Bankruptcy Law

The Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling Requirement and What Filers Need to Know

All bankruptcy filers are required to take and complete two educational courses before receiving a final bankruptcy discharge. These courses are required for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 filers. It is important that individuals considering bankruptcy be aware of these requirements for their cases to be successful.  

At the start of a bankruptcy case, the individual filing must meet certain requirements. The filer must disclose his or her complete financial picture by submitting required bankruptcy financial declarations. He or she must also pay a filing fee, request a fee waiver, or request an installment payment for the fee. Lastly, the individual must submit proof that he or she received credit counseling from an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee’s office. This proof of completion must show that the course was taken within 180 days prior to filing.

Pre-bankruptcy credit counseling helps determine whether bankruptcy is necessary. Granted, bankruptcy law only requires the consumer to participate in the counseling program. This participation does not mean the person has to do everything recommended to him or her. However, if the credit counseling agency prepares a debt repayment plan for the consumer, and the bankruptcy court views the repayment plan as something the filer could feasibly do, they may use this repayment plan in an effort to push the person from proceeding with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case to filing a Chapter 13 case.  

A list of approved credit counseling courses and agencies can be found on the U.S. Trustee’s website. These agencies can charge a reasonable fee for their services, but if the filer is not able to pay the fee and falls below a certain income threshold, the agency must either provide the services for a reduced rate or for free. 

The second credit counseling required by bankruptcy courts is called debtor education. This course must be completed after filing for bankruptcy. The purpose of this second course is to give the filer resources and tools to help him or her create a budget, rebuild his or her credit after bankruptcy, and avoid falling into the same situation again.  Proof of completion must be provided by the filer within 60 days of date first set for the case’s meeting of creditors 

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.   

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.  

Credit counseling involves consumer education from a certified credit counselor regarding a variety of topics, including improving a credit score, managing money, preparing, and sticking to a budget, and improving the person’s credit score. The goal is to educate the consumer and prepare him or her to handle his or her finances independently to avoid the need to file for bankruptcy.  

Credit counselors can be found through the assistance of the consumer’s bank or credit union, as well as a consumer protection agency. It is extremely important that the consumer does his or her research before selecting a credit counseling agency. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) can also be an excellent resource for finding credible nonprofit credit counseling agencies.

This type of credit counseling should not be confused with the credit counseling that is required when filing for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy courts require filers to receive debt and credit-related financial counseling at least 180 days before filing for bankruptcy. 

A legitimate nonprofit credit counseling agency should offer free credit counseling services and should not charge a fee upfront before offering these services. These free consultations normally last up to an hour and should provide long-term solutions for the consumer on how to handle his or her debt. 

Unfortunately, credit counseling scams do exist. It is important that the consumer does his or her research to ensure that the agency selected is not one of them. Never provide personal or financial information to the agency until the consumer is sure the credit counseling agency is legitimate.  Research the company with the Better Business Bureau to see if any scams have been reported.

It is equally as important that the consumer realize when enough is enough and when bankruptcy is the better course of action. Many times, the financial burden becomes too much to handle through counseling along. At this point, it may be wise to move forward towards formally filing for bankruptcy. Before making this decision, the consumer should consult an experienced bankruptcy attorney and talk to him or her about the situation. An experienced bankruptcy attorney will be able to help the individual make the decision of whether to pursue credit counseling first or file for bankruptcy. Additionally, the attorney will be able to guide the person as to which form of bankruptcy, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, would be best.

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

Credit Card Debt Can Be Bad for Your Health, According to Recent Study.

Having large amounts of credit card debt can not only stress you out, but according to a new study it can also be bad for your health. The high levels of stress associated with the debt can get so serious that it can adversely affect the person’s health, according to a study from CompareCards.com.

According to the report, fewer cardholders can pay their balances in full at the end of each month. Anything left on those balances roll over to the next month and are compounded even more by interest. Before long, those balances inch closer and closer to the maximum balance allowed. One in three consumers surveyed by WalletHub reported being fearful that they will max out their credit cards when making a large purchase. Most of those polled said they considered a large purchase was anything more than $100.

Bankruptcy Law

What are the Credit Counseling Requirements in Bankruptcy?

Whenever a person files for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, he or she must submit proof that a credit counseling course from a nonprofit credit counseling agency was successfully completed. The purpose of this course is to help the filer determine whether he or she can pay his or her debt outside of bankruptcy and provide proper financial guidance to prevent an additional bankruptcy filing in the future.

What Is Required?

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), all bankruptcy filers must take an approved credit counseling course prior to filing. The U.S. Department of Justice’s U.S. Trustee Program keeps a list of approved programs if filers are not sure where to go. Proof of completing a program must be submitted before the bankruptcy case can proceed further. In fact, this proof must be submitted within 180 days prior to filing for bankruptcy. The filer will normally walk away from the credit counseling program with a repayment plan, if a plan is realistic, although nothing in the FTC rules requires the filer to follow that specific plan.

Bankruptcy Law, Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

The Top Ways To Get Out Of Debt

Debt is a weight that can drag you down and make you feel like you are drowning without any way out.  Having extreme debt can affect your health, happiness and personal relationships.  Getting out of debt can be an even bigger struggle, if you do not devise a plan that works for your specific situation.

Debt Consolidation

One popular method of paying off debt is through debt consolidation. What consolidation means is the consumer’s debt is combined into one, single debt amount owed. Debt consolidation can be done through many different methods. A consumer can apply for a personal loan or consolidation loan to pay off all of the debts with the monies from the loan. This method allows you to only make one payment to one creditor rather than multiple creditors.  With this method, we strongly advise that you do your research. Not all debt consolidation companies are reputable, and it is important you understand the terms of the loan before signing on the dotted line. For most debt consolidation loans, you need good credit to be approved. If you are already struggling financially, many lenders will see you as a risky bet and will avoid lending to you without a co-signer or at least some collateral to secure the debt.

Credit Counseling

Many different credit counseling resources exist, and they usually involve a professional counselor who will work with the debtor on understanding his or her financial situation and researching possible options to get out of debt. Credit counselors often will work with the individual to organize and manage their debt, and the counselor will also contact the debtor’s creditors on payment arrangements, including creating payment plans or negotiating lower interest rates. Credit counselors can also put together a debt management plan that allows the debtor to make lower monthly payments through the debt counselor who, in turn, pays the individual’s creditors.

Like debt consolidation companies, it is important that you do your due diligence in choosing a credit counselor. Less-than-reputable agencies do exist, so make sure you choose someone who has your best interests in mind. Know that a credit counselor cannot make certain promises, such as guaranteeing that your creditors will work with them or that they will be able to directly reduce your debt. While they can certainly work towards that goal, lenders are not obligated to work with credit counselors. If a ‘credit counselor’ is promising you this or telling you that they can completely eliminate your debt by having you pay a low monthly payment to them, this is a BIG red flag.

Debt Settlement

Another potential option for paying off debt is through debt settlement. This process normally involves a third-party company that works with a debtor’s creditors to allow the debtor to pay a lower amount than what is owed. However, with this option the likelihood of scams is very high. Many of these companies have been reported for taking the debtor’s money and never negotiating on the debt. Additionally, debt settlement can result in a person’s credit taking a rather serious hit due to the fact that the debtor will normally have to stop making payments to the creditor, pushing the accounts into default. Unless the creditor agrees to work with the debt settlement company, a judgment can easily be issued against the debtor, resulting in wage garnishment to satisfy the debt.

Filing for bankruptcy

Debt can be complex and oftentimes frightening to deal with. Many times, people are hesitant or feel ashamed to ask for help. However, not properly dealing with debt can only make problems worse. Rather than run the risk of being sued by a creditor or have your wages garnished, it is best to deal with your debt head on. There are a number of debt relief options available, including filing for bankruptcy, which can completely wipe out unsecured debts like credit cards, medical bills, personal loans and more- and give you a fresh financial start. Exploring these options with the guidance and support of an experienced attorney can help you make the right decision.

Do not let your debt cost you another sleepless night. Here are some of the signs that bankruptcy is right for you. 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. The consultation is free, the relief is real! You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

 

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Rebuilding Your Credit After Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to get a fresh start financially and erase past debts, but a legitimate concern consumers have is the effects it will have on their credit score and their ability to take out credit again.

One of the biggest misconceptions about filing for bankruptcy is that it will ruin your credit score and your financial future.  To the contrary, after filing for bankruptcy you can begin restoring your credit right away.

Here are some steps you can take to begin rebuilding your credit after filing for bankruptcy:

Create a budget.  This will help you stay on top of your finances and is something you should have gone over in the “pre-discharge” credit counseling.

Build an emergency fund.  Research shows that having as little as $250 saved up for an unexpected expense can protect families from having to resort to pay day loans and credit cards.

Plan your post-bankruptcy credit strategy.  Assess your situation by first checking your credit score.  Dispute any inaccurate information on your credit report and have this corrected immediately.  Remember, a Chapter 7 filing will wipe out your debts, but it does not wipe your credit reports clean.  Make sure and double check all three reports.

Here are some ways to access to new credit while rebuilding your score.

Secured loans are typically offered by credit unions or community banks.  One type of secured loan involves borrowing against money you already have on deposit.   The other type can be made without upfront cash.  Instead, this money is loaned to you and is placed in a savings account and released to you only after you have made the necessary payments.  In return, the financial institution agrees to send a report to the credit bureaus.

A secured credit card is backed by the deposit you make and the credit limit is typically the amount you have on deposit.  This can help repair your credit while you wait to become eligible for an unsecured card.

A co-signed credit card can improve your score, but it is definitely a big ask. Essentially, this individual (the co-signer) is risking his or her own credit history for you and will be on the hook if the full amount is not paid on the card.

If asking to co-sign is too much, an authorized user status will work.  Basically, you are an authorized user on that person’s credit card.  Just make sure the credit card will report the payment activity by authorized users to the credit bureaus, otherwise it will have no effect on your score.

A lighter debt burden automatically makes you more desirable to lenders, so be vigilant about paying on time.  Keep your credit card balances relatively low compared to the card’s limit.  For example, less than 30% is typically advised while using just 10% of the available credit is even better.

Still not convinced?  A testimonial from one of our clients in regards to their credit score after filing for bankruptcy.

My credit score said on all three reports 775, I couldn’t believe that I had such a great score before 10 years. Tim for me was the best move I have made for my situation. I have no regrets, I am glad the past is the past. – Bill T.

If you have any questions on this topic or are in a 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, P.A. 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 website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources:

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/rebuild-credit-after-bankruptcy/

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief

Bankruptcy Counseling: What it is and What to Expect

Deciding to file for bankruptcy is not an easy decision, but it may be your best option if you do not see yourself paying off your debt in five years.  The federal government requires two sessions of credit counseling: pre-filing counseling to start the process and pre-discharge counseling before your debts are forgiven. These sessions will help you understand how bankruptcy works and how to avoid financial devastation in the future.

The counseling sessions do not take long to complete. Here is what you can expect.

Pre-filing counseling

Pre-filing bankruptcy counseling is the first step in the bankruptcy process. If you do not go through pre-filing counseling before submitting your case to the court, it will be thrown out.

In addition to being an educational course to help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of going through bankruptcy, pre-filing counseling presents alternatives such as debt management to help you determine if bankruptcy is the best way to resolve your debt.  Upon completion of the pre-filing session, you will receive a certificate of completion valid for 180 days. You will need that certificate if you decide to file for bankruptcy.

Pre-discharge counseling

Pre-discharge counseling is the final step before the court finalizes your bankruptcy and discharges your debts.  This counseling offers valuable financial education to help you manage your finances in the future. It focuses on your income, expenses and strategies to help you save money.

This class covers much of the same ground as the pre-filing session but with a focus on increasing your financial literacy. You will cover topics such as understanding your credit score, living on a budget and avoiding future financial risk.  You will receive a certificate upon completion that you will need to present before the court before your debts can be discharged.

Before going into either session, gather documents that outline your income, expenses and debt to expedite the process. Expect each session to take between 90 minutes and two hours.

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 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, P.A. 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 website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Foreclosures, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Bankruptcy filings decrease as many Americans Struggle to afford the Filing Fee

In recent years, filing for bankruptcy has become a luxury for people who have seen their debt snowball out of control due to events like job loss, foreclosure or medical emergency during the economic downturn. The average cost to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, the most common form of consumer bankruptcy, is more than $1,500, according to recent research submitted to the National Bureau of Economic Research.
The cost of filing for bankruptcy has risen in recent years as a result of the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, which aimed to reduce the number of bankruptcies taking place by adding more requirements to the filing process — including additional paperwork and the credit counseling and debtor education.
The research, conducted by a group of professors from Columbia University, the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis, examined how bankruptcy filings spiked after people received their tax rebates in previous years. They estimate that another 200,000 consumers, who would otherwise not have enough money to file, will use their tax refunds to pay for bankruptcy this year.
Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education for Credit.com warns consumer of ‘going it alone.’ “Make one mistake and your case is dismissed,” she said. “A dismissed bankruptcy hurts your credit just as badly as one you complete. So you are stuck with all of the downside without the fresh start.”
She also warns against ‘low-cost document preparation services’ claiming to help consumers fill out necessary documents. “It’s easy for consumers to think they’re getting sound legal advice even though the preparers aren’t lawyers,” she said.
To read more on this story visit: http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/money/money-some-seeking-bankruptcy-are-too-broke-to-file
If you are in a financial crisis and are considering filing bankruptcy, contact an experienced 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, P.A. 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, P.A. at www.miamibankruptcy.com