In my practice, I see it all the time: an elderly couple come to talk about their debts. Inundated by credit cards and living on a fixed income, they see no help in sight.
But, their retirement can’t be garnished and the credit industry can’t get at it (in most cases). Social security is almost completely protected from creditors. And, so is the house: a credit card company can’t force you to sell your home even if you owe them a lot of money. At least not in California, and, I would guess, most other states as well.
So, what possible benefit can there be to an elderly couple to file bankruptcy? Here are four good reasons why not to file:
1. It’s humiliating. We were all taught to pay our debts; and no one wants his or her neighbors to know that they can’t handle their economic obligations.
2. It costs money. The attorney and the court have to be paid.
3. It “ruins” a perfectly good credit score.
4. It sets a bad example for the children.
Those are very good reasons not to file; but the benefits far outweigh the detriment. Four of the many advantages to filing a bankruptcy:
1. It stops the collection calls and letters.
2. It will, ultimately, improve your credit score.
3. It teaches responsibility: facing your economic problems and doing something.
4. It is one of the best forms of estate planning there is. Imagine you pass away with credit card debt and no cash to pay it. Your house will have to be sold to cover those charges! But if you file bankruptcy, your house is exempt from being sold – you get to keep it – and the credit card debt goes away! Now, should you die, your children or loved ones get to keep the house.
All in all, bankruptcy can be a wonderful tool to free you to enjoy the rest of your life. See an experienced bankruptcy attorney to discuss your financial situation.