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What Happens To My Assets In Bankruptcy?

Most people are afraid to file bankruptcy because they do not understand the process. There are a lot of myths out there about what you can and cannot do during bankruptcy, and unless these myths are debunked it can be difficult to make a decision. One of the most common misconceptions about filing for bankruptcy has to do with your property. Many people are led to believe they can keep their stuff without having to pay for it if they file bankruptcy, but that is not the case. So if you are thinking about turning to bankruptcy for financial relief, a quick lesson in what to expect is in order.

It is true that you are able to hang on to your property if you file bankruptcy, but in order to do so you have to maintain payments. In a bankruptcy, here is what you can expect to happen to your assets:

  • If you decide to keep your house, or your car, you can do so by continuing to make the payments. This is generally done by signing a reaffirmation agreement, which is like a new contract for repayment of the debt. When you sign a reaffirmation agreement you agree to be legally and financially bound to the bank until the loan is repaid in full. If you fail to pay, the lender can repossess the collateral.
  • Your personal property is exempt from bankruptcy, up to certain amounts. This means the value of things like your furniture and jewelry are protected up to a certain dollar figure. A more thorough explanation is given when you sit down with your attorney to prepare your case, so no surprises will be forthcoming.
  • Investment and retirement accounts are typically safe in a bankruptcy, as long as certain parameters are met. Much like exempt property, the specifics depend upon the facts unique to your case and will be discussed prior to filing a case.

The bottom line is that you are able to hang on to your assets if you file a bankruptcy case, but every case is treated individually according to the distinct facts of the case. Our job is to go over all of the information about your case, and give you an explanation of how the law applies in your situation. Once you have heard the answers, you are in a good position to decide what is best for you.

For help with your questions about how your assets are handled in a bankruptcy, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that help get you back on your feet.

Is Bankruptcy My Only Answer?

The idea of filing bankruptcy can be off-putting to many people. For years there was a certain negative association with filing bankruptcy, but that stigma no longer exists in today’s society. Many celebrities have filed bankruptcy, and even the President has used this legal remedy for business purposes. Still yet, there are plenty of people who are hesitant to file a bankruptcy case and prefer to find other solutions to their money problems. Fortunately, there are other ways to handle burdensome debt and if one works for you, you may be able to deal with your growing debt load outside the four walls of the Bankruptcy Courthouse.

Alternatives to filing bankruptcy when you are struggling to pay all of your bills include:

  • Refinancing your mortgage: this tool allows you to find a new lender to write your mortgage loan, using the new loan to pay off the existing one. In this scheme it is ideal to find a new lender that will make you a loan at a lower rate, so your new house payment is lower than what you currently pay.
  • Debt consolidation: reputable debt consolidation companies will negotiate with your current creditors for more favorable repayment terms. This may include a reduction in interest rate, or allowing you to pay off the loan in one lump sum that is much lower than the current balance. In either scenario, you enjoy a substantial savings and can put your money to use elsewhere.
  • Modification of your mortgage: a mortgage modification is a plan whereby your current mortgage holder rewrites your current note, to a lower rate and lower payment. The benefit here is that you do not have to find a new lender, and the paperwork can be less cumbersome than when you apply for a loan with a new bank.

In any of these situations the guidance of an experienced legal professional is advisable. Banks tend to throw out confusing terms, or exercise delay in replying. But when you enlist the services of a reputable attorney, you can rest easy knowing the hard part is in someone else’s hands. You can also be assured that no viable option will be overlooked, and that you will not be taken advantage of by an unscrupulous lender. For help managing your debt, call our office today.

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

 

 

Three Places To Turn For Help With Debt

Having more debt than can possibly be paid is no way to start a new year, so now is the time to get the help you need to secure your financial future. But figuring out what to do with overwhelming debt, or identifying ways to cut back on expenses is no easy task. It takes a lot of research, and a lot of discipline to become debt free. And it takes even more discipline to stay debt free once you have been given a fresh start. However, with the right financial tools and help by your side, you can get out of debt and remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Three places to turn for help when you need to know what to do to get out of debt, and to stay out of debt, are:

  • Professional financial counselors: these people will analyze your current financial situation and pinpoint areas where you can save, determine an order of priority for debt repayment, and give you advice on the best places to invest your money
  • Debt consolidation companies: these companies work with your current lenders to arrange repayment that fits your budget. One downside to using a debt consolidation company is that your lenders are not necessarily required to go along with a proposal, so if you are significantly behind on payments you may not get the relief you need.
  • Legal professionals: legal debt management attorneys know how to negotiate with your creditors when you fall behind, and can also file bankruptcy for you if you prefer to skip the negotiations and eliminate debt from the start. The type of case you are eligible to file will depend on your particular financial situation, and a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney can let you know your options.

If your financial picture is bleak, filing for bankruptcy could be your best choice. Bankruptcy allows you to decide what pieces of property to keep, and which ones to return to the bank. When you decide to hold on to a piece of collateral, you do still have to pay for it even in bankruptcy, but this is made possible by elimination of other debts. Bankruptcy gives many debtors the chance to start over every year, and may be right for you too!

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 Spots To Put Short Term Savings

Short terms savings are funds you set aside for use in the near future. The account is meant to be used for things like emergency home repairs or unexpected medical bills. The benefit to having a short term savings is that in a few short years you can accumulate enough money to take care of your present day needs, while still putting money aside for certain long term goals like retirement. But because short term savings are drawn upon much earlier than long term savings, you want to be sure to get the most out of your dollars, so it is important to know where to invest or “stash” your short term funds.

Five good spots to put short term savings are:

  • An online account, where you can easily deposit funds but are less likely to withdraw due to geographic or other restrictions.
  • Short term bonds.
  • An interest bearing checking or savings account, which may be through an online account or where you currently do your banking.
  • Certificates of deposit.
  • Making payments toward high interest rate debt, and then putting the payment into a savings account once the debt is paid. Doing this allows you to not only pay off debt, but also start saving once the debt has been repaid.

Saving for an emergency or taking action to start a savings account is always a good idea. When life throws a curveball, having money set aside for the unexpected will help you from going into debt to cover surprise costs. It is always best to allow your money to work for you whenever possible, which may be through a short term investment or might be by putting as much as possible into an employer backed retirement account. If you are not able to establish an emergency fund and still encounter expenses you were not anticipating, you do have options to help control the debt that accumulates. You can try to negotiate lower interest rates for loans when necessary, seek to modify your mortgage so your payment drops, or even file for bankruptcy when your debt load becomes too much to bear. If you need help finding a way out of debt, call us today.

For help eliminating debt and for tips on how you can start an emergency or short term savings fund, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com.

 

 

How To End The New Year Out Of Debt

If you started 2018 in debt, chances are you want to end the year without any debt. It might seem impossible, but with a little planning it is not unthinkable that you can end the year out of debt. There are a lot of things you can do now to make sure your year ends on a high note financially, and that will set you up for starting 2019 with more money in the bank for the things you need. Because the truth is expenses have a way of coming up out of nowhere, and when you lack the funds to cover an unexpected expense you can feel overwhelmed and frustrated.

Here are some things you can do now to help you end the year without any debt, or at least with a much lower amount of debt than you had when 2017 turned the page to 2018:

  • Develop a budget for what you spend every day, every month, and every quarter. When you put down your expenses on paper it is easier to see where you can cut back, or eliminate certain things from your spending habits. When you break down spending into time blocks, such as days or months, you can focus your attention on short term goals that will have long term impact.
  • Start a savings account, so you have money for expenses that come up out of the blue. Even putting aside $5.00 a week will grow if left untouched, and as you are able to add more to the account, doing so will only grow the funds faster.
  • Come up with a plan for debt repayment, whether you decide to focus on paying off smaller balances first or want to tackle debt with the highest interest rate first, when you have a repayment plan that makes sense you will see results faster. Most of us find it less difficult to stray from a plan when results are quick in coming, and this is especially true with debt elimination.

If your debt load is such that you are not able to pay all of it, then you will find it difficult to implement any of the above tactics. If that is the case, you should think about starting fresh by filing for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy will eliminate or significantly reduce unsecured debt, and that is the debt most people struggle to pay. When high rate credit cards are no longer due, you have more money to put towards other debts and living expenses. And when you are able to pay other things and meet your daily needs without difficulty, you are better able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and plan for a debt free future.

For more information about bankruptcy, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will help you make choices about your money that are right for you, and that will give you the financial freedom you deserve.

 

 

Ten Tips For Setting Money Goals For 2018

Setting goals is a normal thing to do when the New Year starts. Most people decide to eat healthier and go to the gym more frequently, and some people resolve to spend less money and put more into savings. Other goals include refocusing on work tasks so promotions are not out of reach, or spending more time with family. Whatever the goal, professionals agree the best way to have success with goal setting is to take certain steps to achieve those goals. The first step is usually to make a list of what you want to accomplish, and then implement a plan to reach your goals. But there are also many steps along the way, and there are also bound to be missteps. In order to get to the end of the year with more success than failure with your intentions it is beneficial to have a guide.

Ten tips for setting money goals for 2018 include:

  • Identify the reason behind your goal, with money it may be that you want to save for a car or down payment on a house, or to get out of debt. Knowing the why behind the goal will help you remember what you are reaching for.
  • Come up with a system to get organized. You can create spreadsheets, use notebooks, or handwrite all expenses down on a legal pad. The key is to find what works for you and put that method to use.
  • Look at your budget frequently. Once you have organized where your money is going, you need to look at what you’ve organized in order to keep on track with a budget. When you write things down but don’t refer back to them, they become less important.
  • Look for ways to save money on every day needs, by changing out a restaurant dinner for one cooked at home to clipping coupons.
  • Make adjustments to your spending when you notice excess, or identify opportunities for savings.
  • Pay off debt as you become able to do so.
  • Stay on top of your credit score. With so many data breaches lately it is critical to know what is on your credit report, and to notify credit reporting agencies of any errors.
  • Start a savings account.
  • Put more into your 401(k).
  • Take stock of what you have spent at the end of every day, or monthly, to make sure you have not gotten off track.

When you have clear goals for your money, it is easier to reach those goals. If you are unsure of where to start, or believe you do not have the funds needed to make it from paycheck to paycheck, a good place to start is by filing bankruptcy. Bankruptcy will give you a fresh start, so you can set goals that are attainable.

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

Three Smart Lending Choices

We all need access to money, and sometimes this means taking out a loan. Most loans are taken out for large purchases, such as homes and cars, but there are other times when a consumer needs money and does not have it on hand. When that happens, it is common to go to the bank and ask fill out a loan application. The process takes time and can be frustrating, but when done right you can get loans that are easy to repay and do not further drain your finances.

In order to get a loan that fits your budget, you need to do a little work before going to the bank. Making a smart lending choice requires you to know what you need the money for and know that you will be able to repay the loan without difficulty. If you are not able to make the payments, the lender does have the right to seek repayment through initiation of legal action, which could ultimately lead to garnishment of wages or other collection remedies when you are unable to pay. Three smart lending choices to avoid these harsh consequences include:

  • Take only the amount you need. While you may be approved for more than you requested and it might be tempting to have a bit of extra money on hand for a vacation or shopping trip, it is best to take just what you asked for and nothing more.
  • Make your payments on time, to avoid fees and penalties and also the buildup of interest.
  • Shop around for the best interest rate, the lower the rate you are able to obtain; the lower your payments will be each month. Also look at the length of repayment, and opt for the shortest time possible, that still allows you to pay back the loan. Shorter repayment terms equate to a savings in interest, and that means you save money in the long run.

A good place to start when looking for a loan is with one of your current lenders. But, be sure any current loan you have is in good standing before you ask for another loan. Working with a current lender also gives you familiarity, and may eliminate the need to provide certain documents again as current lenders have your data on file. If a loan is not possible and you need financial relief, you can also file bankruptcy. Bankruptcy will wipe out certain debts, leaving you with the responsibility to repay the loans on the things you need. When you file bankruptcy you get to pay less for your obligations each month, and the savings puts you in a position where you have enough money to pay what is due without struggling.

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

When Is It OK To Take A Loan From My 401(k)?

A 401(k) is a benefit offered by many employers, whereby a certain amount of money is put aside each paycheck into a retirement account for the employee. Most plans are set up where the employee puts a part of their pay into the account each pay day, and the employer either matches what is put in or has a set amount deposited into the account. The funds are generally invested, so they grow over time, the end result being a nest egg for retirement. The money you designate for deposit is generally considered a tax deduction, so you also get the benefit of paying fewer taxes by making regular contributions to your company’s 401(k) plan. Withdrawals from a plan are permitted at retirement age, but can be taken earlier under certain circumstances.

One circumstance where an early withdrawal from a 401(k) is common is where the participant is experiencing financial hardship. Your plan administrator will be able to tell you the ramifications of taking an early withdrawal, which usually include tax consequences and the inability to participate in the plan for a certain time frame after taking money out for hardship purposes. Other instances where taking money out, either outright or in the form of a loan are:

  • First time home buyers.
  • Home repair.
  • Medical expenses.

If you do need extra cash and have it available from your 401(k), it is typically more advisable to take a loan than to take an outright distribution. A loan does not have the same tax implications as an early distribution, and in most cases you can still contribute while repaying the loan. However, if the relief you need is greater than what a loan can provide, you should consider filing bankruptcy instead. Bankruptcy offers long term relief rather than a short term fix, and does not require repayment of a loan, other than the loans you are currently repaying. Even then, you get to decide which loans to repay and which to eliminate, but that choice also requires you to pick which pieces of collateral you want to keep. Bankruptcy is a very viable solution for many distressed consumers, and we can give you all the details you need to decide if this is the right choice for your finances.

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

 

 

Should I Tap Into My Kids’ College Savings To Pay Bills?

Most children are not lucky enough to have a college savings when it comes time to apply to a school and decide where to spend the next four years while seeking a higher education. This is proven by taking a look at the growing amount of student loan debt in the United States, but this is not the case in every situation. If your kids are fortunate enough to have a college savings account, you might be wondering how to manage that money and if it is acceptable to draw on it early. While early withdrawals are allowed under most plans, there are consequences to taking money out of a college account before actually going to college.

If you are short on funds and considering tapping into your kids’ college savings to pay the bills, here are some things to know:

  • Any withdrawal not used for the purpose of the account is considered taxable income. This means you will receive a tax form at the end of the year, and have to pay taxes on the amount of money taken out for a non-college related expense.
  • On top of potential tax liability, you can also face payment of a penalty for withdrawing from a college savings account and using the funds to pay household bills.
  • The money you take out should ideally be redeposited in the same fiscal year. Doing so will not only keep your kids’ account at the same level, but it will also help the fund grow and provide you the tax benefit of making the deposit. This depends on the type of account, but many plans provide for at least a state related tax break for certain types of college savings plans.

If you are in such dire straits financially that you need to tap into your child’s college savings, it might be better for you to file a bankruptcy case. Bankruptcy is a legal way to eliminate or reduce debt, and it does not have the tax consequences associated with early college savings withdrawal. You will qualify for either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 case, depending on your income and debt situation, and we will let you know which type of case you are eligible to file. Let us help you get out of debt, by calling our office today to discuss your options.

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 To Recover From Holiday Debt

Now that the holidays are over and the New Year has begun, most of us have taken the time to sit down and come up with some resolutions on how we want our lives to change. Some of the most popular resolutions center around diet, exercise, and money. But in order for a resolution to be effective, the person making it also has to make a commitment to see the resolution through to the end. This is challenging, because habits are hard to break. And if your resolution was to get out of debt, or just get debt under control, it may seem impossible if you are struggling just to pay the bills. A good place to start is to write down what you make, and what you spend, and try to strike a balance. And, if you overspent during the holiday season, now is a good time to recover from your holiday debt as well.

Some tips on how you can recover from holiday debt and get your finances in shape for the year ahead include:

  • Gather the receipts from your holiday shopping so you can add up what you spent. Then sit down and make a budget for this year’s list and try to reduce it by a reasonable amount. You can also shop early and year round to help offset the pinch you feel every winter when it comes time to put a gift in the mail for a loved one.
  • Set reachable goals for your daily spending, by cutting out things like fast food and specialty coffee shop stops. If you take small steps it will be easier to stay on track.
  • Write down your financial goals for the year, and come up with ideas on how you can reach those goals. This requires you to have a budget, and to know where your money is going each pay day.

Sometimes it takes professional help to get out of debt, or even to get a good start on knowing where your money is spent each month. We can help you outline your income and expenses, and show you solutions to get out of debt. One of those solutions is to file for bankruptcy, which will eliminate some of your debt or at least reduce it so that the bills you do have to pay are manageable. Elimination or reduction of debt will help you to stick to a budget, and put you in the best position to stay the course with any changes you want to make in your financial health. The first step is easy, and starts with calling our office to find out what will work for you.

For help handling overwhelming debt, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.