Seniors Are Leaving Behind Their Credit Card Debt

Seniors sorting through bills
Seniors sorting through bills

It's been well-documented that the recession was particularly hard on senior citizens; the number of older Americans filing for bankruptcy has climbed, in large part due to a perfect storm of expensive medications, declining value of real estate holdings and a stock market crash that crushed their nest eggs. In desperation, many seniors turned to credit cards to cover their expenses, and now they're spending their golden years with enormous debts -- debts they probably won't be able to pay back in their lifetime.

A recent study cited in Newsweek shows a pair of related trends on a collision course: More than half of all people today are retiring with debts, but fewer than 5% of those say they'll delay retirement to pay down their debts. Experts say this means that more elderly Americans will be hounded by creditors, and the heirs of these seniors are likely to be cajoled or outright bullied by collectors into paying for their loved ones' debts after death -- debts that survivors legally have no obligation to pay.