Category : Bankruptcy

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Two Tips For A Successful Budget

One of the most essential things to do as an adult is to come up with a budget, but it is also one of the most difficult tasks to complete. And even if you are successful in putting pen to paper or whipping up a quick spreadsheet of income and expenses, there is no guarantee that you will be able to stick to your budget. For a budget to work, it has to be reasonable and it has to be something that is within your financial power to follow. Without a workable plan there is little to no change that you will be able to stay on track with even the best of plans.
Two tips to having success with your budget include:

• Make sure your budget covers all of your expenses. Many expenses are hard to identify because they are not part of your regular recurring bills. It is easy enough to write down your house and car payment, but things that fluctuate like eating out or gas are harder to pinpoint. It is a good idea to write down all of your expenses for an entire month before you try to develop a budget. That way you will have a blueprint for what you typically spend and can categorize those expenses when you write up your budget.
• Make sure your budget leaves you a little bit of wiggle room, either for a little bit of entertainment or for an emergency. No one likes to just go to work and come home, so if you don’t account for a DVD rental or a night out with friends you will become frustrated. That frustration all too often leads to throwing the budget out the window and that is when debt is incurred. The same is true for an emergency. If you fail to plan for the expense associated with an emergent car or home repair, you will have to resort to loans or credit cards for these costs, and that does nothing but add to your debt load.

Even with a budget we understand that things can come up without warning. And when they do, we are here to help with options. One option is to file for bankruptcy. Other options include refinancing, mortgage modifications, or settlements with your lenders.

For help with your questions about finances and how to keep them in check, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that help get you back on your feet.

Are Student Loans Eligible For Bankruptcy?

The number of students who graduate college with debt is too great to even mention. The amount of student loan debt is astronomical and graduates are having a hard time finding jobs that pay them enough to repay their student loans. This problem is one that does not have very many options for resolution, and even filing bankruptcy might not help. Generally speaking, student loans are not eligible to be discharged in bankruptcy.

That said, under extraordinary circumstances, you can eliminate your student loans debts by filing for bankruptcy. Here are some of the general rules about discharging student loan debts in bankruptcy, but keep in mind the decision depends on the particular facts of your case:

• Repayment of your student loans must present an undue financial hardship on you and your dependents.
• Job opportunities must be so dire that it is not likely you will obtain any type of gainful employment.
• If you are required to pay back your student loans, you will not be able to maintain even a minimal standard of living.
• You have made an effort, in good faith, to repay your student loans.
• The hardship you will face will persist for a significant portion of the time you are making repayment on your loans.

This is a difficult test to meet, especially if you are married to someone who has a job. The hardship envisioned by the first bullet point is not limited to you, but also to your dependents. So if there are other sources of income in your home, the Court may take the position that your dependents will not suffer an undue hardship. Remember that each case is different, and your facts may be such that you would be successful in asking for your student loans to be discharged. It does require you to file a separate lawsuit asking the Court to find that your student loans are no longer due, and that lawsuit is filed within your bankruptcy case. But even if you do not meet the requirements to have your student loans discharged, bankruptcy can help you get rid of other debts. For this reason, you should strongly consider filing a case if you cannot pay all of your bills on time. Our team of trained bankruptcy professionals is here to sit down with you and talk about your options.

For answers to your questions about debt, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com.

Three Ways Bankruptcy Can Help You Save For The Future

Having an emergency fund or a savings account comes in handy when you need new tires, to pay doctor bills, or make a repair to your home. Not having any money on hand to pay for things you need or to plan for the future is scary, and can cause a lot of sleepless nights. If you are short on cash or are struggling to pay more than just the minimum payment on all of your bills it is time to take action to get out of debt and secure your financial future. One of the best ways to accomplish this when your bring home pay does not go as far as you need it to go is to file for bankruptcy. Doing so will not only give you immediate relief, but will also help you to plan for a successful financial future.

Three ways bankruptcy can help you put money aside and save for later include:

• Bankruptcy will eliminate or reduce debt. When you do not have as many debts to pay you have more money to save for later.
• One of the requirements for filing bankruptcy is that you take a debtor education course, this course will give you tips on how to manage money that you can use long after your case is over.
• You get a fresh start when you file for bankruptcy, which means you get to change your financial habits and implement new ones. When you have a clean slate you are more likely to fill it with things that will help you down the road.

If you are able to keep more of your paycheck because you have less debts, due to filing bankruptcy, you might even be able to start a slush fund for emergencies or put more into your retirement account. Saving for the future is essential, because no one knows what lies ahead. Financial security is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself, and bankruptcy can help get you there. To get answers to your questions about bankruptcy and how it can help you save for the future, call our office.

For more information about bankruptcy, contact us today at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will go over the facts of your case and let you you’re your next step.

Can I Still Rent A Car If I File Bankruptcy?

Most of us know that if you file a bankruptcy case your credit will take a hit. But what is slightly less known is the list of things in your life that bankruptcy can touch. For instance, you might be surprised to learn that the auto insurance premium you pay depends on part on your credit rating. So if you have a bankruptcy on your credit you might get stuck with a higher insurance premium. The amount is typically not significantly higher than what you had been paying and most people don’t even feel the difference. But this eye opener begs the question “what else is affected by filing bankruptcy?”

You might wonder if your electricity will be cut off if you file a bankruptcy case, or if you will be blocked out of your eBay or Amazon account. You might also even wonder if you will be able to rent a hotel room or a car from a rental agency. The answer is yes, you can still rent those things and your bankruptcy case will not play a factor in the rental decision. Some bankruptcy basics for these types of everyday necessities include:

• You cannot be evicted from an apartment or rent house for filing bankruptcy.
• Your employer cannot fire you for filing a case.
• You cannot be turned down for a new job based solely on the fact that you have filed bankruptcy. There may be some exceptions to this rule, and if you have more questions about potential employment it is best to talk to an attorney before you go on an interview or accept a position.

There is no doubt that bankruptcy does have an impact on your life. But most people who come out of the other side of a case quickly learn that the “consequences” are minimal. If you need help getting back on track with your money, let us help. We will let you know what to expect when you file a bankruptcy case and give you the information you need to decide if this option is right for you. Call today to find out more.

If you are considering filing bankruptcy to help eliminate debt, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com.

Five Of The Most Common Causes Of Bankruptcy

Not that long ago it was thought that if you filed bankruptcy you were bad with your money, or living above your means. There used to be a certain social stigma that went along with filing for bankruptcy, because your peers looked at is if you had failed somehow in budgeting or had overspent. But fortunately that is no longer the case, and a countless number of people who are struggling to make ends meet are able to get out of debt by filing for the protections offered by the bankruptcy laws. That said, there are still a lot of questions about what leads to the need to file for bankruptcy, because when we know the causes we might be able to find alternative solutions or have a better understanding of what is needed during a bankruptcy case.

Five of the most common causes of the need to file for bankruptcy include the following:

• Divorce: when a couple gets divorced and one household turns into two it is more than just the furniture and personal items that have to be divided. Debt also has to be divided and when two households have to be supported on the same salaries, it can be hard to make ends meet. This may be why a bankruptcy case is one of the most common companion cases to a divorce.
• Medical bills: healthcare costs are exorbitantly high and if you do not have health insurance or have a policy that requires you to pay a large sum out of pocket before your benefits kick in, it doesn’t take long for medical bills to add up to an amount that is not manageable for most people.
• Credit card debt: most credit cards have high interest rates and if you only make the minimum payment each month you will get nowhere fast on the outstanding balance. When you have multiple cards, you will end up owing a lot of money that is not always easy to pay back.
• Job loss: the economy has made victims of a lot of American workers, and that means thousands upon thousands of people are unemployed. Without gainful employment it is hard to pay the bills, and bankruptcy becomes the only option for a lot of consumers.
• The economy: not only are good jobs scarce, but the cost of living in general is on the rise. Employers are not able to keep up with the increased cost of living and that means many people are stuck at a salary that does not cover all of their expenses, even when no new expenses have been taken on.

Whatever your circumstances, we are here to help. Our team of bankruptcy professionals will let you know your options, and help you to feel comfortable with the decision to file bankruptcy.

For more information about bankruptcy, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com.

Three Main Purposes To Filing Bankruptcy

Never having enough money to pay all of your debts every payday is stressful. If you are in over your head, let us help you find a way out. There are ways to get out of debt and to put an end to the collection calls, letters, and lawsuits. You can ask for a mortgage modification to lower your house payments, giving you some breathing room each month. Or, you can negotiate with your creditors for lower interest rates which will make your payments more manageable. And you can also file a bankruptcy case, which might give you the most bang for your buck.

Three of the biggest benefits and the main purposes for filing for bankruptcy are:

• To end garnishments and other collection activity against you. When you file a bankruptcy case your lenders are no longer permitted to sue you for past due debts. In fact, your lenders are not even allowed to contact you to ask for payment once you file a bankruptcy case.
• To save your home from foreclosure, which can be accomplished in both a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 case. A bankruptcy will put a stop to a pending foreclosure, and within that bankruptcy case you can make arrangements to pay for your house and allow your family to stay in the home.
• To eliminate or reduce debt. In a Chapter 7 you get to wipe out all of your unsecured debt and in a Chapter 13 you only have to pay back a portion of what you owe on those debts.

But perhaps the biggest reason to file a bankruptcy case is to discharge your debts. When a discharge is entered the debts are no longer considered due. That means you will not be asked to pay them back, unless you made an agreement in your case to keep making the payments. Discharge is the ultimate goal in a bankruptcy case, and it is easy to get there if you just take the first step and file a case. If you need help getting back on track with your budget, call us today.

For more information about bankruptcy, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.

What Documents Do I Need To File A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy case does not last as long as a Chapter 13 case, and certainly does not require you to repay any portion of your unsecured debt. But just because a Chapter 7 case is a shorter way to get your debts discharged, that does not mean the preparation is any less involved. The same documents needed to prepare a Chapter 13 case are typically needed to prepare a Chapter 7 case. Knowing what to bring with you to an initial attorney meeting will make the process go smoother, and will give you more confidence that you will get a good result in your case.

The documents needed to have a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case prepared and filed are:

• Proof of income, which you can show by providing pay stubs.
• Income tax returns are also used to show income, and should be provided along with pay stubs.
• Documents showing home ownership will act as proof of what real estate is titled in your name, and is something the Trustee and your attorney will need to know.
• Car titles not only let the Court know what autos you have, but who the lender is and whether that lender took the proper steps to note their security interest in your car.

Gathering these documents can take a while, but when you put in the time to get them all ready and list out what you make vs. what you pay each month a clear picture is painted about your financial needs. And that is what is needed to determine what type of case you are able to file, along with giving you the proper advice about your case. When information is left out of a case it is hard to have it added later, and may even cause the Court to ask that your case not proceed. We know how hard it is to stay on top of overwhelming debt, and we can fix that for you when you give us the information needed. Our goal is to file a case for you that gives you the financial relief you need to start fresh.

For more information about bankruptcy, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com.

What Documents Do I Need To File A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Filing bankruptcy can be a paper intensive task. The documents and information required to file a case come from you, the debtor, and can take a while to gather. So if you are having a hard time paying all of your bills, take the time now to get some of the things needed to file a bankruptcy case together so you can act fast to get the relief you need. Once you have all of our documents in hand, it is time to sit down with a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney and talk about your expectations from the process. In a Chapter 13 you should be prepared to remain in your case for up to five years, but know that if you are able to pay off the Chapter 13 Plan earlier you are permitted to do so without penalty. You should also be prepared to have at least one meeting at the courthouse with the Trustee, and he or she will ask to see certain papers.

The documents needed to file a Chapter 13 case include:

• 6 months’ worth of pay check stubs, to show your current income level.
• The past few years’ worth of income tax returns, including the most recently filed return.
• The deed or mortgage to your home.
• Car and boat titles.
• An accurate list of all the people you owe money to, along with the account number and balance due.

These are the things needed to get a case started and once the case is filed, you will then need to show up to Court to answer questions of any creditors that decide to be present, and also respond to any question posed by the Trustee. Most creditors keep their questions limited to what you plan to do regarding their specific debt and property, such as whether you plan to keep the collateral that secured their loan and keep paying, or whether you are going to give up the collateral. The most common types of lenders present are house and car lenders. The Trustee will ask a few simple questions about your reasons for filing bankruptcy, and your residency status. The Trustee will also need to see proof of identification, so be sure to bring in a valid ID to the Courthouse. After this initial meeting, you usually do not need to come back to Court, but will have to make your monthly Chapter 13 Plan payments to the Trustee, so funds can be disbursed to your lenders according to your repayment plan.

For more information about bankruptcy, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.

Common Bankruptcy FAQ’s

Filing for bankruptcy can save you a lot of money, can stop pending collection actions, and can wipe out or reduce some of your debts. But the process is complex, and before you make a final decision on whether filing is right for you, it is a good idea to have some general background knowledge. Talking with an experienced bankruptcy attorney is helpful, and having a list of questions or concerns will help you to better understand how the system works and what you can expect when your case is filed.

Some of the most common bankruptcy FAQ’s include:

• What is the difference between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13? The difference is that in a 7 you are allowed to eliminate all of your unsecured credit card debt while in a Chapter 13 you will be required to pay back at least a small portion of this type of debt. Another major difference between the two is the time it takes to complete a case, and how much you will have to pay if you want to keep your car.
• What is the automatic stay and how does it help me? The automatic stay is a legal mechanism, put in place the instant your case is filed, that makes it unlawful for your lenders to contact you about debts that are owed. It is also against the law for a lender to sue you for a past due debt when the automatic stay is in place, or to continue garnishing wages or bank accounts.
• What is the discharge? The discharge is the official entry by the Court that your debts are no longer due. A debt that has been discharged is not one that a creditor can try to collect, and if they try to do so you can hold them accountable for violating the discharge order.
• Who decides what chapter of case I am eligible to file? When your paperwork is prepared part of those documents include completion of a means test calculation.

Your disposable income is compared to your secured debt load, and depending on the result you will be eligible to file either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13. The test is a difficult one to perform, but when you let a qualified bankruptcy attorney take on your case you can rest easy knowing it will be done correctly.

We know you have a lot of questions, and we have the answers you need. For help getting your money troubles under control, consider bankruptcy and let us handle the case for you.
For more information about how to manage debt, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.

Why Do I Still Have To Pay For Some Debts Even In Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is supposed to get rid of your debts, right? Well…it depends on what type of case you file and what plans you have for your property. If you want to hang on to certain things, you will still have to make the payments for those items. And most times the payments are made after you sign new paperwork with the lender, within your bankruptcy case, promising to keep paying. The process is referred to as reaffirmation, and it is how most people keep their houses and cars when they file for bankruptcy.

Common debts that are still required to be paid even in a bankrupt situation are:

• House payments
• Car payments
• Payments for collateral you’ve given the lender a security interest in when the purchase was made (in some instances this might include a television or furniture bought on credit at the store rather than with a credit card)

Even when you have to pay back some of your debts, filing bankruptcy is a good way to fix your finances. In a Chapter 7 case you will be able to completely wipe out your unsecured credit card debts, and in a Chapter 13 you will be allowed to pay the value of your car at a lower interest rate rather than paying the balance on the loan at the contract rate of interest. The savings on these things makes it easier for you to pay the rest of your bills and maybe even put some money aside for when an emergency arises. When you file for bankruptcy you also get the benefit of the automatic stay, which prohibits creditors from taking certain actions against you. Among the prohibited actions are continued garnishments, actions to foreclose on your home, and attempts to repossess you auto. The peace of mind that comes with knowing you will not lose part of your money to a garnishment or will not be forced out of your home, or on foot if your car is repossessed is a huge benefit. If you are behind on your monthly obligations, let us help. We will let you know what type of case you qualify to file, and how it can benefit you.

For more information about how to handle overwhelming debt, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.