• Breaking Down Chicago Bankruptcy: Is Filing Your Best Option?

    Individuals who are struggling to pay off debt have difficult decisions to make on a daily basis. If you do not earn enough income to pay off your debt and continue to pay your rent or mortgage on top of other bills and expenses, chances are you have to learn to go without luxuries, and maybe even necessities. Filing for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may allow you to regain control of your finances and your life. However, it is not a decision that should be made lightly, and there are many aspects to consider. Lets run through some pros and cons of filing a personal bankruptcy:

                    Pros:

    • Will provide virtually instant debt relief
    • Will end intrusive phone calls and creditor harassment
    • Provide you with time and the ability to reorganize and pay back the debt you are able to

     

    Cons:

    • You take a hit on your credit-the bankruptcy will remain on your credit history for 10 years
    • You will have difficulty getting a loan until you are able to re-establish your credit
    • Many employers run a credit check on prospective employees they interview

     

    Individuals should take all these points into consideration when deciding whether or not to file, bu the first step is to contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options, every case is different. Please contact our office for a free consultation.

    Benjamin Brand Services- Chicago bankruptcy lawyer .

  • What Does Elizabeth Warren Appointment to Banking Committee Mean for Chicago Bankruptcy?

    Elizabeth Warren (D) won the Massachusetts Senator election race over Republican incumbent Scott Brown in November, and many believe she would be a natural fit for the powerful Senate banking committee. Warren is an American bankruptcy law expert and a Harvard Law School professor. Warren certainly has outstanding credentials-she was named the 2009 Boston Globe’s Bostonian of the Year, and she was listed in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2009 and 2010.

    Warren has a reputation for being a consumer advocate, standing up to banks and credit card companies. Warren is the first female senator in Massachusetts’ history.

    Many big banks are not fans of Warren and her policies. Warren is certainly qualified, and most believe that if she wants to serve on the committee she will be named to it.

    “The leadership and committee chairmen usually work together to try to accommodate incoming senators’ preferences, within reason,” one Senate Democratic aide told Reuters. “If Senator-Elect Warren indicates she’d like to serve on the banking committee, given her prominent work on those issues, she would certainly have a very good shot.”

    It is hard to speculate exactly what it would mean if Warren is named to the committee, but most experts believe she would continue to be a consumer advocate.

    Please visit our site for bankruptcy information , and contact our firm for a free consultation.

    Benjamin Brand Services- Chicago bankruptcy attorney .

  • Bankruptcy Filings Down in 2012; Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney Hopes it is Sign of Improving Economy

    Personal bankruptcy filings in 2012 have decreased from 2011, according to statistics from the United States courts. The number of personal bankruptcies in the one year period, ending on September 30, dropped significantly. The number of Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings dropped from 1,036,950 in 2011 to 874,337 in 2012-a 16 percent decrease. Chapter 13 bankruptcies dropped from 417,530 to 375,521, down 10 percent.

    Chapter 7 bankruptcies still account for approximately 67 percent of all bankruptcies. The states with the highest number of filings per capita are Nevada, Tennessee and Georgia. The lowest are Alaska, District of Columbia and North Dakota.

    Consumer default rates have also continued to decline over the same time-down 1.5 percent from a year ago.

    These are signs of a recovering economy, and hopefully the trends will continue into 2013. Despite these improving numbers, many Americans are still struggling with debt, and bankruptcy could be a viable option. Please contact our firm for a free consultation.

    Benjamin Brand Services- Chicago bankruptcy lawyer .

  • Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcies

    Personal bankruptcy is a difficult process for someone to go through, but many people are scared because they simply do not know what the process is like and how it will affect their lives. Gathering information about bankruptcy and what it would mean for you and your family helps to aleviate some of the uneasiness.

    The two types of personal consumer bankruptcies are Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7, the debtors are able to discharge all or part of their debt. In a Chapter 13, debtors agree to a payment plan to repay part of all of their debt.

    During a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will likely be required to liquidate assets and then turn them over to your creditors first. This includes money in your checking and savings accounts. Some of your assets may be exempt in the bankruptcy process for a Chapter 7-laws vary by state. Generally after you liquidate your non-exempt assets, they are divided between your creditors and the rest of your debt is discharged. However, in the majority of Chapter 7 bankruptcies, most of people’s assets are exempt and therefore do not need to be liquidated.

    In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, individuals organize a payment plan to repay creditors. The individual will submit the plan to the court for approval and began making payments to the trustee, who then pays the creditors.

    Bankruptcy is different for each individual, and there are many variables in each case. Please contact our firm for a free consultation.

    Benjamin Brand Services- Chicago bankruptcy attorneys .

  • Healthcare Costs, Medical Debt and Bankruptcy

    With the recent federal healthcare mandate, many people think that medical bankruptcy will become a thing of the past. Hopefully this will be true in the future, but that provides little comfort to individuals and families already buried with medical-related debt.

    In 2007, more than 90 percent of people who filed for bankruptcy because of medical costs owed more than $5,000 to healthcare creditors. The other medical bankruptcies were due to loss of income as a result of an injury or a health condition.

    Insurance companies typically cover anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of major medical costs. For someone who is diagnosed with cancer or another serious illness, this may not be enough to prevent a medical bankruptcy.

    A survey from 2007 reported that approximately 70 percent of US citizens either have difficulty paying for medical treatment or have medical debt. In 2009, 50 million Americans still had no health insurance. Another study found that 63 percent of Americans carrying medical debt avoided future medical treatment.

    If you are carrying medical debt and struggling to pay bills, you may want to contact a bankruptcy attorney to evaluate your options.

    Benjamin Brand Services- Chicago bankruptcy attorneys .

  • Do Not Lose Sight of Financial Obligations during Divorce

    A divorce is a very troubling and trying time for couples, financially and emotionally. Unfortunately, persons going through a divorce can lose sight of long term finances and just try to get the divorce finalized as quickly as possible. Financial hardship is often cited as a reason couples divorce, but that does not mean that once your divorce is finalized you no longer have an obligation to creditors you borrowed from during your marriage-at least your share of it.

    Creditors typically do not care how the bills are paid, simply that they are paid. If you and your spouse signed up for a credit card or financed a home or a vehicle together, you are both still on the hook if the bill is not paid.

    An agreement in a divorce for one or both parties to pay these debts is legally binding and collectable. Any and all debt you agreed to pay while married will still hold true following your divorce, additionally, if your divorce decree says that you must pay certain debts, you may or may not be able to get rid of those debts in bankruptcy. That is why talking to a bankruptcy attorney with experience is so important.

    If you are going through a divorce and are concerned about financial obligations, it is wise to contact a bankruptcy attorney in addition to a divorce attorney.

    Benjamin Brand Services- Chicago bankruptcy attorneys .

  • Will Congress Adjust the AMT to Avoid Fiscal Cliff?

    Following the November election, many media pundits and experts are warning of the impending “fiscal cliff” expected to hit the country in early 2013. The term is used to describe a series of enacted legislation that will lead to tax increases, federal spending cuts and a reduction in the budget deficit at the end of 2012. Most experts have proposed avoiding the fiscal cliff by extending certain parts of the 2010 Tax Relief Act or changing the 2011 Budget Control Act, which would decrease taxes, but increase the deficit.

    Experts predict that if you have a household income over $75,000, you will see a substantial increase in your taxes. Residents in high-cost urban areas are expected to be hit hardest. Some congressional aides have speculated that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has advised Congress to adjust the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) after the filing season starts in January, which would lead to delays in return processing for nearly half of all Americans.

    “That would be a disaster, an unmitigated disaster for the taxpayers of the United States,” said Nina Olson, national taxpayer advocate at the IRS. “It’s just not possible to do that.”

    Many Americans plan their budget and finances based on getting their tax refunds in a timely fashion. This may be last thing many individuals who may already be on the verge on bankruptcy need.

    Benjamin Brand Services- Chicago bankruptcy lawyers .

  • Obama Tweaks ‘Pay as You Earn’ Program

    On November 1, President Barack Obama put the final touches on the Pay As You Earn program for the repayment of student loans. It is an Income-Based Repayment (IBR) that is applicable for federal student loans and those who are struggling to make monthly payments in a sluggish economy.

    The program actually began in 2007, but student loan debt has continued to rise. Historically, the program has not been popular with students-only slightly over 1 million borrowers were enrolled this year. The Obama administration is hoping the recent tweaks will make the program more popular. The cap on loan payments was reduced from 15 percent of the borrower’s total income to 10 percent. Loan forgiveness is accelerated from 25 years to 20 years.

    If a borrower implements all of these changes, they can capitalize on a 33 percent reduction in their monthly payments. These changes could be valuable in reducing the number of persons filing bankruptcy due to student loan debt. This will allow young professionals to establish their careers and pay off their loans in full. Getting rid of other debt through a bankruptcy can also help individuals pay back student loans faster.

    Please visit our site for more information on student loan debt and bankruptcy , and contact our firm for a free consultation.

    Benjamin Brand Services- Chicago bankruptcy lawyers .

  • Creditors of Student Loans Go after Co-Signers

    Katy Stech of the Wall Street Journal recently wrote an editorial about Kristina Pietras, a student who became burdened with student loan debt before dropping out of the University of Toledo. Various lenders lent Pietras $132,000 in loans. Pietras’ parents had co-signed her loans.

    Lenders took Pietras and her co-signers to court, where they argued that she was paying $150  month for a cable television package and recently had new carpet installed instead of paying back the loans. Her parents were paying her cell phone bill at $70 a month while she worked at an Arby’s restaurant.

    “The court is, thus, confronted with this dichotomy: the debtors, when incurring obligations on behalf of their daughter, find the means to pay for one obligation but not the other,” wrote Judge Richard Speer of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Toledo.

    As more and more students find themselves unable to repay loans, the creditors are going after the co-signers. More than 90 percent of student loans require a co-signer. More and more co-signers may find themselves in bankruptcy court if this trend continues. Contact our firm for a free consultation.

    Benjamin Brand Services- Chicago bankruptcy lawyers .

  • Four Things to Remember About FTC Rules on Debt Relief

    According to an October 23, 2012 WVTM-TV article, it has been two years since the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) implemented new rules regulating the debt relief industry. WVTM noted that consumers are carrying $864.2 billion in revolving debt, and the average American with credit card debt owes more than $15,500. The Federal Reserve says the total household debt in the United States is $11.4 trillion.

    While the FTC changes were good for the many consumers who need help with debt, WVTM pointed out four things to know when seeking debt relief:

    1. Know what debt settlement is – Debt settlement plans can sometimes reduce total principals owed by about half, and the programs generally take two to four years to resolve a consumer’s debt. While WVTM wrote that debt settlement “can be helpful for individuals who are unable to make minimum payments on credit card debt ,” consumers must remember that debt settlement companies often engage in abusive practices. These abuses led Illinois lawmakers to pass legislation in 2010 that banned charging upfront fees for helping consumers negotiate relief from creditors. In July, one Chicago based firm agreed to refund $2.1 million after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said the lawyers were a “front” to collect hefty fees from desperate consumers.
    2. Understand the FTC rules – The FTC rules “require debt relief companies to renegotiate, settle or reduce the terms of at least one debt, with the consumer’s agreement, before collecting fees from the consumer.” (WVTM.) The FTC rules also define the advertising claims these companies can make. WVTM pointed out that debt settlement companies need to disclose how long it should take to see results, program costs and any negative consequences that may result.
    3. Know where to finding a debt settlement provider – WVTM noted that it remains legal for debt settlement companies and law firms that do not participate in telemarketing to charge up-front fees. The article recommended looking for a firm that is a member of the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC), which “enforces the strictest code of conduct in the industry,” according to WVTM.
    4. Proceed with caution – “Consumers should look for a firm that has an established, long-term record of successfully getting results for customers,” WVTM said. The article cautioned that impatient debt counselors, high-pressure sales tactics and claims that sound too good to be true are all “warning signs of firms that should be avoided.”

    If you are among the many households carrying thousands of dollars in revolving debt, you should know that filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy may allow you to discharge all of your unsecured debt in a matter of months. You can also catch up on late mortgage payments or reduce your mortgage principle by filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy . Both chapters can be safer alternatives to debt settlement programs, and our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can tell you which plan would work best for you when you contact our firm at (866) 930-7482 or fill out the form on this page.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys