The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week about a New Jersey couple, Joseph and Diane Bryski, that continues to make payments on their son's private student loans. While that may not be so unusual, what's odd about this story is that the borrower, Christopher Bryski, died four years ago.
Fortunately the family has been able to keep up with the now $518 monthly payments. But countless Atlanta families may also be in the same situation and facing the prospect of having to call an Atlanta bankruptcy lawyer for help.
Christopher Bryski fell five feet and suffered severe brain injuries while climbing a tree in 2004; he went into a coma, which transitioned into a persistent vegetative state. He was one year away from graduation and had taken out $49,500 in student loans to attend Rutgers University, $5,000 of which were federal loans.
His family was able to have the federal loans forgiven but it took a little more effort to discharge his modest credit card debt. The bank didn't make it easy for the distraught parents, as Diane Bryski explained:
"The bank said they wanted to speak with Christopher. I told them, 'You can't speak to Christopher. He can't speak at all.' It's a horrible feeling."
But the private loans were another story altogether. The customer service representative told Christopher Bryski's brother Ryan Bryski that the loans were only eligible for a six month suspension for "hardship forbearance," during which time interest would be compounded at a variable rate.
Joseph Bryski, the loan's co-signer, was now responsible for the balance. Adding insult to injury, a legal representative of the private lender wrote and asked the family about the intentions of Christopher Bryski's estate. The young man, who died at the age of 25, did not have an estate.
The article suggests that borrowers who use private loans read the fine print and fully understand the obligations of co-signers in the event of the borrower's death.
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