I put this in IMHO because I’m not really asking for financial advice, just soliciting opinions.
What happens to credit card debt if/when the parent dies? Does it make sense to transfer all of the parent’s assets to the caregiver beforehand? Or is that considered unethical?
If you are an only child and the only person listed in the parent’s will, then no problem. But I think you can only receive $10,000 a year as a gift. Above that you need to pay taxes. Ask a CPA, they change this stuff all the time.
Another option is a “power of attorney” or “co-signing” bank accounts and so forth. That would allow someone to handle finances of someone else.
Note anyone doing this has a “fiduciary responsibility” to make the most sound investments and use of the other person’s money. If you don’t manage it properly, you could be sued. That would typically be by other heirs to the estate.
So far as debts like credit cards, those must be paid by the estate.
If handling another persons finances, KEEP RECORDS AND RECEIPTS OF EVERYTHING! (CYA.)
If they have a trust, you can get the assets transferred into the trust (useful to avoid probate in California) have yourself named co-trustee, and pay them out of the trust. Or, get yourself on the accounts, to let you write checks - that is what my wife is doing for her father. Be sure to get a power of attorney.
I was co-trustee for my father while he was still alive, and paid bills for him out of the trust.
I think taking money out of the estate willy-nilly, even for legit purposes like paying bills, is frowned upon. There should be documents saying what goes where.
This is one of those areas where having a lawyer really pays if there is any significant amount of money.
The current gift tax threshold is $14,000 per year. Or $28,000 if both spouses give the money to someone.
Note that the donor has the tax and forms responsibility. The recipient doesn’t deal with this.
Note that these are thresholds only for reporting and accumulating for estate taxes. If the lifetime total is less than the floor for paying an estate tax (currently $5.45 million) , no problem. Just some paperwork.
Credit card debt is taken out from the estate during probate. If there isn’t enough money, the rest isn’t collectible (unless co-signed card, etc.).
I’m not sure how CC companies deal with situations where the estate is given to the heirs just before death and there’s no money left to pay them off.
Isn’t there some rule that the gift to the heirs must happen some certain length of time before death? So that, within that time, the money can be clawed back?