Older Adults And Bankruptcy: Issues To Consider
Many older adults in South Florida, including Floridians who have already retired, face debt that may seem insurmountable. There are various reasons that seniors accrue debt, from living beyond their means and charging purchases to credit cards and credit accounts to facing serious medical issues. No matter what the reason is that an older adult is considering bankruptcy, it is essential to think about some particular considerations for seniors in the consumer bankruptcy process. For some older adults, consumer bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 might make sense depending on their circumstances, but for others, bankruptcy might not be the best answer. In order to determine whether bankruptcy is a logical decision for you or for an older adult you love, it is important to have a bankruptcy lawyer in West Palm Beach assess your case. In the meantime, you can think about some of the following considerations in relation to potential bankruptcy plans.
You May Have Too Much Property to Qualify for Liquidation Bankruptcy
Many older adults in South Florida have been saving for years and acquiring various forms of property. In many cases, seniors in West Palm Beach own real property in South Florida and in another location, choosing to spend winters in West Palm Beach. Seniors also may have significant savings accounts, or other tangible property that is valuable. Older adults in this type of situation are unlikely to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy since they will have too much property to qualify and will not be able to pass the “means test.”
You May Not Qualify for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy After Retirement
If you are ineligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy because of your assets, it is important to know that you may not qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy either if you have retired and no longer have an income. Or, if you are planning to retire in the next year or two, your income will shift significantly, and you may not be able to complete the terms of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan given that those plans usually last anywhere from three to five years.
Bankruptcy May Not Be Necessary
Even if you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it is important to know that bankruptcy may not actually be necessary based on your circumstances. If you are nearing retirement or if you have already retired, most if not all of your assets may be assets that a creditor cannot take through a garnishment, such as Social Security benefits, or retirement accounts through the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) that often include 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, and many pensions. Accordingly, even if a creditor does sue you, there may not be any assets for the creditor to take.
At the same time, these assets are also exempt if you file for bankruptcy. As such, if you want to have eligible debts discharged so that creditors and debt collectors are no longer contacting you, then you will likely be able to protect these assets in a bankruptcy case, too.
Contact an Experienced West Palm Beach Bankruptcy Attorney
If you are nearing retirement or have retired recently and are considering personal bankruptcy, or if you are helping an elderly parent with financial issues and want to learn more about bankruptcy for older adults, one of the experienced West Palm Beach bankruptcy attorneys at Kelley, Fulton, Kaplan & Eller can assist you. Do not hesitate to get in touch with our firm.