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Bankruptcy can be best option even for those who make millions

The term bankruptcy may give some people the image of someone who makes an average income, who has fallen on hard times due to losing a job. But there are many bankruptcies that emanate from financial decisions by people who are worth millions. Many of these stories involve professional athletes.

Like most other people, hardly any professional athlete comes from a background of wealth. So when the salary of a professional athlete is available for making extravagant purchases, giving in to temptation too often can result in financial difficulties.

Another common scenario is that the friends and family of the athlete start calling in debts, whether real or imagined, and the athlete feels obligated to let those people share in his or her good fortune.

Jack Johnson, who plays for a National Hockey League team in Ohio, has apparently been the victim of the latter example.

Johnson, who has been in the NHL for eight seasons, has earned $19 million over the course of his career. But he now has more than $10 million in debt and his $5 million annual salary is being garnished. And the alleged culprits who put him in this position are, surprisingly, his parents.

According to press reports, Johnson's parents bought cars, traveled, renovated property and took out predatory loans at high interest rates.

Another interesting aspect of Johnson's story is that his team attempts to educate new players about protecting their new-found wealth. But those lessons only involve things like staying away from "too-good-to-be-true" opportunities and protecting PINs. Unfortunately, protecting their money from their own parents is not part of the curriculum.

Whether you are one of the few who makes millions or someone who lives paycheck-to-paycheck and struggles to make ends meet, financial education can be useful for anyone.

But when the lessons come too late, filing for bankruptcy can be a viable, and even advisable, option. When your debt exceeds your assets and your income, speak with a bankruptcy attorney who can help tailor a plan for your specific situation.

Source: Sports Illustrated, "Jack Johnson’s bankruptcy a sad but common story for athletes," Allan Muir, Nov. 20, 2014

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