Posts Tagged: ‘Bankruptcy’

Why Waiting to File Bankruptcy Can Hurt You

June 21, 2018 Posted by kingcade

The decision to file for bankruptcy is never an easy one to make. There are a number of myths surrounding filing for bankruptcy, which can oftentimes lead people to wait.  It often can seem like an admission of personal or financial failure, and for this reason, many filers will hold off on filing for bankruptcy for years, allowing their financial issues to only worsen. In fact, the longer people wait to file for bankruptcy, the more likely they will end up struggling, according to a law review study recently published. By the time the individual files for bankruptcy, their personal life and well-being, as well as their financial situation will be damaged to the point where getting a fresh start can be extremely difficult.

Waiting Can Be Draining

The period of time before an individual files for bankruptcy is often referred to as a “financial sweatbox.” The filers are already under an immense amount of stress, are facing debt collector phone calls and lawsuits and are going without basic necessities to avoid the inevitable: having to file for bankruptcy. This “sweat it out” period can end up lasting for years before the person finally comes to the decision that bankruptcy is best for him or her. A recent Notre Dame Law Review piece titled “Life in the Sweatbox” focused on this period of time, showing how waiting it out can be more damaging than making the leap to file for bankruptcy sooner rather than later.

The study used data from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, which is a long-term academic research project that focus on people who end up filing for bankruptcy, reviewing the reasons why they file, as well as the consequences. The data includes information from approximately 3,200 bankruptcy cases between the years 2013 and 2016. “Life in the Sweatbox” focuses on 910 of the 3,200 filers.

Of those surveyed, over 66 percent of them were determined to be “long strugglers,” meaning they had been in the sweatbox for over two years. Approximately one-third of them waited five years or more to file for bankruptcy. They reviewed statistics from 2007 which showed that the number of people who were “long strugglers” doubled in numbers.

The problem is the longer the people waited, the worse their financial situation became. Those who waited had half the median assets compared to other debtors who did not wait or did not wait as long. In addition, the median debt-to-income ratio of these long strugglers was over 40 percent higher than other debtors. Approximately 50 percent of the long-term strugglers were facing debt collection lawsuits while only 35 percent of the others were facing them.

It was discussed that the stigma that exists around filing is what keeps people from making that decision to file for bankruptcy. However, bankruptcy laws provide the ability for debtors to get a fresh start. Prolonging the decision to file only allows for assets to be depleted making it even more difficult for the person to get a true fresh start.

When to File for Bankruptcy

If a person’s debts are more than 40 percent of his or her income, it is recommended that he or she reaches out for financial guidance. Also, if the person is using debt to pay for basic necessities or other debts, this is another red flag that perhaps that person is in over his or her head.

A bankruptcy attorney can review what debts are crippling the individual. If they are unsecured consumer debts, including credit cards, personal loans or medical bills, these can all be wiped out in bankruptcy.  Lastly, if the individual is forgoing basic necessities such as food or medical care, it is highly recommended that he or she discuss options with a consumer bankruptcy attorney.

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.

 

 

 

 

Beware of ‘Get Out of Debt Quick’ Scams

June 19, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Getting out of debt is a goal for many people, and in a perfect world, a ‘get out of debt quick’ offer sounds too good to be true.  However, just like the ‘get rich quick’ schemes, if it sounds too good to be true, odds are it probably is too good to be true.

Debt relief companies prey on consumers who are drowning in debt and going through a great deal of personal stress as a result. While some legitimate debt relief companies do exist, the majority of them are looking to scam individuals who are desperate to get out of debt at all costs and find relief from the numerous collection calls they are receiving.

One of the most important steps an individual can take before choosing to work with a debt relief company is to thoroughly investigate and research the company. With online resources available, as well as review websites, it is easy to find out quickly whether a debt relief company is legitimate or not.

Most importantly, never pay an upfront fee to one of these companies. If the company is requesting this, it is highly likely you will never hear from the company again after the initial fee has been paid. In addition, if the company is guaranteeing that they can eliminate all of your debt that should be a red flag as well. No debt relief company has the ability to guarantee that a creditor will forgive any debt. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission has warned against these types of statements. If a debtor comes into contact with a company that makes any of these statements, the FTC encourages the individual to file a report and expose a possible scam.

The main question you should ask is: How much progress can be made through lifestyle changes and spending habits?

If smarter spending and lifestyle changes are sufficient, a debt management or debt consolidation program may be the best choice. These types of programs work on the balances with the highest interest rates first or consolidate debts by taking out a new loan with a lower interest rate to pay off older balances first. Debt management or consolidation normally requires a monthly fee. These companies will work with your creditors to lower the total debt balance.  The hope is that creditors will rather receive a lower lump-sum payment on the debt rather than risk not being paid at all in a bankruptcy situation.

However, sometimes the  debt amount can be just too much to handle. Debt settlement may be the best option in these cases, or even bankruptcy if the settlement of the debt is still not enough. Debt settlement can take anywhere from between two to four years for a company to work with creditors to pay down debt. If bankruptcy is the best option, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be completed in three to six months while Chapter 13 can take anywhere from three to five years.

Make sure and explore all of your options and make the best decision for your situation. A bankruptcy attorney can help decipher these options and give recommendations on what would be ideal and in your best interest.

Click here to read more.

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.

 

 

 

 

Miami Bankruptcy Attorney Timothy S. Kingcade Named a Florida Super Lawyer 5 Consecutive Years

June 12, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Managing Shareholder, Timothy S. Kingcade of the Miami-based bankruptcy and foreclosure defense law firm of Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been selected for inclusion in Florida Super Lawyers 2018, in the practice area of consumer bankruptcy. This is the fifth consecutive year Kingcade has been selected to the Florida Super Lawyers list (2014-2018). The prestigious honor is awarded to only five percent of lawyers in the state.

Attorney Kingcade practices exclusively in the field of bankruptcy law, handling Chapter 7 and 13 filings and foreclosure defense cases for the Southern District of Florida.  As an experienced CPA and proven bankruptcy attorney, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of their rights under the bankruptcy laws to restart, rebuild and recover.

Super Lawyers is a listing of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement, representing the top 5% of Florida lawyers.  The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area.  The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

Miami-based Kingcade Garcia McMaken, P.A. was established by managing partner and bankruptcy attorney, Timothy S. Kingcade in 1996. The firm represents clients throughout the State of Florida in Chapter 7 bankruptcy and foreclosure defense cases. The firm is committed to providing personalized service to each and every client, clearly explaining the options according to the unique circumstances of his or her life. The office environment and the service provided are centered on a culture of superior client care for the financially disenfranchised. All partners and associates at Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. specialize in consumer bankruptcy and foreclosure and have dedicated their practices to this area of the law. Additionally, all attorneys and staff members at the firm are bilingual speaking Spanish.

Student Loans and Bankruptcy: Fixing a Broken System

May 30, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Student loan borrowers have continuously run into roadblocks when it comes to their student loan debt being discharged in bankruptcy cases. Many students graduate with well over six figures in student loan debt, causing them financial hardship for years.

The Department of Education recently solicited comments and input on what loan holders should consider when making a determination on whether to discharge student loans in bankruptcy. As a result, the Department ended up receiving over 400 comments in response to this request.

Currently borrowers have to prove that paying the student loan debt would constitute an “undue hardship” to the borrower. Traditionally, this standard has been a very hard one to meet. For student loans issued by the government, borrowers have had to jump a rather high hurdle to show this undue hardship. In addition, no set standard has been issued for determining what an undue hardship is, resulting in different courts applying different standards.

Only Congress can modify how the law handles discharging student loan debt in bankruptcy cases, but the Department of Education does have some say in making a recommendation on how these cases are handled. An official memo from the Department may go a long way in providing guidance for judges when evaluating these cases.

One possible change is clear criteria will be given to help determine what an undue hardship is. One recommendation has been establishing whether a student loan borrower is near the poverty line, has been determined to be unemployable due to a disability or whether the person is a caretaker for someone who is disabled or chronically ill.

Another recommendation was to make the standard more lenient to allow for more borrowers to be able to discharge student loans in bankruptcy. Congress has never given a clear definition for what undue hardship consists of, but many courts have used the “Brunner” test to determine what this means.

The Brunner test requires that the borrower show that he or she has made a good faith effort in repaying the debt, that the financial circumstance is such that the person cannot have a reasonable standard of living if he or she has to repay the debt, and this financial situation is likely to continue in the future. The problem is this standard is not easy to meet with each court viewing it differently. It has been recommended that courts use a more lenient standard called the totality of the circumstances test, which looks broadly at the debtor’s financial situation to determine if paying the loan(s) back constitutes a hardship.

Other comments suggested that the Department and loan issuers also consider whether the borrower finished college and whether he or she was victim of fraudulent conduct before making an ultimate determination on whether the debt should be discharged. This recommendation follows the issues that have followed students who have attended for-profit colleges who have been accused of enticing students to attend their schools with inflated job placement figures and graduation rates.

The strict standards that have been used in not allowing borrowers to have their student loan obligations discharged have kept many from pursuing bankruptcy when they arguably need this relief the most.

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.

 

 

Rent-A-Center Accused of Kicking in Doors and Crushing Customers’ Credit

May 21, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Rent-A-Center has recently made headlines due to its unethical treatment of customers and harassing debt collection practices.  In fact, it has gotten so out of hand that the complaints and harassment lawsuits have grown in numbers.

Rent-A-Center customers throughout the U.S. are now complaining that Rent-A-Center has virtually destroyed their finances after they have leased electronics, appliances and furniture from the company.

Rent-A-Center is a Texas-based publicly-traded company. The company started in 1986, offering consumers a way to purchase electronics and other household items that they would not be able to afford otherwise. The customers rent these items, making payments on a monthly, semi-monthly or even weekly basis. At any time during the lease, the customer can terminate the lease and return the household goods, or they can keep making payments until they own the items in full. The company’s mission aims to help those in lower-income households by allowing them to purchase items they would not otherwise be able to afford.

Once a customer begins to fall behind on his or her payments, that is where issues arise. Just one missed payment, missed by something as small as a day, can trigger aggressive collection efforts.

One federal lawsuit, brought by a Florida resident, claimed that she was forced to hide in a closet with her two young sons while a Rent-A-Center employee pounded on her door to collect payment on her rented household items. Another lawsuit claims that a Rent-A-Center worker kicked in her front door after she fell behind on payments for her laptop computer.

Even debt collectors are complaining about the practices of Rent-A-Center. In 2014, the collection company, Acceptance Now, took on accounts from Rent-A-Center, but as soon as debt collectors began making efforts to collect on the accounts, customers continually informed the agents that their debts had already paid. The problem was Rent-A-Center’s records did not reflect these payments.

Many states allow rent-to-own companies, like Rent-A-Center to file criminal charges against customers who do not pay on their rental agreements and do not return items when asked to do so. The collectors are well aware of this information, and Rent-A-Center regularly uses these threats to scare customers into making payments. It can make customers feel trapped in a no-win situation, not only fearing for their safety against aggressive collectors but fearing jail time if they are not able to make payments.

Between January 2016 and June 2017, the Federal Trade Commission received 2,779 complaints regarding both Rent-A-Center and Acceptance Now. Out of these complaints, 90 percent of them involve aggressive collection tactics, involving employees banging on customer’s houses and blasting car horns outside of homes.

Know your rights when it comes to creditor harassment. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was designed to help prevent creditor abuse and harassment.

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.