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Can I Buy A New Car If I File For Bankruptcy?

Houses and cars are the two biggest purchases most of us make during our lifetimes. A lot of research goes into making either of these purchases, and both can be life changing. When you buy a new home you are making the decision to plant roots, and maybe raise a family in one spot. When you look at new cars, you have to decide which one will be just right for you as far as size and safety. Safety is usually an overriding factor for car shoppers, especially if your current car is older and does not have the newest safety features. But if you are struggling financially, a new car may be out of the reach of your budget. And if your cash flow is negative, your focus may be on getting out of debt so you can afford a newer car or be better able to pay your bills. One way to get out of debt and back on track with your money is to file for bankruptcy. If so, you may be wondering what options you have for making a house or car purchase if you file a bankruptcy case.

While you are not prohibited from buying a new car if you file for bankruptcy, you should consider these things:

• If you file a Chapter 13 case and that case is not yet complete, you will have to ask the Court for approval to incur new debt. To obtain this permission you will need to show you can afford the payments, and that you have a need for incurring the debt other than just the desire for a new set of wheels.
• Regardless of whether you file a Chapter 13 or a Chapter 7, you need to be prepared to pay a higher interest rate for any new auto loan.
• Any loan you take out to buy a new car will not be subject to the bankruptcy discharge. This means that even after your case is over, you will still owe the debt. If you are not able to make the payments, the lender can repossess the vehicle and can also sue you for the balance due.

Taking on additional debt during or after a bankruptcy is only a good idea if you have exhausted all of your other options, and also only if you are sure you can repay the debt. Bankruptcy is designed to get the honest, but unfortunate debtor out of debt and give them a fresh start. A fresh start may not always include a new car, a new house, or taking out a new credit card. Each case is different, so you should only take on new obligations after careful thought and consideration. Call us today to find out more.

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.

How To Keep My Future Income Safe If I File Bankruptcy

When it comes to issues of safety, the top of the list usually starts out with car and home safety. For instance, when new parents take a newborn home from the hospital they do so by buckling the infant safely in a car seat. Another good example of how we all like to keep safe is seen by looking at how many of us have home security systems. Many private residences have an in home monitoring system, designed to alert the homeowners to a break-in. These examples make perfect sense, and instantly come to mind during a discussion on safety. But it is also important to keep your money safe. You might be thinking this means maintaining accounts in insured banking institutions, but there is more to financial safety than where you bank.

In addition to keeping the money you have today safe by picking a secure financial institution, you also need to think about how to keep your future income stream safe. This might mean making wise investments, but should also include learning how to hang on to your money if you become financially distressed tomorrow. Here are some ideas on how you can keep your future income safe if you file bankruptcy to relieve financial distress:

• Discuss your bankruptcy exemption options with your attorney before you file. You are allowed to exempt certain items from bankruptcy, and this might include an inheritance or the proceeds from a pending lawsuit. But there are restrictions and you need to have a good understanding of these things before you file a bankruptcy case.
• If you are filing a Chapter 13, your future income will be used to make the Chapter 13 Plan payments. In order to safeguard your income so you can make the payments, you need to report your salary accurately. This will give you the chance to continue earning a wage, and keeping a part of that income for yourself after your Plan payments are made.
• Assets you own that are easily converted to cash, or an income stream such as a rental property, have to be properly disclosed when you file a bankruptcy case. If you fail to do so, you risk losing not only the asset but also the future income that accompanies that asset.

Talk to a qualified bankruptcy attorney today to find out how filing a case can impact your future income. We focus on helping people get out of debt, by filing bankruptcy or some other debt management plan, and can help you too.

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

Can My Student Loan Lender File A Proof Of Claim In My Bankruptcy After The Deadline?

When consumers have more debt than they can repay, bankruptcy is a good way to eliminate that debt and get back on track. There are two types of bankruptcy available to a consumer, a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13. A Chapter 7 is a liquidation of debt, where all of the unsecured debts are wiped out, giving the debtor the chance to pay for the secured debts they choose to repay (like house and car obligations). A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a reorganization of debt, which means the debtor repays secured debts mostly in full, and only a portion of unsecured debts like credit cards or medical debt. In order for creditors to get paid when a Chapter 13 is filed, they have to file a proof of claim. A proof of claim outlines what is owed, and the repayment terms. The Court will set deadlines for when claims are due, so a complete picture of what is owed can be given without wondering if other claims will be filed later.

But what happens when a lender files their claim late? And, what happens if that lender is a student loan holder? Student loans are also unsecured debts, but unlike credit cards and medical bills, student loans are not typically paid back at only a fraction of what is due. Here are some things to know about what to do if your student loan lender files a proof of claim after the deadline to do so:

• Claims have to be accompanied by supporting documentation. If the lender fails to include the proper supporting documents, an argument can be made that the debt is no longer due. This is an especially useful tool if the claim is filed late, but also dates back to an old loan.
• Late filed claims are generally not accepted, and thus not subject to repayment. But student loans are usually required to be repaid, despite the rules on discharge of debts. So even a late filed student loan claim may have to be paid back during your case.
• In order to challenge repayment of a student loan, you should not rely on the creditor failing to file a proof of claim. Instead, you have the option of filing an adversary case within your bankruptcy case to claim repayment of the student loan would create a hardship on your or your dependents. This is the most common way to have a student loan debt discharged in bankruptcy, and does require you to prove how repayment would result in hardship.

Student loan repayment gets tricky when you file bankruptcy. In order to get the most out of filing for bankruptcy, call us to find out the details on what you will and will not be required to repay. We will explain your options to you, so you can make a decision that meets your needs.

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

What You Can Do To Get Charged Off Accounts Off Your Credit Report

Your credit report sums up your creditworthiness, and is relied upon by lenders when you apply for new loans. If your credit report shows you pay late, have been foreclosed on, or had a car repossessed you are less likely to get a loan with a lower rate. But bad marks on your credit, even a bankruptcy, do not mean that you can never buy a house or get a loan. And while there are some things you are not able to control, when it comes to your credit you should question what is reported and make challenges when necessary. If you are successful, your credit score can go up, which helps you get better loan offers.

One of the most damaging items on your credit is a charged off account. A charged off account is one where you have not made payments for at least six months, so the creditor writes the balance off their books and asks that you pay the entire balance at once. Most people are not able to pay a large balance all at one time, and so the lender ends up going to Court to get a judgment for the balance. All of these things hurt your credit, and so you should do these things to have a charged off account removed from your report:

• Respond to any lawsuit filed against you, so you can assert any defenses you have to the nonpayment of the debt.
• Dispute that the debt is valid, and ask the lender to provide you with a pay history and current balance due.
• Challenge the balance, which will require you to show all payments made and show that the creditor’s records are not accurate.

It is important to remember that an account that is reported as charged off is not the same as an account being reported as paid off. You can also try to work with the lender directly, and ask that they remove the notation of charge off from your credit. If you decide to make this request, it is crucial to do it in writing and keep copies of all correspondence you receive from the lender. If the lender make an agreement with you but that agreement is not reflected on your credit report, you can send copies of all documentation to the credit reporting agencies and ask for an investigation. We can help with this process, and invite you to contact us today to learn your options and how we can help you achieve financial success.

For more information about how to get out of debt or what to do to make sure your credit report is accurate, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.

Five Ways To Manage Debt

Managing debt is no fun, but is a necessary part of life if you want to have financial success. The key to successful debt management is to come up with a plan that works for you, and stick to that plan. Once you have identified your financial needs, you are better prepared to come up with a debt management plan that makes sense. Regardless of whether you have a little debt, or are struggling to make ends meet, there is a plan that will help you.

The first step is to make a list of your expenses, and add up your total household income. Once you do that, here are five ways to manage the debt you have:

• Budget to spend only what you make, and no more. If you are spending more than you make, a budget will show you where you can cut out an expense, or at least cut back on the amount of that expense each month.
• Consolidate high rate debts into one loan with a lower interest rate, so you only have one payment each month at a lower rate. This will not only make it easier to pay the debt because you will only have to make one payment, but you will also pay off your debt faster because the interest rate will not be as high.
• Ask your mortgage lender to modify your mortgage. A mortgage modification lowers the interest rate on your house payment, which means a lower house payment. If you are able to pay less for your house each month, you can use the extra money to pay off other debts.
• Focus on one debt at a time, pay that debt off, and then use that monthly payment to work on the next debt.
• Call your credit card companies and ask for a lower rate, or for a lump sum payment of less than what is owed to settle the account in full.

You can also manage debt by seeking the relief offered by the bankruptcy laws. The biggest benefit of filing bankruptcy is that the instant you file a case your lenders are prohibited from contacting you, from maintaining pending collection actions, or from starting a new collection lawsuit against you. This means if you are in foreclosure or your wages are being garnished, these will stop the minute a bankruptcy case is filed.

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

Three Reasons Why You May Not Be Able To Save Any Money

We all know having a savings account can help you stay out of debt when an emergency or unexpected expense arises. But knowing that having a savings account is important does not always equate to being able to fund a savings account. For most people, money is tight, and people are having a hard time just paying the bills these days, let alone having any extra money left to set aside at the end of the day. But that does not have to be the case, and with a quick look at what is keeping you from saving, you can learn where a change in habits is needed so you can be more financially prepared for what life throws at you.

Three reasons why you may not be able to save any money are:

• You don’t have a budget, so you don’t know where your money is going each pay day. When you don’t know what expenses you have, you are not able to pinpoint areas of overspending and thus miss opportunities to cut back and save.
• Your check book isn’t balanced. A balanced check book is something that is hard to achieve, especially if you use your debit card or a phone app to make most of your purchases. Unless you write down these expenditures or keep every receipt you get, you may be overlooking a purchase. If you don’t have record of what you’ve spent, you will not be able to balance your check book and so won’t ever have a good picture of how much money is available to you for saving.
• You spend more than you make. If you routinely spend more money than you make, you will never have anything left to put into a savings account.

We know how hard it is to save money, especially when you have had a financial set back. It could be that you have been laid off, had a medical emergency, or been forced to work fewer hours at a lower rate of pay, and these circumstances make it hard to pay the bills let alone start a savings. If you have too much debt, think about how filing bankruptcy might help you. Bankruptcy can help you get out of debt, cab help you learn what types of spending behaviors lead to debt, and can give you instant relief from creditor harassment so you can stop and breathe.

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

How To Avoid A Crisis With Your Money

No one likes to live in crisis mode, whether it is having to figure out how to get the kids to and from their after school activities when the car is in the shop or burning the midnight oil studying for a test or preparing for a presentation at work that has been put off, when you have more than you can handle you can feel like everything is too much to tackle. This concept is even more true when the things you have to deal with have to do with your money. Most of us are not fortunate enough to have family money, win the lottery, or make a large enough salary to cover our expenses and allow for luxuries. When funds are tight you can definitely feel stretched too thin, but that does not mean that you have to go into crisis mode with your money when you need certain things.

Some tips on how you can avoid a crisis with your money, regardless of your income level, include:

• Live within your means, and do not spend more than you make.
• Put some money aside each pay period for an emergency and only use those funds when a true emergency arises.
• Avoid using credit cards when possible, but if you do have to use a credit card only charge an amount you can pay off in full within one billing cycle. When you don’t pay off your credit card balances each month you end up paying more for everything you’ve used the card for because you have to pay the interest that accrues.
• Develop a budget that allows you to pay the bills and also gives you some flexibility to have some fun. If all you are able to do is work and pay the bills, you will be tempted to resort to credit cards or high rate loans to take a break.

If you are in over your head and think a financial crisis is right around the corner, take action now. You can take charge of your finances by calling lenders and asking for lower interest rates, and you can also eliminate debt by filing for bankruptcy. Depending on the chapter of case you file, bankruptcy can wipe out credit card and other unsecured debt entirely or reduce the amount of this type of debt significantly. When you have less to pay back, you can do more with your money and avoid a crisis that hits your finances hard.

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.

Three Ways To Plan For A Financial Emergency

If you don’t have a good plan in place, chances are things you need or want will not come easily. This is true for most everything, from planning a vacation to enrolling in school, to going on a job interview. All of those things require careful planning, but no other area needs your attention more than your finances. Without a good financial plan in place, you can be hit hard when an emergency arises and face financial devastation. In order to avoid that from happening, take the time to come up with a plan for your budget and also for the possibility of an emergency.

Three ways to plan for a financial emergency include doing the following:

• Make a budget, so you know what you bring in each month and what expenses have to be paid each month. When you put your cash flow on paper it is easier to see where you can cut back and start setting some money aside each month in case an unexpected expense comes up.
• Make sure you have enough insurance to cover a loss, from a medical emergency to a home repair need. Not only do you need to make sure your policy limits are enough to cover your needs, but you also have to make sure the deductible you will be required to pay if you do need to make a claim is within your budget.
• Avoid overspending or buying things you don’t need. All of us can fall prey to a good ad for a new car or vacation, but before you go see the local car dealer or call your travel agent, take a few days to think about how a new purchase or trip will impact you financially.

When you are prepared for an emergency, you are more likely to stay out of debt when dealing with an unexpected situation. But even when you plan for as many contingencies as possible, there can still be more of an emergency than you can handle. If that is your situation, you should consider filing for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy will help you readjust your finances so you can afford to pay for the things you need, while still having money left over in case something comes up out of the blue.

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.

Four Steps To Saving Your Home

One of the hardest things to do when you are short on cash is to come up with a budget that covers all of your expenses. And the biggest expense you have is probably your house. So if you are in financial distress you are probably trying to come up with ways you can save your home. There are several options, and the one you pick can also affect the rest of your monthly obligations. This is why it is so important to take steps that safeguard all of your assets, including your home.

Four steps to saving your home include:

• Developing and sticking to a budget. For most people this means cutting back or eliminating certain expenses. Many times the things cut out are considered luxuries and at first may seem hard to live without, but in a short time are not even missed. When you cut out certain expenses here and there, you have more money to pay your bills with each month, and can also gain a little wiggle room for an unexpected expense.
• Looking at other financing options for your home, to lower the payment. This might be a refinance, or a modification. Whatever will give you a payment that fits in your budget should be explored.
• Consolidating unsecured debt so you pay less for these debts each month, making it easier to make your house payment.
• Selling property you are not using, or do not need. This might be something as small as household goods sold at a garage sale, or making the decision to become a one car family. If you are able to get by on less for a while, give it a try. Remember, the situation may only be temporary and it is worth trying alternatives if it will save your home.

Another choice you have is to file for bankruptcy. This option will reduce or wipe out certain debts, freeing up your disposable income to make your house payment each month. With bankruptcy, you get a fresh financial start, which can also give you the emotional boost you need to keep your finances in check.

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.

Why A DIY Approach To A Mortgage Modification Is A Bad Idea

Never before in recent years have there been more sources for how to complete a do it yourself project. You can google nearly any task and find a variety of videos to watch, or a step by step guide on how to get a project done the way you want. The DIY approach can save money and time, but is not the best idea for all circumstances. For instance, if you need a haircut you can probably find a YouTube video that shows how to cut hair, but if you do it yourself the result will probably look far from the end result in the video. The same is true for things that require legal or financial knowledge, and enlisting the help of a professional is your best bet. It might cost you a little, but there is no reason to take chances with your money, and your financial security.

If you are thinking about getting your mortgage loan modified, here are some reasons why a do it yourself approach to mortgage modification is a bad idea:

• If you are experiencing financial difficulty, you are likely under a lot of pressure. When you fill out form to ask your lender to modify your mortgage you will also be asked to submit a laundry list of documents. This is a huge undertaking and it can be frustrating to learn your lender still requires more data. Unfortunately, this is a common response from lenders and many homeowners find themselves in a seemingly endless cycle of resubmitting documents. But when you allow a professional to take on these tasks for you, you save yourself a lot of time and frustration.
• Not all offers of loan modifications will result in a manageable payment. It can take a time or two and some artful negotiation to get to a final decision that fits within your budget. Rather than spend your time going back and forth on the terms, let a professional help.
• Your credit could be impacted by a modification, and many of the terms of the new loan could be hard to understand. When you let someone handle the process for you, you will get a clear explanation of the terms so you are clear on what will be expected of you going into the newly modified loan.

Allowing someone else to handle the important financial decisions in your life can be scary. But our years’ of experience and proven track record are reason enough to call our office for help.
For answers to your questions about debt, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com.