Filing for bankruptcy protection comes with benefits, but it can also come with repercussions that are not easy to live with. A lower credit score, for example, is a negative outcome of bankruptcy. And in some cases, people lose their homes due to the legal process.

In an out-of-state bankruptcy case, an elderly World War II veteran has drawn great support from community members who don’t want him to lose his home. The man filed for bankruptcy early this year, largely due to debt tied to medical bills for his late wife who died of cancer. Despite the bankruptcy process, the man is about to lose his home.

The trustee responsible for overseeing the details of the man’s bankruptcy is being made out to be a sort of villain by the troubled homeowner. But she claims that the veteran gave up his right for his home to be protected by sacrificing a homestead exemption. The exemption would generally prohibit the forced sale of a person’s home, and if the veteran did agree to give up that right, then the sale of his house to pay off his creditors would be a legal option for the trustee.

A judge agreed with the trustee, allowing the sale of the man’s home to move forward. Besides waiving the homestead exemption, the judge notes another reason why the veteran’s bankruptcy isn’t going as smoothly as it could. The veteran allegedly failed to disclose some of his assets during the bankruptcy process, which is never an advisable move if a person truly wants a fresh start.

It is hard to know who is right and who is wrong in this bankruptcy case. There’s no doubt that the loss of the veteran’s wife to cancer is tragic and that medical bills are a common factor that drive many Americans to bankruptcy. It sounds like there are some misunderstandings in this case and that the veteran (like almost any person in his shoes would) needs some clear, straightforward legal advice. He’s currently representing himself.

Source: Associated Press, “Bankruptcy forces 89-year-old WWII vet from home,” June 24, 2012