Dsouza and Strachan Lawgroup | Legal Blogs | Bankruptcy Attorney FL | Page 50

Blog

Can Older Debtors Avoid Collection?

Having debt is not limited to a certain age group. This is especially true in today’s economy, where it is becoming more likely that people work well beyond retirement age in order to continue paying their bills. The law does not discriminate between who is sued for a delinquent debt, and who is not, just because of their age. The unfortunate result is that a good number of the elderly are being made to answer collection lawsuits, and they are doing so without fully arming themselves with the knowledge needed to obtain satisfactory results.

While the options to avoid collections may be limited, depending on your circumstances, there are some important things senior citizens should know about the process. Not only is social security not subject to attachment by a wage or bank garnishment, but there are other forms of income that are exempt. SSI is also not subject to being garnished, and it is also a form of supplemental income that should be explored in order to boost an elderly person’s bank account. SSI is available for:

● Blind, aged, or disabled persons with little to no income.

● Provides funds to meet basic needs.

Federal disability payments are also yours to keep, and cannot be garnished or taken from you. If you are being asked to make payments from any of these sources of income, or are being garnished and your only income are these sources, you can seek to have the monies returned to you. One way to avoid these consequences in the first place is to keep the lines of communication open with your creditors. Providing the information about the source of your income before legal action is taken may prevent a creditor from proceeding further. Before deciding how to respond to collection efforts, consult with a qualified debt relief attorney to learn your options.

If you have questions about how to avoid collections and what income sources are off limits, call our office for help. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Can I Cram Down My Mortgage In Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a popular way to avoid foreclosure, and allow you to get back on your feet and able to make your mortgage payments. There are two main types of consumer bankruptcy, a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13. A Chapter 7 is like a liquidation, which means most of your debt (usually unsecured debt, like a credit card) is eliminated. For things you want to hang on to, in a Chapter 7 you will have to keep making the payments. This can be problematic if your budget is too tight to make the payments without filing bankruptcy. So, what is the answer? A Chapter 13 might be more appropriate for you, because it is more like a debt consolidation. What this means is that you have the ability to pay less for certain debts. This is referred to as “cramming down” the value, and it can significantly reduce the amount of your monthly payments.

A Chapter 13 Plan provides the blueprint for repayment of your debt, over a period of up to five years. In a Chapter 13, repayment is based off of the value of property rather than the amount due. Repaying the value is how the cram down of the loan is achieved. For a mortgage, the following factors come into play:

● The property must be investment property rather than your primary residence.

● The value of the property is less than what is owed.

● Second mortgages can also be crammed down.

The benefits of a cram down are that your payments are reduced. The reduction in payment is achieved by paying a lower balance, and might also include making payments at a lower rate. When you file bankruptcy and are successful in paying less than what is owed, you also benefit because any deficiency remaining is no longer due. For more information on how you can pay less for a mortgage through bankruptcy, call our office.

If you are underwater on a loan for real property, let an experienced attorney help you. We fight save you money in interest payments, and also by paying the value of your property rather than an inflated amount due. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

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.

What Is The Difference Between Consumer And Commercial Debt?

Not all debt is taken out for personal use, businesses also incur debt in their daily operations. And, just like in the case of personal (or consumer) debt, when a business does not pay its debts, the lender will seek to collect. Commercial debt collections are similar to consumer actions, but there are some differences. For instance, the law presumes a business owner to be more savvy than the average consumer, and so the laws regarding collection practices typically do not apply to commercial collections.

The most important law regarding consumer collections is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Act prohibits certain actions by creditors when collection debts incurred for personal, consumer purposes. The following are among these prohibitions:

● Abusive or harassing collection tactics, including threats.

● A notice regarding the consumer’s right to dispute the debt must be provided.

● The consumer must be given the opportunity to request the balance, and the name of the original creditor if it is different than the entity undertaking collection activity.

These protections are not afforded businesses, for commercial collections. This means, if you are a small business owner and are experiencing financial difficulty, you must act quickly to protect yourself from collection efforts. The amount of time for a consumer to dispute a debt is longer than that for a commercial debt, which means if you are sued you have a shorter amount of time to answer. Failure to answer will result in a default judgment being entered against your company, which could result in garnishment of your banking accounts. Call a knowledgeable attorney today to protect your business.

 

If you have questions about the difference between consumer and commercial debt, call our office for answers. 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.