Retirement accounts are safe in bankruptcy court

Senior couple on boat with mountains in background taking Savings for retirement, in the form of 401(k), IRA, and other government sponsored savings accounts, are for most people their most precious financial asset. That is why the bankruptcy laws give special protection to these savings accounts.   Last month the stock markets took us through a painful roller coaster ride.  But the pain of watching accounts go up and down in an uncertain market can’t be matched to the pain of having to withdraw these dollars to pay a creditor.  Bankruptcy attorneys like myself always cringe when we consult with a prospective client who informs us that they have already spent their retirement accounts to keep their creditors away.  This is almost always a temporary fix and leaves this person facing the reality that was there all along – the need to discharge unmanageable debt with a bankruptcy to get a fresh start with finances.   Whether filing under chapter 7 or chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code,  retirement assets in these special accounts are almost always exempt from creditors and therefore protected from surrender to the bankruptcy court.  Yes, you can go through a bankruptcy and keep your retirement assets, no matter how high the balance in your retirement account.        Continue Reading

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