Q: Five years ago, I had to abandon my home to Bank of America and moved in with friends in another state because of impending foreclosure. Since we had no money we stopped paying credit cards. Most of the debts have since been forgiven but one. Discover was large, about 12K. About two years ago they sent a subpoena and I was scared and dealing with panic attacks. I gave in and signed forms and agreed to the law firm to pay 100$ a month. They set up a payment plan with automatic withdrawal for I think 6 months. When I called to reset the payments, they badgered me for more. They told me the amount was going up from interest and my payments weren’t even covering it. They reluctantly agreed to set up further payments for only 3 months so they could harass me some more when I called back. I told them that my sole income now was about $1,500.00 per YEAR, after my husband of 17 years had left. It didn’t matter to them. They would only set for another 3 months. I couldn’t handle it, and stopped paying after. I own nothing of value but an 18-year-old Pontiac. I am married for a year and husband owns this house. The bank account is mine and his check goes in so I can pay house bills. (Jeanette, PA)
A: I would consult with a consumer rights attorney to deal with these vultures. My thought would be the old proverb, you cannot get blood from a stone. If all your husband’s assets are in his name, he should be protected. From what you describe it sounds like they already have obtained a judgment against you? Therefore, they can only execute on your property-property in your name only. This does not include your husband’s property. If you have no property to execute on, it is not worth their time. I am not telling you to commit fraud, but someone in your situation may not want to have a bank account. I would need to know more information but I would be inclined to not pay them if you do not have the money. They have only sent a Notice of Deposition. This is not a court order and it is not a subpoena. You could choose not to attend. If you receive any more paperwork from them, take it to an attorney.
Q: I lost my job and suffer from medical conditions. I was behind in payments and just gave up. They took it out of my doctor’s parking lot, and I had to walk home.
A: Your options are to defend the suit if they sue you and/or try to settle with them for payments. You can also talk to a bankruptcy attorney and see whether filing under Chapter 7 is an option for you.
Q: My mother passed and my auto loan is in her name. I cannot finance the vehicle myself as there are too many miles and it is way upside down. I have kept current with the payments so far. The only funds from the estate were in a retirement account and insurance. There is a house which my sister has always lived with my mother but it still has a mortgage. She is also executor. Her plan is to pay off the house with the retirement money and sell it. Can the bank repossess the vehicle? Can they go after either of us or the estate to recoup the balance? What if I turn the vehicle in to the bank? I will receive enough insurance to pay the car off. However, I don’t want to spend 10k on a car worth 3k if I don’t have to but I don’t want the estate to have to pay for the balance of it either.
A: Good question. If the car is titled in mom’s name, as is the loan, it could be repossessed if they will not refinance you. It would be considered an estate debt. If the car is in your name, but the loan is in mother’s name, that would be unusual. Voluntary relinquishment of a vehicle to avoid repossession may be an option. You can call the lender and ask. As far as the mortgage on the house and your sister’s plans to pay it off with estate money, more information is needed to be known if that is a viable alternative. You should review the estate with an attorney to determine the extent of the debts, expenses, amount of assets, and potential inheritance tax and income tax, just to mention a few.
Q: Is my mother responsible for a credit card bill when she will be put into a nursing home in a couple of days? Medicaid will be taking all her small SS and retirement to pay for the home. She will have absolutely no money to pay for the credit card balance. She has absolutely no assets and the card is in her name only. Can she just inform the company and let the balance go?
A: Basically, they can sue her but will never collect, assuming as you say she has no money or real property. They can bring a claim against her estate when she dies but they would be behind the boys from Medicaid. If there is an estate when she dies and if there is money remaining after Medicaid takes their share, and other priority claims take their share before the credit card company. These priority claims are for taxes, administrator fees, lawyer’s fees and medical expenses incurred for services within six months of death. If any money remains after that, the credit card can see the estate for the balance.