Anna: A Frightened Senior With Credit Card Debt & Bankruptcy

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A Senior Defeats Fear with Help

Looking for a better life, Anna (not her real name) and her husband moved to Toronto in the late 1970’s. Both found steady jobs and were able to provide their children with a comfortable life.

While they were never able to save enough to buy a home or put much aside for retirement, on the whole they were content.

After retirement – their lives changed.

It took Anna a while to get used to living on a significantly reduced income and initially she used her credit cards to fill in the gap. This proved to be a costly mistake.

Unable to repay her cards in full, Anna was only able to make minimum payments for the next several years.

Over time, the couple’s health deteriorated – till it reach the point that their daughter Sharon, was visiting them daily to cook their meals and make sure they were taking their medications.

One day, when Sharon came to check on them, she discovered her 72 year-old mother in tears. Anna finally told her how she had been making minimum payments for years, but had somehow fallen behind and now she was getting ‘nasty’ calls from the credit card companies. The latest call had been a threat to take her to court. Anna feared she would be put in jail.

Once Sharon found out more about her parent’s bad finances – she knew they needed help. A friend, who had filed a consumer proposal several years earlier, recommended Jackie Stanley, an Estate Administrator at David Sklar & Associates.

Sharon called and set up an appointment.

Since the only debts owing were credit cards in Anna’s name alone, and her husband was not well enough to attend the meeting, it was decided that Sharon would go with her mother to meet with Jackie.

To prepare her mother for the meeting, Sharon helped her to organize her paper work and set up a simple, workable budget. However, Anna remained stressed and fearful.

*** ***

When Anna met with Jackie, she began to realize that her fears of jail were unfounded and that her financial problems could be fixed.

Basically, Anna owed $15,500 on two credit cards, had no assets that could be distributed to her creditors, and her household income (after accounting for medical expenses) was below the surplus income level.

Since Anna was insolvent, she might be able to file a consumer proposal or file for bankruptcy. After exploring her options with Jackie and the trustee, she decided that bankruptcy would be her best option.

Anna filed for bankruptcy. As a first-time bankrupt, it took 9 months to complete. During her bankruptcy, she paid a monthly administration fee of $200, attended two credit counselling sessions, and submitted monthly reports on her income and spending. At the end of her bankruptcy, Anna was released from the credit card debt.

For Anna, perhaps the greatest outcome was that once she filed – her creditors stopped calling her – and her life became less stressful.

To protect our clients’ privacy, aspects of this case study have been altered

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