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Seniors, debt relief and bankruptcy

For the first time in 2012, households led by people over the age of 50 had on average more credit card debt than those headed by people under 50. Some Florida seniors may still be paying off their student loans, or they might be paying for their children’s education. Those who do not have enough saved for retirement may be paying even basic expenses with a credit card. Some may find that what was a manageable credit card debt while they were employed is difficult to keep up with during retirement, and debt may present an impediment to entering an assisted-living facility.

Seniors may also struggle with debt because they have helped their adult children or grandchildren. A better move might be to suggest that they contact a nonprofit credit counselor. For seniors already in debt, these counselors may be helpful as well. Another option is contacting credit card companies directly to try to work out some kind of payment plan. This may also be possible with medical debt.

Some people may be able to make a new budget that cuts back on some expenses or tap into savings to pay off debt. A reverse mortgage could be another possibility although this carries some risk as well, and people who go this route should be sure they understand those risks.

Bankruptcy is another possibility. Seniors who are struggling with debt might want to talk to a lawyer about this and other options. They may be concerned about losing assets they have worked hard for, but with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it may be possible to work out a payment plan and keep those assets. Seniors who consider themselves financially responsible may struggle with the idea of bankruptcy, but this can be a responsible choice as well.

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