So, during the economic downturn, my parents' business was seriously struggling (as in not making enough income to cover its own expenses) and my parents made a few bad decisions while trying to save it to the tune of $45k in credit card debt, all of it at around 19.5% interest.
With the income they have and the negative economic outlook for the next couple of years, there is absolutely no way in hell they would be able to pay the debt off.
They are, however, paying slightly above minimum and haven't had any late payments.
They also own a house where payments have always been made on time.
They're also both about five years away from retirement.
I'm in a position where I would be able to pay off all of their debt within a few months, but it would empty out all of my emergency savings and set me back another couple months. (I'm a contractor so I'm also planning on having to make a massive payment to the government around April.)
I'm not opposed to paying it down, but I'd rather not if we can find a way around it.
The way I see it, they have nothing to lose by filing bankruptcy. (They're in Florida.) The house is theirs, which creditors can't take unless they can't make payments. They don't need credit cards or good credit. They can liquidate the business and use whatever proceeds are from there to pay off some of the debt. Since everything else is credit card debt, it should just wipe clean. My parents aren't the extravagant type in buying jewelry, going on trips, etc ... All of the debt really was in trying to save the business.
Another option I see is consolidating the debt, but I don't exactly know how they would go about it.
Edit: Another option I just thought of is that I pay it down and then they make their payments to me, but honestly, I'd rather see both of them retire than continue working for measly pay trying to pay this off.
Last is pay it down entirely, but that knocks all of us down to zero, and if something was to come up that required funds, there wouldn't be any. Personally, I'd rather pay $10k to a lawyer to clear their debt rather than $45k to the creditors.
Of course, the piece that remains is the social stigma of filing bankruptcy, but that's a different issue.
Has anyone else been in a similar situation or knows what other options may be?
Edit to add some clarification:
When I say five years from retirement, I mean five years from Social Security. The business is no longer losing money, but the intention is to close it ASAP. They tried to sell it over the last year with the idea being that funds from the sale would clear the debt, and they can work part time to pay their bills.
Getting the business sold for any decent value didn't happen. Now the idea is to get rid of the debt one way or another, close the business (or sell it for any offer is made), and work part-time for extra cash until official Social Security age. Any remaining expenses, I can easily cover without a problem.
Personally, I want them out of the business for nothing else but to get the stress out of their lives. I'd have no problem paying the mortgage and/or their daily expenses since there's really not much there.