Caregiving Doesn’t Always Go As Planned

5-12-2012 Baby lamb, Pearl 001 (768x1024)

Debra Cargill had a lot to do after her husband Carl of almost 50 years died. Debra and Carl had three children, and only one was still living in Kansas City at the time of Carl’s passing. The youngest, Todd, lived within 20 minutes of Debra and was able to assist her in planning Carl’s funeral. Todd’s siblings also attended the funeral, along many of the family’s closest friends. Although the funeral was a sad time for the siblings and Debra, they enjoyed having the time to catch up with one another and reflect on their lives over the years.

Through these discussions, the family decided to spend some more time together after things calmed down in the days following the funeral. Being in the same place at the same time made planning easier and they organized a trip to Branson, Missouri the following month. This trip ended up being a multi-tasking event and not only a time to relax and come together as a family, but also to make a plan for Debra’s future. In doing so, the Cargill’s decided that Todd and his girlfriend would be Debra’s care giver, looking after his mother, so she could stay in her home. This is where the Black Sheep shows up.

After returning from Branson, the Cargill’s came to visit our offices to update Debra’s Estate Plan, and make provisions outlining her long-term care. Many of the changes had to do with Debra’s wishes if anything were to happen to her and for Todd and his responsibilities as a caretaker. Living with Debra, the girlfriend had full access to her credit cards. This is where an unfortunate turn of events occurred.

Being responsible for so many new tasks, Todd and his girlfriend may have been overwhelmed. Todd, working during the day as a full-time care taker and his girlfriend as a professional “dancer” at night was a lot to take in for the young couple. After some months living with this arrangement, Debra was called at home by a collection agency informing her that one of her credit card payments were overdue. The collection agency also told her that she was behind on payments. After asking what the charges had been for, she realized they were not items that pertained to her. Items we cannot describe too deeply here, but let’s just say they could be accounted as business expenses for Todd’s “dancing” girlfriend.

Upon taking the collection call and getting coerced into deciding on the spot, Debra decided she would try to settle the bill on her own. Being caught up in the moment and out of the goodness of her heart, Debra thought this was the best thing to do. However, after a few days, she reconsidered and called the collection agency, notifying them she indeed was not responsible for the charges.

After having to live with the thought of her son and his girlfriend stealing from her, dealing with the collection agency was almost too much for Debra to handle. Since Debra had accepted responsibility on the first call, the agency continued to call on a weekly basis They told her she could not just “change her mind” and she still needed to pay “her” debt. This is when Debra finally decided to call our office.

Being up to speed with everything happening in the Cargill families lives during the funeral and after, we were in a knowledgeable position to deal with the collection agency. After just one phone call we convinced the agency that Debra was not responsible for the charges and that her credit card information had been stolen. After some negotiation with the credit card company and the collection agency, we succeeded in having the charges refunded.

Once an attorney is involved in defending a claim, collection agencies can no longer call debtors and harass them for payment. The collection company must call the attorney which greatly eases the stress on debtors.
Berger Estate & Elder Law P.A. has been serving Kansas City for over 30 years providing Trusted Council with Proactive Solutions. Call us today at (913) 491-6332, visit our website or stop by our conveniently located offices at 11233 Nall, Suite 140 Leawood, KS 66211 for more information.


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