Your Dad May Need a Bankruptcy
As Father's Day approaches, we like to remind ourselves that The Great American Family has many variations, all beautiful. Adult children have often moved back home, for economic or pandemic reasons. Parents may need to move in with their children, for many reasons. Bankruptcy is one of those reasons to welcome Father, Dear Father into your home.
Face the Music
Our title comes from a popular song from the latter part of the 19th century. It's a tearjerker temperance song, but the first line says a lot. Dealing with Dad as he faces personal bankruptcy (either through Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy) can be difficult. Your home can become his sanctuary, his place of peace and refuge.
Consider Dad's plight. Through no fault of his own, he has gotten himself out on a very narrow financial ledge:
- Medical bills
- Extending financial help to extended family
- Job loss or job hours cutbacks
- Unsecured debt (credit card bills)
- Tax bills
- Catastrophic loss, such as a house fire or theft
We live in unsettled times. Dad may be unsettled by circumstances nobody could have foreseen. Where once he stood as the very model of the strong, silent Texan, now he has to face the music and accept that he needs to declare bankruptcy and scale back on his spending. You play a vital role in talking him back off that narrow ledge.
Every father-son or father-daughter relationship is different, of course, but few fathers are ready to take advice from their adult children. When that advice is to declare bankruptcy, the conversation can be extremely awkward.
Open the line of communication by sharing your own situation, or by sharing some universal statistics:
- The American Medical Association says medical debt is a whopping $140 billion
- A 2005 Harvard University study indicated 62 percent of personal bankruptcies were due to medical expenses
- The American Bankruptcy Institute pegs Texas bankruptcies for January and February 2022 alone at 2,692, a rate of more than 1,300 a month!
Talk with Dad about the nearly universal financial constraints everyone has faced recently, and then emphasize how most of the problem is not of any one individual's doing.
Approach Dad from a place of practical compassion. Remind him that the credit card companies and the mortgage lender have little or no compassion but you, his adult child, have plenty to offer.
Offer to help Dad through the beginning stages of bankruptcy, such as setting up the initial consultation and digging through Dad's financial documents to bring some order to them.
Almost immediately after broaching the topic, make helpful offers:
- Dad, you can sell the house and move in with me (or us)
- We can work together to make a budget
- I'll be happy to cancel all your credit cards, even before your bankruptcy attorney recommends it!
- Let's get you organized and on a repayment plan; we'll need a bankruptcy attorney to help with that
The two steps you may want to consider to get Dad the help he needs are simple on paper, even if the conversations are challenging:
- Declare bankruptcy
- Move in with Dad's adult children to save money
Bankruptcy could help Dad save his house. It is one of the few legal tools lawful Texans can unleash to put a stop to creditor harassment, foreclosure, and other financial binds.
But consider: while bankruptcy can help Dad save his home, his house is also an asset. Perhaps Dad is now living alone in the great big ol' family home, with its four bedrooms and 2 ½ baths and three-car garage and a half-acre of back yard to mow.
That house is too big! But if Dad down sizes as part of a plan to cut back on spending, Dad can sell the too-big house.
Instead of having the house fall into foreclosure, consider helping Dad file for bankruptcy and then sell the wrong-sized house to pay off its mortgage.
Dad will have a place to live — with you, the thoughtful, compassionate adult child, is one option — or he can move into a right-sized house on his terms. No need to worry about being pressured into a short sale. No need to take too-small an offer just to keep a roof over Dad's head. Everybody will be singing a different tune.
At The Page Law Firm we provide wise counsel in all areas of personal bankruptcy. Contact us today or telephone our offices at 214-618-2101 to set up an appointment for a complimentary 40 minute strategy session. We specialize in compassionate, attentive care for even the most delicate bankruptcy situations.