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September 13 2013


Bankruptcy and the Elderly

The number bankruptcy filings among the elderly is growing fast as older Americans pile up huge credit card debt while striving to pay for living and medical expenses. Many older people are living on a fixed income and their expenses are high.  Every month, they struggle to pay unsecured debts with their small incomes. 

The most common forms of unsecured debts among the elderly are medical and credit cards debts, and for many older people even a small amount of unsecured debt can bring a major financial burden.  There are those who are dealing with the tough decision to spend less on food, medication, or things at home in order to have the money to pay these debts.  Many are intimidated and scared by the collection letters and telephone calls from debt collectors, the accusations and, oftentimes, lies told by the collectors.  In most cases, it is the adult children that find out about the financial problems of their parents and tell them to speak with a bankruptcy attorney.

Oftentimes, older people do not want to file for bankruptcy because they think that they can pay off their debts by making regular minimum payments. In reality, however, it requires a substantial amount of time to pay even a small amount of debt with high interest by paying the minimum amount per month.  Meanwhile, a change in the annual fees and interest rate can lead to an increase of the minimum payment.  Furthermore, payments that are forgotten may even bring about creditor lawsuit, which can lead to a property foreclosure or judgment lien. 

It is not easy to convince an older family member to file for bankruptcy. Usually, there is great concern over lesser income or losing a property. Fortunately there have been changes in the federal bankruptcy laws to give considerable protections for the older people.  For example, when an individual files for bankruptcy, the creditors would not be allowed to garnish the debtor's social security and retirement funds.  More often than not, the debtor's possessions are exempt from bankruptcy, and if there are nonexempt assets, the bankruptcy attorney can go over them.  There are various options that the bankruptcy laws offer for discharging debts and keeping property.  Bankruptcy can give the debtor a fresh start.  In most cases, when the bankruptcy process is successfully completed by the debtor, the unsecured debts are eliminated and there would be more cash to pay for the individual's living expenses. 

There is also a social stigma attached to filing bankruptcy and that is why older people feel embarrassed to seek http://www.bankruptcylawyersanantonio.com debt relief through bankruptcy. But personal bankruptcy is generally a legal process that is very private. Bankruptcy cases are not published in the newspaper and the family and friends are neither contacted nor informed about it.  The notice of bankruptcy will only be sent to co-debtors and creditors.  

If you want to help an old family member is having difficulty paying his debts, it would be important that someone discusses the real situation and the options. Filing for bankruptcy could be the best option for a loved one who is in his golden years to become stress free from medical and credit card debts.


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