Can A Person Incarcerated File Bankruptcy?

Thumb Tack IconA person who is incarcerated can, in fact, file for bankruptcy. However, there are some extra steps that will have to be taken.

Since a person who is in prison obviously cannot leave, they must file a power of attorney so that a friend or family member can meet with the bankruptcy lawyer who is intending to file the bankruptcy.  This would have to be done as soon as the incarcerated person decides that a lawyer needs to become involved. This is because the lawyer will need power of attorney information from the very beginning of the meetings in order to discuss anything with the friend or family member.

One of the things that is required when filing bankruptcy is the debtor has to take the credit counseling course and financial management course. Since a person who is incarcerated most likely will not have regular access to the internet, a motion must be filed by the attorney to waive the requirement to take these courses.

There is also one other motion the attorney will most likely have to file. Since the incarcerated person will not be able to attend the 341 Creditor’s Meeting, a motion will have to be filed stating the reason that the debtor cannot attend.

All of this information is based on the debtor being in the Western District and Middle Districts of North Carolina. Most likely some of these steps will be the same in different districts, but be sure to check with your attorney because there very well could be different requirements.

How Do I Request Medical Records?

To review a possible medical malpractice case or nursing home injury or neglect case at Duncan Law we must have the injured person’s medical records reviewed by an expert witness.  These are usually an expert nurse and/or a physician. For a medical expert to give a thorough review of your case it is important they have the opportunity to review the medical records.

To obtain a copy of the medical records you must request the records from the medical care provider. To provide these medical records to you, your health care provider must follow government privacy laws called HIPAA.  HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

First, you must qualify to receive the medical records. If you are the patient requesting your medical records, you can sign a HIPAA release and receive your medical records. If you are not the patient, you must have a formal release signed by the patient or have the legal authority to obtain these records.  The legal authority is usually granted by a power of attorney document properly executed by the patient (not just a hand written note signed by the patient). If the patient is incapacitated, you may have to obtain a legal guardianship or a court order to acquire the records. If the patient has died you must be the executor of their will or be appointed administrator of their estate by the clerk of the court or a judge.

Filling Out A Document

Second, after qualifying to receive the medical records you should make a written request to the medical care provider to provide the medical records. The medical provider may have these records stored electronically offsite away from their physical location, so it may take several days to obtain these records. If the records are stored offsite, the medical care provider should provide the records to you within 10 calendar days.

If the records are available at the facility, they should be able to have a copy made for you within 24 hours of your request. Do not expect to walk into the medical facility and they make you copies while you wait.

When you request the records, the staff may ask you why do you want a copy of your medical records? First, you are not required to answer that question. It is your medical records and you do not have to answer that question. However, any time you ask for medical records, especially from a doctor’s office, it raises flags and alerts the doctor to a possible problem. The staff will usually inform the doctor or nursing home administrator of the request and they go into “defensive mode”. In the past, some medical providers have been known to illegally change the medical records to “cover up” a mistake they have made.  Be aware this could happen. If the medical records are on site, you may ask the person in charge of medical records to pull the records so that you may look at the records on site before they are copied.  Once you have reviewed the records, you may then ask for copies.  After receiving the records, review the records and determine if any changes were made. If changes were made, notify your attorney immediately and dispute this with the medical facility.

Many medical providers will “discourage” you from obtaining the medicals by charging you an outrageous price per page to “copy” these medical records. Some providers will attempt to charge you a $1.00 per page.  If you have 600 pages due to an extended hospital or nursing home stay that could become very expensive. Fortunately, in North Carolina, there is a state law that prohibits excessive copy fees.  It is North Carolina General Statute  90?411, which states:

“A health care provider may charge a reasonable fee to cover the costs incurred in searching, handling, copying, and mailing medical records to the patient or the patient’s designated representative. The maximum fee for each request shall be seventy?five cents (75 cents) per page for the first 25 pages, fifty cents (50 cents) per page for pages 26 through 100, and twenty?five cents (25 cents) for each page in excess of 100 pages, provided that the health care provider may impose a minimum fee of up to ten dollars ($10.00), inclusive of copying costs.”

Once you’ve received your medical records contact your medical malpractice attorney or nursing home injury lawyer and provide them with the records so they can be appropriately reviewed.

Can I File Bankruptcy for Someone Else If I Have a Power of Attorney For Them?

Situations often arise where a potential bankruptcy client is hospitalized, out of town or out of the country, or otherwise unable to sign the necessary paperwork or appear at the necessary court dates for a bankruptcy filing. Often, these potential bankruptcy clients have a valid Power of Attorney document allowing a loved one to sign important papers on their behalf. The question is, can a loved one use a Power of Attorney to file a bankruptcy on behalf of another person?


Generally, most Power of Attorney documents are drafted using standard language that includes real property transactions, banking transactions, insurance transactions, etc. Most Power of Attorney documents do NOT, however, include “bankruptcy transactions.” In North Carolina, and in many other courts, the Bankruptcy Court will only accept a Power of Attorney if the Power of Attorney document specifically names “bankruptcy” as an included transaction. In other words, if the document does not say the word “bankruptcy filings and related matters” or similar language, then the Bankruptcy Court will not accept the Power of Attorney and the bankruptcy will be dismissed.

Mother and Daughter | Power of Attorney

An example of this would be the following case: An elderly couple has fallen behind on their mortgage payment. They have lived in their house for almost fifty years and have refinanced a few years ago. Due to circumstances involving hospital stays and nursing home stays, the couple has been unable to make their mortgage payment and the house is in foreclosure. In order to save their home they are considering filing for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The couple’s daughter is the Power of Attorney for both the mother and the father. The mother’s Power of Attorney document specifically includes the words “bankruptcy filings” but the father’s Power of Attorney does not. The daughter, as the Power of Attorney for both her mother and father, files a joint bankruptcy petition on their behalf in order to save the home. It is likely in this case that the father would be dismissed from the bankruptcy because the language in his Power of Attorney document did not include the word “bankruptcy.”

If you or a loved one is considering bankruptcy and/or considering having a Power of Attorney document created, it is important to include bankruptcy in the Power of Attorney document. You will need to speak with the lawyer preparing the Power of Attorney document to ensure that the necessary language is included.

If the Power of Attorney document has already been created and does not include the proper language, there are a couple of options. First, a new Power of Attorney document could be created that includes the proper language. Second, you could speak with a bankruptcy lawyer about how the bankruptcy could be filed without a Power of Attorney. This option would require the presence and competence of the actual debtor.