The elderly are a growing percentage of bankruptcy filers. The reasons are myriad: health care costs, inadequate retirement savings, and financial entanglements with family. The trend to market home equity loans as a way to live better makes it less likely the mortgage is paid off when retirement arrives.
The question, “Should I file bankruptcy?” is usually most easily answered for the elderly. Younger clients with a significant remaining working life may have options for avoiding bankruptcy. Those options are not generally available for those at the end of their working lives. Incomes will not increase over time. Minimum payments on credit cards are calculated to pay off even small balances over 20-40 years! Seniors don’t have 40 years.
The stress of being in the bill collectors’ cross hairs is less tolerable for the elderly, even if nothing they have would be available to satisfy a judgment.
Discussing money with a senior generation is not easy, but it needs to be done. I’ve seen a number of cases where it is not until there is a crisis that adult children learn that their parent has been living with unmanageable debt. Too often, the senior has stinted on food or medication in order to make the minimum payments on credit cards.
The rational choice may be bankruptcy and a debt free old age.