Dsouza and Strachan Lawgroup | Legal Blogs | Bankruptcy Attorney FL | Page 45


Three Reasons Working For Free Is A Bad Idea

The saying “there is no free ride” applies to nearly everything in life. If you don’t study, you probably won’t pass the test or get into a good college. If you eat a lot of fast food, the chances of experiencing significant weight loss or a healthy lifestyle are slim. Perhaps most importantly, if you don’t get paid for going to your job every day, you are not likely to show up and clock in for your shift. However, asking workers to come to work without pay is just what one retailer recently did.

Urban Outfitters has asked employees that are on salary to come in and help out during the holiday season, but they won’t be paid any extra for their efforts. Surprisingly, many of the workers agreed, but even with the offer of a free lunch and transportation, here are three good reasons working for free is a bad idea:

  • Your time is valuable, and the more hours you put in the less valuable your time becomes when you actually are on the clock. For employees that make a salary, it is important to look at the actual number of hours worked versus the salary paid. In many instances, working beyond a regular schedule reduces your effective hourly rate (were you to be paid by the hour), the more time you spend at work. At some point, you may be providing a benefit to your employer that is below the minimum wage figure. If so, you are devaluing what you offer your company and it might be hard to seek wage increases given these statistics because few employers will want to pay more than what they are already getting out of you.
  • The time spent away from work has a dollar figure attached to it as well, because your time off is used for personal errands and enjoyment. If you are at work during these hours, the cost of doing things such as picking up a prescription or going to the grocery store increases.
  • The potential for burnout increases with every extra hour you put in, and at some point the work relationships you build for free are no longer worth the health risks that are associated with stress and burnout from your job.

The bottom line is your time is valuable. There is nothing wrong with being a team player, but there has to be a limit. One thing to always keep in mind is your monthly budget as well. Staying on top of your finances will give you greater stress relief than going to work for free.


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

Are There Tax Implications To Bankruptcy?

It has been said that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. While death can’t be avoided, there are circumstances where certain taxes can be, or at least the amount of tax owed minimized. A frequently asked question about filing bankruptcy is how your tax status is impacted, or whether you can get out of paying taxes by seeking the protection of bankruptcy. These are good questions, and the answers are important to know if you are considering filing for bankruptcy.

While the IRS has certain rules about taxes, you can rest easy knowing simply filing for bankruptcy will not mean you owe more taxes than you would otherwise be required to pay. Other significant information about taxes and bankruptcy includes:

  • If a debt is forgiven, the lender may send you a 1099 for the amount of the loan no longer due. This happens frequently when a home goes to short sale rather than foreclosure, because the lender considers the amount of your loan forgiven to be income. If you receive a 1099 in this situation, you will have to include it as income when you file taxes. However, if you have discharged the entire mortgage debt in a bankruptcy, you should not have to report any part of the mortgage loan not paid as part of your income.
  • If you expect to receive a refund, you do have to report that to the Bankruptcy Trustee. It is possible that the refund may go to the Trustee rather than to you.
  • If you have not filed taxes prior to filing bankruptcy you will have to provide a copy of your return, once it is filed, to the Court.

Taxes that you owe prior to or after filing will not be forgiven. Even in bankruptcy, you will be responsible for paying income taxes. However, the upside might be that by eliminating other debt you are now able to pay the taxes due, or can reach an agreement on payments with the IRS that fits your budget. To learn more about how bankruptcy and taxes interact, call our office.


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

Does Foreclosure Mediation Work?

Receiving a notice of foreclosure can make your heart beat just a little faster, and cause you a significant amount of anxiety. After all, the possibility of losing your home means you and your family will be left looking for a new place to live. Moving is never fun, and it can take time and money that you may not have if you are in dire financial straits. There is some thought that working with the lender may prolong the case, giving you the time you need to find alternate housing that meets your needs, but not every lender is generous enough to give their customers this time. Another alternative that gained quite a bit of popularity a few years ago is that of foreclosure mediation. But, what does it require and does it really work?

Any mediation is a form of dispute resolution that takes place outside of the four walls of the Courthouse. Countless homeowners have tried to work with their mortgage lender by having a neutral third party (mediator) listen to their dispute and come up with a workable solution. Unfortunately, not many homeowners have been successful when using this forum. An article on the issue states that the idea of mediating a foreclosure case simply does not end with the good results for the borrower. Here are some reasons why:

  • Home values have decreased so drastically that the amount owed on most homes is far more than what the homes are worth. This means the lender cannot resell the property without taking a loss. It would seem logical that given these figures more lenders would be willing to work with their borrowers, but that has not been the case.
  • Much of the information needed to review the value of a home for purposes of modifications or short sales are being withheld from borrowers. This makes it hard to come to the mediation table with any kind of meaningful offer of resolution.

Because these programs have failed to help homeowners, other avenues of dispute resolution must be used. If you are facing foreclosure, you do have defenses. One thing you should do right away is to ask the lender for the note, because if the lender does not hold the note then they do not have the right to foreclose. Considering bankruptcy is also an option that works for many. When you are able to eliminate unsecured credit card debt, more of your monthly disposable income is available. In many instances the amount of money freed up from not having to make large credit card or other unsecured loan payments is enough to cover what is due on the home. Call us for information about how to save your home today.


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

How To Return Collateral To The Creditor During Bankruptcy

When you file for the protection of bankruptcy, you have choices to make about what to do with your property. If you are able to continue making payments on your secured debt, like your house or car, you can do so by reaffirming that debt. However, if your budget is too tight to allow you to continue paying for all of your secured debt, you can choose to surrender the property back to the lender. The logistics of giving back collateral during bankruptcy require some legal maneuvering, but it can be accomplished.

The most common way to return property to a lender while you are in bankruptcy is to notate on your statement of intention that you plan to surrender the item. The statement of intention is filed along with your initial bankruptcy petition, and your creditors will be able to learn your intent with regard to their collateral by reviewing what you have filed. Once the case is filed, you can expect the following with regard to property you do not plan on keeping:

  • The creditor will file a Motion to lift the automatic stay, so they can legally accept the surrender of property back to them.
  • You do not have to wait for the Motion to lift the automatic stay to be filed to being arrangements to sign over your house, or drop off your car. You can contact the creditor after filing and begin this process. In fact, it is best to get a bit ahead of the creditor in this regard so you do not run the risk of being “accused” of not following through with what your statement of intention says you will be doing.

Our office handles all of the contact with the creditor, unless you prefer to have a one on one conversation. The best approach is to keep the property in good condition, and communicate your desire to return the property to the lender as soon as possible. If a lender is difficult to contact or is non-responsive to your intentions to surrender, we can take action for you within your case. The last thing you want to do is to continue insuring property that you no longer wish to own, and we can help make sure this doesn’t happen.


If you have questions about finances and bankruptcy, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.

Five Hidden Fees Your Lenders Charge, And How To Avoid Them

We all know that certain fees and charges go along with taking out a loan, or applying for a credit card. This is how lenders make their money, but it can be hard to figure out what all you are paying and just how your monthly payment is allocated. Knowing where your money goes is the first step on the road to financial recovery. So, when your monthly bills come in, take a closer look to see just what all you are being charged for the benefit of doing business with your creditors.

Five hidden fees your lenders charge, with tips on how to avoid these fees, include:

  • The cost of having a bad credit score will significantly increase what you pay in interest every month. In order to avoid paying a higher rate, take steps to repair your credit before taking out a loan.
  • The length of your loan may also be costing you more money than you need to spend. The longer you take to pay off a loan, the more you will pay in interest. If you are able to increase your payment a bit, think about shortening the loan term or paying extra to the principal balance. This will reduce the amount you owe much faster.
  • Costs for add-on’s or required insurance should be taken into consideration when applying for a loan. Shop around for the lowest rates beforehand so your total monthly obligation fits within your budget.
  • Origination and other fees are often tacked on to a loan. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you know the amount of these fees, and ask for them to be eliminated or reduced if possible.
  • Accumulated interest fees, most often associated with a deferred loan. While you do have the option on some types of loans (such as a student loan) to defer payment for a period of time, the interest will continue to accumulate when you are not paying. In order to avoid being shocked at the amount of accumulated interest, opt to make an interest only payment rather than defer the payment all together.

Knowing what to expect from your loan, and where you money goes when you make a payment will help you to budget your finances. If you find yourself in over your head financially even after exploring these fees and other options for repayment, you do have options. Call our office to learn more.

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

What Happens If I Forgot To List A Lender In My Bankruptcy?

Some bankruptcy cases are so large that it is hard to gather all of the necessary documents for filing, and as a result there may be a lender or two that is not included on the filing. When this happens it leaves the debtor, and creditor, wondering the status of the debt. Is the debt still owed, or will the discharge cover that debt too and mean the debtor no longer has to make payments? Being able to eliminate date and the monthly payments that go along with it is the main goal of filing bankruptcy. So if you end up still owing some of your debts, it can be frustrating to say the least.

The answer as to what happens to debts that are left off of a bankruptcy depends on a couple of things; they are:

  • Did you file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13?
  • What would the creditor have received if they had been listed in the bankruptcy case and received notice of the proceeding?

The answers to these questions help determine what happens to forgotten (or unscheduled debt) debt. If the case was a Chapter 7 where no money was available to pay creditors, the creditor has suffered no real harm and the debt will likely be considered discharged. On the other hand, if there were assets (either in a Chapter 13 or a Chapter 7), the creditor may be able to argue they missed out on their share. If that is the case, it is possible that your case may be reopened to administer that debt. In order to avoid this from happening to you, take the time to gather all of your papers before having your case prepared. If your debt load is overwhelming large, obtaining a copy of your credit report can help. Your credit report will list out all of your creditors, and this will help you to double check that you have not forgotten to include any in your case. You can also keep copies of the monthly statements you receive, or take down creditor information from any collection calls you are receiving.


If you need help with your finances, call our office. We can offer solutions, legal and practical, that meet your needs. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.


How To Challenge A Creditor’s Claim In Bankruptcy: Objecting To A POC

When you file bankruptcy your creditors are allowed to file claims, indicating the amount of debt you owe. This typically happens in a Chapter 13 case, where the Trustee is preparing to pay at least a portion of your unsecured debt and all of the secured debt you have that is provided for in your Chapter 13 Plan. Thus, it is common for creditors to file a proof of claim, which is a document that proves what you owe. The claim will set forth the type of debt (auto loan, mortgage loan, or other form of indebtedness) and will state how much is owed. In some instances the claim figure is different than what the debtor shows they owe. In that case, an objection to the proof of claim (POC) is in order.

In order to make a valid objection to a proof of claim, you must show that the payment amount requested will in some way impact you. The Bankruptcy Code  provides a procedure for objecting to a claim, and this is how it works:

  • The Trustee might object to the claim because if the amount claimed due is more than what the Chapter 13 Plan provides for, the Trustee would have to remit more to that particular creditor than planned. This can cause the payment calculations for your plan to become mathematically unfeasible, and might even cause your plan to be denied by the Court.
  • The debtor can object to the proof of claim, because it is the debtor that is making the Chapter 13 Plan payments. When a claim is filed that is much higher than expected, the debtor might be forced to increase his monthly payment to the Trustee. This may not be financially feasible, so objecting to the amount is a good idea.

It is unlikely that you will have a creditor file a proof of claim in a Chapter 7 case, but it does happen. If the Chapter 7 Trustee locates an asset, for example a piece of collateral that the debtor is not permitted to claim as exempt or a piece of collateral for which the lender failed to properly note their security interest, that collateral is subject to seizure by the Trustee. The Trustee then sells the collateral and uses the proceeds to pay unsecured creditors a portion of what they are owed. In these cases, a creditor would be required to file a proof of claim in the Chapter 7 case in order to get paid. If you have questions about when and how to object to a creditor’s claim, call our office.

If you need help with bankruptcy issues, contact our office. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today.



Can A Creditor Sue Me In Bankruptcy Court?

Most people who seek the protection of bankruptcy are doing so to avoid harmful collection or foreclosure lawsuits, and to stop the creditors from making harassing collection calls. Bankruptcy does offer this refuge, and it is one of the main benefits of filing a case. However, there are instances where even filing bankruptcy does not stop your creditors from seeking repayment. In some instances a creditor may elect to file a case against you within your bankruptcy case, and you will be required to defend that case just the same as if bankruptcy had not been filed.

The process is referred to as an adversary proceeding, and the Bankruptcy Code sets forth certain circumstances that give a creditor the opportunity to file such a case. These include:

  • Debts that were obtained through fraudulent means. This type of case requires the creditor to show that when you acquired the debt, you did so by giving false or misleading information somewhere along the process of getting the loan. The most common argument made is that the information contained on your loan application is false, and that you knew it was false when it was provided. This is a difficult thing for a creditor to prove, but it is an instance where a creditor can sue you, seeking to have their debt excepted from the bankruptcy discharge. If the lender is successful, you will still owe the debt after the bankruptcy case is over.
  • Debts that arose due to the willful and malicious injury to property of another. This might be the case if you were involved in an accident and a finding was made that your actions were more than just negligent. If that is the finding of the State court and there is a judgment against you, the party entitled to receive payment on the judgment can seek to have that amount excepted from the bankruptcy discharge.
  • Most student loan debt is not debt that does not have to be repaid, but the student loan lender has to file an adversary proceeding in the bankruptcy to challenge your attempts to include their debt in the bankruptcy discharge.

If an adversary case is filed during your bankruptcy, it is vital that you file a response. If you fail to respond, the Court can rule against you and leave you holding the bag on the debt in question. Call our office for more information.


Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information about what to expect during and after filing for bankruptcy. We have helped others, and are here to help you too.



What Are Bankruptcy Exemptions And How Do They Work?

Anyone who files bankruptcy is allowed to exempt certain property they own, and take steps to hang on to that property even though a bankruptcy case is pending. In order to take advantage of this law, you have to note what property you claim to be exempt. The Bankruptcy Code provides a list of standard exemptions, and so does state law. In some cases the state exemption may be larger, and in others the federal Bankruptcy Code provides for more. In Florida, the state exemptions are used when filing for the protection of bankruptcy, and you are required to have lived in the State for a certain time period prior to claiming the exemptions. For some, this might mean your bankruptcy case must be timed just right when filing.

Common exemptions under Florida law include the following:

  • Your primary residence.
  • Your car, up to a certain dollar value.
  • Clothing and other personal items.
  • Wages, up to a certain figure, for the filer with head of the household status.
  • Certain types of retirement plans and the balances in those accounts.
  • Insurance policy proceeds.
  • Child and spousal support payments.
  • Interests you have in a business or partnership.

But what does all of this mean? It means that the property defined as an exemption cannot be used to repay debts in your bankruptcy. You are free to keep these assets, subject to any applicable bankruptcy law or rule such as reaffirming the debt. It is important to keep in mind that just because property is exempt, you do not get it free and clear. You are still required to maintain payments for exempt property if you wish for it to remain in your possession. One thing to remember when claiming property as exempt is that the Trustee does have the ability to object to your exemption. You will want to be sure you have claimed only the amount allowed, where an amount is designated, and that you meet the residency requirements for claiming the exemptions. We can help you make these determinations, and help make sure you hang on to what is rightfully yours.


For assistance with bankruptcy issues, call our office today. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.



Will A Short Sale Save My Home From Foreclosure?

Receiving notice that your home has gone into foreclosure is a frightening experience. Without a roof over your head it is hard to live a normal life, or to give your family the shelter they need. But, with a sluggish economy, the number of foreclosures is again beginning to rise and finding ways to stay in your home is becoming more important than ever. One answer is to try and work with the lender by offering to pay off the debt, but very few people are in a financial positon to make this happen. This leaves many homeowners searching for alternatives, such as bankruptcy or refinance. However, another popular option is to offer the lender a short sale.

A short sale is a transaction whereby the lender agrees to take less than what is owed on the home, and will release their lien. Going this route will not keep you in your home though, and should only be considered if you are prepared to find housing elsewhere. What you will accomplish is a resolution to your mortgage that does not include a foreclosure. Just be sure to watch out for these common missteps:

  • Do not do any damage to the home, as you will be responsible for the cost of repair and may even face charges of vandalism.
  • Be sure to get the terms of the sale in writing with your lender.
  • Be on the lookout for the possibility that the amount of debt that is forgiven will be considered income, and may be reported by your lender to the IRS as such. This means you will have to pay taxes on the amount of the loan that is forgiven.

Keep in mind your lender does not have to agree to a short sale, and the process can be long and tedious. If you are facing a short time frame, whereby your home is set for foreclosure sale quickly, a short sale may not be right for you. You do have other options, and should explore those options with a qualified debt management attorney. Call our office today to find out more about short sales, and how they impact a foreclosure proceeding.

Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information on foreclosures and short sales, and what to do when your budget doesn’t work. Schedule an appointment to learn more.