A common question people ask me is whether they should file for bankruptcy. They don’t want to file, but they also know that they cannot continue with the status quo. Here is what I ask them:
Can you pay your bills as they come due and owing?
Can you pay off your credit card bills in full in the next 12 months?
If you own a house, do you have a fixed rate mortgage that you can payoff by the time you retire? Is your house worth what you owe against it?
If you have answered “no” to any of these questions, you should be considering whether a fresh start through bankruptcy maybe the right decision for you.
A fresh start has been provided to the Banks, the Investment Companies, and the Insurance Companies and a fresh start is available to consumers. Most home loan made between 2001-2007 could not be paid off on a person income. More than anyone, the banks knew that a person can only pay off in home loan debt of 2-21/2 times their gross household income in this lifetime and save for retirement and raise a child or two.
A fresh start for a consumer is usually a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 is a straight bankruptcy also known as a liquidation case. In a Chapter 7 case, all assets and liabilities are included and the Chapter 7 Trustee will have the right to liquidate non-exempt assets for the benefit of creditors. In exchange for including all assets and liabilities, an individual’s promise to pay on most debts are forgiven through a discharge.
In most cases, there are no assets available to creditors because all of the assets are exempt or encumbered by liens to the full extent of their value. Exempt assets that the Chapter 7 Trustee cannot reach include 401k, IRA, Annuity, retirement plan, equity in a car up to $3,525, most household goods and furnishing, life insurance, most personal injury actions, and then $23,250 in other assets such as motorcycles, boats, RV or additional equity in cars or other items.
Most people who are having problems paying their bills qualify for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy either because their income is low or because their mortgage payments and other secured loans such as car loans are too high in relation to their income. However, a person should not delay in seeking legal advice. The loss of a home prior to a bankruptcy filing either through a short sale or foreclosure may make an individual’s income too high for a Chapter 7 and the only option will be Chapter 13 repayment plan which will last between 3-5 years. In addition, there may be personal liability and tax consequences which could have been eliminated in a bankruptcy.
In conclusion, if you are having financial problems, seek legal counsel. You did not make this real estate and credit card meltdown. There are serious personal liability and tax consequence of a short sale and foreclosure. Make sure you understand your legal rights prior to undertaking either a short sale or allowing your property to be foreclosed. Do not lose sleep and your sanity worrying about financial problems. Help is available to you just like it was to the Bank, Investment Companies and the Insurance Companies.
WE ARE A DEBT RELIEF AGENCY. WE HELP PEOPLE FILE BANKRUPTCY RELIEF UNDER THE BANKRUPTCY CODE. THIS INFORMATION IS NOT PROVIDED AS LEGAL ADVICE AND SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON IN MAKING ANY DECISION REGARDING A VOLUNTARY DEFAULT, SHORT SALE, FORECLOSURE OR BANKRUPTCY. THIS INFORMATION IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR OBTAINING TAX & LEGAL ADVICE REGARDING AN INDIVIDUAL SITUATION. © 2010
Joan M. Grimes. Grimesbklaw.com