Credit Card Debt

Should I Contribute to my 401K or Pay Off Credit Card Debt?

Credit card debt is a burden that many consumers struggle with. Without a large influx of cash, it can be difficult to pay off outstanding credit card bills. Many consumers also struggle with deciding whether they should focus first on paying these debts off or whether they should be taking any extra funds and saving for retirement in a 401(k) or similar plan.  

Paying Off Credit Card Debt

Credit cards come with high interest rates, which can make paying the balance off impossible. The larger the balance gets, the harder it can be to pay down, which is why it can often be a good idea to focus on paying this debt down first. Additionally, paying down the credit card balance to zero will also noticeably improve the consumer’s credit score. A better credit score will eventually benefit him or her for when it comes time to make a big purchase, such as a car or a home. It will also eliminate the monthly payment from the consumer’s budget, allowing him or her the chance to save for the future, including retirement.  

Lawyers in the News, Legal Awards

Kingcade Garcia McMaken Awarded ‘Best Bankruptcy Lawyers in Miami’ for 2021

The Miami-based bankruptcy law firm of Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been awarded one of the ‘Best Bankruptcy Lawyers in Miami’ for 2021, by Expertise for obtaining the highest scores in consistency, qualifications, reputation, experience & professionalism.

“We are extremely honored to have received this award,” says Founding Partner and Managing Shareholder, Timothy S. Kingcade. “In today’s competitive legal environment, clients have an increasing number of options when choosing an attorney. It is important that clients and potential clients know how serious we take quality customer service and business ethics. This is a true testament to the commitment we have to our clients and the standards we uphold as a law firm.”

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.

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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. 

Medical Debt

The Reasons to Avoid Paying Medical Bills with Credit Cards

Most people hope to avoid having long-term medical debt on their credit report, which is why it can be tempting to want to pay off medical debt with a credit card. However, the consequences that come along with using one form of debt to pay off another can be enough to want to keep anyone from taking this route.   

Medical debt is reported to be the number one cause of U.S. bankruptcy filings. It has been reported that over two-thirds of all bankruptcies between 2013 and 2016 involved medical debt. According to a 2019 study, one in every three households carried credit card debt after using credit to pay off medical bills.  

Bankruptcy Law

How Often Can a Person File for Bankruptcy?

If you have filed for bankruptcy protection in the past and have found yourself facing financial trouble again, it is possible to file for bankruptcy a second time.  In fact, approximately eight percent of bankruptcy filers end up needing to file again at some point. Ultimately, how often someone can file for bankruptcy protection depends on the type of case he or she filed initially, as well as how much time has passed since that first case.  

One of the more commonly used forms of consumer bankruptcy is the Chapter 7 bankruptcy also known as a “liquidation” bankruptcy. This form of bankruptcy lasts a few months, allowing the filer to work closely with the bankruptcy trustee to sell any nonexempt assets to pay off qualifying debts. At the end of the case, the remainder of the filer’s debts, which are usually credit cards or other unsecured debts, are discharged. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is another form of consumer bankruptcy, also known as a repayment or reorganization bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the filer works with the bankruptcy trustee on a repayment plan, which lasts anywhere from three to five years, where the person pays off his or her debts, liquidating what is left at the end of the case.  

student loan debt

Student Loan Bankruptcy: A Solution to the Student Loan Debt Crisis

With an estimated $1.6 trillion owed in student loan debt nationwide, it comes as no surprise that solving the student loan crisis has been at the forefront of most political campaigns in 2020. However, many argue that the solution to the problem is much simpler than just forgiving student loan debt. In fact, the answer to solving the student loan crisis could lie in the United States Bankruptcy Code.  

Traditionally, student loans have been all but impossible to discharge in either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. Since the creation of the Higher Education Act in 1965, Congress has continued to add rules that make discharging federal student loan debt more and more difficult in bankruptcy. In 2005, private student loans were added to the list of debts that were difficult to discharge in bankruptcy, regardless of how much the filer was struggling financially. 

Bankruptcy Law

The Pros and Cons of Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in 2020

For someone struggling financially, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case can offer him or her a fresh start and freedom from insurmountable debt. The year 2020 has pushed many consumers to the brink financially, and bankruptcy can offer the help a person needs to start the New Year debt-free.  

Pros of Filing Chapter 7  

As soon as a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case is filed, the consumer receives immediate protection from his or her creditors. This protection comes from the automatic stay that is issued by the court upon filing. The automatic stay puts a pause on all collection actions, including collection phone calls, legal proceedings to collect on a debt, wage garnishments, evictions, and foreclosures. The automatic stay also gives consumers a chance to breathe and work with the court and bankruptcy trustee.   

Bankruptcy Law

What Happens When You File for Bankruptcy? 

The bankruptcy process is meant to give consumers who are struggling financially a fresh start. However, many consumers hold off due to the fear of filing for bankruptcy, even if it is the best option. Bankruptcy cases have both positive aspects, as well as negative ones, that go along with beginning and successfully finalizing a case. It is important to understand how a bankruptcy case works before moving forward with filing so that the person filing knows what to expect.  

Automatic Stay 

One of the most positive aspects of proceeding with a consumer bankruptcy case is the automatic stay that accompanies the filing. As soon as a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is initiated, an automatic stay of all collection efforts against the filer is issued. What this means is the consumer’s creditors are temporarily blocked from moving forward on collecting any outstanding debt. This stay also stops wage garnishments, foreclosures, or completion of legal collections cases. The purpose of the automatic stay is to give the consumer a chance to work with the bankruptcy trustee on determining how various debts should be handled. A creditor can file a request to continue collection even though an automatic stay has been issued, but they can only continue if the request is granted.  

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. 

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.