Blog
Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee

Call Today for a FREE Consultation

210-342-3400

Archive for the ‘Texas bankruptcy attorney’ Category

Tips for Homeowners Who Are Struggling with Mortgage Payment Difficulties

December 22nd, 2014 at 8:48 pm

San Antonio bankruptcy attorney, Texas forclosure lawyer, Owning a home is one of life’s great accomplishments, and mortgages help people achieve this dream. Home loans, however, can become burdensome when an individual or family enters difficult financial circumstances.

Some homeowners face bankruptcy or foreclosure as a consequence of struggling to meet mortgage payments. Fortunately, experiencing tough economic challenges does not always mean debtors will lose their homes or declare bankruptcy. Here are some helpful tips when monthly payments become difficult to afford:

1. Review Your Mortgage and Contact Your Loan Provider

Understanding the type of mortgage a person has is key to responsible financial planning. According to Bankrate.com, there are three main types of mortgages: fixed-rate, adjustable rate, and a hybrid between the two. These categories may influence the best approach to debt management.

The first step for tackling payment challenges is to call the bank or loan provider. They will be able to review the details of the loan and possibly offer suitable options to make payments more manageable.

2. Know What to Do If You Fall Behind on Payments

Many homeowners may find themselves one, two, or more payments behind on a mortgage. While this is never a great sign, it does not mean all hope is lost. Depending on one’s financial situation, the details of the mortgage, and the current balance, there may be several options available to reestablish financial stability.

If you are struggling with mortgage debt, bankruptcy may be a viable option. Although this is a serious choice, it is often a smart decision.

An experienced Texas bankruptcy lawyer can help you assess the options and determine if filing bankruptcy is an intelligent move. This is not the only option, which is why it is so important to seek professional advice. To schedule a consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer in Texas, contact the Law Office of Chance McGhee today at 210-342-3400 for a free consultation.

Federal Rules Debt Collectors Must Follow

November 27th, 2014 at 1:00 pm

debt collectors in San Antonio, Texas bankruptcy lawyerWhen a person owes a defaulted amount on an account, such as a credit card or prior utility bill, the company who the original debt is owed to will often “charge off” that debt after a certain period of time has gone by. Someone who is struggling with overwhelming debt may have multiple accounts which have been declared charge offs by the original creditor.

There are certain guidelines a creditor must follow before they can charge off an account. If the account is an installment loan (such as an auto loan or mortgage), then the delinquency must be at least 120 days past due. If the account is a revolving credit account (such as a credit card), then the delinquency must be at least 180 days past due.

At this point, the creditor has three options for debt collection for the account. The company can continue to pursue collection themselves; they can hire a third-party collection agency to continue collection activity; or they can sell the debt to a debt buying company. Debt buying companies purchase debt portfolio from creditors and any funds then collected on the debt belong to the debt buyer.

Regardless of what option a creditor decides on, there are federal rules that have been established that a debt collector must follow. These rules were established under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and include:

  • A debt collector must sent a written notice within five days of the first initial telephone contact which validates the amount of the debt owed;
  • Debt collection may only take place between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.;
  • A debt collector may not contact a person at their workplace if they have been told either orally or in writing not to do so;
  • A debt collector must stop contacting a person if the person sends a certified letter to the debt collection telling them to stop all contact. The only exception to that contact would be the debt collector acknowledging the no-contact letter and/or contacting the person to let them know they will be filing a lawsuit or other activity;
  • If a person is represented by an attorney, then the debt collector must contact the attorney and not the person who owes the debt; or
  • Debt collectors may not harass, make threats, or make false statements in order to intimidate or scare a person into paying the debt.

If bankruptcy seems like a viable option for your financial situation, contact the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee. San Antonio, Texas bankruptcy lawyer, Mr. McGhee has helped clients over the past 20 years regain control of their financial lives. Call the law firm at 210-342-3400.

Bankruptcy Filers Can Now Use Rental History to Rebuild Credit

November 18th, 2014 at 10:43 pm

rental history to rebuild credit, San Antonio bankruptcy lawyerWhen a person files for bankruptcy, it takes time for their credit history to “heal” from the painful ordeal of overwhelming debt that caused the bankruptcy filing. As long as person is careful not to overextend themselves, they are usually able to qualify for credit cards, auto loans and even mortgages within several years of filing.

Having taken control of their debt and filing for bankruptcy, a person can also take control of their credit history. Applying for a secured credit card and making the payments on time every month, as well as any other accounts that were not charged off in the bankruptcy, such as a mortgage or auto loan, will increase a person’s credit score enough that they may be able to qualify for unsecured credit within two years following the bankruptcy.

There is now a new way for people to help increase those credit scores and that is with their rental history. In the past, a person’s rental history was never included on credit history reports. If a person has a long history of making on-time rental payments, they never received the credit benefit for that good history like a person who pays their mortgage on-time.

But now, two of the major credit reporting companies, Experian and TransUnion, have begun accepting and including verified rental history information on credit reports. TransUnion has conducted several studies that show the increase in credit scores rental payment history can make. In one study, when just one month of rental payments were incorporated in a person’s credit history, the average score rose by 10 points in 20 percent of the consumers.

Renters will not be allowed to self-report their rental history. It needs to be done through the landlord, who can either do it through TransUnion’s Resident Credit program or through third-party companies who take a renter’s payment online and send the payment to the landlord, as well as report the payment to the credit bureaus.

If you are struggling with debt problems due to unforeseen circumstances, but are concerned with how bankruptcy may affect your future, consult with an experienced San Antonio bankruptcy attorney today.

Three Proven Methods to Improve Your Credit Score

November 13th, 2014 at 8:59 am

improve credit score, San Antonio bankruptcy lawyerTo say that a person’s credit score is important is an understatement. Your score not only affects your ability to take out loans and successfully apply for credit cards, but it also plays a role in applying for insurance, leasing a car, and even getting an apartment. More than just three numbers, a credit score is a measurable value of how trustworthy a person is with money and payments.

For these reasons, you should make every attempt to raise your credit scores as high as possible. Here are some helpful ways to boost and maintain a respectable credit score:

1. Start with What You Have

As mentioned before, it helps to think of a credit score as an indicator of financial responsibility. That said, the road to a better credit score begins by analyzing one’s own financial situation. While this may require sitting down with a professional, here are some basic strategies to get started:

  • Focus on paying off credit cards by making monthly payments;
  • Strive to keep balances low on credit cards;
  • Make attempts to pay off debt instead of moving it around; and
  • Keep card accounts open.

These are some basic options available to anyone with one or more credit card accounts. These steps may not be easy, but accomplishing them can go a long way toward improving one’s credit score.

2. Open New Credit Card Accounts

If you have no credit at all, it is imperative to start building it. A smart first step is applying for a credit card. For those who already have lines of credit and are looking to boost their score, it may be worthwhile to open a new account.

It is important to remember that it is quite easy to get over your head when it comes to credit cards. Responsible use of a new account, however, can lead to a significant credit score boost.

3. Do Not Spread Small Charges across Different Cards

Making small purchases, usually under $100, across different credit cards can ultimately harm your credit score. It is best to rely on as few cards as possible. Having small amounts of debt across various cards, often referred to as “nuisance charges,” is not only bad for your credit, but it also can quickly build up to create a difficult situation.

If you are looking for a San Antonio, Texas bankruptcy attorney or are curious about how bankruptcy might work for your financial situation, contact the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee. Call 210-342-3400 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Texas Ranks as a Best State for Student Debt Among the $1.12 Trillion Owed Nationwide

November 4th, 2014 at 12:59 pm

According to a recent study by WalletHub, the state of Texas ranks as number nine in the list for the “best” student loan debt. WalletHub analyzed all 50 states (including the District of Columbia) using 7 key metrics, including average student debt, unemployment rates, and students with past-due loan balances.

Though nine out of 51 may be good news for the Lone Star State, the rest of the country is not doing as well. As of June 2014, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, total outstanding student loan debt stood at $1.12 trillion, an increase of $7 billion from 2013.

According to the WalletHub study, though the risk of joblessness declines with the more schooling you have, location also has a large effect on college debt levels. This means that if you live in a city or state where the economy is booming, you are more likely to pay off your student debt on time, without penalties.

While Texas continues on the up and up, other states in the bottom, including Massachusetts (30), Washington D.C. (41), and Rhode Island (51), continue to suffer.

In May 2014, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposed a bill to allow students to refinance their loans at a lower interest rate called the “Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act.” The Democratic senator and her party argued that the $1 trillion in student loan debt is harming the U.S. economic growth and that something must be done to alleviate it. Unfortunately, in September, Republicans opposing the bill struck it down. The Act would have allowed more than 25 million students to refinance their loans to today’s lower interest rates of less than four percent.

For now, it does not seem like student loan debt in any state will be alleviated anytime soon. With the political battle constantly stalling bills able to assist student loan debtors, the educated middle class will only continue to suffer.

If you or your college-aged son or daughter is suffering from crippling student loan debt in Texas, contact an experienced San Antonio bankruptcy lawyer. Attorney Chance M. McGhee can help you determine which bankruptcy option may be best for your individual situation. Call 203-342-3400 for a free consultation.

Four Ways to Manage Credit Card Debt

October 21st, 2014 at 12:18 pm

credit card debt Texas, San Antonio bankruptcy lawyerCredit cards are a double-edged financial sword. Aside from their obvious benefits and functions, many banks offer points systems and other rewards for using their cards. Many Americans, however, are all too familiar with the possible risks associated with credit card use—especially when one falls behind on payments.

Nearly every American has a credit card–and likely more than one. According to TIME, the overall amount of debt incurred by Americans has actually been in decline. While this is great news for some, others are still facing the challenge of keeping up with payments, dealing with harassing creditor calls, and possibly even considering bankruptcy.

Solving debt problems is about active financial planning and making smart choices. Here are four helpful ways to regain control of credit card debt:

1. Make Monthly Payments, Meeting or Exceeding the Minimum Payment

What is the most basic solution to solving debt? Paying it off. Unfortunately, resolving debt is not always that simple. Debtors should make every effort to organize their finances and make sure enough money is available to meet those credit card payments every month. Late payments result in penalties and harm an overall credit score.

While purchasing an expensive item and only having to pay a small amount each month is alluring, making only minimum payments is not always the best choice. If possible, it is always a great idea to try to pay more than the minimum—sometimes twice as much.

Aim for minimum payments, and try to exceed them when possible.

2. Focus on High-Interest Debt

It is often surprising to many Americans how quickly credit card interest can add up. This is why it is so important to prioritize payments for cards with the highest interest.

By paying off high-interest cards first and continuing to make minimum payments on the low-interest ones, overall debt levels become much easier to control.

3. Limit Credit Card Use and Spend Wisely

Depending on one’s financial and living situation, this may be difficult. When attempting to solve a serious financial problem, limiting credit card use while paying them off is critical for lowering overall debt. Again, many people rely on their credit cards for day-to-day living, so this can be a challenge.

Try to pay for items with cash first. Only use credit cards for necessities.

4. Save Money

This is another challenge for those in debt, but is important. While every attempt should be made to pay down credit cards, savings should not be neglected; this is key to establishing long-term monetary stability. After paying off high-interest cards, not having any cash saved away can often cause the debt to come back as the credit cards become an easy way to make purchases.

Prioritize paying off debt, but be conscious about the necessity of saving money.

If your credit card debt has become too much to handle, we may have a solution. Bankruptcy, for many Americans, is not only a way out of debt but is also a path to financial success and independence. As an experienced San Antonio, Texas bankruptcy attorney, Chance M. McGhee has helped clients for the past 20 years solve their financial challenges. Call the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee today at 210-342-3400 for a free consultation.

Can Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Lead to a More Financially Stable Life?

October 15th, 2014 at 7:40 am

Chapter 13 bankruptcy Texas, San Antonio bankruptcy lawyerMany individuals and business owners wrongly attach a negative connotation to the word “bankruptcy.” While it is true that those who choose to file bankruptcy may be facing dire financial situations, the process should not be viewed as an inherently bad decision. Instead, debtors should view bankruptcy as an opportunity to develop a financial plan that leads to financial stability.

Though large companies are required by law to hire a bankruptcy attorney, individuals have the choice of filing alone. While there are standard laws in place for the bankruptcy process, every case is different. For this reason, it is often wise to hire an experienced bankruptcy lawyer to review the case and identify the best approach to filing.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Provides a Path to Financial Freedom

Chapter 13 bankruptcy differs from other chapters as it allows the debtor to restructure the debt they owe rather than liquidating assets. After submitting the initial petition to file for bankruptcy, the debtor, court, and trustee will develop a practical and comprehensive payment plan.

An important part of the bankruptcy process is what is referred to as “debtor education.” This is a special program that all applicants must attend. It not only covers some financial basics, but it also explores alternatives to bankruptcy, which may be helpful if the plan does not work out for the debtor.

While there are several reasons a person can end up with high amounts of debt, some debt is purely accidental and the result of not understanding how debt and credit work. Credit counseling and debtor education aim to remedy this issue.

The benefits of filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy extend beyond education. For example, according to the U.S. Courts website, filers may not face foreclosure of their homes.

If bankruptcy seems like a viable option for your financial situation, contact the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee. As an experienced San Antonio, Texas bankruptcy attorney, Mr. McGhee has helped clients over the past 20 years regain control of their finances. Call our law firm today at 210-342-3400.

 

How to Determine Eligibility for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

October 6th, 2014 at 10:17 am

Chapter 13 bankruptcy in TexasFor most people who file bankruptcy, the process is very unfamiliar. Many filers focus on the negative aspects of bankruptcy: its effects on credit, potential loss of assets, and others. What is important to understand, however, is that bankruptcy is not financial suicide; it is an opportunity to save your home, reduce monthly payments, and end harassment from creditors.

Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which involves the liquidation of assets to pay off debts, Chapter 13 involves the restructuring of debt. The debtor pays “priority debts” first. These include taxes, alimony, child support and any owed wages. After these, car loans and mortgages are usually next. These debts are scheduled into an approved payment plan that takes income and overall debt into account.

Unsecured debts, such as credit cards or medical bills, are often handled last. Depending on whether these can be paid in full, there may be restructuring options available.

While Chapter 13 has its advantages, there are a number of rules for applying. According to USCourts.gov, the filer must have unsecured debts amounting to less than $383,175.00 and secured debts of $1,149,525.00 or less. These numbers adjust over time based on the consumer price index.

Many filers wonder if they are ineligible because they are self-employed or operate an unincorporated business. However, as long as the person meets the financial requirements outlined above, he or she may be eligible.

It is important to note that just because a filer’s secured and unsecured debts fall within the eligibility requirements, it does not mean the person can file Chapter 13. For example, if the debtor misses court willfully, leading to the dismissal of a bankruptcy petition, or fails to comply with court orders during the 180 days preceding the filing of a Chapter 13 petition, he or she may not be eligible.

Debtors also must attend a group or individual briefing from an approved credit-counseling agency within the 180 days prior to filing. There are certain exceptions to this rule, and your Texas bankruptcy attorney can help you understand if this regulation applies to you.

If you are located in San Antonio, eligibility should only be assessed by a Texas bankruptcy attorney. If you are considering filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and live in San Antonio, Texas, or the surrounding areas, contact Chance M. McGhee. With more than 20 years’ experience as a San Antonio bankruptcy lawyer, Mr. McGhee can help you decide which bankruptcy option—if any—is right for you. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, please call us at 210-342-3400.

Warning Signs of Financial Trouble

September 24th, 2014 at 7:30 am

Bankruptcy Financial TroubleAll of us struggle with finances at one time or another. However, for many people, that struggle may become overwhelming and feel as if it is never-ending. For those people, bankruptcy can often be the first step to gain control over their financial future.

There are certain signs that financial advisors point to as red flags that your debt has become unmanageable and bankruptcy should be considered. These signs include:

  • The balance of your credit card debt continues to increase, yet your monthly income is either staying the same or has decreased;
  • You pay only the minimum amount due on your credit cards. Some months, you pay even less than the minimum or completely miss the payment;
  • You have multiple credit cards and they all have balances on them;
  • When you receive an offer for a new credit card, you immediately apply;
  • You are using credit cards to pay credit card bills. If you have applied for a credit card, only to take cash advances in order to pay other credit card bills, that is a definite red flag to serious financial trouble;
  • You are close to or at the limit on most or all of your credit cards;
  • You are charging more each month on your cards than you are sending in for your monthly payment;
  • You are using your cards to purchase food, gas, utility bills and other life necessities;
  • Your credit cards are no longer used for ‘extras’ or for convenience sake. Instead, you are using them because you do not have any money;
  • The phone is ringing and letters piling up in your mailbox about your late bill payments;
  • You do not know the true amount of what your total credit card debt is, and you do not want to know.

If you recognize your situation in this list, then it may be time to consult with an experienced San Antonio bankruptcy attorney. Find out what your best options may be to help and get you back on the road to financial recovery.

Why Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy May Be the Answer for You

September 22nd, 2014 at 8:29 am

Chapter 7 BankruptcyLet’s face it: bankruptcy is a daunting prospect. Many first-time filers feel stressed, anxious and even overwhelmed at the idea. The truth, however, is that bankruptcy comes with many benefits: no more calls from creditors and no more worrying about losing your home, to name two.

When most individuals think of bankruptcy, Chapter 7 comes to mind. That is because it is the most common type of bankruptcy.

According to UScourts.gov, Chapter 7 allows for an immediate stop of wage garnishments, home foreclosure, phone calls from creditors and repossessions. A trustee will evaluate your assets to see if liquidation is an option, but in most cases, filers can keep their properties.

Ultimately, very few creditors appeal the results of creditors’ meetings. The bankruptcy process ends with the court wiping away or discharging eligible debts.

It is important to note, however, that the court cannot discharge all types of debt. Ineligible debts include school loans, child support and employee tax debts.

Another advantage of Chapter 7 is the relative speed of the process. In fact, it usually takes less than six months from the time you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to become relieved of debt.

There is a tradeoff, of course. Filing for bankruptcy means you cannot apply for credit for up to 10 years. Still, filers enjoy the relief that comes with having a plan and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy in San Antonio, Texas, we can help. Chance M. McGhee is a San Antonio bankruptcy attorney. He will sit down with you, examine your situation and help you determine if filing for bankruptcy would be the right solution.

Mr. McGhee will also explain the pros and cons of Chapter 7 bankruptcy so you are aware of how the process works. To schedule a consultation, please call our office at 210-342-3400.

Call today for a FREE Consultation

210-342-3400

Facebook Google Plus Blog
Back to Top Back to Top