Bankruptcy Law

Which Type of Bankruptcy Should I File to Keep My Home?

One of the biggest fears people have when filing for bankruptcy is losing their home, car, and other important assets. However, with Florida bankruptcy exemptions and depending on the type of bankruptcy being filed, it is possible for consumers to keep their home and other property. It ultimately depends on the filer’s financial circumstances.  

Protecting Home Equity  

How much equity the filer has in his or her home plays a big part in whether he or she can keep it Equity plays an important part in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. The equity a person has in his or her home is protected through the state’s homestead exemption, and fortunately for Florida filers, the state’s homestead exemption is quite generous.  

Credit, Credit Score, Financial Advice

Why Your Debt-to-Income Ratio Is So Important

A person’s credit score is not the only figure lenders look to when determining whether to approve an application for financing. Many times, lenders will also look to the applicant’s debt-to-income ratio (DTI) when making a determination to approve financing.  

A consumer’s debt-to-income ratio looks at whether the individual is bringing in enough income to meet his or her monthly bills. The actual DTI figure is computed by taking the consumer’s gross monthly income and dividing it by his or her monthly debt payments. The result is the person’s DTI.  

student loan debt, Student Loans

Debt Cancellation for Disabled Borrowers Reinstated by the Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education announced recently that they will cancel federal student loan debt for borrowers who are no longer able to work due to disabilities. This announcement affects tens of thousands of borrowers currently paying on outstanding federal student loan balances.   

Student loan advocates say that this small step is the first of many to help reform the student lending system, including opening debt forgiveness to groups who are legally entitled to receive it but have not yet received debt forgiveness.  

student loan debt, Student Loans

Student Debt Cancellation Bill Scheduled to be Signed into Law this Week

Congress has passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that includes important provisions concerning student loan cancellation, as well as increased federal regulations on for-profit colleges.   

Several different objectives were met by Congressional leaders through the passing of this legislation. One of the biggest goals was to address the tax burden that student loan borrowers face when receiving any portion of their student loan debt forgiven. Up until now, whenever a borrower received forgiveness for any portion of his or her student loan debt, the amount that was forgiven was considered taxable income. Under this legislation, tax forgiveness will be treated as tax free for the next several years.  

Foreclosure Defense, Foreclosures

10 Percent of American Families at Risk of Eviction, Foreclosure

More than 11 million American families are facing a crisis when it comes to housing, specifically when it comes to making their rent and mortgage payments, according to a new report released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The CFPB conducted a survey of the housing market during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and found that approximately 2.1 million American families are at least three months or more behind on their mortgage payments. Approximately 8.8 million of them are late on paying their rent.  

Debt Relief

Credit Counseling vs. Bankruptcy- Which one is right for you?

When it comes to dealing with debt, you have options.  Debt relief can ease the burden of overwhelming debt, but it’s not right for everyone. Given a person’s financial and personal circumstances, certain considerations should be kept in mind when making the determination between credit counseling and bankruptcy.

If the consumer has a steady income and can pay back his or her debt within a few months to a year, credit counseling may be the wise choice for him or her. However, if the person has an overwhelming amount of debt in comparison to his or her income, filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be the better option.  

Foreclosure Defense, Foreclosures

How to Save Your Home from Foreclosure in Florida

Many Americans have been able to utilize the federal and state mortgage foreclosure moratoriums during the COVID-19 crisis to stay in their homes. But a record number of homeowners have fallen behind on their mortgage payments. According to statistics from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the number of Americans who have fallen three or more months behind on their mortgage payments increased by 250 percent in 2020, reaching a record of over two million households nationwide. These figures have not been seen since the Great Recession.  

It is estimated that the total amount owed is nearly $90 billion in deferred principal, interest, insurance, and tax payments. Financial analysts predict that the nation will soon see a wave of foreclosure lawsuits hitting the court system. However, it is possible for a consumer to stop the process from getting out of control and allow the individual to stay in his or her home.  

The first step should always be for the homeowner to reach out to his or her mortgage lender. Pursuing a foreclosure costs the lender money. In fact, they end up losing more money through that process than they would gain if they worked on a deal with the homeowner to stay in the home, which is why so many of them are more than willing to negotiate 

Many mortgage lenders are offering loan deferral programs or are either lowering or deferring interest payments for a temporary period. They may also be willing to waive late fees and penalties. The key is the homeowner needs to ask, first. The lender is not going to proactively reach out to the homeowner to see if he or she needs assistance. Ultimately, it is up to the homeowner to request this.

If the consumer has already reached out to the lender and is not able to realistically catch up on payments and late fees, it may be best to sell the property to pay back what is owed. For this plan to truly succeed, the borrower needs to price the property to sell. The longer the home stays on the market, the longer the homeowner will be behind on his or her payments, making the home even more difficult to sell.   

While the home is in default or foreclosure, the homeowner will likely be receiving mail from the court or lender regarding important dates and opportunities to make a deal on his or her payments. It is extremely important that all mail related to the home be opened immediately, be read, and if a response is required, be responded to quickly. The last thing the homeowner wants to do is miss an important court date or fail to take advantage of an opportunity if the lender is offering lower payments or a deal that could allow the person to remain in his or her home 

Lastly, to keep the home, it is important to continue making mortgage payments, if possible. Many people will take the idea of a moratorium and assume it means he or she does not have to pay on the mortgage debt during that periodThe problem is, during a moratorium, mortgage bills continue to incur, and if payments are not made, the homeowner will fall behind even more than he or she was at the start of the moratorium. The mortgage bill is arguably one of the most important payments the homeowner makes, even above other bills or debts, such as credit cards or medical debt.

Filing for bankruptcy can help. It may seem counter-intuitive, but when someone is facing foreclosure and is in the middle of a major financial crisis, bankruptcy can be a viable option to help save that person’s home. Ultimately, it depends on your specific financial situation and the type of bankruptcy you file – but bankruptcy can be used as a tool to help keep your home.

The Power of the Automatic Stay

If your home is already set for a foreclosure sale, you may be asking, “how can I make it stop?” Filing for bankruptcy can put a stop to the process or at the very least postpone it. As soon as a petition for bankruptcy is filed, the court issues an order called an “automatic stay,” which puts an immediate halt to all collection activities that were happening to the homeowner before the petition was filed. This automatic stay also applies to foreclosure cases.  Creditors (including your mortgage lender) must immediately cease collection attempts. Even if the mortgage lender has the home scheduled for a foreclosure sale, the sale will be postponed during a pending bankruptcy.

Please click here to read more.  

Choosing the right attorney can make the difference between keeping your home or losing it in foreclosure. A well-qualified Miami foreclosure defense attorney will not only help you keep your home, but they will be able to negotiate a loan that has payments you can afford. Miami foreclosure defense attorney Timothy Kingcade has helped many facing foreclosure alleviate their stress by letting them stay in their homes for at least another year, allowing them to re-organize their lives. If you have any questions on the topic of foreclosure, please feel free to contact me at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com 

 

Bankruptcy Law, Business Bankruptcy

The Impact the Coronavirus has had on Bankruptcy Filings in Miami Beach

The economic impact caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been substantial throughout the country, and Miami Beach is not excluded. Countless businesses have been forced to close temporarily and many even permanently. While technically the number of bankruptcies were down at the end of 2020 nationwide, financial experts fear that the number of bankruptcy filings will increase over the next several years.  

While the number of consumer bankruptcies were down nationwide, the number of Chapter 11 business bankruptcies saw an increase of 18.7 percent when compared to 2019. This form of bankruptcy is normally used by businesses that hope to stay in operation through the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process that allows them to renegotiate their debts. Several larger businesses, including Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney filed for Chapter 11 in 2020.  

Specifically, in Florida, a total of 37,776 bankruptcies were filed in 2020, which is 19.26 percent lower than the 46,786 filed in 2019. Of all the bankruptcy cases filed in 2020, businesses accounted for four percent of these cases. This number may seem small, but business bankruptcies tend to have a significant effect far past the bankruptcy case alone, including the effect these closures and filings have on the individual employees who lost their job as a result.  

Many times, a ripple effect can be seen on other businesses after one or more close.  

According to figures from the U.S. Courts Administrative Office, a total of 7,430 bankruptcies were filed in Miami-Dade County in 2020. This figure is slightly less than the 8,705 filed in 2019.  

While consumer bankruptcies were down in Miami-Dade County, the number of business bankruptcies saw a slight increase. It is reported that 322 Miami area business bankruptcies were filed in 2020, as compared to 215 filed in 2019. Of these cases filed in 2020, 188 of them were filed under Chapter 7, commonly referred to as a liquidation bankruptcy. Only 129 Chapter 7 business cases were filed in 2019.  

Miami-Dade County did see an increase in the number of Chapter 11 bankruptcy case filed in 2020. Approximately 120 were filed in 2020, as compared to the 62 filed in 2019.  

Individual consumer bankruptcies in Miami-Dade County did not see the same increase, however. According to court filings, a total of 7,108 non-business consumer bankruptcy cases were filed in 2020, as compared to the 8,490 filed in 2019. Of these cases, 4,841 were Chapter 7 filings and 2,260 were Chapter 13 filings. In comparison, 5,067 Chapter 7 cases were filed while 3,414 Chapter 13 cases were filed in 2019.  

Despite the decrease between 2019 and 2020, financial experts predict these numbers will continue to increase through 2021 and beyond. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, more and more businesses and individuals will continue to feel the economic impact of this crisis.  

Please 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.   

Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief

The Best Way to Conquer Credit Card Debt

Many consumers find themselves still struggling with large amounts of credit card debt. Much of this credit card debt is carried over from previous years. Certain steps can be taken to tackle credit card debt and either pay it off in full or reduce the amount owed to a more reasonable number.   

The first step is to push the pause button on spending and inventory the situation. The consumer’s debt cannot be conquered until the spending stops. It is important to review what has been purchased the past few months, determining how much has been spent and what is owed. It also helps to write down what the interest rate is for each card, noting the balance owed and the minimum monthly payment. Taking this first step will allow the consumer to be able to put together a budget and a plan to pay off the debt over time.  

Once the consumer has a chance to review his or her debt situation, the next step is to select a strategy to pay down the debt. Two of the most common methods include the snowball method and the avalanche method.  

With the snowball method, the consumer arranges his or her credit card balances from smallest to largest balances. The consumer focuses his or her attention on the card with the smallest balance first, paying down as much as possible on that card while continuing to make the minimum monthly payments on the other cards. Once the first card is paid in full, the consumer focuses on the card with the next smallest balance until all cards are paid off in full. The snowball method requires a great deal of patience and discipline, but it can be an effective way to pay down debt. However, this method does involve paying more in interest over time since credit cards with higher balances tend to have higher interest rates. 

The avalanche method works similarly to the snowball method, but the consumer focuses on the credit card with the highest interest rate first. This method allows the consumer to get out of debt quicker than the snowball method since it focuses on the larger balances with the higher interest rates first, but it can be hard to stay motivated with this method since seeing the results of the consumer’s efforts can be harder to immediately see. 

Another method to pay down credit card debt involves consolidating the debt through a personal loan or balance transfer.  Many credit card companies offer balance transfers, allowing the consumer to transfer multiple credit card balances to one card with a zero or low introductory interest rates. It is important that the consumer pay the balance down before that promotional period expires, however. Otherwise, the interest rate can skyrocket at the end of the promotional period, leaving the consumer in a worse position than before. A personal loan can also be used to pay off all the consumer’s credit card balances. This method allows the consumer to focus his or her attention on one, fixed monthly payment over time in lieu of multiple credit card payments.      

Please 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.   

COVID-19, student loan debt

New PPP Loan Rules Make It Easier for Student Loan Borrowers to Obtain Funds

New rules with respect to who can receive financial assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will open the door for struggling student loan borrowers who have previously been unable to qualify for the PPP loan program. These new regulations took effect on March 1, 2021.  

The funds received through the PPP were meant to offer financial assistance to struggling businesses, allowing them to stay in operation during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the most part, these loans are forgiven later. Previously, any business that was owned 20 percent or more by an individual who had defaulted on his or her student loan payments was considered ineligible for PPP loan assistance. This rule clearly shut out a large group of individuals and businesses who arguably could use the governmental assistance.  

The Biden administration has changed this rule, effective March 1, 2021. A default or delinquency on student loan payments will not automatically disqualify a PPP loan applicant. This change comes along with several others, including priority access for businesses employing 20 or fewer individuals.  

Over the past several years, student loan debt has surpassed credit card and auto debt with over 42 million Americans carrying some amount of student loan debt. Of this number, approximately one-third of them are in either delinquency or default on these loans.  

According to a report by the Center for Responsible Lending, a large number of these borrowers are self-employed. Approximately 800,000 self-employed Americans are reportedly behind on their student loan payments. Additionally, 500,000 minorities have also be excluded from PPP assistance due to the status of their student loans.   Student loan reform advocates have praised this change, saying that small business owners have been bearing the brunt of the financial struggles suffered during the COVID pandemic.

Please click here to read more.  

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.