Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in Pennsylvania

I signed for student loans for my adult daughter, these loans are now due and she is unable to pay. I am retired and on a fixed income, all assets are either joint with my husband or just in his name. What if anything can be done to collect this from me ?

Asked on 4/04/13, 3:27 pm

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Get the assets entirely out of your name maybe, depending on what you have. You definitely should not have a joint bank account with anyone else. Things like a car, if paid for, should be re-titled solely in your husband's name if it is owned free and clear. If it is financed then put it in his name once you get the title.

This all assumes that only you signed the student loans, not your husband. You do not indicate whether these are private student loans or federal student loans. It may make a difference.

Joint ownership of a home in PA will prevent the student lender from seizing the home if the lender sues and gets a judgment. However, if your husband would die before you (which is often likely) the home would pass to you by operation of law. If the home is owned free and clear this may be a problem at some point.

Regardless of whether the loans are federal or private, student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy so that will not work. If the student loans are federal (backed by the US DOE), then even though you are on Social Security, the lender may be able to garnish your Social Security income and they do not need to sue and get a judgment to be able to do that. Garnishment by the federal authorities is usually 15% - perhaps it can be modified depending on your other circumstances.

If the student loan is private then its just like any other type of creditor. They cannot garnish the Social Security income and they would have to first sue and get a judgment against you. So if this is a private loan, start divesting yourself of assets except a bank account into which you put your Social Security and any other exempt income . But you do not want to commingle your income with either non-exempt income belonging to you or non-exempt income belonging to anyone else (like if your husband works and does not get Social Security and you have a joint bank account).

Your daughter, if she is able, really needs to step up to the plate here and do whatever she can. School loans are hideous things and they never go away. And if you signed, either as a co-borrower or co-signer, the lender will come after you if your daughter does not work something out.

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Answered on 4/04/13, 7:19 pm

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