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Archive for the ‘Texas’ tag

The Cost of Care: Helping Elderly Parents

March 24th, 2014 at 12:59 pm

elderly parents, bankruptcy, finances, Texas lawyer, Texas bankruptcy attorneySome baby boomers have done advance planning to help those who will care for them in their old age by buying long term care insurance or setting aside specific funds. A growing number of aging individuals, however, are facing mental and physical challenges by relying on their family members. Research shows that 40 percent of U.S. adults are helping to care for a family member with a major health issue. The cost of caring for elderly parents can easily spin out of control, but you can get on top of your finances again through bankruptcy.

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and the Metlife Market Institute, adults taking care of elderly parents face an increased risk of poor health themselves and a tendency to shortchange their own finances in the process. Poor health can lead to individual medical bills for you and using your savings to help a family member can lead to reliance on credit cards or loans to purchase basic necessities.

Sometimes one child has to give up their own career in order to focus on taking care of a parent. A female who chooses to give up her employment to become a caregiver will lose over $324,000 in pension or Social Security benefits and wages over the course of her lifetime. Many of the women taking on this new role hope that they will only need to step out of the workplace for a short period but then find that their family member requires more or longer-term care than they anticipated.

If you have been struggling to help a family member with the process of aging, there’s no doubt you have felt the impacts of doing so mentally, physically, and financially. If you are buried in debt and need a fresh start to get your life back on track, contact a Texas bankruptcy attorney today.

Career Athletes and Bankruptcy

March 11th, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Olympics, Olympic Rings, San Antonio bankruptcy lawyer, career athletes, bankruptcy, financeThe 2014 Winter Olympics has just wrapped up and all eyes were on the incredible athletes from all around the world who have spent their life training for the big event. Although the Olympics is a celebration of all their hard work, it’s easy to underestimate the amount of time, energy, and financing that goes into preparing an athlete. Whether it’s the Olympics or professional sports, there’s a lot of hard work to get to the top. Some athletes struggle financially before or after their sports career, many even filing for bankruptcy.

The list of professional athletes who have gone bankrupt is longer than you might think. There are several reasons why they get there, but a primary one is poor financial planning or a series of hardships that threw them off course. Especially for younger athletes, not knowing how to properly manage their money can be a challenge too great, leading them to financial struggle mere years after their wealth accumulates.

According to a 2009 study, NFL retirees have a higher average income than men in similar age brackets of the general population. When that study broke down by age, however, younger athletes had higher numbers of sports stars with income close to or below the poverty level. A quick rise to fame can be difficult for younger athletes. Celebrating their big payoff after years of hard work and investment might mean financial difficulty and bankruptcy down the road as a result of poor financial planning.

Financial problems can affect individuals of all income levels and backgrounds. When you’re buried too deep and feeling like you’ll never be able to get on top of your situation, bankruptcy can be there to help. Bankruptcy can give you the fresh start you need. If you’d like to discuss your options, contact a San Antonio bankruptcy attorney today.

2014 is the Year to Get Rid of Debt

January 28th, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Since the ball dropped on New Year’s Day, people have been trying to keep their resolutions. Whether that is quitting smoking, losing weight, or just improving quality of life, keeping up with resolutions can be a challenge. Another common resolution is to get out of debt, and 2014 could be the year for it.

eliminate debt IMAGEThe first step to tackling debt is to list all outstanding balances. Include everything that you might owe for your mortgage, student loans, auto loans, credit card bills, or other bills. It is also important to include the interest rates on these bills so that the most expensive debts are dealt with first.

The next step is to track your spending. Using a year’s worth of bank statements and credit card statements, find out what you spend each month. This will let you see which expenses are necessary and which are not. Use this as a starting point in creating a budget that you can live with, and stick to it. That will allow you to trim any wasteful spending and reallocate those funds to getting rid of debt quickly.

While fun activities may be difficult to cut out, they should be the last thing to budget for. Remember that credit cards are not free money, you will have to pay them off and you will be charged interest on any outstanding balance every month. Celebrate your success when you reach milestones so that you will stay motivated to see your plan to the end.

If you have tried all these steps and still cannot get ahead, then it is time for plan B. Maybe you have lost your job, or experienced an expensive illness or injury, or other unexpected event that makes it difficult to get out of debt. Filing for bankruptcy can let you start over financially. Contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney in San Antonio to review your finances today and make this year the one where you get out of debt.

Protecting Yourself From Refinancing Scams

December 30th, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Believe it or not, financial scammers often do not target the wealthiest individuals. Instead, those facing financial pressures and even considering bankruptcy are most often victimized. Those with money problems may painted into a corner, under immense stress, willing to do whatever it takes for a fresh start, and more susceptible to the dubious claims of scam artists.

refinancing scamStaying educated on the tricks of these con artists will help protect you from falling into their trap. How do scammers seek to steal from vulnerable Texas residents? A few of the most common scams include:

Home Affordable Refinance Program Scams (“HARP”): HARP is a program available to those who are not behind on their mortgage but have difficulty refinancing.  Scam artists are well aware that this program exists. They may try to contact you by phone or through the mail, claim that you qualify for HARP support, and ask for money to work through the process on your behalf. The only way to truly know if you qualify for HARP is to check HARP’s website, or contact your mortgage lender. Eligibility for HARP is based on a number of factors listed by HARP. If you are not sure you can check Freddie Mac’s website to gauge your potential eligibility for HARP.

Unfortunately, scammers often use HARP as a way to funnel money their way. The main thing to look out for are third parties asking for large fees to help you take advantage of the program.

 Rent to Own or Lease Back Scheme: This scam can result in loss of your home if you are not careful.  In this trick, con artists try to convince homeowners to sign over the title or deed to their home with no intention of ever giving the house back.  This is done with claims about getting money up-front while leasing the home or renting again in order to buy it back. These scam artists typically target people they know applied to refinance but were denied due to credit.

The best way to protect yourself from a scam like this is to never sign over the deed or title of your home unless you are legitimately selling the property with the aid of lenders, real estate agents, and proper legal professionals.

 Trusted Legal Help

If you are dealing with foreclosure, looming debt, and other financial pressures, remember that you do not have to handle it alone. An experienced Texas bankruptcy attorney can help. Our team in San Antonio works with residents throughout the state looking for a fresh financial start.  Feel free to contact us today to learn more.

State of Economy in Texas Remains Political Issue

November 21st, 2013 at 2:08 pm

With the gubernatorial race upon us, and local elections being decided throughout the country, the public will surely continue to be inundated with political ad campaigns and candidates’ appearances throughout the region. One of the most discussed issues involves Texas’ economy, and the correlated issues of unemployment rates and the public debt.

 According to My San Antonio, Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for the 2014 GOP gubernatorial nomination, stated during a recent campaign appearance that Texas’ debt ranks as the second highest among large states in the U.S., while San Antonio holds the highest debt of any city within the state. While this state of affairs is concerning, especially considering the recent actions of cities in financial crisis in other parts of the country, perhaps the public can find some reassurance in the fact that the elections will call attention to these issues and potentially produce proposed resolutions.

Unfortunately, considering the state of economic affairs in the state of Texas, it is not surprising that the citizens of Texas also experience financial strain. While the proposition of filing municipal bankruptcy is something that is generally considered as a last resort and is something to be avoided, individuals do not always have other feasible options. However, bankruptcy should not always be viewed as a negative process, as bankruptcy can offer not only debt relief for those who file, but a fresh start at a positive financial future.

Individuals generally file either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition, depending on their intentions and the facts and circumstances surrounding their particular situation.  In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the petitioner obtains a discharge of his or her debt in exchange for surrendering certain items of property that will later be sold to satisfy their debt.  The bankruptcy code allows for certain exemptions that can be used to protect some items of the petitioner’s property from being surrendered.  In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the petitioner agrees to a repayment plan which provides for the petitioner’s debt to be repaid over a period of time, which can also include avoiding foreclosure by entering into a payment plan for the amount that is past due on the petitioner’s mortgage.  The petitioner’s specific repayment plan will depend on various factors, including income, total amount of debt, and types and the extent of other property they own.

The bankruptcy process can be overwhelming and complicated.  An experienced bankruptcy attorney in San Antonio can help guide you through the process and offer assurance in a stressful time.  Contact us today to discuss your options in filing for bankruptcy, and for advice in how to seek relief from financial difficulty.

 

Insured Patients and Bankruptcy

October 8th, 2013 at 8:54 am

Many people assume most bankruptcy filings are due to out-of-control spending habits or poor money management.  However, according to a study published in The American Journal of Medicine, one of the biggest reasons people file for bankruptcy is unpaid medical bills.

More surprising is that many who file for bankruptcy due to medical bills have health insurance.  So even with the expansion of health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act, there will still be people struggling under the weight of medical bills.  Understanding the expenses related to health insurance can help you be financially prepared.

 

Monthly Premiums

Unless you have an employer covering your full monthly premium, most people will have to pay at least part of this to have health insurance.  The amount you’ll pay for your monthly premium has many variables, including the amounts set for your deductible, co-payments and co-insurance.

Deductibles

A deductible is the amount of money you must pay before the health insurance company will begin paying benefits. Deductibles range considerably depending on your plan. Many people try to save on their monthly health care premiums by selecting plans with high deductibles.  This can be an effective strategy but a high deductible can be a real challenge if you ever need to pay it.

Co-Payments and Co-Insurance

Once your deductible is met, you may have co-payments and co-insurance to pay.  A co-payment is a specific dollar amount you may be required to pay each time you visit the doctor.  A co-insurance is a percentage of the covered service you may be required to pay.

Lifetime Maximum

Sadly, a serious illness or injury can deplete your health insurance completely, as many health insurance plans have a lifetime maximum.  This means that once your insurer has paid out a specific dollar amount, you no longer have benefits from that company.

What Can I Do?

You should discuss your financial concerns with your doctor.  While you do not want to compromise the quality of your care, sometimes good options are available that are less expensive.  And do not be afraid to shop around.  Look for cheaper prescription drugs and cheaper diagnostic tests.  Finally, discuss payment plans with your doctor’s office.

If you find yourself with mounting medical bills you cannot pay, bankruptcy may be the best option for you.  Contact an experienced Texas bankruptcy attorney today.

Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

August 20th, 2013 at 10:23 am

LucyWhen someone files for personal bankruptcy, they typically file for either Chapter 13 bankruptcy or Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Under Chapter 13, a payment plan is set up for the debtor to pay back all of the debts, whereas, under Chapter 7, the debts are forgiven.

When a person files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, these are some important steps to take early on:

The person in debt (debtor) must file a bankruptcy petition with the court, along with a list of assets and liabilities, a list of income and expenditures, a financial affair statement and a list of all current leases

  • Once the petition has been filed, debtors must also have tax documents available to hand over to the case trustee
  • If the majority of the debts are consumer debts, the debtor must also file a certificate of credit, a copy of a debt repayment plan from credit counseling if there is one, evidence of payment from employers and any interest in qualified education or tuition accounts

The court then charges the debtor the following fees, which must be paid immediately unless permission is granted otherwise by the court. If these fees are not paid, the case may be dismissed.

  • $245 case filing fee
  • $46 administrative fee
  • $15 trustee surcharge

Information needed to complete all of the necessary forms for the petition, includes:

  • A list of all creditors and the amount and nature of the money due to them
  • The debtor’s income, including the amount, source, and frequency
  • A list of all of the debtor’s properties
  • All monthly expenses such as food, shelter, utilities, transportation, medications, taxes and clothing

Determine possible exemptions in the case. States have specific assets that can be exempt from a case, or a debtor can choose what he or she wishes to be exempt from the case. It is important to determine this early on with an attorney.

Although there are many additional steps that must be taken to file for bankruptcy, these are a few that are very important to get the ball rolling. For additional help, contact a San Antonio bankruptcy attorney. Attorney Chance M. McGhee can help you file and get your debts taken care of today.

Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act saves bankruptcy case

July 15th, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Lucy (Dropbox)While proving whether the defendant broke the law is all that must be done in most court cases, it is not always that simple. Sometimes, judges must rely on past cases to determine the outcome of a current court case, and that is exactly what had to be done in Texas not long ago in bankruptcy court.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas heard Carroll v. Faroogi in February and agreed with a U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s decision that an individual has standing to pursue an action against a franchise or under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA).

The case was about an unsuccessful sale of a Salad Bowl franchise. The CEO (who is also president, chairman and CFO) of the franchise company contacted a potential buyer of his franchise and the buyer, then signed a thirty-day option contract and paid $25,000 to the CEO for the franchise fee. The buyer, unfortunately, was unable to line up suitable financing to complete the purchase and demanded that the CEO refund him his initial $25,000 fee.

After being asked for the money to be returned, the CEO filed for personal bankruptcy under Chapter 13 bankruptcy and the buyer filed an opposing case within the bankruptcy case, against the CEO. The bankruptcy court decided against the CEO, stating that he violated the DTPA, and awarded the buyer a judgment for $88,000. The court also decided that the debt was non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, meaning that it could not be included in the payment plan created under bankruptcy.

In the appeals court, the CEO did not challenge the bankruptcy court’s decision that he violated the DTPA, but that the buyer had standing under the statute. The CEO specifically argued that the buyer was not a consumer under the DTPA because he entered into an option contract which was neither a good nor a service based on the Texas statute. The district court, however, rejected the argument, stating that “a franchise may be a good or service under the DTPA.”

Texas law also directed the courts to examine a party’s main objective in the transaction between buyer and seller to determine whether the party is considered a consumer. Since the district court found that the buyer’s purpose was to purchase the franchise, not at option agreement, it concluded that the buyer was, in fact, a consumer and had standing to bring a DTPA claim against the CEO.

Are you considering filing for bankruptcy like this CEO did? If so, be sure to contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney to catch any loopholes that this CEO did not see. Chance M. McGhee and attorneys can help you with your bankruptcy filing in San Antonio, Tex. today.

Texas Congressman Ruben Hinojosa emerges from bankruptcy

July 7th, 2013 at 11:15 am

When people think of bankruptcy, they often think of foreclosed homes, people with cardboard signs on the sides of highways and old raggedy clothing. That is often not the image of a bankrupt person, however; sometimes the people that file for bankruptcy are those with great jobs and just more debt than income.

In Dec. of 2010, Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas), had to file for personal bankruptcy. According to a court document, he recently emerged from the Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

LucyThe document, which was issued by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Southern District of Texas, provided a final decree that closes Hinojosa’s bankruptcy case.

Hinojosa has been serving in Congress since 1997, had a debt of $2.9 million at the time he declared bankruptcy, including $2.6 million claimed by Wells Fargo Bank. Hinojosa stated that his bankruptcy was due to a loan that he had secured to rescue H&H Meat Products, a slaughterhouse that was founded by his father and uncle, after the company declared bankruptcy in 2008.

In a statement at the time of the filing, Hinojosa, who, ironically, is currently sitting on the House Financial Service Committee, said, “I have done everything humanly possible to avoid filing for bankruptcy protection to no avail. The bank debt of H&H was more than I could handle financially.”

Although House members are required to disclose personal financial documents with Congress each year, nothing prevents members that are indebted to banks from serving on the House Financial Services Committee.

Hinojosa’s annual congressional salary is $174,000. His debt stood in large contrast the wealth of about 249 members of Congress, 47 percent, who were reported as millionaires in 2011.

In the five months that followed Hinojosa’s bankruptcy filing, documents revealed that the congressman spent thousands of dollars on unnecessary expenses, such as $1,800 on clothes, $680 on cleaning services and $540 in allowance to his children.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, contact a bankruptcy lawyer in San Antonio, Tex. today. Attorney Chance M. McGhee will help you with your bankruptcy filing now.

 

Photo courtesy of cooldesign/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

All about Your Credit Score

June 20th, 2013 at 10:18 am

Your credit score is a three digit number that is used by businesses to determine if you are worthy of risk. Do not take this these three little numbers lightly. Although small, they have a lot a power and can affect your life negatively or positively. If you don’t think so, consider this; When you apply for credit, it is those three numbers that will determine if you get approved or denied. The same holds true when you apply for an apartment, insurance and a job.

Theresa    San Antonio bankruptcy attorneyYour credit score is determined by a mathematical formula and although there are tons of these formula models around, most companies use the FICO scoring model, which gauge between 300-850. The higher your score is the better risk you are–likewise the lower the score the higher the risk. Until 2009, each person had three FICO scores because there were three major credit reporting agencies using the FICO model, EquiFax, TransUnion and Experian. Experian is no longer under agreement with FICO. Although there are five categories that make up a credit score, each person’s score is determined based on their circumstances individually. That means that a new person with no credit history is not weighted the same as someone with an established credit history. Instead, the newbie is grouped and weighed against those in that same circumstance—tens of millions to be exact.

There are five categories used to make up a credit score. Payment history and debt owed are two categories that weighed most heavily.

  • How you make your payments and any delinquent accounts goes into the Payment history category and is 35% of the pie.
  • Outstanding Balances (30%)—how much you owe is a factor that is considered. For instance, if you have several open accounts with a large outstanding balance spread between them this might be viewed as a higher risk.
  • How long have you had credit (15%)—how long have you had your open lines of credit and their activity.
  • Types of Accounts (10%)—revolving and installments
  • New lines of Credit (10%)—how many new lines of credit and/or attempts to get new lines of credit is also weighed. This includes hits to your credit report from utility companies.

By law, each person is entitled to a free credit report once a year from each reporting agency. If you have questions about how bankruptcy can affect your credit or how to get your credit back on track, call your San Antonio bankruptcy attorney today.

 

Image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan/freedigitalphotos.net

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