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What To Do When Collection Efforts Persist After Bankruptcy

The purpose of filing bankruptcy is to give the honest, but unfortunate debtor a fresh financial start. The goal is discharge of debt, which means debts that were once due are no longer required to be paid after the bankruptcy case is over. When you file bankruptcy, your creditors are given notice and they are prohibited from contacting you to collect what is owed. This is also true after the bankruptcy is over. Upon receiving a discharge of debt, the creditor can no longer seek recover the balance of the loan. However, there are instances where a creditor continues to call or send letters, and if you are in this situation you should take action against the creditor.

Because the bankruptcy discharge acts as an injunction against future collection of the debt, if  a creditor persists in doing so, you can file a case against that particular creditor. Some common causes of collection efforts after the discharge include:

● The debt being sold to a party that is unaware of the bankruptcy.

● Poor record keeping by the creditor.

● The debt was not listed in your bankruptcy, even though it was owed when you filed.

Sometimes simply advising the creditor of the bankruptcy information will stop the calls. This can be the case for a creditor that bought the debt from the original lender, but was not advised of the bankruptcy filing. In that instance, providing the case number and discharged date may do the trick. For debts that were inadvertently left off your bankruptcy, the Court still considers them discharged and advising the creditor as such should stop the collection efforts. However, there are cases where educating the creditor about the filing and discharge don’t work, and collection tactics continue longer after your bankruptcy case has ended. When that happens, you have the right to sue the creditor for violating the discharge order, and you can recover monetary damages for the violation. A trained consumer bankruptcy attorney can help in this endeavor, and will fight for the compensation you deserve.

If you are being contacted for payment of a debt discharged in bankruptcy, call a knowledgeable attorney to discuss your options. We can help you understand your choices and make a decision that works for you. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Avoiding Student Loan Collection Harassment

The cost of college or post graduate programs is quickly skyrocketing. Many graduates are finding it difficult to make their student loan payments, and are even resorting to working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. A student loan is just like any other debt, and if it goes unpaid the lender will call to collect. If you are significantly behind on your student loan payments, collection calls and letters will start, and can rise to the level of harassment if left unanswered.

 

The options available to keep student loan lenders off your back vary. Some of the more popular programs and options include:

● Consolidation: this option allows you to wrap all of your education loans into one, giving you a longer repayment term, which will lower your payments.

● Income sensitive payments: this repayment plan bases your monthly payment on your income, and can greatly reduce the payment amount depending on your salary.

● Forbearance: most student loans automatically go into a forbearance status upon graduation, and remain in this status for 6 months. Upon expiration of the first 6 months, repayment begins. However, you can seek extension of this period, and hold off on making payments until you find a job that pays enough to cover the payments.

The possibilities are all valid and legal, and will stop the calls. When you enter a forbearance status, the lender is not permitted to contact you for payment. Likewise, if you qualify for an income sensitive payment, the lender cannot ask you to pay a higher amount. There are options for you if you are having a hard time making your student loan payments. A skilled debt management attorney can help explain the options, and give you the information needed to decide which choice works best for you.

If you are looking for ways to take the sting out of high student loan payments and stop the collection calls, contact our office for help. We will explain your options, so you understand your choices and can make a decision that meets your needs. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Changed Circumstances May Require A Change To Your Bankruptcy

Few things in life remain the same forever. Luckily there are options for making changes, and this is true even if you are in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case that has already been approved by the Court. Aside from having to repay a portion of your unsecured debt, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is undesirable to most because of the belief that once a plan is made for repayment it cannot be altered. A lot of consumer debtors believe they will be tied to the payment for the duration of the case, which is usually 5 years. This can be scary, because circumstances change and without the ability to modify the plan it can feel like you are locked into an amount that might not work for the entire plan term.

The saving grace is that you can change your Chapter 13 plan payments when circumstances warrant a change. Common reasons for seeking a modification to your Chapter 13 plan payment schedule include:

● A decrease in income due to job loss or underemployment.

● An increase in expenses due to unforeseen circumstances that did not exist when the bankruptcy was filed.

● Underestimating the amount of claims that creditors will make in the Chapter 13 case, which can mean the proposed plan payment needs to increase. This can require a debtor to modify the plan to account for an increased payment need.

● Seeking a reduction in the plan payment amount as certain debts pay off during the pendency of the case.

The critical thing to remember is that you are not “stuck” with a confirmed Chapter 13 plan if your circumstances change. You will have to ask for the Court to approve a modification, but this task is simple in comparison to complying with a confirmed plan that no longer meets your needs. The process is worth the results and skilled bankruptcy attorneys can help make sure your are satisfied with the results.

If you need help with a Chapter 13 matter after the Plan has been confirmed, call our office. We explain the process and help you reach results that fit the facts of your case. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

 

Is The U.S. The Most Debt Laden Country?

It has been said over and over again that the U.S. is the most overweight country, but does this apply to areas other than the number of pounds the average American carries? With the country’s economy on the rebound is it safe to say other countries have more consumer debt than here in the States? And if so, how will the amount of consumer debt carried by foreigners impact the American economy and growth prospects?

The debt crisis in other countries applies not only to individual consumers, but to the governments as well. Even so, there are ways other countries outside the U.S. manage their debt. Some popular methods include:

● Living on a cash only basis.

● Refusing to take out additional debt until existing debt is paid in full.

● Avoiding high dollar purchases such as new cars or homes.

● Sharing the family home with extended family.

These tactics and ways of life may seem tempting, and with different tax laws in place many citizens are considering moving overseas to escape overwhelming debt. The problem with this plan is that your debt will follow you and making this kind of move requires cash. Because cash is a rare commodity for people with large amounts of debt, moving out of the country and starting over on a cash basis is not usually possible. The better way to manage debt is to tackle it head on and get back on solid ground. A debt management attorney can help you explore your options, whether what works best for you is bankruptcy or loan modifications, and make a decision that is doable.

If you are unable to meet your monthly obligations as they become due, call our office for help. We will review the facts of your unique circumstances and develop a strategy that fits the facts of your case. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Did Your Bad Health Cause Bankruptcy, Or Did Money Cause Your Bad Health?

Most of us are just one catastrophic accident away from financial ruin. All it could take is a major health problem to deplete your savings and retirement funds. When serious medical issues arise though the focus should be on getting well, and not on how the bills will get paid. That said, there is a large number of bankruptcy filings that are the result of astronomical medical bills or the result of some other serious health issue. But have you ever wondered if your bad health is the cause of the bankruptcy, or the result?

There is plenty of evidence out there that points to the conclusion that financial stress can actually trigger medical problems. Consider the following possible significant health problems that are commonly associated with stress, and financial stress in particular:

● High blood pressure.

● Heart attacks.

● Emotional trauma.

With upwards of 75% of American families carrying heavy debt loads it is not surprising that money is a leading cause of stress. When you don’t have a handle on your finances it is easy to feel out of control in other areas of your life. This debt-stress connection begs the question of whether medical issues cause money problems, or whether money problems cause medical issues. Regardless of the source of your financial woes, the best thing you can do for your bank balance and your health is to take steps to get out of debt. Bankruptcy is a viable option for many and can work for you too.

If you are unable to meet your monthly obligations as they become due, call our office for help. We will review the facts of your unique circumstances and develop a strategy that fits the facts of your case. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Do People Wait Too Long To File Bankruptcy?

The idea that people who file for bankruptcy are financially irresponsible is way off the mark. People from all walks of life seek the protection of bankruptcy and the benefits it provides are immeasurable. In most instances the filer has exhausted every option and opportunity to repay their debt, and use bankruptcy as a final resort. In fact, studies show that the majority of those that file bankruptcy wait a long period of time before taking this huge financial step. This is an indication that a lot of careful thought goes into the decision and filing bankruptcy is not something most people take lightly.

The problems with waiting too long to file for bankruptcy include:

● Filing on the eve of a foreclosure sale or wage garnishment, which can cause undue stress in an already stressful situation. Gathering the documents needed to file bankruptcy and preparing the case takes time, and when the process is rushed errors can be made.

● Throwing good money after bad depletes your already low resources. When you wait too long to file bankruptcy and just keep afloat by making minimum payments you are wasting precious funds.

● Delay in starting to rebuild your credit. Taking too long to make the decision to file bankruptcy means you must wait that much longer before you can start repairing your credit.

If an honest review of your finances shows that you are unlikely to see an improved financial condition in the next six months, then bankruptcy could be right for you. If you wait to start the case you lose time and opportunities to ease the burden overwhelming finances place on you and your family. We can help you get on the road to financial freedom sooner than you think; call us today to get started.

If you have overwhelming debt, call our office for help. We will review the facts of your case and develop a strategy specifically tailored for your needs. We offer an individualized approach and work with you to reach satisfactory results. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

How To Remove A Lien In Bankruptcy

There are a few types of liens in the law; those that you agree to have placed on your property and those that are the result of a judicial action. A good example of a lien you agree to would be the lien your auto lender has on your car until the loan is paid in full. An example of a lien that exists as a result of a legal proceeding is referred to as a judgment lien and is not one that the consumer has agreed to having placed on their property. These types of liens come about when a creditor files a lawsuit and obtains a judgment that is later reduced to a judgment lien. These liens can impair your property and if you file for bankruptcy you can take action to have these liens removed.

When you claim property as exempt (such as your home) from a creditor’s reach in bankruptcy, you can also seek to have any lien other than the mortgage lien removed. This is because a lien other than the mortgage lien impairs your ability to claim the exemption to which you are allowed. The way to avoid a lien in bankruptcy is as follows:

● File a motion in your bankruptcy case for a judicial determination that the lien is no good (avoided).

● You must show that the lien is detrimental to your exempt property. You can do this by showing that the lien makes it difficult to refinance or sell the property.

Bankruptcy is designed to put you back on your financial feet. When your property is encumbered by liens it is hard to get the fresh start you deserve. For more information on how to avoid a lien in bankruptcy, call our office.

Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information on how to avoid a lien. We help you understand the process and work towards results that make sense. Schedule an appointment to learn your options.

What Is A Bankruptcy Exemption?

Most all legal proceedings include terms of art that are unfamiliar to non-attorneys. Just ask anyone who has spent a day in Court and they will tell you that the Judge and lawyers seemed to be speaking a foreign language. This is especially true in bankruptcy court where there are more than the usual amount of legal terms used on a regular basis. One of these terms is the term “exemption”. Each state has a list of exemptions that the debtor is entitled to when filing bankruptcy, and the exemptions can help determine what assets the debtor is allowed to keep.

 

Bankruptcy exemptions exist for your property, and help to keep it safe from a creditor’s reach while you are in your bankruptcy case. The Bankruptcy Code provides for a list of federal exemptions, and the debtor may elect to take those or use the specific state’s list of exemptions. State exemptions are usually more liberal and provide more of a benefit to the bankruptcy filer. Some of the most common types of assets that are exempt from being taken by a creditor include:

● Up to a certain value in your vehicle.

● Up to a certain value in your family residence.

● Your wedding ring.

● Personal items such as clothing and furniture.

● Livestock and other farm implements.

It can be tricky to claim what property you own that is exempt, and you have to be careful that the trustee or a creditor does not challenge your exemptions. For some pieces of property, your home for example, you have to have lived in the state in which you are filing bankruptcy for a certain amount of time prior to filing or the state exemption of your former state of residence may apply. This can make a difference when electing to take the state exemptions, because the value of certain things varies from state to state. Before deciding what to exempt and up to what value, consult with a qualified debt relief attorney. For more information, call our office.

If you have overwhelming debt, call our office for help. We will review the facts of your unique circumstances and develop a strategy that works best for you, your family, and your budget. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

How To Keep Collateral When Filing For Bankruptcy

A common misconception about filing for bankruptcy is that you can eliminate your debt while keeping your assets. This is simply not the way bankruptcy works. The benefit of bankruptcy is to eliminate burdensome debt and give the debtor a fresh financial start. This may require that you return some of your assets to the lender, so that you no longer have to make a monthly payment. However, for many people this is not the case. Wiping out unsecured debt such as credit card obligations frees up enough income to continue making payment on secured debts such as cars and homes.

The way to keep these types of assets is by negotiating a reaffirmation agreement. A reaffirmation agreement is like a new contract for the debt, and is reduced to a writing that sets forth repayment terms. The agreement is financially binding and will remain so even after the bankruptcy case is complete. Common reasons for deciding to reaffirm a debt include:

● Negotiation of a lower interest rate, which will reduce the monthly payment amount while allowing the consumer to keep valuable assets such as the family residence.

● Rebuilding credit.

● Maintaining a good relationship with the lender, which may prove helpful in the future if new loans are sought.

● Keeping the ability to communicate with the lender, which can be a huge benefit if you fall on hard financial times again and need to negotiate a late payment or seek a loan modification or refinance.

It is important to remember that when you reaffirm a debt you remain financially responsible for the payments. This means if you fail to make the payments, you can still be sued for the debt and even for repossession or foreclosure. Making the decision to reaffirm should only be made after thoughtful analysis. We can help you review your circumstances and determine which debts are right for you to reaffirm, and what pieces of property you can live without and return to the lender.

If you have questions about what assets you can keep in a bankruptcy, call our office for help. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Eligibility Requirements For Filing Bankruptcy

Filing bankruptcy provides many financial benefits, so it is important to know if you are eligible to file. It is also important to know for which chapter you qualify, and what to expect during your case. The short answer is people with consumer debt are allowed to file bankruptcy, and businesses are also eligible. The determination as to what type of case you will be filing involves a complex mathematical computation, but a skilled bankruptcy attorney will do the math for you.

The bankruptcy laws define “who can be a debtor”, and the definition includes:

● An individual, with consumer debt.

● A company that is seeking to liquidate its operations, or looking to reorganize itself.

This is the easy party, because as you can see nearly everyone fits the definition of a “debtor” under the Bankruptcy Code. The chapter you are eligible to file is a different story though, given the changes to the law in 2005. Most people prefer to file a Chapter 7 case, which will liquidate all of your unsecured debt. The less desirable form of bankruptcy is a Chapter 13, which acts like a consolidation of debt. Prior to 2005 debtors made the decision as to which chapter of bankruptcy to file. But today a filer must undergo careful scrutiny of their finances when filing and if there appears to be too much disposable income then the Courts will require a Chapter 13 case be initiated. This calculation is referred to as the means test, and your bankruptcy attorney will walk you through the process and make sure the result of the test is mathematically accurate so you don’t run afoul of the rules on which chapter to file. We have experience performing the means test calculation and know what information to get from you in order to reach the right result.

If you are considering filing bankruptcy and have questions about your eligibility, call a knowledgeable attorney to discuss your options. We can help you understand your choices and make a decision that works for you. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.