Kingcade Garcia McMaken, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Kristina Gonzalez Named Partner at Kingcade Garcia McMaken, P.A.

The Miami-based bankruptcy and foreclosure defense law firm of Kingcade Garcia McMaken is pleased to announce the promotion of Kristina Gonzalez to the position of Partner with the firm.

“We are delighted to have Kristina become a Partner with the firm. Kristina is an exceptional bankruptcy lawyer and is the perfect fit to support our firm’s growth and positioning as the leading consumer bankruptcy law firm in Miami,” said Timothy S. Kingcade, the firm’s Managing Partner.

Ms. Gonzalez focuses her practice on Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, foreclosure defense, and debt settlement. Kristina represents debtors throughout the bankruptcy process – initiating petitions, guiding debtors through meetings, depositions, and litigation with the trustee and advocating for debtors before the bankruptcy court.

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. 

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 Collection, Debt Relief

How to Work with Debt Collectors When You Are Not Able to Pay

Dealing with debt collectors is stressful, especially when the person owing the debt simply does not have the financial resources to pay. It can be easy to fall behind on bills, and before too long, the consumer will find himself or herself juggling countless collection calls. These calls are not always pleasant. After all, the debt collectors have one job to do and that job is to receive payment on the debt. What is the best way to deal with debt collectors when an individual is not able to come up with the payment?

Stay Calm and Attempt to Work with the Collector

Debt collectors have a reputation of being aggressive when performing their jobs. However, it is important to stay as calm as possible when communicating with a debt collector. If a consumer agrees that he or she owes the debt and does not have the resources to do so, it may still be beneficial to at least attempt to work with the debt collector on paying on the debt. If the person does not have the money but still wants to pay, the collector may mark the consumer down as “refused to pay.” However, do not fear this label. It is essentially meaningless in the collection process. It does not make the collection case against consumer any worse or any better.

Debt Relief

The Downsides of Using a For-Profit Debt Settlement Company

Carrying large amounts of debt is stressful, which is why many people turn to debt settlement companies to fix the problem. However, it pays to use caution when seeking solutions with consumer debt. Countless for-profit debt settlement companies exist, offering deals that seem too good to be true, hoping that they will be able to entice a consumer to use their service. Consumers who hire a for-profit debt settlement company often find there is more risk than reward.

Debt settlement companies are easy to find, whether on the internet or on TV commercials. We have all seen them.  These companies use lines such as– “Settle your debt for less than you owe”, “We work with your creditors to reduce your monthly payments,” etc.

Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief, Medical Debt

How to Handle Debt in Retirement

For many Americans, including those entering retirement, being in debt is a way of life. According to numbers published by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, four in every 10 retirees report getting out of debt as a top priority. Many of them are struggling to the point where bankruptcy is their only way out. In fact, the Consumer Bankruptcy Project reports that one in every seven bankruptcy filers is over the age of 65.

One of the reasons why seniors are struggling financially has to do with living on a fixed income. All it takes is for one medical crisis to strike to set them back significantly in their financial goals. The hopes of entering retirement debt free can be difficult for those carrying large amounts of credit card debt and student loan debt. It also does not help that larger companies cut back or even took away pensions for American workers who pinned their hopes of retirement on these plans.

Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief

How to Protect Your Wages from Credit Card Companies

A credit card company can garnish a person’s wages following a successful judgment, which is why it is important to not ignore collection attempts. While it can be hard to fight wage garnishment after it is entered, consumers do have options to protect themselves in the event this does occur.

Settling the Debt

One of the best ways to avoid a wage garnishment is to work directly with the credit card company or debt collector. Many times, the company may be willing to work with the consumer rather than go through the effort and spend the legal fees to take them to court.

They may require the consumer provide some type of proof that his or her financial situation is solid enough to handle the settlement amount. If the debt is large, they may require some type of security to ensure payment will occur.

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

What to Do if Your Medical Bill Gets Sent to Collections

Medical debt is an issue that plagues many Americans. It only takes one major medical crisis to set a person back hundreds, even thousands of dollars. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in every three Americans report having difficulty paying their medical bills. As a result, a number of these individuals end up having their medical bills go into collections.

If you are one of the millions of Americans struggling with medical debt, remember you are not alone, and you do have options.

Negotiating a Settlement with Service Provider or Debt Collector.

If the debt has not been officially sent to a third-party debt collector but is being collected by the original service provider, the consumer can often work directly with that company to negotiate either a payment plan or settlement of the debt owed. The same could be said for if the debt has been sent to a third-party debt collector, although the entity contacted to negotiate on the debt will be different. This settlement can be done through three different possible methods including:

  • Reduced lump sum payment;
  • Percentage of debt payment;
  • Payment plans.

A lump sum payment is a common method used so long as the person has enough money to pay a large amount. The debt collector often would rather have some level of payment rather than nothing at all, so they will often take a lump sum payment to close the account, although the amount owed may be slightly less than what is paid. Many times, this method is preferred because the creditor or debt collector would rather receive a large lump sum of money immediately instead of keeping the negative account on the books or having the consumer file for bankruptcy where the debt would be discharged.

While very similar to a lump sum payment, some creditors will accept a specific percentage to pay off the debt, such as 25 to 30 percent, while forgiving the remainder owed. However, this type of settlement depends heavily on the balance. If someone owes a small balance, the percentage the creditor will accept may be much higher than the percentage of a large balance. Additionally, if the person is suffering from a financial hardship, the creditor may be more willing to work with that person on a percentage payment. Also, if there is a strong threat of bankruptcy, the creditor may accept a lower payment rather than get nothing through a bankruptcy discharge.

Many medical providers will work with the account holder on payment plans if they are not able to pay the bill off in full right away. However, these agreements need to be worked out timely and not after missing several payments, causing the account to go into default. Both parties must agree on an amount and the terms of the payment plan.

Get any Agreement in Writing.

Whatever settlement is worked out between the creditor/collector and consumer, it is important that this agreement be documented in writing. Without a firm commitment on the amount agreed upon, the consumer will have nothing to hold the collector to in the event they dispute the arrangement. It also gives the consumer something legally enforceable in the event the agreement falls through.

Payments Made but Still Sent to Collections.

The unfortunate fact is even if the consumer is making payments on the debt, the unpaid balance can still be sent to collections. Ultimately, it is a business decision that is made by the medical provider (i.e. – doctor’s office, hospital or dentist). How they handle the account depends on many factors, including how large the balance is, how much is being paid monthly, and how long it will take to finally pay off the amount owed. For example, if the individual owes $15,000 and is only making $10 per month payments, the provider may ultimately find that this is not going to work and could send the claim to collections, even though the $10 monthly payments are being made. This action can be much harder to accomplish if the parties have a written payment agreement, which is why it is extremely important that the payment arrangement be in writing.

Refusal of a Payment Plan.

It is always possible that a medical provider will refuse a payment plan. They are not legally obligated to work with the customer on a payment arrangement. For the most part, medical providers will work out payment arrangements out of goodwill, but if the person asking for the payment plan has failed several times before, they are not legally obligated to work out an agreement. The same goes for a collection agency. However, collectors do often work on commission, and because of this, they will often accept a payment plan that will pay off the obligation quickly, closing the account, and getting them paid.

How Medical Debt is Handled in Bankruptcy.

In bankruptcy, medical debt is treated the same as credit card debt. Medical bills are listed as general unsecured debt and can be easily wiped out in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.  Making the decision to file for bankruptcy is never an easy one.  It can be difficult to get past some of the myths associated with filing for bankruptcy. Sometimes by waiting, an individual facing a lot of debt can find himself or herself in an even worse situation. Filing for bankruptcy can help protect valuable assets, including your home, car, IRA and social security.  It will put an end to wage garnishment and any lawsuit being filed to collect on the debt, thanks to the protections of the automatic stay.

Those who have experienced illness or injury and found themselves overwhelmed with medical debt should contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney. In bankruptcy, medical bills are considered general unsecured debts just like credit cards. This means that medical bills do not receive priority treatment and can easily be discharged in bankruptcy. Bankruptcy laws were created to help people resolve overwhelming debt and gain a fresh financial start. Bankruptcy attorney 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, 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 McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources:

https://www.inquirer.com/health/consumer/challenge-medical-bill-debt-collection-tips-20190610.html

https://www.growingfamilybenefits.com/negotiate-medical-bills-settle/

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, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Understanding the Risks Associated with Debt Settlement

Carrying large amounts of debt can be debilitating. It can affect every aspect of a person’s life, to the point where you would do just about anything to find a way out. So, if someone approaches you with an offer to reduce or eliminate your debt for less than the full amount you owe, it can seem too good to be true, right? The problem is, with debt settlement, it usually is. It is important to understand the risks associated with debt settlement.

The Process Is Not Quick.

One thing many debtors do not fully realize is the process of debt settlement is not actually quick. In fact, it can take anywhere from months to years to be completed. The first step is to accumulate enough money to offer a settlement to creditors. You first must enroll in a settlement program with a debt settlement company. The company opens a type of savings account to gather funds that you pay them monthly to use towards settlement offers. The debt settlement company will normally instruct you to pay them instead of your creditors. After you have reached the threshold determined by the company to begin making payments for creditors, the debt settlement company will negotiate with your creditors and collectors, if accounts have gone into collections, on a settlement. The company will use the money in your “savings” account to make these payments. This process can take anywhere from 12 to 48 months, depending on how much you owe and the monthly payments you are able to make.

Your Credit Score Will Take a Hit.

One major problem a with debt settlement program is the hit it will make to your credit score. For one, if your debt is successfully settled, your account status will read as “settled in full” instead of “paid in full,” which is less favorable on a credit report. Additionally, if a debt is settled, this mark will stay on your credit report for seven years from the date of final discharge or settlement of the debt. However, even more significant than this issue is what happens when you suddenly stop paying your debts. You take the risk that your creditors will put your accounts into past-due status or even turn them over to collections if you do not pay on them for more than 30 days. You assume that these debts will eventually be settled and cleared, but the damage that is done to your credit report in that time period can be quite significant.

Settlement Fees Are High.

Debt settlement companies do not perform this work out of the goodness of their hearts. After all, they are ‘for profit’ businesses, so they are performing this service with the intent of making money. Most of these companies charge a settlement fee that is either based on a percentage of the total debt settled or a flat fee taken at the end. According to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule enacted in 2010, no debt settlement company can require a fee be charged upfront before settling or reducing a person’s credit card or other unsecured debt. They must be taken at the end. The fees can be high, however, so that can be a negative aspect to proceeding with debt settlement.

Do Creditors Have a Motivation to Settle?

Another problem with debt settlement is the fact that creditors have little motivation to settle the debt. They are under no obligation to work with the debt settlement company, and the debt settlement company cannot guarantee that their negotiations will be successful. In fact, if a company tells you that they guarantee they will be able to reduce or settle your debts, this statement should raise a red flag that the company may not be legitimate.

You can also negotiate with creditors on your own. You do not need to rely on the assistance of a third-party company to negotiate a lower payment on your debts or a lump sum reduction in what is owed. You will save yourself the fees that come along with working with a debt settlement company and can just as easily accomplish what you are trying to accomplish when retaining a debt settlement agency.

Debt Settlement or Bankruptcy?

Many times, debt settlement is simply avoiding the inevitable. You can spend years working with a debt settlement company to pay down a debt that would otherwise be liquidated in a bankruptcy case. If you are struggling to pay mostly unsecured debt, which includes personal loans, credit cards, and medical debt, this debt is what is normally discharged in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. With a bankruptcy filing, you get the benefit of an automatic stay, which essentially puts all collection matters on hold until the bankruptcy case is completed. If you choose to proceed with debt settlement first, you do not get this protection, and many of your accounts that would otherwise be liquidated in bankruptcy will go into collections or even be brought to a judgment, resulting in a wage garnishment against you. The result is you will take a significant hit to your credit score and pay monthly payments to a debt settlement company to negotiate on a debt that you would otherwise be able to discharge in a bankruptcy case. It may be more practical to proceed with the bankruptcy instead of other options, especially if the majority of your debt is unsecured. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can review your situation and discuss possible options that are available for handling the debt and eliminating it.

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.