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MORE AND MORE SENIOR CITIZENS ARE FILING BANKRUPTCY
Senior-citizen bankruptcies are on the rise, driven by socioeconomic factors such as insufficient Social Security payments, higher health-care costs, and increased individual responsibility for retirement savings. Americans are living longer than ever. Unfortunately, the costs of health care and elder care are also increasing to an unaffordable level. Even if you have spent your life making sound financial decisions and saving money, the combination of longer life and unaffordable health care can lead to insurmountable debt problems for seniors.
Senior citizens are much less able to obtain employment than younger bankruptcy filers, both because of age discrimination and physical or medical limitations. The financial decline of seniors often goes unnoticed, even by their loved ones. Frequently, seniors keep their financial problems from their children and others out of embarrassment. Instead, they choose to sell off their personal possessions, mortgage their homes until all of the equity is gone, cancel insurance policies, and even go without meals and medication to try to satisfy their creditors. By the time they seek help, the stress of bearing this burden alone is agonizing.
SHOULD SENIOR CITIZENS FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY IF THEY ARE “JUDGMENT PROOF”?
Anyone who files for bankruptcy should have something to protect, whether it is income, an asset or interest in some other property. An individual who is ‘judgment proof’ does not need to file for bankruptcy, so long as they are relatively certain they will remain that way for the remainder of their life (not get a new job, inherit anything or win the lottery). Seniors simply can determine with a greater amount of certainty that they will remain judgment-proof. If a senior citizen does not own any property and is just receiving SSI, a creditor can sue them and obtain a judgement BUT they cannot garnish SSI.
CAN CREDITORS GARNISH SOCIAL SECURITY PAYMENTS?
Private creditors cannot directly garnish social security payments. The federal government can garnish social security if a person owes unpaid taxes.
ARE RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS PROTECTED IN BANKRUPTCY?
Retirement accounts are generally safe from creditors up to a certain amount. Even if you have a relatively large balance in a retirement account, it may be completely or partially protected in a bankruptcy proceeding. For more information on retirement accounts and bankruptcy you can click HERE.
DO MY CHILDREN HAVE TO PAY MY DEBTS?
A child does not have to pay their parent’s debts when the parent passes away. If you leave credit cards, loans, and other liabilities in your own name, your child does not have to pay those obligations unless they are a co-signer to the debt.
However, your estate must pay the debt before your child can receive any inheritance. Bankruptcy may be a viable way to address your debts so that you are not leaving a burden to your children and so that you can leave them personal keepsakes free and clear from creditor claims.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I RENT MY HOME OR APARTMENT AND I FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY?
One thing to consider carefully in a senior citizen bankruptcy is whether the senior owns a home. Many seniors have significant equity in their home. There are bankruptcy exemptions for homestead property, but there are also equity limitations.
It may still be possible to file for bankruptcy and keep your home, but it’s important to fully understand the ramifications and the state-specific laws that apply to your case.
Mistakes Seniors Should Avoid When Dealing with Debt:
Mistake #1: Repaying Debt When Creditors Have No Recourse Against You
If a senior is struggling to pay their bills and have no assets then they are what we call “judgment proof”. Yes a creditor can send you collection letters, call you, and even sue you but in the end they are not able to collect against you. If you are struggling to survive, just stop paying your creditors (of course except your rent and insurance). Save your money for an emergency that may come up.
Mistake #2: Liquidating Protected Assets
When seniors need money to pay their bills, it can be tempting to try selling certain assets to raise cash. Oftentimes, a 401(k) or an individual retirement account is low-hanging fruit, since these accounts may contain significant funds.
Before using these savings to pay off debt, seniors younger than 59½ need to consider factors such as whether there will be early-withdrawal penalties. Seniors of all ages need to think about whether the money will be enough to satisfy all their debts.
Generally 401(k) funds, and in many cases IRAs, can’t be taken in bankruptcy and used to pay creditors but once you’ve liquidated these assets, they’re gone forever.The same can be true with liquid assets such as jointly owned real estate or life insurance, which may also be protected from creditors during bankruptcy, depending on the circumstances and the state.
Mistake #3: Not Getting Legal Advice
Most bankruptcy attorneys provide a free consultation so take advantage of that and review your options. The internet and your neighbor and not great resources for information. Meet with a professional in your area and find out what your rights are.
TOP GEORGIA BANKRUPTCY LAWYERS
Saedi Law Group are experienced Georgia bankruptcy lawyers who have been helping Georgians file for bankruptcy for over 19 years.
We have filed thousands of bankruptcy cases here in Georgia and are in court every day fighting for our client’s rights against creditors. If you are currently struggling with overwhelming debt, or feel your financial situation will be severely stressed in the coming weeks, now is the best time to start looking at all options available to you.
📅 SCHEDULE A FREE PHONE/VIDEO CONFIDENTIAL CONSULTATION WITH A GEORGIA BANKRUPTCY LAWYER: https://saedibankruptcyatlanta.com/
Saedi Law Group offers a free, no obligation consultation with an experienced attorney (not a paralegal) who will review your specific situation and advise you about your options for moving forward. Our team is passionate about our work and we take it very seriously.
It is a privilege to help clients and their families in times like these. Bankruptcy was created for this purpose. Please contact us today at (404) 919-7296 or [email protected] to learn about what you can do to protect your future. #Georgia #bankruptcy #attorneys #chapter13 #chapter7 #financialhelp #Atlanta #Rome #Newnan #Gainesville