Be cautious about nursing deposit

DEAR BRUCE: I am in the process of putting my mother into a nursing home. The deposit fee is quite large. They are asking $300,000 for a deposit, which can be refunded if we decide to take her out. I am very skeptical about giving this much money to the nursing home. They claim it will be in good hands, but that doesn't satisfy my feelings. Can you tell me if there are more other precautions I should be taking before I make a mistake? I also consulted with an attorney and he said the money wouldn't be in an escrow account like the nursing home previously stated. Please help. — Sam, via e-mail

DEAR SAM: You did the right thing by consulting with an attorney, but you are leaving some major details out of this story. Did the attorney mention what kind of an account the nursing home would put the money into? It is worth it to pay an attorney to investigate the nursing home before you lay out a very large sum of money. I would rather be safe than sorry. Please consider all options before jumping right in.

DEAR BRUCE: I have been working for a company for many years. Due to the slow economy, the company has been forced to downsize. Many of the employees, including myself, have been hit with a major pay cut. I am finding it very hard to pay even the minimum payments on my credit cards. Before I get into a position where I can't make any payments to all of my credit cards, I would like to know how I should go about this. I was hoping you can guide me in the right direction. — F.J., via e-mail

DEAR F.J.: I am assuming you have very high balances on these credit cards, and I am assuming that there are many of them. My best advice would be to contact each credit-card company in writing, explaining the situation you are in. The credit-card companies are equipped to react to these certain situations. I would ask them to reduce your payments and hopefully they will work with you on this matter. If they don't help you, I would contact Consumer Credit Counseling Service. They are a nonprofit organization that helps people resolve their credit problems.

DEAR BRUCE: I worked at the same job for 35 years before retiring. When I turned 62, I collected about $275 in Social Security from my husband. When he passed away, my Social Security was increased an additional $75 a month. Just last month I received a letter from Social Security telling me that they had made a mistake and I had been overpaid by $60 a month for the past five years. They were going to start withholding about double that amount for the next two years to "pay them back." It seems like they should be out of luck. It wasn't my fault that they miscalculated, and now this is going to be a hardship on me. Do I have any recourse? — Reader, via e-mail.

DEAR READER: They determined the amount to be paid and to withhold your Social Security. Something doesn't seem right here. If I were you, I would contact an attorney. There are many attorneys who specialize in dealing only with Social Security. At the very least I would consult one or more of these. They would know exactly what rights you may or may not have. This way you will know exactly what can and cannot be done.

DEAR BRUCE: I have listened to you on the radio for many years. I respect your opinion on many subjects. I was hoping you can give me some information about investing in a CD. I would like to leave one child in particular extra money without any of my other children knowing about this; therefore, it will not be listed in my will. Is it a good idea to leave money to one of my children in the form of a CD? Or is there a better option? — Reader, via e-mail

DEAR READER: I wouldn't lose any sleep over giving one child more than the other. Everyone has different needs. There is one way to do this without anyone knowing how you set it up. You can purchase a CD in your name and stipulate that you want it to go to the child you name as beneficiary upon your demise.

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