I Was Widowed a Few Weeks Ago and Left With Debt. – Jerry

“Dear Steve,

I was widowed just a few weeks ago and we were living on Social Security with no retirement income. Now I will only have my husband’s Social Security and not mine so will be trying to make it with less income.

I have balances of $5200, $6200, and $7500 on three credit cards and know I will never be able to pay them off on the income I will have beginning in January 2012. I never paid for insurance on any of these accounts, to pay them off in case of either of our deaths, so what alternative do I have to settle this debt? The insurance on my husband paid for his funeral and burial with just under $2000 left but I still have several doctor bills to pay also (mostly the co-pays for doctor and clinic visits prior to his death) but they add up to about $600. I would appreciate any help you could give me.


Dear Jerry,

While you may be what is considered to be “judgment proof”, meaning that if you were sued you may not have any assets for creditors to go after and your income may be exempt from garnishment as benefit income, that’s does not alleviate the stress you may be under.

If these debts were in the name of your spouse alone then the creditors could only look at the estate for repayment. For some reason I suspect these were probably joint debts.

While some may not consider the dollar amounts to be very high, out of reach is out of reach.

If we look at the situation on a more holistic level then we need to factor in your well being and state of mind, now and in the future, over these debts.

I doubt you want to be chased by collectors for years to come. And I highly doubt you want to face the potential of being sued over these debts.

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Simply for peace of mind and closing the door on these debts you should consider filing bankruptcy to discharge the debts and close the door on them once and for all. At least that would allow you to move forward without the stress, worry, and strain of these unmanageable debts. It will stop collection captivity and block future issues over these debts.

I would suggest three things.

  1. You can click here to find a local bankruptcy attorney to talk to for free.
  2. You can use the public benefits finder calculator to discover what benefits might be available to help you to help make ends meet.
  3. You can use the Bankruptcy Pro Boni Resource Locator to see if you are eligible for free or reduced cost bankruptcy assistance.

You may also want to read our free publication, “Widow or Widower: How to Handle the Bills After the Death of a Loved One.”

If you have any moral objections to considering bankruptcy you should probably read The Honest and Unvarnished Truth About How to Get Out of Debt.

I’m so sorry for your loss and can’t imagine the stress you are under.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.
Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

Steve Rhode

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