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My wife took her own life in April. She passed away at the Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, CA, on April 23rd. She was 63. I was in India at that time because my father had passed away there in March! A back-to-back double tragedy in my life! I am now saddled with hospital and other medical bills totaling $92,000 in her name. I earn less than $25,000 a year. My wife had no health insurance of any kind. She was a massage therapist earning less than $20,000 a year. I cannot afford to pay this huge bill in this lifetime. I applied for retroactive MediCal for her but it was denied. I live in an old 1967 mobile home. My wife and I are the joint owners of this mobile home. We don't own the land though. Please advice me on my legal options. I am from India but am a US citizen. My late wife was born here. I live in California.
Response: I am so sorry for your losses.
You may consider filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to wipe out the debts, if you are eligible. Based on the information that you provided here, you would be eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.
You would be eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, if you meet the Means test—the income test. If your income is equal to or less than the current income guidelines for your family size in your state, you would be eligible to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy all things being equal. The income used in calculating the Means test is the income for the 6 months before the filing of the bankruptcy petition. This means that if you are filing for bankruptcy protection this month, August 2013, the income that would be used is your income from February 2013 to July 2013. If you are filing next month, September 2013, the income that would be used in the Means Test calculation would be the income from March 2013 to August 2013, etc. In Chapter 7, if the Court grants you a Discharge your debts will be wiped out with some exceptions such as some taxes, child support, alimony, which are not dischargeable. You would get a clean state, a fresh start.
These are current income guidelines for the State of California:
Family size of one person $48,415.00
Family size of two persons $63,030.00
Family size of three persons $67,401.00
Family size of four persons $75,656.00
Add $8,100.00 for additional individual
The filling fee for Chapter 7 is $306.00. You may able to waive this filing fee if your income is 150% below the current poverty guidelines. Click here for current poverty guidelines:
You must receive budget and credit counseling from an approved credit counseling agency and obtain a Certificate of Credit Counselling to be filed with your bankruptcy case. The agency will review possible options available to you in credit counseling and assist you in reviewing your budget. Different agencies provide the counseling in-person, by telephone, or over the Internet.
It is usually a good idea for you to meet with an attorney before you receive the required credit counseling. Unlike a credit counselor, who cannot give legal advice, an attorney can provide counseling on whether bankruptcy is the best option. If bankruptcy is not the right answer for you, a good attorney will offer a range of other suggestions. The attorney can also provide you with a list of approved credit counseling agencies, or you can check the website for the United States Trustee Program office at http://www.usdoj.gov/ust/eo/bapcpa/ccde/cc_approved.htm
After your case is filed, you must complete an approved course in personal finances. This course will take approximately two hours to complete. Your attorney can give you a list of organizations that provide approved courses, or you can check the website for the United States Trustee Program office at http://www.usdoj.gov/ust/eo/bapcpa/ccde/de_approved.htm
Consult a local bankruptcy attorney for further explanations of your rights and responsibilities.
The sites below are good resources for finding bankruptcy attorneys in your area:
If you cannot afford an Attorney, then the next best alternative will be to use bankruptcy petition preparer. Bankruptcy petition preparers prepare bankruptcy forms but they cannot give you legal advice because they are not attorneys. Click on the links below for some of the bankruptcy petition preparers. You can do some searches on Google or Yahoo if you do not like the ones on the links below.