Facing Bankruptcy as a Senior Citizen

Posted on October 9, 2013 at 11:29am by

There are a number of reasons people may face bankruptcy in their senior years; these include massive medical debt, falling prey to scams, and having finances mismanaged by adult children or trusted financial advisors. As reported by the Consumer Bankruptcy Project and the AARP, between 1991 to 2007 the rate of bankruptcy filings among senior citizens increased by 150 percent; the sharpest increase was seen in the age group of 75-84.

The thought of facing bankruptcy in what should be a stable time in your life can be devastating; you may worry that you’ll lose all your savings, your home, and anything else you need to live comfortably.

But don’t give up hope. There are several ways to make the bankruptcy process go more smoothly for yourself.


Missouri allows for certain exemptions during bankruptcy. If you’re filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the exemptions will help you hang on to more of what you own, and if you’re filing for Chapter 13, your repayments will be less extensive.

The exemptions to make note of include the following:

  • Under Missouri’s homestead exemption, up to $15,000 of the value of your home/property can be exempt from bankruptcy.
  • Certain retirement benefits could be exempted, particularly if you’re receiving benefits as a teacher, firefighter, police officer, or state employee.
  • Some other benefits, such as Social Security and benefits for veterans, are also exempt.
  • Health aids that have been prescribed to you (such as a hearing device) are also exempt, along with up to a few thousand dollars worth of personal belongings.

Taking Care with Retirement Accounts and Pensions

A mistake that seniors often make when trying to pay off their debts is transferring money out of various retirement accounts. The savings in these accounts may be exempt, at least to some extent, under bankruptcy law; however, if you transfer the money out of them to try and pay your creditors, you lose the protection of the exemption.

Professional assistance

There’s absolutely no shame in asking for help when you’re facing financial difficulties. In fact, you can save yourself from even more financial loss if you obtain the assistance of experts. When you meet with a bankruptcy lawyer from The Sader Law Firm, for instance, he or she will carefully go over your situation and come up with solutions that will protect as much of your cash and assets as possible while discharging your debts. Don’t hesitate to contact us for advice and for advocacy in the bankruptcy courts.