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Will I Get To Keep My Retirement If I File Bankruptcy?

When people faced with too much debt make the choice to file bankruptcy to get a fresh financial start, many questions arise. Some of the more common questions deal with your property, and what you can and cannot keep if you file for bankruptcy. The short answer is that for personal property you are able to keep things you continue to pay for (like your car), and the same is true for your real estate (which generally includes your homestead). But, there are other assets that are not easily defined as either real or personal property, such as a 401(k) or trust account. You work hard for your money, and to be able to set a little bit aside for retirement. So, it is only natural to wonder if you will be allowed to hang on to your retirement if you seek the protection of bankruptcy.

The current bankruptcy laws provide for certain exemptions; which means there are some things that are simply off limits, or exempt, from a creditor’s reach. As far as your retirement goes, the following types of accounts are exempt:

  • 401(k) accounts.
  • IRA accounts.
  • Monies put into a profit sharing plan.

There are some exceptions to these rules, but they have to do with the amount in the account and not entire account itself. Any amount over the limitation is not considered exempt, but the rest of the account is yours to keep. There is also an exemption for retirement funds that are paid out as income rather than being set aside for your use later. Establishing what amount of money is needed for your support and living expenses during retirement is part of the equation also, and it is helpful to have a consistent history of living expenses to support your claim for what you need. For a full explanation of what parts of your retirement accounts are off limits, call to speak with one of our knowledgeable debt relief attorneys. We will examine your finances and give you advice on which type of bankruptcy suits you best, and tell you what you can expect to keep.

 

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.

 

 

Top Ten Celebrity Bankruptcy Cases

The summer of 2015 was full of celebrity news, and the majority of it had to do with break-ups and weddings. An unusual number of celebrity singers filed for divorce (the list includes Reba McEntire, Christina Aguilera, Gavin Rossdale, Blake Shelton, and Miranda Lambert), and one of the most famous Friends finally tied the knot. It seems every time you turn around a superstar is making headlines for one reason or another, and if it is not for their personal relationships it is often about their personal finances. If you think bankruptcy is only for the ordinary guy, think again. Plenty of celebrities have had their turn in bankruptcy court, and the list might catch you by surprise.

The top ten celebrity bankruptcy cases include the following:

  • Rapper 50 Cent filed a business bankruptcy, or Chapter 11. This is an example of how bankruptcy can help you to reorganize a business, rather than give protection to a consumer debtor. Sometimes this type of filing is done for business purposes rather than for the fact that the company is actually out of money.
  • Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has sought the protection of bankruptcy in the past.
  • Singer Billy Joel has filed for bankruptcy more than once, and says the cause for the filings were his divorces. This is a perfect example of how divorce and bankruptcy can often go hand in hand.
  • Actress Kim Bassinger filed in the 1990’s.
  • Marvin Gaye attributes his need to file bankruptcy to a past due alimony bill of over half a million dollars!
  • Favorite novelist of History and English teachers everywhere, Mark Twain, filed for bankruptcy later in life.
  • TV talk host Larry King has filed bankruptcy.
  • Joe Francis, of Girls Gone Wild fame has had to declare bankruptcy.
  • Child star Gary Coleman is on the list of celebrities that have filed bankruptcy to clean up their finances.
  • Aaron Carter, who also rose to fame as a child, claims he filed bankruptcy because he was not in charge of his finances.

These stories should illustrate to you that the stigma once associated with filing for bankruptcy is long since gone. If you are facing overwhelming debt and need a breather, bankruptcy is a real solution. Call us today to find out what’s right for you.

 

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

How To Lower Student Loan Payments

One of the fastest growing types of debt is student loans. The cost of college has risen astronomically over the years, and in order to get ahead in life many students are resorting to taking out loans to pay tuition and other expenses. While this type of loan is generally better than most in that the interest rate is typically lower than what a bank would offer, the amounts being accumulated are far more than what an average starting salary right out of college is being reported. The disparity between what you owe and what you make is causing many college graduates to move back home after graduation, just to be able to make their student loan payments. This type of living arrangement is not ideal, for both the parents and the student, so looking for alternatives is a must.

One thing you can do is to take steps to lower your student loan payments. A lower payment can free up part of your salary, so you can provide for yourself and/or your family. Some ways to obtain a lower payment are:

  • Request an income sensitive repayment plan, rather than going with the monthly payment amount calculated at the end of your deferment period. An income sensitive payment takes into account what you make, and your household size. If you have dependents at home and make very little, you are likely to be given a reduced payment that is more in line with your budget.
  • Consolidate your loans, which gives you a longer repayment period and lowers the monthly amount due.
  • Request an interest only payment for a period of time, until you can make a higher payment.
  • Opt for a payment plan that starts off with smaller payments, and ends up with higher payments towards the end of the life of the loan. This allows you to pay less when you are just starting out, and then increase your payments as your salary increases.

Any of these methods can work for you, but the key is to find the type that works best. We can help by analyzing your income and debt, and working with your lender for a solution that makes sense. Call us for more information.

If you need help making your student loan payments, contact our office. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today.

 

 

What To Do When Lenders Discriminate

Unfortunately discrimination in today’s world is not limited to the school yard, your job, or even a public event. For years some consumers have been the victim of lender discrimination, which means they were either denied a loan or given less than favorable terms based on their race, religion, or gender. This type of lending practice is not only frowned upon, but it is against the law. As a borrower, you do have a remedy, and should take action to send a message to the lender that these practices are not tolerated.

One of the biggest purchases most people make is their home, and to do this a mortgage loan is required. A mortgage lender has the following obligations when considering your application for a loan:

  • If you are receiving income from a social program, that income must be taken into consideration just the same as income from your job. A lender is not allowed to leave this income out of the calculation, or make a determination based on the fact that you receive public assistance to make ends meet.
  • If you decide to disclose that part of the income you will rely upon for repayment of the mortgage loan is spousal or child support, that income must also be given the same weight as your salary.
  • If you have a co-signer who is willing to obligate themselves on the loan, the lender owes the same responsibilities to that person as they do to you as the primary applicant.

If you have been denied a loan, or were offered a loan at terms higher than the norm, you should complain to the lender and tell them you believe you have been discriminated against. We can help you make this complaint, and follow it up with legal action if needed. A thorough examination of things like your pay stubs and credit report will be needed, as well as a review of the loan documents. When discrimination is identified, you are entitled to an award of damages for this action and that could include punitive damages for your suffering. Consult with one of our qualified debt relief attorneys today to learn more about lender discrimination and what you can do if you are a victim.

Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today if you believe you are the victim of lender discrimination. Schedule an appointment to learn more.

What Is A Debt Settlement?

There is always more than one way to get to the same result. For money problems you might consider calling your lenders and asking for a lower monthly payment, taking out a consolidation loan, calling a debt counselor, or filing for bankruptcy. Another popular method to resolving past due financial obligations is through debt settlement. There are programs that offer to undertake this effort on your behalf, but many of the companies that run these programs have been found to be of little assistance. You could opt to try and work out something on your own, but this leaves you with the burden of fielding numerous calls and engaging in lengthy negotiations. The best choice is to partner with a debt relief attorney with experience settling debt on behalf of others.

Debt settlement is similar to a legal proceeding, in that the party asking for relief must provide evidence to the lender that a settlement is the best option. Some things to keep in mind about your case include:

  • Your credit will reflect the settlement, so be sure that this option is best for your budget and future plans. If you are underwater on most of your obligations, chances are your credit is already less than perfect. Also, it does not take near as long to repair credit as most people believe, so if a big purchase is in your future the likelihood your credit will be in good shape by the time you need a new loan is good.
  • Act sooner rather than later, the earlier on in your financial struggle you reach out to your creditors, the higher the chance of receiving a favorable response to your settlement offer.
  • Don’t be afraid to be honest about your finances with your lenders, if you are near the brink of bankruptcy and will go that route if settlement doesn’t work, make sure your creditors are aware of this fact. Many lenders will agree to take a smaller amount than the full balance due instead of having the entire debt eliminated through a bankruptcy.

For some types of debt, there are tax and other financial consequences for settling with the lender for less than what is due. For instance, if you agree to pay a lump sum of $20,000.00 less than you owe on your mortgage to avoid a foreclosure, you can expect to receive a 1099 for $20,000.00 from the lender. This “loan forgiveness” can be considered income for taxation purposes, so you want to be sure the agreement you make does not cause more harm than good. Call us today for a review of these, and other important issues.

 

If you have questions about settling debt, call our office for answers. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Three Ways To Make Smart Money Choices

Have you ever stopped and wondered why some people seem to have all the luck in the world? Is it that they truly are lucky, or do they just make smart choices? Life is full of choices, and knowing which path to take can be hard. But, when you are faced with decisions that will impact your future, it is wise to look at all the options and make the best choice. This is especially true in the area of personal finances. Having enough money to make ends meet every month is good, but it would be better to make choices that allow you to save for an emergency or for the day when you can call it quits at work. Making smart money choices doesn’t have to be hard, and once you get the hang of it you will wonder why you were ever hesitant to implement a plan.

Making smart money choices is a way of life, and starts the minute your feet hit the floor out of bed every morning. Here are three things you can do on a daily basis to make smart money moves:

  • Make a list of your financial goals, and review it periodically. Being able to see, on paper, what you are working towards is big motivator for many people. But it does not good to write your goals down if you don’t review them every now and again to see if you are on track, or need to make an adjustment.
  • When faced with a big money decision, make a choice before becoming distracted by the pressures of everyday life such as work and kids.
  • Make changes to your daily schedule so you can avoid expensive habit forming stops, like that daily gourmet coffee or overpriced lunch.

The smallest changes to the way you manage your money can add up to big rewards. When you know what you want to achieve and start to see results, saving money and making good choices can become like a game. Be sure to get your family involved, and celebrate when you reach milestones along the way. Just be sure that the celebration does not get out of hand, and still allows you to stay on track financially.

 

If you have questions about budgets and how to make smart money moves, call our office for answers. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

What To Do About Back Taxes

Having any kind of debt can be overwhelming, especially if you are unable to make the payments. But one type of debt that seems to be more difficult to handle than others is taxes. Perhaps it is because American workers are fed up with the tax system, and the idea of paying a large chunk of what you work so hard to make to the government leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. After all, you have an amount held out of your paycheck every pay period as it is, so why should you end up paying more every April? While paying taxes is certainly no fun, it is also something to take seriously. If you fail to file your return on time, or fail to pay taxes when they are due, you will be fined and penalized heavily. These added sums can make it near impossible to ever pay off your taxes, but there are some things you can do.

The IRS offers some programs for repayment of back taxes, and if you fall into this category it is smart to check out what options are available to you. The most common ways to repay past due taxes are:

  • An offer in compromise: this type of repayment is one where the taxpayer offers an amount that is less than the total tax due, and the IRS agrees to accept that figure as full payment for the taxes.
  • Payment plans: many times the IRS will agree to allow a taxpayer to make monthly installment payments on the taxes due. A word of caution though, the interest continues to accumulate until your entire tax debt is paid in full.

If you owe back taxes, the best advice is to take control of the situation by having a professional help negotiate a repayment plan. Ignoring the issue will not make it go away, and will only add to the amount you owe and could result in collection action being taken against you. The IRS has many tools at its disposal, such as wage garnishments and tax liens, and will not hesitate to undertake whatever action is necessary to get the taxes paid. If you owe back taxes, call us today to find out what solution works best for you.

 

If you have questions about how to repay back taxes, 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.

What Is An Undue Hardship?

Many times the debt you have accumulated, and the lender’s efforts to collect it, creates an undue hardship on you and your family. Think about it, can you really afford to receive a less than full paycheck? The answer is probably no, but that is exactly what can happen if you are subject to a wage garnishment. The result can be that you are unable to make your house or car payment, or put food on the table for your family. Sometimes, when debt is out of control at this level, the way out is to file for bankruptcy and stop the collection activities. Even in bankruptcy though, if you want to hang on to your house or car, you still have to pay. This can still cause a financial hardship, and so you have the right to have some debts wiped out due to the hardship caused.

The most popular debt people try to eliminate in bankruptcy due to an undue hardship is a student loan. This is a difficult task, because generally speaking you are not able to discharge student loan debt. But, if you can show the following, the Bankruptcy Court may agree with you and declare some or all of your student loan debt forgiven through the bankruptcy:

  • You have to show that you have a made a good faith effort to obtain employment, but have been unable to do so.
  • You have to show that paying back any part of the loan will result in financial destitution to you and/or your dependents.
  • Factors such as a physical disability play a role, but are not determinative.

The test is a difficult one to meet, and the Court grants these requests infrequently. Showing that you are unable to provide for yourself and your family, and have no hope of doing so in the future can be hard. Sometimes the better approach is to work one on one with the lender, and provide them the details of your financial condition for a possible reduction the amount due or in the monthly payment. We can help you to make a decision about how to proceed in these unique types of cases, and will help guide you towards taking action that is likely to end in a satisfactory result.

 

If you have questions about bankruptcy and undue hardship, 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.

Two Ways To Avoid Charges Of Bankruptcy Abuse

In 2005 the Bankruptcy Code was revised, and most of the changes were not for the better. The changes came about as the result of creditors lobbying for tighter filing requirements, and more of a crackdown on repeat filers that were viewed as abusing the system. The system in place today looks at your income as it relates to your secured debt, and if the pre-set calculation shows you have any left over money each month to put towards your unsecured debt you will be “forced” to file a Chapter 13 case and pay back some of what you owe to credit cards and other unsecured loans. For most people, this is not the preferable method of bankruptcy, and a Chapter 7 is desired. A Chapter 7 eliminates unsecured debt, but does require payments to still be made for secured items like your car or house if you want to keep them. Another part of the initial review of your case when filing is whether there is a “presumption of abuse” in your filing. If so, the trustee make object to your petition and ask that the entire case be dismissed. No one wants to have their case thrown out, and still owe the debt they are unable to pay, so avoiding charges of bankruptcy abuse is a serious concern.

Two ways you can avoid being charged with abusing the bankruptcy laws include:

  • Make sure you wait the required amount of time in between filing cases, if you are in need of filing a subsequent case.
  • Provide all of the information necessary to file your case to your attorney, leaving out nothing. Every source of income you have must be reported, and every debt you owe should be provided to your attorney when your case is prepared. If you have given all the information about your finances to your bankruptcy attorney, and have honestly answered questions concerning your pay, chances are you will not be the target of a possible abuse claim.

The key is to be thorough, and to provide accurate information. We can help you by identifying what information is needed to file, and providing a checklist for what documents to bring to Court.

 

If you have questions about bankruptcy, let an experienced attorney help you. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

How To Stop Worrying And Start Living: Managing Debt

Being saddled with too much debt is no fun, and pretty soon it can have a negative impact on every aspect of your life. When you are worried about how to pay the bills it can be hard to concentrate at work, and your personal relationships can also suffer. The key to happiness is not money, but when you are effectively managing your debt your level of enjoyment of life can certainly increase. In order to get to a place where you are in control of your finances, you have to take action. If that means seeking the protection of bankruptcy, negotiating with your creditors for more favorable loan terms, or going to see a reputable consolidation company, don’t waste any more precious time: seek help today. We have helped people figure out what works best for them, and we can help you too.

Consumer Reports has the following five methods for debt management:

  • Make a budget, then negotiate with your creditors for lower interest rates or the opportunity to extend the length of your loan so that the payments fit within the budget you’ve created.

●          Consolidate higher rate debt into one, lower rate loan.

  • Figure out which payments are the most important, and make a budget that allows you to pay off priority debts first.
  • Consider taking advice from a credit counselor. A credit counselor can give you ideas on how to manage your money and where you can cut back so you can start saving.
  • Look at your legal options, such as bankruptcy, for help with too much debt.

The key is to do what works for you and your family. Only you can make the decision as to the best choice for your finances, and implement change. But, sometimes you need help. In our experience, talking it over with a debt management attorney is helpful because once you learn your options you are in a better positon to make the best decision. Call our office today for help, you’ll be glad because we can help you to stop worrying and start living.

 

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.