Olympic families struggle with bankruptcy, too

On behalf of The Rollins Law Firm posted in Bankruptcy Exemptions on Friday, August 10, 2012.

If you are like millions of other Americans, you and your family are glued to the TV watching the Olympics. Watching the strength, talent and competitive drive of the athletes has given people hope and inspiration in their own lives. Recently, the Olympic athletes and their families are helping others in other ways, though.

Many stories have been written about the financial struggles that many of the athletes have faced on their road to gold. In a surprising number of cases, families have been very open about their experiences with filing for bankruptcy. Like residents of Mississippi, some of these families took action so that they would not lose a home by filling bankruptcy.

In the case of gold medalist Gabby Douglas, her mother says that she is not ashamed of filing for bankruptcy. As a single mother of four children, Douglas' mother, Natalie Hawkins, struggled to make ends meet while supporting the Olympic aspirations of her daughter. Even without the training expenses for Douglas, though, Hawkins was dealing with unemployment and mounting medical bills. They didn't lead an extravagant lifestyle, and Hawkins was careful with the $30,000 annual income she received.

Still, like many others, she faced the possibility of losing her house when her bills got away from her. However, she was proactive and filed for bankruptcy protection. People believe that by filing for bankruptcy, they can lose everything. This is certainly not the case, though.

Under Mississippi law, a person cannot lose their home, mobile home, IRA, their car or other personal property just by filing for bankruptcy. Of course there are some stipulations that can come with each of these, but it is important to know that filing for bankruptcy doesn't mean you lose everything. It can be a proactive approach to getting control of bills, developing a plan and putting a stop to foreclosure on a home before it can be taken away.

Families across the country are struggling these days in the face of the economic downtown, and many are unnecessarily ashamed of this struggle. But even those who win Olympic gold have had to deal with mounting debt, foreclosures and marital problems that turn into financial problems. It is a good reminder, then, that all kinds of people have faced bankruptcy and are not ashamed. It can be the beginning of a fresh start and better future.

Source: The New York Times, "Olympic Bankruptcies for Ordinary Families," Helaine Olen, Aug. 8, 2012

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