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Bankruptcy and Preparing for Retirement

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  • Blog
  • Jill
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  • August 6, 2020

Bankruptcy and Preparing for Retirement

If you are in debt and thinking about filing for bankruptcy, you probably have a lot of questions.  Older adults generally wonder about how bankruptcy will affect their retirement funds.  How is filing before retirement different than after?  What about social security?  Read on for answers to these and other common questions about bankruptcy and retirement.

What is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal process where someone in a lot of debt can cancel or redistribute the money they owe.  A bankruptcy lawyer can help with the process.  There are several types of bankruptcy, but the most common are chapter 7 and chapter 13.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a person’s debt is canceled by the court; this is liquidation.  The household income has to fall below a certain level in order to qualify for this type of bankruptcy. Also, selling your property and other assets will occur to pay off your debt. Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a new repayment plan is created for existing debt; this is reorganization.  Instead of selling assets, the debtor must eventually pay back the money with their regular income.  As well as, talk to a bankruptcy attorney to figure out which chapter you should file under.

Can money in a retirement account be claimed by bankruptcy?

 Having a 401 (k), or other retirement accounts the cash is safe under chapter 7 bankruptcy 

When creating a repayment plan, the amount of money in your retirement account will not be taken into consideration under chapter 13 bankruptcy. The only exception to this is if you have a very large amount saved in an IRA.  This may be available to creditors.  The current cap is $1,362,800.  This amount changes every three years based on the cost of living.  The next switch will be on April 1, 2022.

What about Social Security?

Social Security benefits can be claimed in some situations. For instance, you are allowed to claim money from your check before it is sent to you. In some cases of owing federal taxes, student loans or other federal debt, child support, alimony, and court-ordered compensation to the victim of a crime.  Money already in your bank account is also available to creditors.  However, banks must allow you to keep two months’ worth of Social Security benefits in your account even if you owe money for bankruptcy. If you haven’t started receiving benefits, they can’t be blocked in the future.

What if I file for bankruptcy after retirement?

Filing after retirement does not protect the money you have saved if you have started to use it as income. Chapter 7, Anything the court sees as not necessary for survival, the judge can take from you. Chapter 13, the money you have saved for retirement will also be considered when making a repayment plan for your debt. Consult with a bankruptcy lawyer for your individual situation. In most cases, it is better to file for bankruptcy before you retire in order to keep your 401(k) protected. Anything the court sees as not necessary for survival, the judge can take from you. 

Looking for a bankruptcy attorney?

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you will need a good bankruptcy lawyer to help you.  Bartifay Law Offices has been working on bankruptcy and foreclosure cases for 27 years.  With experience you need and representation you can trust, Bartifay Law can help you through bankruptcy while paying minimal fees to their office.  Call (412) 824-4011 to set up a free consultation at one of their eight locations. 

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