isn't going to living in her house any longer, sell it or get it changed into your name. After that call the creditors and negotiate a lower payoff or if it is magazines let them know that she is in bad health and will not be able to pay the balance. By all means take your mother's credit cards and check book. Let her know that whatever she needs you can provide it for her and if she at a place that does outing give her some cash to spend on her incidentals and things she likes. It seems hard, my family has had to do the same thing with my mother. She had an obsession with buying things and not remembering she had bought them or buying because it was nice.
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Reply to MissingCally
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rovana Nov 2, 2018
If Medicaid will be involved - beware of transferring property to your name unless you pay fair market value.  Gifting penalty.
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Frankly , it sounds like a small war that is interfering with your love for her .
You really cannot change this situation most likely .
I think if I were you , I'd stop trying to control her . Perhaps ask the recreation co-ordinator if there is one , what activities they might be able to encourage her in .
Or perhaps you can work with her once a week for an hr on something she loves ?
Life is short and there are too many regrets once she is gone .
This issue will resolve itself when she is gone .
For now , please just love her .
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Reply to LynninIowa
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I am a bankruptcy attorney as well as a caretaker. First and most importantly, nobody is responsible for paying her bills other than her. That means her resources should be used to pay her living expenses AND her debt. If you are her POA, you use her money to pay for her stuff. Never use your own money. Next, her living expenses need to be paid first. Living expenses include food,rent, utilities and all that stuff but they also include clothing and phone and cable tv and medical and a bunch of other things. Debt gets paid out of any money left after living expenses are paid. I'm betting there is nothing left after expenses. If the debt goes into collection, debt collectors will start calling and trying to scare her into paying. If she doesn't pay, they will take her to court. Court is scary to most people but here's the thing very few people know. A judge will never order a debtor to pay money they can't afford. The court will look at how much money is available after living expenses are paid and order a payment plan based on that.

That being said, I've helped a number of older people file bankruptcy because it's one appearance at a trustee's hearing and the debt is gone. Otherwise you are dealing with harassing debt collectors and multiple court appearances. Talk to a local bankruptcy attorney. It never hurts to get more information.
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Reply to pjwwsb
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There are Attorneys that are trained in geriatric case's. You may be able to file bankruptcy on her behalf. My dad was still of sound mind at 80 was able to file
There was a program for seniors for this readon and he was still able to keep his house.
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Reply to DarleneLeslie
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Have you asked her attorney for advice? I believe if your Mother stops paying some of her bills in order to collect an outstanding debt a creditor may have to sue your mother (not certain). I know you said that your Mother is of sound mind however hoarding I believe is considered a mental illness and that along with other health issues could have possibly made her incompetent (? Just a guess). I would ask the attorney what he suggests. If she cannot afford to pay both her incoming bills and her costs at the assisted living facility I would definitely say the assisted living facility comes first. Good luck to you.
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Reply to EmmaSue
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I like Willie's suggestion. You may have gotten rid of the automatic withdrawals but they can still send bills. We found, years ago, that my sister was contracted in for 5 yrs. Yeh, they would stop sending but she had to still pay the balance.

A Credit Counselor should work to help bring the debt down. First, credit cards can be frozen. Her debit/atm card shredded. Good that you closed the her acct and opened a new one. The best thing is have the counselor work on getting her charges down. Credit cards can get around late and finance fees. Once that is done you consolidate the debt so you have one payment. One she can afford, When she passes, if there is still debt, it dies with her unless she leaves a house that can be sold or money. You cannot be held responsible.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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I suggest you look for a non profit credit counsellor to get advice, here's a web site about them:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0153-choosing-credit-counselor
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Reply to cwillie
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