Mom and dad moved to Florida about 5 years ago to enjoy retirement and golden years. Unfortunately this past year mom was diagnosed with dementia which has been progressing fairly quickly and requires round the clock attention. Dad on other hand was diagnosed with bone cancer last year and has been in and out of hospitals with limited mobility due to his disease and a fractured hip. His cancer plan has been limited due to various complications along the way but we finally were able to get his hip replaced last week and he is now in the hospital and rehab -we are hopeful we can begin chemo after this latest setback. I am in the process of getting them eboth eligible for Medicaid and have spent down most of their savings on in-home care and medical needs. But between the two they have significant credit card debt , over 100k. To be honest it's very upsetting to find out your parents financial situation when you have been blinded to any issues your entire life. Dad is lucky to have a pension, NJ teacher for 30 years, but is underwater in paying the debts and only squeeking by with the minimums and not paying these bills down. I have been reading alot and others have told me not to pay these bill's and just focus on medical and care for your parents. I have POA and dont want to do anything wrong or be negligent so was going to contact each of the credit card companies, but I am afraid if I do not pay these bills from what is remaining each month from my dad's pension, that it could affect Medicaid somehow, their mortgage on the house and they could lose their home or be evicted. Mom will have to go into a facility probably in the next year but hopefully dad has a few years left in him to stay in their house if he can survive the chemo. I have an elder care attorney who is helping me get them eligible for Medicaid but she is not really guiding me on their financial debt and has said we have to be careful not to defraud the creditors or move things which puts it out of their reach or I could be held liable for fraud. So how does a son help him mom and dad? Welcome any thoughts from the group. THANK YOU

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You have received good advice from other posters.

One thing I'm not so sure that I agree with, as far as not contacting credit card companies. Once your parents are both qualified for Medicaid, and their only income is social security and/or a pension and/or VA benefits, and all of that money, less a personal needs allowance, must go towards the nursing can contact the credit card companies, by phone and by letter, and simply tell them the truth. You have to provide them with your POA. And, it can take at least 6 months before they charge off the debts, and then they send it to a collections agency. But, you are not personally responsible for paying your parents' debts, unless you have co-signed.

Speak with a bankruptcy attorney. If your elder care attorney cannot refer you to at least 2 different choices, who you can research online, then I would say that you have the wrong elder care attorney, but that's water under the bridge at this point.

Just a few things to add. Credit cards are unsecured creditors. They have no recourse to your assets unless they go to court and get a judgment; even then, they cannot touch social security. Not even pensions, I don't think. That's how OJ Simpson gets to keep all his NFL pension, despite a multi-million court judgment against him from the Goldman family. If the credit card company gets a judgment and garnishes your bank account that only has social security, you appeal, and get that money back.

Detailed Advice: I don't know what happens after bankruptcy, but please read this. If you have a credit card issued at the same bank where you have your checking or savings account, the bank probably has a "right of setoff"...... which means that they can automatically tap your bank accounts if you default on your credit card. It's one of those complex clauses within the paperwork you sign when you open an account. Please ask a lawyer about this. My advice? Never, ever get a credit card from the same bank where you keep your funds. Ever wonder why a bank that knows you never have more than $2500 in your account offers you a credit card with a credit limit of $5000 or more? Ever wonder why you keep getting mail asking you to open a new bank account with Capital One.......when all you currently have with Capital One is a credit card? Well, now you know.
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Reply to anonymous903302

It’s been advised here to not call the credit card companies. They will see you as a responsible party and hound you forever. When our debts overwhelmed us, we filed for bankruptcy; Chapter 7. We had close to $30,000 in debt discharged. It’s certainly not an ideal situation but by filing Chapter 7, we could keep our house and car. As long as I keep up the payments on both, we can continue to keep them. Ignoring the debt is stressful and I’m not certain that’s the way to go. You could wind up in court. You need the help of an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy. .
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Reply to Ahmijoy
Blbernst May 6, 2019
Thank everyone for the input, Yes, I think I need to connect with a bankruptcy attorney soon to discuss options, I just hate spending more money they don't appear to have on another lawyer. I am not looking to just ignore because I think that could be worse, but right now I am ignoring while I try and figure our=t what the hell is going on with all of their finances and accounts. Something tells me I don't even know about all of them. I guess I could run a credit check for any unsecured credit cards.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn

In this situation, you need a lawyer. If you are putting both Mom and Dad in LTC, SS and pensions are used to offset their care. Spend down is individually I think. Not as a married couple. Once on Medicaid none of their money can be used for the home or debts. This includes the spend down money and Personal Needs Acct. Your parents money can be used for the lawyer. You may just need to file bankruptcy.

NJ teachers get a decent pension which may take Dad over the income cap Medicaid allows. You then may need a Miller Trust for the overage. This too a lawyer can help you with. Get one versed in Medicaid.

The house won't be counted as an asset but that and the car/s they own will have to be sold at Market Value. Not sure if Medicaid will allow the proceeds to be used to offset debts or will be needed for their care. A good lawyer should be able to answer these questions.
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Reply to JoAnn29

Isn't is nice to be placed in that situation?  I totally understand.  My parents both told me it was none of my business as to their finances, or anything else for that matter, drove both families away from helping them, wouldn't give out information about me so that I could help them until my dad died without a will and I went through probate as the only child because he had two living siblings who had better standing as siblings than I did as his child!  Lovely!  Now, I have my mom, and it took me about two years+ to get her finances figured out.  I am POA and Guardian.  I keep on top of it the best that I can by talking to the bank, the CPA, the financial advisors of her investments, used up all of money that I had saved to wipe the slate clean so that I could try to find out what was happening in the first place and then start in bullying the bullies that were taking her for a ride telling them that they weren't dealing with my mother any more--they were dealing with me, and they had NO IDEA what they had with me!!!  It has been HORRIBLE, but I have had no issues with the court so I must be doing a reasonably good job.  I also keep the guardianship attorney apprised as to my movements, and don't worry, Big Bro is watching as well which is FINE BY ME.  Grit your teeth, dig in your heels, and fight them tooth and nail as far as the bullies are concerned.  Eventually you will get it done, but it takes time and you will fly somewhat by the seat of your pants.  Good luck!  Also, don't be afraid to contact SS or Medicare.  Let all possible avenues of help HELP you.
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Reply to debbiesdaz

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