The Crazy Plan

Daniel has in-laws who are about to declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy because of an income crisis. Should Daniel help them financially until this all blows over?

QUESTION: Daniel in California has in-laws who are about to declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy because of an income crisis. They only make $1,500 a month from Social Security. They want to declare a hardship to get their house payments lowered. Should Daniel help them financially until this all blows over? The more he explains, the more Dave thinks the in-laws are crazy.

ANSWER: This plan isn’t going to work. They are going to lose the house. He thinks that, by filing bankruptcy, his house payment will get dropped from $2,000 to $500. What planet is this guy from? There is no way this will happen; not even close. This is crazy! If filing bankruptcy on their credit card debt would allow them to keep their home, that wouldn’t be good, but it would at least be logical. But this isn’t even going to happen.

If they have $20,000 in credit card debt and sell the house to pay on their bills and maybe take some money with them, they’ll end up filing bankruptcy on $10,000. You are participating in their denial when you give them money. You have to love them well. You need to sit down with them and say you are willing to help them, but you are not going to participate in something that is not going to work. Every dollar that you give toward this situation is lost money. If it were feeding them or helping them when they couldn’t eat otherwise, it would be different.

I’m not going to participate in a program that is called suicide for people I love. Here is a program that makes sense. Sell the house and pay off the credit cards, and get a rental that’s in the $500 to $600 range and then offer to supplement their income for a while until they can get some part-time income. You can’t give them enough money to solve this problem.

Enablers are some of the nicest people on the planet. Giving a drunk a drink is not helping the drunk. You don’t need to be unkind to them or punish them for the past. The question is whether or not you are moving them toward a future that is sane. Saying that is not an unloving act. On the contrary, it’s the most loving of acts. You are called to help the people involved, even if they don’t know what help looks like because they are hurting.

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