Can a minor or incompetent person file for bankruptcy? What about elderly parents for whom you might have a power of attorney?
First, both minors and incompetent persons may file for bankruptcy protection through a guardian or conservator. If the minor or incompetent person doesn't have such a legal representative, it is possible to file through a "next friend" or guardian ad litem.
As a bankruptcy attorney, it feels odd that a close family member (the "next friend"), could sign the retainer, sign the bankruptcy Petition, and even appear at the 341 meeting with the debtor. But this is all the appropriate way to proceed.
On the other hand, just because someone holds a power of attorney does not mean that he or she can sign papers for a debtor. The only circumstances in which that is acceptable is if the debtor is in the armed forces overseas or the debtor is truly incapacitated.
If you have questions about whether you can sign bankruptcy papers for a family member or friend, please contact an attorney. Even when that person is incompetent or one has a power of attorney, the legal issues involved are complex.
The information in this article is not meant as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created by its provision. Always consult an attorney about your particular situation. I am authorized to practice law only in California.
Andrew S. Mansfield
Mansfield Law Office
56 E. Main St., Suite 110
Ventura, CA 93001