Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in California

Credit card debt for the elderly

My sister is 78 yrs old and is now diagnosed with Parkinsons and Dementia requiring 24 hr hospital care. Her only income is social security and SSI and that will go to pay for her medical and hospital expenses leaving her arounf 30 dollar per month. She is not permitted any type of anxiety. Should I write to the companies and explain that she is unable to pay these debts amounting to approximately 15 thousand dollars combined or must she file BK in absensia? Please advise. Thank You.

Asked on 3/10/09, 12:35 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

David Gibbs The Gibbs Law Firm, APC

Re: Credit card debt for the elderly

Unfortunately, you have a difficult task to deal with. Filing bankruptcy is going to be a problem given her dementia. I've not had to handle a matter involving an incompetent debtor, but I'm fairly certain the court would require that someone be appointed her guardian through legal process before you could file, and that person would file on her behalf. It may be a good idea to obtain a guardianship of her anyway given her condition so someone can legally handle all of her financial and personal matters. For that you will want to contact a local attorney who works in that field. As far as bankruptcy, I assume from the description she has no significant assets like a home or car? If that's the case, she is essentially judgment proof, and so I would probably let the credit cards go. If she is under physician care and in a hospital or even hospice, the creditors probably won't be able to find her to harass her. I'd suggest contacting a local attorney who works with elder-law matters to review your options. Good luck, and very sorry to hear about your sister's condition.

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Answered on 3/10/09, 1:03 pm

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