Medical Debt

What Are the Options When You Can’t Pay Medical Debt?

Medical debt presents a major problem for so many in South Florida. The cost of receiving medical care, even with health insurance, can push a financially stable person into debt. Escaping that debt can be a struggle. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has pushed countless consumers further into debt, and with a second wave of the virus likely, the problems could be far from over.

Medical debt is the leading cause of approximately two-thirds (2/3) of all consumer bankruptcies filed. According to a recent poll from U.S. News of approximately 1,500 Americans, just under 40 percent of them reported having serious trouble with managing their medical bills with at least one of these bills being sent to collections. Within this group, seven percent have been sued for collection of their medical debt. Six percent of them said they filed bankruptcy due to medical debt. 

Debt Collection

State and Federal Agencies Teaming Up to Combat Illegal Debt Collection

Debt collection is a profitable business in the U.S., but not all debt collectors follow legitimate, legal collection practices. According to officials from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)most consumer complaints made annually involve illegal debt collection practices, which is why they have made recent efforts to crack down on these types of tactics. 

In response, the FTC has launched a multi-agency campaign called “Operation Corrupt Collector.” This crackdown campaign focuses on educating consumers on how to identify illegal debt-collection practices, as well as enforcement against debt collectors who are found to be breaking the law.  

Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief

Average American Consumer Carries over $90,000 in Debt

Most American consumers carry some form of debt. In fact, debt has become a way of life for many Americans. Whenever a big purchase needs to be made, consumers will often apply for financing to pay for this purchase. This can include items like a home, car, furniture, or even for basic purchases.  

According to data from the credit agency, Experian, as of 2019, the average American consumer has $90,460 in debt from various sources, including mortgages, student loan debt, personal loans and credit cards. Escaping this debt load can be tricky, and Experian’s data shows that certain generations struggle more than others when handling consumer debt. 

student loan debt, Student Loans

A New Loophole for Certain Kinds of Private Student Loans

Student loan debt has traditionally been extremely difficult to discharge in consumer bankruptcy cases. For those consumers struggling with insurmountable student loan debt, the ability to seek a fresh start through a bankruptcy case has been impossible for this reason. Even if they are able to successfully discharge most of their debts, they still walk away with a significant amount of  student loan debt, including both federal and private student loans. A new loophole could change this fact for borrowers who are struggling to pay their private student loan debts.  

A staggering 45 million American consumers owe a collective $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. Over one million borrowers defaulted on their student loan debt annually. The only method available to these borrowers to discharge their loans in bankruptcy is to meet the “undue hardship” test. Unfortunately, courts view this exception very narrowly and not all courts apply the test uniformly.

Florida Super Lawyers

Miami Bankruptcy Attorney Timothy S. Kingcade Selected to Serve on the Super Lawyers Blue Ribbon Panel

Managing Shareholder, Timothy S. Kingcade of the Miami-based bankruptcy and foreclosure defense law firm of Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been selected as a Blue Ribbon Panelist for Florida Super Lawyers. Only those in each practice area with the highest point totals are asked as part of the panel to evaluate the candidacy of fellow lawyers to enter the prestigious Super Lawyer rankings.

“It is an honor to be selected among the Blue Ribbon Panelists in the most comprehensive and independent review of exceptional lawyers. Being selected as a Super Lawyer the past seven years is an achievement in and of itself, but to know that Super Lawyers values my opinion in the evaluation of my peers receiving the title of Super Lawyer is a true privilege I graciously accept,” said Timothy S. Kingcade.

Credit Card Debt

How to Negotiate Your Credit Card Debt

When someone owes a large amount of money on credit cards, the possibility of ever paying down that balance can seem impossible. Simply making the minimum monthly payments can be a struggle, as well, especially during the current pandemic. However, credit card companies would rather work with the consumer directly in lieu of the account going into default, forcing them to pursue a collection on the amount owed. It is possible to negotiate directly with the credit card company on the amount owed in certain circumstances.  

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, certain credit card companies are working with consumers who are behind on payment. This assistance is temporary in nature but can include pausing payments, reducing interest rates, waving late fees, and putting a pause on interest charges.  

Debt Relief

How To Ensure Student Loan Debt Does Not Prevent You From Getting a Mortgage

With the cost of attending a university rising each year, more students are taking out student loans to pay for their education.  According to statistics from the Federal Reserve and New York Federal Reserve, more than 44 million American consumers owe a collective $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. Student borrowers oftentimes graduate with up to six figures in student loan debt. Certain steps can be taken to ensure that student loans do not prevent young adults from reaching important milestones, like homeownership.   

Income-to-Debt Ratio 

When being approved for a mortgage, the borrower’s income-to-debt ratio is an important figure considered by potential lenders. Two different ratios are used by potential lenders. One of them is called a front-end ratio, which looks at the loan applicant’s expected mortgage in comparison to his or her monthly income. The second ratio is called the back-end ratio. This figure reviews the applicant’s monthly expenses, including housing costs, car payments, student loan payments, and other monthly expenses, in comparison to the person’s monthly income. If the borrower’s debt far outweighs his or her income, it is unlikely that person will be approved for a mortgage. However, certain steps can be taken to help boost that ratio. If the potential borrower is carrying a high credit card balance, by paying that balance down, he or she can help boost chances of being approved for a mortgage. If the borrower can pay down the balance in full every month, then that debt will not even factor into his or her debt-to-income ratio.  

Business Bankruptcy, Coronavirus, COVID-19

Growing Number of Retailers and Restaurants Are Folding as the Covid-19 Pandemic Continues

Retailers and small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, after facing a brutal 2019.  Now a growing number of businesses and restaurants are folding, as Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc on the retail, restuarant industry and the global economy.

Here are the latest ‘big-name’ companies to file bankruptcy since mid-March.

Ruby Tuesday is the most recent restaurant to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  It will permanently close 185 restaurants while it restructures.

Bankruptcy Law

The Fear of Bankruptcy is What Keeps Many Consumers from Filing

The fear of the unknown is a powerful force. Unfortunately, the fear of filing for bankruptcy and the unknown keeps many from proceeding with a bankruptcy case, even when it is the best option.

It is for this reason that only a small portion of American consumers file for bankruptcy annually, even though many of them could benefit from either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. While many different reasons exist for this failure to file, a misunderstanding of the process and fear of taking that first step keeps them from moving forward.    

Debt Collection

Can a Creditor Come After Money that is Gifted?

The law allows for a certain amount of money to be gifted to individuals with no tax consequences on an annual basis. For the 2020 tax year, the gift tax exclusion amount is $15,000. Many aging parents take advantage of this exclusion to reduce their probate estate and avoid tax penalties by gifting up to this amount to their adult children annually. However, if the adult child they are gifting this money to has his or her own financial struggles and is being pursued for creditors, that money could be fair game. 

The problem is that this money is not protected if the receiving party is being pursued by a creditor for an outstanding debt. If the debt is valid and still legally collectible, money that is gifted to the consumer is reachable for purposes of satisfying what is owed.