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Two Ways To Know If Bankruptcy Is Right For You

Finding a solution to money troubles is a personal and private matter for most people. It can be embarrassing to be turned away at a cash register because your debit or credit card is not accepted, but it happens to more people than you might think. The number of people who have more than enough money to pay all the bills and live a lavish lifestyle is pretty low, and the need for some form of financial relief is something most people encounter at least once during their life. One of the most popular ways to get out of debt is to file for bankruptcy. But the process can be scary, so before you make this decision it is important to make sure this is the right choice for you and your family.

Two ways to know if bankruptcy is right for you are to:

• Keep track of what you are spending each month versus how much money you are making each month. If you spend more than you make, you need financial help. Bankruptcy will eliminate some of your debts, so your monthly income will cover your monthly expenses. If you fall into this category, bankruptcy is a good option for you.
• Keep track of how much your balances are decreasing with each payment you make. If you are only making the minimum payments on most debts, chances are the balances are not budging. So you are basically spinning your wheels and making no progress on getting the debt paid in full. The longer you remain in this cycle, the more you will end up paying. Bankruptcy can eliminate or reduce debts, so you do not get stuck in a never ending cycle of payments that get you nowhere.

It is also a good idea to sit down with a legal professional who has experience handling bankruptcy cases. The process can be not only scary, but also somewhat complex. There are certain requirements to filing certain types of cases and if you want the most benefit out of filing a case, you need to make sure your case is handled properly. We have experience in bankruptcy and can put our experience to work for you.

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

Five Things To Expect After You File Bankruptcy

Being prepared for what to expect during a bankruptcy case make it easier to decide whether to file. We all like to know what lies ahead, so we can plan for the things that need planning. But it is also nice to know what to expect after you have gone through a life changing event. And filing bankruptcy can be life changing, for the better!

Here are five things you should expect after filing for bankruptcy:

• Creditors will stop calling and asking you to pay past due debts. The instant you file a case it is against the law for your lenders to contact you about payment.
• If you have any active collection, repossession, foreclosure, or garnishment cases pending; those have to stop as well.
• You will have to go to Court, but probably only one time. A few weeks after your case is filed you will go to an initial meeting called a 341 meeting, or meeting of creditors. Your attorney will ask you a few questions about why you filed, and if any of your lenders want to ask questions this is their chance. Questions from lenders usually relate to whether you are going to keep making payments to them and keep the collateral for the loan, and are usually only asked by your mortgage and car lenders.
• You will not have to pay your unsecured debts, or at least not in full. This puts more money in your pocket, which allows you to stick to a budget and stay current on your bills.
• You will start receiving offers of credit soon after your case ends. Only take out a new loan or credit card if you are able to repay it without struggling.

Bankruptcy has been the answer to financial distress for years, and it can be your answer too! The relief you feel at not being able to pay all of your bills is immeasurable, and can give you a much needed break from the stress of having too little funds on hand. If bankruptcy sounds like the answer you have been looking for, call us to find out more.

If you are considering filing bankruptcy to help eliminate debt, or want information on other options, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com.

Three Things To Do Before You File For Bankruptcy

When tough times hit financially it can be hard to know where to turn, or what solution to try. There are all kinds of ways to get in debt, but getting out of debt does not seem to be as easy. You can try different approaches to managing your debt, like refinancing your house or taking out a credit card consolidation loan, but sometimes the best answer is to file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a way to get rid of or at least greatly reduce your debt load, and it provides an instant lift from financial and collections pressures.

There are two types of bankruptcy chapters, and you will need to lay out your finances to a legal professional to find out what type of case you qualify to file. But before you do that, here are three things to do before you file a case:

• Gather all of your debt information and add up what you owe. It can be surprising to see your total debt figure on paper, but once you have the amount in front of you the decision to file will make more sense.
• Look at areas of your budget where you can cut back, because it is possible you may have to change your spending habits after your bankruptcy case ends. Being prepared for this change now will make the transition smoother.
• Decide what pieces of personal property you need to keep. Nearly everyone needs to keep their car, and you are allowed to do this during a bankruptcy provided you keep making the payments. But there may be other things you can live without, like a motorcycle or boat, and eliminating these expenses will help make your budget more manageable.

Having a good handle on what your finances look like before you file bankruptcy, and how they will look after is the first step to having a successful case. When you can see that the change in monthly expenses is a decrease in what you spend each month, saving money for an emergency becomes a possibility rather than a dream. If you are not able to pay all of your bills, if you have been hit with an unexpected expense that you can’t pay, or if your income has gone down drastically, call us for help. We will let you know if bankruptcy is right for you, and what you can expect from filing a case.

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

Is The Paperwork Different For A Chapter 7 Versus A Chapter 13?

There are two types of consumer bankruptcy cases; a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13. A Chapter 7 is a total liquidation of all of your debts, expect the ones for things you want to keep. Most people need to hang on to at least their home and their car, even in bankruptcy, and so these loans still have to be paid. On the other hand, a Chapter 13 is a reorganization of debts, where you pay back less than the full balance for some things and the full balance for others. What you decide to pay in full is partially up to you, as you do have the ability to pay less for certain types of collateral than others in a Chapter 13. Again, it may hinge on your decision of what to keep and what to give back to the lender and we can help you come up with a plan that meets your needs.

In order to file either type of case though you will have to fill out certain forms and file things with the bankruptcy Court. Here is what you can expect to need, for both types of cases:

• Pay stubs for the past six months.
• Bank statements, including checking and savings accounts, for the past six months.
• Any investment statements, showing what assets you have saved or invested. These types of statements usually come out quarterly, and you should have the last two quarters’ worth of statements.
• Car titles and mortgages/deeds to any real property you own.
• If you own any boats or other recreational vehicles (like an ATV or motorcycle), you will need to provide copies of the title to those as well.
• A list of all creditors, with account numbers and balances due as well as an address for payment.

Once you have gathered all of this data, it is time to sit down with a professional and find out what chapter of bankruptcy you qualify to file. We will look over the documents you provide and perform a mathematical test required by the Court to determine if you are eligible to file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 case. Once a determination as to what chapter of case you can file is made, we will explain the entire process so you can make an informed decision. If you are having difficulty making ends meet, call us today for help.

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

What Can I Do If My Chapter 13 Plan Payments Are Too High?

Most people who file bankruptcy don’t have a lot of extra money each month. For this reason a Chapter 7 case is usually preferred, because a Chapter 7 will get rid of all of your unsecured debt while a Chapter 13 will require repayment of at least a portion of unsecured balances. The amount of unsecured debt you have to pay back in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy depends on the amount of income you have as it compares to the amount of secured debts you are paying each month. But a safe rule of thumb for the most distressed borrower is that unsecured debt is paid back at pennies on the dollar in a Chapter 13 case. When you add this amount to the secured debts you are paying over the life of your Chapter 13 Plan, which can last up to five years, a total monthly payment is calculated and paid to the Chapter 13 Trustee.

But what can you do if the Chapter 13 Plan payment is too high, and you are still struggling to make the payment? Bankruptcy is supposed to help a struggling consumer get out of debt, not make it more difficult to make ends meet. So here are your options if your Chapter 13 Plan payment is calculated at an amount you cannot afford:

• Surrender a piece of secured collateral. Maybe your family can get by with one car instead of two for a while, and when you agree to give one vehicle back to the lender you no longer have to pay for it through your Chapter 13. Surrendering collateral will remove the need for repayment and lower your overall plan payment.
• Ask the Court to modify your plan, to terms that fit within your budget.
• Seek conversion of your case from a Chapter 13 to a Chapter 7, so the unsecured debts are not part of your repayment total and you only have to pay back what you actually keep.

These choices can work, but do depend on the particular facts of your case. Not every case will qualify for a modification or conversion, and we can tell you what will work for you. Your success and financial recovery is our priority, so call today to find out more.

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

What Happens After My Chapter 13 Plan Gets Confirmed?

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is like a reorganization of your debts. In a Chapter 13 you put together a repayment plan, and the Court approves the terms. Once the Court approves the terms of your plan, you will be required to abide by those terms and make the payments you proposed. This is done by making a payment each month to the Chapter 13 Trustee assigned to your case, and the Trustee then pays your lenders whatever portion of the payment they are entitled to receive pursuant to the terms of your Plan. It sounds simple enough, but there are some things to watch out for so you are able to successfully complete all of the payments required under the Plan.

Here is what you can expect to happen after your Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan gets confirmed:

• The Trustee will expect your payment by a certain date each month. This is so your lenders can get paid as they expect. If you do not make the payment, the Trustee or creditors (or both) might ask the Court to dismiss your case.
• Things that are not included in your plan, such as daily living expenses like car insurance and your cell phone bill, will still have to be paid by you directly to the creditor.
• If all of your payments are made on time, your case will end as scheduled.

Once your plan payments are complete, you will get a discharge of debt. The discharge is the official entry in your case that the debts you included in your plan are no longer due. This applies to credit cards, medical bills, your car payment and any other bill you provided for repayment of over the life of your plan. If you had some debts that were not able to be paid off over the course of your bankruptcy case (most typically a house payment), you will be required to continue making the payments on that debt directly to the lender. Bankruptcy is a beneficial tool for helping you get your debts in line, but there are a lot of rules to follow if you want to have a successful case. Let us help you decide what is right for you, so you are certain to get out of debt without adding to your stress load.

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

ARTICLE: 4 of 10 DATE: September 15, 2017

Is There Such A Thing As Debtors’ Prison?

Being unable to pay all of your bills is scary. If this is your situation you are probably all too familiar with collection tactics such as calls at all hours of the day, letters demanding payment in full, and threats of collection lawsuits. Once you begin experiencing any of these things, it can be hard to concentrate and come up with a plan to get out of debt because your time is consumed with fending off lenders or collection agencies. And to make it worse, some lenders or collectors go a step too far and make threats they cannot back up legally.

One such threat is the threat that you will go to jail if you do not pay your debts. Generally speaking there is no such thing as “debtor’s prison”, but you do need to take any collection activity against you seriously. Here are some of the possible consequences if you fail to take heed of collector’s efforts to contact you for repayment:

• Repossession of your car.
• Foreclosure on your home.
• Collection lawsuits for credit cards, medical bills, and other unsecured debts.

If you are sued, you have to answer the lawsuit. Failure to answer will result in a judgment being entered against you, and then the creditor will try to collect what is due. Collection remedies can include garnishment and asset hearings. A garnishment is where the judgment creditor gets court approval to have your employer hold out part of your paycheck, and pay it to them directly. This means you bring home less money, and that can add to your money problems. An asset hearing is the creditor’s way of finding out what assets you have and this can include learning where you work or bank so a garnishment can be sent to your employer or financial institution. The thing about these hearings is that if you don’t go, the Judge may find you in contempt of Court and that is the one time a bench warrant for your arrest is a possibility. So while no true “debtor’s prison” exists, there are ways for a lender to resort to this remedy in certain circumstances. Before you let things get this far though, call us for help. Maybe bankruptcy is the answer for you, or perhaps we can negotiate more favorable payment terms with your lenders and stop a lawsuit in its tracks.

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.

How Does Bankruptcy Affect Credit?

If you are having a hard time paying the bills and are behind on certain things, chances are your credit score has taken a hit. Your credit score is what lenders rely upon when making loans, and a higher score usually results in being offered more favorable lending terms. The most important of these terms is typically the interest rate, and people with credit that is considered good usually get loans at lower rates. This translates into a lower monthly payment, which can save the borrower hundreds or thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. For these reasons, it is important to pay your bills on time and keep your budget manageable. However, we understand this is not always possible and can help you if you are struggling financially.

A good way to take control of your finances and get back on track with the payments that matter the most is to file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy gives you the ability to either eliminate or seriously reduce most of your debts. But there is an impact on your credit score when you file a case. Here are some things to know about how bankruptcy can affect your credit:

• Your credit will reflect that you have filed a case.
• Once your case is over, your credit will show that you have successfully completed bankruptcy and that certain debts are no longer due.
• The number of points your credit score goes down due to filing bankruptcy is specific to you, not everyone has the same experience and your prior credit history also plays a role.

In most cases the impact on credit is not terrible, and in all likelihood you will be able to get a new loan or an extension of credit not long after your case is finished. We only recommend doing this though if you are capable of making the payments on a new loan, because anything you borrow after your bankruptcy case is over will be due. Debts taken out after bankruptcy are not subject to the bankruptcy discharge, and lenders will expect payment. If you are unable to make the payments, the creditor has all of the same remedies available to them just as if you had not filed bankruptcy. If you have more questions or need to know whether bankruptcy is the right choice for you, call our office today. We can let you know what to expect, and prepare you for what lies ahead.

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.

Five Signs You Need Bankruptcy Relief

If you are in financial trouble you need to know there are things you can do to ease the burden. You can refinance your home, take out the equity in your house to pay off high rate credit cards, consolidate debt to a lower overall monthly payment, or file for bankruptcy. The option you pick needs to give you immediate and long term relief, so you can not only get out of debt but stay out of debt. Achieving this goal takes some planning, and it also requires you to notice the signs along the way that will help you determine what type of relief is best for your situation.

Five signs bankruptcy is the type of relief you need include:

• You are consistently behind on one or more of your monthly obligations.
• You have been sued for a past due debt, had your car repossessed, or have received notice that your house is going into foreclosure.
• You have to borrow money to pay monthly bills.
• Everyday purchases, such as gas and groceries, are made with a credit card rather than with cash or on a debit card transaction.
• You cannot pay off your credit card balances monthly, or even in a few months’ time or your credit cards have all reached their maximum credit limit.

If one or more of these apply to you, it might be time to file for bankruptcy. If you ignore the signs you will only end up in more financial distress, and could even lose some of your assets if you do not act fast. Filing bankruptcy allows you to eliminate debt, or at least pay back only a portion of the full balances due. When you do this, you free up your income to put towards the things you absolutely have to have to live, like your house or car payment. In many instances those that file for bankruptcy are also able to put aside some money for savings or an emergency fund, and can thus avoid the need to refile a bankruptcy case down the road. Let us help you get back on your financial feet, call today to talk to us about whether bankruptcy is right for you.

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

What Age Group Files For Bankruptcy The Most Often?

There’s nothing we like more than a good list, or categorization of certain things. It makes it easier to keep track of things when they are grouped with similar things, and having a list is always handy. And if you have a paper or research project to do, you are likely to find articles and other bits of information on the topics you are researching together in one spot. Statisticians live by grouping things together, and this type of compilation of data is helpful when you are looking for a snapshot of a certain issue.
One grouping that is in the news nearly every day is of people, and in particular, millennials. It seems like every time you sign on to social media or read the news there is a story about the work ethic of millennials, or how the millennials are living at home longer than other age groups (such as the baby boomers or Gen X). With all of these stories out there it might be easy to jump to the conclusion that millennials are the biggest group of people who file for bankruptcy, because the misconception is that millennials don’t work hard and are just out for a free ride.

But the real stats on who files bankruptcy the most might surprise you. In fact, you might be surprised to learn the category of bankruptcy filing on the fastest rise is retailers. Here are some reasons why:

• Consumers have a lot more options than just the mall in today’s marketplace. Many buyers are turning to online boutiques for apparel purchases, and even grocery stores and big chains now offer online shopping assistance with curbside pick-up.
• Filing bankruptcy does not necessarily mean these companies will go out of business, as most have filed for reorganization. So for a while at least it will probably be business as usual at your favorite store, but the economic climate is such that we should all expect a few more companies to take bankruptcy before the end of the year.
• As salaries cap out or stagnate, people are holding on to their money rather than making large purchases. This hurts the bottom line for retail stores, and can cause the need for a retail establishment to seek bankruptcy.

There is no one definition of who files for bankruptcy, and it is available for companies and consumers alike. If you are having a hard time paying the bills, you are not alone. Call us to find out how bankruptcy can help you.

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