My mother was in control of finances and now I’m 80k in debt
My mother has been in charge of my finances since I was 16 years old. I recently discovered how much student debt has accrued in my name.
Back story: my mom went on disability when I was 15 for PTSD. She continuously told me we could not afford rent or bills with her social security check. I felt guilty and got a full time job when I turned 16. At this point, I was giving her my entire checks to help out. Eventually she over drafted this account and opened up a new one in my name. This was eventually over drafted, too.
I began going to college in 2011. I noticed I was receiving large rebate checks from the university, but was under the impression the bulk of it came from grants and scholarships. I was still working full time and allowing my mother to be in charge of the finances. She told me since I was working so hard I didn’t need to stress over getting the bills paid and that she was taking care of it. Between these rebate checks, she would complain about not having enough money.
I noticed she was taking out credit cards in my name. We had argued over it, and eventually she told me they were all paid off. A couple of years ago, my checks began being garnished for a debt that she said she didn’t know about. At this point, I should have looked further into everything but continued to trust her. She said it was the only credit card.
She has stopped receiving help for her PTSD long ago. There was an issue with her doctor who was giving her terrible advice and drugs that didn’t seem to mix well. This doctor no longer has their license and my mother has never made an effort to seek new help or get back into a career. She blames it on trust issues.
While only bringing in her social security check, she was making extravagant purchases, like a SUV off the lot for 50k. In retrospect, she must have been using money from my federal student loans. She would have never been able to afford this.
We have been arguing non stop the last year over unrelated things. In May, I decided to really dig into my own finances. I discovered my student debt is currently at 75k, that I have 3.5k in credit card debt, and 4K in credit card debt that’s in collections. I told her she owes me back a minimum of 50k for the SUV she bought, since I don’t even have a license and never drive the vehicle. I explained that I would pursue legal action if I had to.
I made the decision to move out by the end of this month. It seems like the only way to fully cut ties and begin to figure out how to handle this situation. I finish my masters degree next fall, in which I will have to start paying back my student loans after 6 months. For the time being, I am staying in my graduate office to save up for a little bit while working two service jobs.
She has tried to convince me to stay for the remainder of her lease (I am not on it) and to co-sign for a cheaper car. The engine blew on the previously mentioned SUV and I have been paying for her current car that I was guilted into co-signing for. I have told her no to both staying with her and co-signing. Last week she was hired at a company that I think she could do well in, but she is claiming she is going to get evicted and the car repossessed if I do not stay. She said that there is no way to pay me back if that is the case.
This is a very layered, complicated situation. I know I should have looked into things much earlier. It was stupid to let someone else control my finances. Prior to looking into my debt myself, I estimated being 20k in and was willing to pay that. I was way off.
Does anyone have advice? Should I try to pursue legal action if she does not begin to help paying me back? Due to other situations that have not been mentioned here, I am not worried about saving our relationship.
Edit: To be clear, the credit cards were taken out without my approval.