Bankruptcy reform has particularly affected the elderly. The vast majority of elderly Americans are living on a fixed income and have higher health care bills than most younger people. When it comes to the point of deciding between heating their homes or paying their medical bills, many older people begin to think that they should choose bankruptcy. In many cases, it’s the only way that they can end the endless collection calls from medical providers. In desperation, many elderly people begin looking for bankruptcy information as their way out of a difficult situation.
However, the new laws have made bankruptcy more difficult for the elderly. Bankruptcy attorneys, even an Illinois bankruptcy attorney, now have a responsibility to investigate the claims of their clients, and debtors have to attend credit counseling before they’re allowed to file. This drives up the cost of bankruptcy for all filers, but it’s particularly hard on anyone who’s elderly or very poor. A process that used to cost a few hundred dollars can now easily add up to several thousand. When you consider that the people who need to file the most are the least able to pay, this makes very little sense. While there are waivers for hardship reasons for the court fees, there aren’t too many bankruptcy lawyers who will waive their fees.
The need to attend meetings and classes can also be hard for the elderly. Many have difficulty driving and other health problems. It could be hard for them to pay attention for long periods of time and actually absorb the information. If written testing or information is required, their failing eyesight can make this a challenge, too. Between the many predators that try to take financial advantage of the elderly population and the difficult new bankruptcy laws, many elderly people aren’t sure where to turn for help.