How Former Billionaire Known As ‘Catwoman’ Went Bankrupt

July 20, 2018 Posted by kingcade

New York City socialite Jocelyn Wildenstein once worth billions of dollars has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.  She listed her Citibank account balance as $0 in the filing.  The 77-year-old says she is unemployed and now relies on only social security and the kindness of friends and family to pay for ongoing expenses.

One thing working in her favor is the amount of property she has, which is in the millions.  She listed assets of $16.39 million against $6.38 million in liabilities, and her holdings include an apartment valued at $11.75 million in the Trump World Tower in Manhattan, plus a 2006 Bentley now worth $35,000, according to the bankruptcy filing.

However, her debts are also in the millions and include more than $300,000 owed to various lawyers. And she owes $4.6 million on her apartment, which is currently in foreclosure, according to court papers.

The $2.5 billion divorce settlement she received in 1999 from the late billionaire art dealer Alec Wildenstein has virtually disappeared. But she alleges that her money woes are not a result of overspending, but rather problems with the trust she got in her divorce.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

New Bankruptcy Rules Proposed for Student Loan Debtors

July 19, 2018 Posted by kingcade

According to a recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it is estimated that there are around 44 million individuals with student loan debt. The report showed that around $1.4 trillion is owed by total student loan borrowers. Of this amount, around 11 percent of that debt is past 90 days overdue. These figures show one common theme: student loan debt affects many Americans and not in the good way.

Student loan debt becomes an even bigger problem for those borrowers who are not able to keep up on their payments. It has traditionally been impossible for a borrower to have his or her student loans discharged in bankruptcy, which meant that these individuals were continued to be burdened by immense debt even after bankruptcy was over. It seems counter-intuitive since the purpose of bankruptcy is to get a financial fresh start, which has led to recent proposals to change the way student loans are handled in bankruptcy.

A recent bill, the HIGHER ED Act, H.R. 5549, introduced in April 2018 by Oregon Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio has proposed significant changes to how student loans are handled in bankruptcy. The legislation would broaden the legal definition of “undue hardship,” which is the standard used by bankruptcy courts to determine if a borrower is eligible for discharge of his or her student loan debt.

The “undue hardship” determination has never been truly defined, and bankruptcy courts have had to decide on what it means on a case-by-case basis, and this inconsistent application has led to inconsistent rulings across the board. Earlier in 2018, the U.S. Department of Education had issued a statement requesting public comments on whether the undue hardship definition needed to be modified. The Department had previously expressed concerns that the undue hardship test has kept borrowers from trying to see relief from their debts through bankruptcy.

In a recent study written by Jason Juliano at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, it was found that around 40 percent of borrowers who included their student loan debts in their initial bankruptcy filings ended up with some or all of their debt obligation discharged. That number does not seem too bad until it is compared with the 0.1 percent of filers who actually attempted to discharge their student loan debts. This number shows that people simply do not even feel it is worth trying to discharge their student loan debts.

When it comes to bankruptcy and student loan debt, there are some common misconceptions. One being, that student loans are never dischargeable in bankruptcy. In fact, there are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan debt.

All of the federal courts of appeals, with the exception of the Boston 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and St. Louis 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have adopted what is commonly referred to as the Brunner test in defining undue hardship. The test goes through three factors when making this determination:

  1. If the borrower had to continue to pay back the loan, would he or she be able to maintain a minimal standard of living?
  2. Are the borrower’s financial difficulties expected to continue for the next several years, or are they temporary?
  3. Has the borrower made efforts to keep up with student loan payments before deciding to file for bankruptcy?

Under the Brunner Test, the borrower must be able to show that the debt has made it impossible for him or her to support themselves and their families and that the financial situation is not expected to change without the debt being discharged or lifted.

The Department of Education is taking the comments and data received this year and hopes to re-evaluate this criterion. The Department also hopes to change the weights given to each of the three factors and make the discharges more accessible to student loan borrowers who desperately need relief.

Click here to read more on this story.

For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available.  Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan debt.  It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

 

 

How to Spot a Debt Collection Scam

July 17, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Debt collection scams are an all-too-common occurrence these days as scammers look for ways to take advantage of people already in a bad financial situation. A recent scam has been reported by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), where scammers have been calling residents regarding fake power bills. These callers are threatening to turn off the person’s electricity if they do not immediately pay them over the phone.

Last year, the FTC received a total of 2.7 million complaints with debt collection scams being the largest category of complaints. Not all scams are the same, and some scammers, like the utility ones, are far from sophisticated in their schemes. However, the FTC is reporting that many collections scams have become more advanced. The individuals contacting the callers are using names of real local businesses or are posing as lawyers. Some of their claims are so believable that the person on the receiving end of the call believes they are legitimate.

It is important to always have your guard up. Ask for the name of the business contacting you and do the research before simply paying the debt. Also, be aware of what methods the company is using to make threats. For example, if the company trying to collect upon a debt is saying that they will only accept payment in the form of a prepaid gift card, that is a red flag that the caller is perpetuating a scam. The same goes for a company threatening to have someone arrested for nonpayment. Other legal avenues are available for a company collecting on a payment, and the first option is not to have that person arrested.

When someone gets a call from a potential scam, after asking the name of the company, it is recommended that the caller get off the phone and call the company back by using the phone number accessible via the consumer’s own records. Inform the company that someone has made contact and is demanding payment. That company will want to know whether its name and identity is being used. The company will also be able to verify whether any actual debt collection is being pursued against the caller.

If the person on the other end of the phone is a legitimate third-party debt collector and is still using harassing techniques, the consumer still has rights. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). a consumer is protected from debt collectors who are using unfair, abusive or harassing debt collection practices. Many debt collection agencies resort to scare tactics to get individuals to pay on their bills, but these tactics can become illegal if they cross the line from persuasive to abusive.

If an individual is facing debt collection proceedings, bankruptcy may be a viable option for him or her. After a petition for bankruptcy has been filed, an automatic stay goes into effect which puts an immediate stop to any pending collection proceedings which can give the individual relief from ongoing collections attempts and contact from debt collectors.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for Eliminating Credit Card Debt

July 16, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Credit card debt is a problem for many people today. While having a credit card is not necessarily a bad thing, if you are unable to pay off the entire balance each month, the interest, fees and finance charges can accumulate quickly.  This can eventually cause your credit card balance to spiral out of control. It helps to know what steps to take to eliminate credit card debt before it becomes too big of a problem.

  1. Use all your resources.

One tip that helps in attacking credit card debt is to maximize all the resources available to you. It can take a lot of time and dedication, but it does get the job done. To be successful with the method of throwing all your resources at your debt, you need to do the following:

  • Rely on cash-only to pay for expenses. Make sure these expenses are essential in nature and not frivolous, causing you to waste more money rather than make progress.
  • Put together a list of all credit card debt, detailing the interest rate for each card and the minimum payment on each card.
  • Use the debt avalanche method to attack the debt. What this entails is the person chooses the card with the highest interest rate, and he or she uses all extra money that he or she has available at paying off that card. After that card is paid off, the money that was used to pay that card goes to the next one, and so on. The idea is the money that goes towards the card snowballs in size, helping to pay each one down quicker than the person would be able to do with just meeting monthly minimum payments.
  • Find extra money to pay towards credit cards by creating a realistic budget and sticking to it.
  1. Consider a Balance-Transfer Credit Card.

If the person has a good credit rating, it is possible that he or she could open a new credit card with a lower interest rate for the sole purpose of transferring the balance from a current card with a higher interest rate. Many cards offer promotions for zero-percent annual percentage rates (APRs) with no balance transfer fees during that limited time period. This idea may seem like a bad one since it encourages the person to rely on a credit card to pay off another credit card. However, it can be a good idea if the person has good credit and is dedicated to paying off the balance on the new card, once the old balance is transferred. It is also important that the card holder take advantage of the introductory period to make sure the interest rate stays low while the amount is paid off. Once the period is over, the interest rate could jump up, thus bringing the cardholder to square one.

  1. Credit Consolidation Loan

Another method that is possible to pay off credit card debt is through a credit card consolidation loan. These loans are also referred to as debt consolidation or personal loans. Many of them are unsecured, meaning the person does not need to have assets or collateral to cover the obligation. The interest rates on these loans are usually lower than what the credit card interest rates would be, which makes it a little easier for the borrower to pay back the loan and make progress rather than pay the minimum payment owed on the credit card. Another benefit is the loan allows the person to only make one monthly payment rather than several different minimum payments on various credit cards. It is possible the borrower will need a cosigner, depending on his or her credit score, to back up the loan.

  1. Debt Management Plan

Another option that is available to individuals struggling to pay off credit card debt is a debt management plan. Debt management plans line the debtor up with a credit counselor who works with that person to create a budget and a plan to pay back the debt. The counselor will also speak with the person’s creditors on behalf of that individual and can often negotiate down the debt amount or terms of repayment. It is important to find a quality company when choosing a debt management company. Do research before jumping into the first choice and ensure that the company is legitimate and not a scam. An average debt management plan can take anywhere from four to five years for a person to successfully clear his or her debt.

  1. File for Bankruptcy

If none of these options work or if the debt is simply too much, bankruptcy may be the best option. Chapter 7 is the fastest form of consumer bankruptcy and forgives most unsecured debts like credit card debt, medical bills and personal loans.  There are certain qualifications a consumer must meet in regards to income, assets and expenses to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is determined by the bankruptcy means test.

If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2018/06/26/credit-card-debt-5-cost-effective-ways-you-can-erase/714014002/

 

When Is the Right Time to File for Bankruptcy?

July 12, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Making the decision to file for bankruptcy is never an easy one.  For some, it can be difficult to get past some of the myths associated with filing for bankruptcy.  Sometimes by waiting, an individual facing a lot of debt can find himself or herself in an even worse situation. So, when is the right time to file for bankruptcy?

A recent study from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project and an article from the Notre Dame Law Review highlighted that the longer people wait to file bankruptcy, the more they end up struggling- not only financially, but in their personal lives as well.

The following factors are indicators that you should consider filing for bankruptcy, or at least sit down with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options in more detail.

  • If your debt amount is more than 40 percent of your income. The higher the debt-to-income ratio a person has, the less likely it is he or she will earn enough money to ever pay back the debt;
  • If you are using debt, such as credit cards or unsecured personal loans, to pay for other debts;
  • If your debts include items that can be liquidated in bankruptcy, such as medical debt, credit cards or personal loans;
  • You are using payday loans to help cover necessities before your next paycheck. This is oftentimes a sign your expenses are exceeding your income;
  • If you are forgoing necessities such as healthcare, prescriptions, or food;
  • If the collection calls have reached a breaking point;
  • If you have been threatened with a lawsuit, are being sued by a creditor or your wages are being garnished.

If someone is on the fence as to whether to file for bankruptcy, he or she should schedule a free consultation with a bankruptcy attorney.

If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.