Homestead Exemption Extension For The Medically Bankrupt

Written by Health Traveler
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People who lose their jobs and insurance through illness get some help keeping their homes thanks to the Homestead Exemption Extension for the Medically Bankrupt. Introduced by New Hampshire Congresswoman Carol Shea (D), this bill helps medically distressed debtors, by increasing the Federal Homestead Exemption in Bankruptcy to $250,000. A medically distressed debtor is defined as a person in bankruptcy who has spent 25% or more of annual income on unreimbursed medical expenses, or has lost more than four weeks of work due to a their own or a relative’s illness.

Practically speaking, this bill will help those with home equity keep it, and provides a disincentive to people facing such crises to resort to second mortgages and home equity lines of credit – a more typical response to such situations, which leaves debtors vulnerable to losing their home as a result of illness, and has contributed to the present mortgage-credit crisis/crunch.

The Bill introduces the concept of an “economically distressed caregiver” – or, a person who income and work opportunities are limited because of assistance provided to a sick relative
It’s worth noting that the term relative is not defined. Bankruptcy Attorney Kent Anderson points out that in cases of student loan hardship discharge cases, medical care provided to anyone for whom there is no legal obligation – for an adult child, sibling, niece or nephew, for example doesn’t ameliorate the debtor’s responsibility. Anderson expects an analogous argument to be made in medical bankruptcy cases, a significant issue for gays living in states where marriage is not a legal option as well as the increasing numbers of adult children who will be taking on the care of their aging boomer parents


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