It is heartbreaking to meet older Americans who are struggling to pay utility bills, to buy needed medicine, or even unable to buy food. In some cases the elderly will forego these necessities to pay credit card debt from their modest, fixed incomes. It is often the adult children that discover the struggles of their parents and suggest speaking with a bankruptcy attorney.
Discussing a bankruptcy filing can be very difficult for older people. They may see bankruptcy as the ultimate failure or disgrace, or may have ideas that they will lose everything they own. Debt collectors can prey on these fears and force older Americans to pay for debts they cannot afford.
Fortunately, the federal bankruptcy laws can protect the elderly from these unscrupulous creditors, and free up money to pay for necessities. The federal law entirely protects Social Security income from creditor garnishment, and nearly all retirement funds are protected. A bankruptcy filing can permanently shield your loved one from creditor harassment.
Before speaking with a bankruptcy attorney, it is a good idea to obtain a complete picture of the person’s assets, debts, income, and expenses. Start by collecting monthly bills, bank statements, and any check stubs from retirement payments. Your attorney can also assist you in running a credit report. An accounting of personal property and real estate is also important to determine whether there are assets that may be problematic.
Speaking with a bankruptcy attorney does not commit you to filing bankruptcy! A bankruptcy attorney is very experienced in dealing with debt and may suggest a bankruptcy alternative. In some cases an older person may be judgment proof, meaning all income and assets are protected from creditors. Your attorney can discuss financial planning options specific to the case.
If you are older and struggling with debt, or know an older American who needs help with overwhelming debt, contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney and discover how the state and federal laws can help. Your attorney can advise you on protecting assets and income, while discharging debts.