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with my mother being incapacitated, is she still responsible to pay her monthly credit card bill?? this particular credit card is in her name only -- i was able to pay last month, but not sure if i can continue this....should i contact the credit card company & explain the circumstances?? will they write it off??

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2013
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Power Of Attorney states children on controller of funds is not responsible for there debt.
Hardest Part is Finding Someone you can TRUST
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You and your siblings are not responsible for providing the money to pay this debt. It is not your debt. If Mother has money to pay it, use her money and pay it. If Mother does not have money for it, then don't pay it. This may result in her credit being ruined. Does that really matter at this point?
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I don't know how incapacitated your mom is, but if she is able and doesn't already have one, she should get a Power of Attorney so that you can make financial decisions for her in the event she is not able to do so. On that note, your mom should also get an Advanced Health Care Directive, with a copy lodged with her local hospital or care facility, so that her wishes pertaining to her passing are honored.
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There ought to be a better way!!! There need to be rules, guidelines, etc. that cover these types of situations and what is -- and is not -- legal actions.
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When my father died, none of us could afford to pay his debts. And after a few calls, the companies stopped callings us. When my mother had a stroke and lost her job, and then her house and car, she had only SS income. She did have some cards in both their names. I researched her declaring bankruptcy and credit counseling. The credit counselor told us they could not come up with a plan that Mom could afford to pay off all of the debt. So I began paying small debts out of her account for her. Eventually, the collection agencies offered settlements for about 15% of the original amount owed. She was able to afford these payments.

In Mom's case, she no longer needed good credit. And I don't believe that children should take responsibility for their parent's debts.
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Someone commented that dying doesn't forgive debt?! LOL So all of us who have cared for our loved ones should continue to pay their loved ones bills after they pass away? Ha!

My dad was in a NH and was on hospice and I stopped worrying about his bills. I called all the creditors, explained that my dad was dying, and I wanted to let them know. My name was on none of my dad's debts. Yup, that's right. I stopped paying his bills because he didn't need a good credit rating anymore. In a perfect world he would have left us a lot of money to cover all of his debts but as it was he had exactly $1,080 in his account when he died. Just enough to cover his cremation and a small reception at a local restaurant.

I didn't lose a wink of sleep over it.
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Thanks for all the responses. Thank God my parents are still alive. There have been no recent charges on her account. As I explained, this is an old balance of hers that was being paid monthly. My sister was helping previously and now she doesn't think the credit card should be paid at all. The money isn't there for the CC to be paid or I would definitely pay the minimum. This particular card I'm asking about is in her name only. There is one other card that's in both my parents' name. Both are too ill and incapcitated to pay their bills. With their money and mine as well, I'm paying the basic things like mortgage, utilities, food. The in-home care bills are being divided among me & the other siblings. They (siblings) do not care if the CC doesn't get paid (there's 1 in my mother's name and 1 in both their names). I tend to disagree but I don't have the money either to pay the minimum on both cards. So it sounds like telling the CC company the situation, maybe not specific details, is the way to go.....?
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Oh, I should have read all the answers. I didn't look past page 1. Please ignore the last message. :)
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Simple answer -- Your mother's POA should pay it out of your mother's check. The minimum payment required by cc companies is usually very small unless the amount charged is huge. If you are unable to get the amount paid down while your mother is alive, creditors have first claim on anything left in the estate.
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Oh--and...
When a person dies, be sure to get as many copies of their death certificate as might be needed to settle with creditors, and every other legal entity that might need notified using a death certificate.....
It's cheaper to order the number of certified copies needed, at the time of death, than to order copies later.
This is pretty important...because...
When contacting creditors & other legal entities regarding a person who has died, no bankruptcy is needed. A certified copy of the death certificate and a letter stating they died, and that there is no estate to collect from [IF that is true], usually is all that's needed to get them to close the accounts.
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IsMiami is right.
Mom owns that debt herself.
It is her responsibility....

UNLESS...
If she is married, most States might mandate the spouse is liable for those debts too, even though their name is not on those debts.

IF someone is incapacitated, cannot work, are in a living/maintenance situation that takes all their income, there may be a way out.
....but technically, they are still liable for their debts.

Please contact the creditor[s], to let them know just enough details to convey to them why she cannot pay the bill.
Tell them to "freeze" the account---that is, the debt is still there in the account, still toting up interest, but, no further transactions can be made on it.
SOMEtimes, there may be ways they can [but will they?] lower the interest rates to help it get paid off faster...IF that is something that works in Mom's situation.

Children are NOT liable to pay a parent's credit card bills
--unless your name is also on that card, or, you have some legal arrangement that stipulated you would. OR, possibly, IF you used her card....signed anything to do with that card.
DON'T sign on Mom's cards!
Do NOT agree to take any responsibility for Mom's cards--only, that you or your brother have a POA that allows you to direct the card company what to do, and tell them what the situation is..

Credit Card companies will give you grinding, rations of grief
--they do not simply let people avoid payment;
--some reps may nearly call you a liar, be rude, be accusative, all sorts of terrible behaviors...and that's before it is turned over to collections.
.....they want proof, they want paid;
They may try to arrange a reduced payment schedule--IF you're lucky they might offer that.
A letter from her Doc should fulfill the requirement for proof of incapacity.
A letter from her Doc ONLY needs to state that she "is too ill, has been incapacitated permanently [or for how long?], and due to her now living in a facility that takes her income, she cannot pay her credit card bill...and is not responsible for her affairs anymore...".

The creditor is NOT entitled to know her diagnosis, nor details of her illness
--only that she is too ill/incapacitated/dead to pay her bill, and that her money is being used to pay for her upkeep and medical needs, precluding repayment of her other debts.

At that point, the credit card company could simply close the account/write it off
--that would make better sense than trying to pursue payment [blood out of a turnip], at greater costs to them.
They'd have to do the same thing if/when the debtor dies.
IF the card company keeps trying to get YOU to pay, they are illegally out of line, as far as I know.
They can be told to cease and desist harassment of an invalid or their family.

As IsMiami said, they want paid. But usually, they will only pursue it so far--at some point, it becomes ridiculously expensive for companies to keep pursuing it.
About the only entity that can milk blood from turnips & the dead, is the IRS.

Mom will be racking up medical debts.
===IMHO, if considering bankruptcy, ya might want to wait things out as long as possible, before doing that....to make sure ==everything== that can, gets on that action.

===AVOID rolling multiple debts into a "convenient debt consolidation loan" or anything remotely like that--those are a trap one cannot bankrupt upon
--at least that has been the law.

But bottom line:
Mom's estate, IF there's anything left, has to pay her debts, before just about anything else, as far as I know. Family members come last, if at all. The only way heirs get anything, is if the person gifts it legally to them, far enough ahead of time that they get to keep it.
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One thing to try to find out about is what your state's "position" is on homesteaded property. Some states - like TX & FL - are very pro property ownership and unsecured debt cannot put a lein on the home. So in those states, yeah the CC company can get a judgment against you but cannot place a lein on the home even if they have a judgement against you. Other states may do this too.

About the bank account, if you are dealing with aggressive debt collector and think they may try to seize your accounts. You can file a statement with the bank that the account is only SS income and therefore cannot be seized. So you kinda have to have the account set up so that it only gets their SS direct deposit or their SS and other exempt from seizure retirement (like RR or federal retirements). But the banks have to do this and block seizure if that is the case.
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Don't judge about the charge cards too quickly. My mom used charge cards quite freely and when her dementia became more apparent and I had to take over caring for her affairs, I realized she had not done well with her bills. I did manage to get her to go to a notary with me and sign a Financial Power of Attorney Document, thus giving me ability to get her out of the mess she had made. Some collection agencies like World Financial Bank that handle affairs for many catalog companies older women like to order from, are not fun to deal with. They demand originals, not copies on FPOA documents, etc. My mom always ordered lots of clothes, etc.
If you have FPOA you can pay most every bill she has (except government stuff) with her money.
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You haven't said who is in charge of your mom's finances with a Power of Attorney for financial issues or even if your mom has money. It is not up to the children to pay for the parent's debts out of their own pockets, but if she does have money in the bank, then she is responsible for paying her debts, even if she has to have someone do it for her.

If no one has access to mom's money, then the first thing you have to do is go to court and have them determine who is to get guardianship of your mom. Then that person is going to be charge of using her assets to pay her bills. In the meantime, call the credit card company and explain the situation and let them know that you guys are working on it and see if you can't work out something with them for the time being.

If your mom has no assets, no money in the bank, no home to sell, no personal belongings that will amount to anything, no investments, and her mental situation appears to be permanent, then you can tell the credit cards that she will be unable to take care of her debts and that you are really sorry. Provide them with the number of her current care provider and leave it at that.

Children are not responsible for the debts of the parents unless they signed something saying they would be, or unless it's medicare debt and they live in a state that has laws making the children responsible for the care of elderly parents.
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Life and death and taxes and debts are VERY confusing! Get the best advice available -- and if you can figure out WHICH advice is best you are one smart cookie!
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If you don't continue the payments, or work out something with the credit card company, they will put a lien on any of your Mom's assets. They cannot garnish social security money in the original deposit account, but if moved to a savings account they can access it. They can garnish tax refunds, including homestead property tax refunds and also get any money after mortgages from a home sale. Don't just ignore it, work something out or pay on it from your mom's assets. We're going through hassles with this on a card my dad and step-mom let go. Didn't even know the liens were out there until starting on the process to sell Dad's home.
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Listen to igloo572. I went through this with my mother's credit card debts. She only had a mobile home, which was protected with a homestead exemption. Her only income was Social Security and her pension. Both were protected by law. I finally told the credit card companies to go ahead and take her to court, get your judgement, she's 88 and has dementia....you'll get nothing. Soon after they stopped calling and I never heard from them again. They tried to make me feel guilty, for not paying the debt. I told them, it wasn't my debt, I don't care, you cannot sue me. They stopped doing that very quickly.
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You and your family are not responsible for the debt, PERIOD. Do research on what assets of her's are protected. See if she is judgement proof. If she is disabled, many times they will not bother to sue. Do your own research on this. DO NOT let anyone play on your emotions are try and tell you, you or your mother have a moral obligation to pay the debt. That debt is a business contract, not a moral obligation.
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Yes, contact them, and does she need anymore credit? If not, it will go into collection and show up on her credit bureau and after 7 years it will be removed. Some credit card companies can make a reduced balance or reduced monthly payment/with interest, but she is still responsible. She incurred those debts and dying does not absolve one of the debt. It all depends on how much will be left in her estate and how aggressive the credit card company is.
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Usa - so really it sounds like something major happened and the mom who existed got the rug pulled out from under her and now is totally dependent, correct?And you are trying to tie up loose ends in mom's life?

LsMiami - has good advice. If mom has money, then she should try to pay on her debts. Whomever is her DPOA, can sign the monthly check for her to pay the CC or whatever. I bet Sissy who did all this, just got worn out from everything "mom"

But I bet the situation is that now mom just really doesn't now have any extra money to pay for anything other than her medical costs. And with her brain injury
these costs change & increase every month. If that is the case, continuing to pay on the CC or other debt like that is throwing money away & you need every penny to pay for her care. I wouldn't pay another dime. If mom has no assets (no house), then there is nothing the CC company can do as CC is an unsecured debt. Now the CC & then later the debt collection companies will be relentless in calling & writing mom and whomever they can (that means you) to get it paid. So try not to let anyone get your phone #'s and do everything in writing as your mom (assuming you have DPOA). They don't care if mom had a major accident or a brain tumor, they just want someone to agree to a payment plan so they can get their $ or a % of the recovery. They will be relentless in calling you. DO NOT AGREE TO ANYTHING VERBALLY. If they call you just say...this is not Mary Jane Jones and hang up. Also keep in mind that SS and most retirements are totally protected from being garnished or seized too. The only thing that can garnish SS income money is the IRS. If they tell you otherwise, it is just bluster.

Maybe lsmiami can shed some light on the CC collection techniques??

Oh also the CC company (the actual bank not the debt collector) when they write off the debt evenutally can send mom a 1099-C Cancellation of Debt. This is considered income by the IRS. Now the totally sticky part of 1099-C is that:
- they do not have to be issued for the year you stopped paying on the CC
&
- the amount written off is considered TAXABLE income by the IRS. The amount can be more than the CC balance the last time paid too (fees, late charges, etc).So if mom is getting Medicaid or any other program that is needs-based (that she has to be really poor to qualify for), the 1099-C could give her too much "income" to qualify. The fact that the $$ the CC company wrote off is not real income but "phantom income" doesn't matter, it is still taxable. (1099-C get sent to homeowners who do a foreclosure and those amounts are big as they are for the whole balance of the mortgage they walked away from plus all the foreclosure legal fees...yikes!). If mom get's a 1099-C (it would be issued in January and has to be delivered by Feb), do a post and I'll tell you what we had to do with our on Medicaid elder's 1099-C. Good luck.
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If this is her card and you are not listed on it, it is her debt. You either can pay it yourself or negotiate the debt with the credit card company. People have had to negotiated debt a lot in the present economy. As others have said, cut it up and close the account if you can.

Also, I like the comment from someone about being responsible for the nursing home debt as well. Make sure in no way or fashion any of you are responsible for that. This should be all her debt unless you choose to pay it.
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Hi there, our situation may be a tad different than yours, but this is what we are doing. My father passed away last July, and my mother came to live with my husband and myself last September (hard to believe we are at the 1 year mark). My father had my mother paying the mortgage payment with credit cards (he was in and out of the hospital and thought they might need their cash for medical bills)...we had no idea this was going on. Here it is over a year later and we are still trying to sort out the mess. (This was hard because they weren't really good with paperwork, which we learned when we cleaned out their home to sell..what a mess). Luckily, they had some very old accounts..some were in my dad's name only. We did consult an attorney, and luckily my mother isn't responsible for anything in his name only. Be sure to find out if those cards have an authorized user on them or are a "joint account" with someone else. I was able to send in the death certificate for dad's accounts and received a statement back with a balance of 0.00...anyway, back to what my mom owed. I took over power of attorney, and took care of the cards that were clearly in her name only. (About 6,000). I made sure they were paid in full. All her accounts have been closed...she is upset about this, but I've told her on numerous occasions that she doesn't need them anymore. Our problem has been with Capital One...somehow, they managed to have, what we think, are 4 separate accounts with them. I've contacted them saying that we need a list of accounts, how they were set up as far as a joint account, authorized user, etc. The first letter we received was thanking me for contacting them, and that they needed a copy of dad's death certificate and my Power of Attorney paperwork. I sent that in, and about 3 months later I received a letter acknowledging that I have Power of Attorney and that they can go through me. I sent them another letter back..they requested information like mom's date of birth, recent contact info, etc. I've sent that back and am still waiting..so it will take time. You can't ignore the debt but you will have to be patient if you are looking for them to settle for a smaller amount, which is what we are doing. (We think she may owe around another 14,000)..We are all still floored that she allowed this to happen..but she claimed that is what dad wanted. Of course I have asked her, "Why?" ... I just get the, "That is what he wanted to do". I'm an only child, and when I use the pronoun, "We", I'm referring to my two daughters, their husbands and my husband. I would have went completely out of my mind if it wasn't for all of them. They were all a big help through my dad's funeral, the sale and cleanup of mom's house, and with moving her in with me. The paperwork is a nightmare all its own.
You can't ignore the bills..you can contact the creditors and see if they will work with you. If she passes away, her estate will have to pay the remainder of what she owes. If there is no estate then they will write it off. You aren't responsible for what is in her name only. I'm in central Florida and I realize that laws are different everywhere. If you don't have the money for an attorney, I would call the credit card company first and see if they will help you. It may buy you some time. Capital One has put a "stay" on mom's accounts while they are investigating my request. I'll let you know what happens. Keep us all posted. I'm sure this is a big concern for many people. Adult children are finding that their parents have debt.
Good Luck!!!!
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Does somebody have guardianship? When I received guardianship, I was aware that I was responsible for mother the same as if I would have been responsible for my teenaged daughter. When I took over mother's financials, I called the credit card company and set a maximum balance that she would be able to charge, so I could prevent excessive charging.
If your father has a card, you should cut it into tiny pieces and have his mail directed to your address so you can monitor his activities. This way you KNOW what is happening.
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Pay your debts, period.

If there are nursing bills, and you or others signed the contract personally, then you will be liable for those debts as well. "Don't pay it" is silly and irresponsible and will reflect on the credit of whoever signs those contracts.

If you have been charging care to moms credit card, then mom is still liable. If she can't pay and they find you or sibs have been using the card -- that's still illegal to use her card if you are not a co-owner on the card.

Follow Ismaili advice and work out a payment. Cut the card up right now and any other credit cards of moms. Find out who has POA for finances and get the finances and bills under control making sure all and future will be up to date and properly managed.
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thanks for the responses....prior to my mother's traumatic brain injury, my one sibling was helping financially, we had an ok system going but she has now decided to stop, there are other nursing/in-home aide expenses that are being divided among the siblings and they don't want to pay anything extra, my other sibling is telling me just don't pay it at all....
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The credit card company will try to collect, they will work out a payment plan, they will continue to charge interest. If you do not set up a payment plan or if you miss payments after a plan, they will commence collection efforts, calls, letters, credit report, etc.. If they "write it off" they do not forgive the debt, they merely remove it from their books and sell the debt to a collections agency.
There are only 2 ways out of this, pay, or, if the rest of the financial situation is severe enough file bankruptcy.
Make sure you do not use the card. Even if it is not in your name the act of using it may incur you a liability.
Even when your parents pass away the company has a legitimate claim for payment.
Nowhere in the credit card agreement (contract) is there a hardship clause. A balance is not forgiven whether you are incapacitated, unemployed, have sick children, etc..

I worked collections or a credit card company, while attending college I was the persons who called past due accounts (don't hate me) Back then, we referred people to a group I believe wad associated with the United Way. CCCS, Consumer Credit Counseling Service. I believe they still exist. They would work out payment plans for all your debtors. You may want to check them out, I am sure they have a web site these days.

Good luck,
L
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If you don't want to ruin her credit, then I would suggest calling them and explaining the situation and tell them she can make a small monthly payment until she has 0 balance.
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I still don't understand why she shouldn't be responsible to pay her credit card bill?
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AccounT Is closed
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