Articles Posted in Debt Settlement

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pastdue-150x150If you fall very far behind on your credit card payments, or any other kind of debt for that matter, your debt might appear as having been charged-off on your credit report. A charge-off occurs when you are at least 180 days behind on your credit card payments, and the bank decides that the debt is no longer collectible and decides to write it off as a loss. However, this does not mean you no longer owe the debt. You are still 100% responsible for the debt. But what do you do and what should you expect?

The debt will have to be repaid.

At first, you might think that it is a good thing that your debt has been charged-off and you might even think that you no longer owe the debt. Unfortunately, when your bank decides your account is uncollectible, that is simply an accounting term. It in no way affects your liability for the entire debt owed. However, there is one caveat. The bank can only collect on the debt until the statute of limitations expires. In Florida, the statute of limitations for a credit card debt is five years. Continue reading →

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Filing for bankruptcy can be a very smart decision, but it is not a smart decision for everyone. Many different factors must be taken into account before making the decision to file for bankruptcy and it is a decision that should not be taken lightly.

First you should consider all possibilities that could get you out of your current debt situation. One possible alternative is to come up with a repayment plan based on your current income. This approach basically allows you to make a little progress with each paycheck you receive. You will most likely be living paycheck to paycheck, but if you are in a lot of debt, you are probably already doing this. If you think this approach is possible for you, you must then consider whether you can emotionally deal with the lingering debt and harassing telephone calls you most definitely receive from your creditors until you have paid everything off. This could last for years and take a toll on your mental and physical health. If you think you can do this financially, but do not believe you can handle the mental or physical stress that comes with it, then this approach may not be a good one for you.

If the above approach is not for you, then you might want to consider filing for bankruptcy, but you must first fully understand which chapter of bankruptcy you are eligible to file and how bankruptcy will affect your debts, assets, future, and health. There are generally two types of bankruptcies an individual files. The first is a Chapter 7, which is a strict liquidation of your assets and a wiping out of your debts, and the second is a Chapter 13, which is a reorganization of your debts. Which chapter you are able to file mostly depends on your household income and family size.

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home-in-foreclosure-thumb-250x166-2941A short sale can be a great solution for a homeowner who is having trouble making his or her mortgage payments. A short sale is when a bank agrees to accept a sale price that is less than the full mortgage amount owed in order to avoid foreclosure. However, homeowners that complete a short sale are often surprised to find out months or even years later that their lender is seeking a deficiency judgment against them.

What is a deficiency judgment? Since the sale price is less than the full amount owed on the mortgage, the difference between the total debt owed and the sale price is known as the deficiency. In some states, the lender can seek a personal judgment against you after the short sale to recover this deficiency amount. If this judgment is entered against you, then the lender may collect this from the borrower by garnishing wages or levying the debtor’s bank account; Florida is one of these states.

The good news is there are ways to avoid a deficiency judgment after a short sale. One of the best methods is to negotiate a full waiver of the lender’s right to seek a deficiency judgment while negotiating the short sale with your mortgage holder. If the lender agrees, then the provision will be included in your short sale agreement. The agreement must state the transaction is in full satisfaction of the debt and that the lender waives its right to the deficiency.

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Jacksonville Bankruptcy LawyerAs a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney I am always being asked numerous questions about Florida Bankruptcies and their effect on individuals you file. Although individual results will vary, I strongly encourage you if you are considering Bankruptcy to consult with a local Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney. With that being said, here is a list of the 5 most common benefits applicable to most of my clients when filing a Florida Bankruptcy.

  1. Gives you a “Fresh Start.” This means you liability for your dischargeable will be eliminated.
  2. Will stop Foreclosure proceedings or allow you time to catch up on past due payments.
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Debt Forgiveness IncomeThe economic squalor many of us have been enduring over the last year has lead to foreclosures, bankruptcies and a larger than usual amount of debt settlement.

Debt settlement is a useful tool in improving an individuals financial situation, but it is not without pitfalls. When someone has a large unsecured debt, such as a credit card, they can offer their creditor an alternative payment plan. For example: Marc owes $7,000 to a credit card company. Marc has had a severe drop in income and hasn’t been able to make payments to his creditor for several months. Marc wants to pay his debt, but can’t afford the large payment the company requires. He goes to his attorney friend and the attorney negotiates with the creditor on his behalf. Creditors often prefer large initial payments, with a promise to pay small incremental amounts thereafter. If the credit card company agrees, Marc can pay them $1,000 today and make $200 payments each monthly for twenty-four months. They may agree to this because he hasn’t been making payments thus far and it is well known that his attorney friend files bankruptcy cases. If Marc were to file a bankruptcy, this creditor knows they would get little to nothing in payment. When they agree, Marc has struck a deal that has him paying $5,800 to satisfy a $7,000 debt obligation. This is a $1,200 dollar savings which makes Marc happy because it’s more manageable and less than he originally owed. Just before taxes are due, when Marc’s debt is long forgotten, he gets a letter in the mail from the IRS. He nervously opens it to find a Form 1099-C for $1,200 in income, the exact amount he saved in his settlement. This is called “Debt Forgiveness Income”. The IRS’ theory is that because Marc’s overall worth has gone up by a net $1,200, he has in effect earned $1,200 in value and should be taxed on it.

In Marc’s situation he can probably handle the tax liability from an extra $1,200 in income for the year, but as the debt forgiven gets larger, the ability to absorb that liability decreases.

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If you want to reaffirm a debt after filing for bankruptcy, your must executed a new agreement with your creditor. This reaffirmation agreement must be written and must be signed by both you and the creditor. Should you sign this reaffirmation agreement? Here are some pros and cons.

Pros

First, if you want to keep the property, you must sign the reaffirmation agreement. Also, if you do sign, you will be certain what your payments will be, what your interest rate is, etc. Signing a reaffirmation agreement may also help rebuild your credit, since you are taking responsibility for a pre-filing debt and are making regular payments on a debt.

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Inheritance can be an issue in bankruptcy law. One might think that after you receive a discharge in your bankruptcy case, your case is done and the court does not have an interest in your finances. This is not always so.

In a Chapter 7 case, if a loved one dies and leave you an inheritance within 180 days from the date of filing your case, then this money becomes part of your bankruptcy estate. The trustee may want some or all of the inherited funds to distribute to creditors. The important thing to remember is that the date that you become eligible for the inheritance that is the date to use in this 180 day analysis. This is the date of the loved one’s death, not when you actually receive the money or property.

In a Chapter 13 case there is an ongoing obligation to keep the trustee appraised of what property you own. Once they learn of an inheritance, they will likely take those funds for the benefit of your creditors. This can occur any time during the case. Since Chapter 13 cases are often as long as five years, it is important to make arrangements with relatives who may pass on during this time.

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If you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must attend a 341 Meeting of Creditors at the federal courthouse. This is a hearing with the trustee, and any creditors are invited to attend, though usually they decline to. You will be put under Oath and asked to produce a photo I.D. and social security card. Then the trustee will ask you some questions. Here are some sample questions that a trustee might ask.

1. Are you personally familiar with the information contained in the petition, schedules, statements and related documents? To the best of your knowledge, is the information contained in the petition, schedules, statements, and related documents true and correct?

2. Are all of your assets identified on the schedules?

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As is most legal processes, bankruptcy can be a difficult thing to maneuver. There is a lot of misinformation out there, you need to be careful to get your information from a trusted source. Here are some myths regarding bankruptcy:

Myth 1: If I file for bankruptcy, everyone will know.

Like most legal proceedings, most bankruptcy documents are public record. Since I work at a law firm in the bankruptcy department, I search these records all the time. I even have a special username and password that allows me access online. However, how many times do you think your friends, family, or co-workers search through federal court records? The truth is that while your bankruptcy documents will be public information, it is unlikely that those you know would search to find them.

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Florida Judgment Statute of Limitations 20 YearsThe Florida District Court of Appeals shed light on how Florida’s Statute of Limitations functions as to Judgments in their recent decision in Corzo v. West.

In Corzo, the creditor, Corzo Trucking Corporation, had obtained a judgment against the debtor, Bob West in 1984. Corzo had been unable to locate West for twenty-one years, but since the debt owed by West was so large, ($120,223.80 in principle plus $297,933.61 in interest, totaling $418,157.41), an attempt was made and he was located in the state of Georgia. Suit was brought in 2006 in an attempt to force West to “make good” on the 1984 judgment. West did not file any papers or attend hearing in 2006 and a default judgment was obtained against him. In 2009, when Corzo attempted to enforce the new 2006 judgment, West replied the action and the judge dismissed the case. Corzo appealed this decision and brought about the new case.

The District Court of Appeals explained that the 2006 judgment is a distinct and different judgment from the 1984 judgment. Despite being based on the prior judgment, the new one had it’s own case number and was enforceable once obtained for another twenty years. What West should have done was appear to court when summoned in 2006 and brought up the defense of the statute of limitations then. At that point the new judgment wouldn’t have been entered and the old judgment would have been unenforceable, but because he didn’t bring up the defense at that time, the court considered it waived. Now he has to deal with nearly half a million dollars in debt.

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