Blog
Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee

Call Today for a FREE Consultation

210-342-3400

Archive for the ‘credit counseling’ tag

Bankruptcy and Debt Solutions: How Can I Find a Reputable Credit Counselor?

October 28th, 2020 at 9:03 pm

TX bankrupcy attorney, Texas debt lawyer, Whether you are planning on filing for bankruptcy or simply need assistance in developing a budget, credit counselors can provide you with the tools and resources you need. Unfortunately, not all credit counselors are created equal. In fact, some can leave you worse off than when you started, which makes finding an experienced, reputable credit counselor absolutely essential for your financial future. The following tips can help you find the one most suited for your needs and preferences and improve your chances of finding the financial empowerment you are looking for.

Know Why You Need a Credit Counselor

Each credit counseling agency and provider has an area in which they are best equipped to help their clients. With this in mind, it is critical that you first know why you need credit counseling. To find the answer, consider your goals and examine your current financial situation. If you are filing for bankruptcy, then you will also want to ensure you find a credit counselor that is approved by the United States Department of Justice since those who are not accredited will not be accepted by the courts.

Check and Verify Credentials and Qualifications

While credit counselors that are listed on the Department of Justice’s website most likely carry some of the highest levels of certification and meet some of the most stringent government standards, it is necessary that you check and verify the credentials and qualifications of all other credit counselors. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling and the Financial Counseling Association of America are both renowned agencies that ensure the quality of certified professionals, but the Council of Accreditation is also a reliable accreditation held by qualified credit counselors. You may also wish to check the agency’s rating with the Better Business Bureau to determine if they have any major complaints from other consumers.

Exercise Patience and Due Diligence

When you are dealing with debt issues, it can be easy to get in a rush. You want to finally be free, to feel like you are making some sort of progress, but this is not the time for impatience or hurried decisions. Many consumers spend weeks, months, or even years working with a credit counselor to fully resolve their debt. If you are not working with someone who has your best interests in mind, that can mean a significant amount of wasted time and money, and it could even hurt you in the long run. Take your time, be patient, and practice due diligence so that you can find a credit counselor that best suits your needs.

A Bexar County, TX Debt Management and Bankruptcy Lawyer Can Help

Whether you are looking to file for bankruptcy or need help finding an alternative path, the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee can help. As a skilled consumer bankruptcy attorney, Attorney Chance McGhee has more than 25 years of experience in assisting consumers and small businesses with their debt and bankruptcy issues. Put your debt problems behind you. Call 210-342-3400 to schedule your free initial consultation with our knowledgeable San Antonio bankruptcy attorney today.

 

Sources:

https://www.nfcc.org/what-we-offer/bankruptcy-counseling/

https://fcaa.org/bankruptcy-counseling/

https://www.justice.gov/ust/list-credit-counseling-agencies-approved-pursuant-11-usc-111

Does Filing for Bankruptcy Damage Credit?

August 12th, 2020 at 2:07 pm

TX bankruptcy attorney, Texas chapter 7 lawyerYou have likely seen TV commercials about the numerous credit cards available or regarding where you can go to calculate your credit score. These shiny advertisements can leave many young adults applying for credit cards without knowing the impact that this can have on their spending habits. Receiving your first colorful card in the mail can quickly lead to two or three more, each with their own amount of debt steadily piling up. While these bills may seem harmless as a young, single college graduate, the debt enclosed with these credit cards can burden you for years to come. As the debt continues to increase, you may be wondering where you can turn for help. Bankruptcy is a valid option; however, its negative impact on credit scores can have most people seeking out financial alternatives first.

Sell Some Assets

The best way to get rid of debt? Pay it off. If you have any assets that you can spare, the money that you can gain from selling these valuables can help alleviate you from the lump sum sitting on your credit cards. Take to digital marketplaces, such as eBay or Craigslist, if you have any jewelry, furniture, or electronics that you are willing to part with. If you have multiple TVs, laptops, antique furniture that you have tucked away in storage, or an old necklace that you never wear, it may be best to see how much money you can earn by selling them to a new owner.

Speak with Your Creditors

Have you tried explaining your situation to your credit card company? While they hear situations like yours on a daily basis, they may be willing to extend your debt payment’s due date or build a payment plan that better aligns with your monthly income. Although it may be difficult to do, you should explain to your creditors that you are going through a financial hardship and are doing your best to avoid filing for bankruptcy. They may be able to lower your monthly payment or decrease your interest rate.

Consider Consumer Credit Counseling

If your creditors refuse to work with you, enlist someone who has a little more experience in the field. Consumer credit counselors work to negotiate with creditors. One of their jobs is to help debtors obtain a reduced interest rate or monthly payment. They will also assist their clients in creating a monthly budget to help them stay on track with their amount owed. Working with a consumer credit counselor may still negatively impact your credit score.

Speak with a San Antonio Bankruptcy Lawyer

Filing for bankruptcy is never the path that anyone wishes to take, but unfortunately, some people run out of alternatives. If you have attempted to pay off your debts using the tactics described above, it may be time to work with a reputable bankruptcy attorney. The Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee works to help their clients overcome their financial difficulties. With over 20 years of experience, Attorney McGhee takes the time to discuss the implications of bankruptcy and any valid alternatives before moving forward with the bankruptcy process. If you are unsure about how to proceed, contact our New Braunfels bankruptcy attorney at 210-342-3400 to discuss your situation in your free consultation.

 

Source:

https://www.thebalance.com/six-ways-to-avoid-bankruptcy-960626

Managing Your Finances after Bankruptcy

June 29th, 2018 at 8:03 pm

Texas bankruptcy attorneyThink about it: you have already made the mistakes; therefore, you know what to avoid. Bankruptcy tends to make filers better money managers both through experience, as well as through the required courses. Most new clients ask how long it will take to rebuild their credit, followed shortly by the firm statement that they will only ever pay for anything in cash ever again. Bankruptcy is one experience that will help you better manage your finances and empower you to to make better decisions in the future.

Education Requirements

In 2005, Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) due to their belief that the system was too lenient on those filing for bankruptcy. At that point, they instituted a two-part education program as a requirement to file for bankruptcy. These sessions include:

  • Pre-petition credit counseling which explores all financial relief options to determine if bankruptcy is, in fact, the best option; and
  • Post-petition financial management which occurs before the discharge is finalized and educates clients about how to move forward, budget, manage money, and rebuild credit successfully.

Beyond the Sessions

Most families attending these courses gain essential insights into bankruptcy alternatives, if they qualify, as well as best practices in money management to avoid a recurrence. A few of the most helpful pieces of advice include:

  • Get budget help through financial tracking apps;
  • Start an emergency savings fund instead of an emergency credit card;
  • Live within your means (appropriate house and car size);
  • Eat at home more often than you eat out (this includes coffee and sodas);
  • Cut cable and other unnecessary expenses;
  • Unsubscribe from tempting advertisement emails;
  • Teach kids to be thrifty in spending; and
  • Remember that less is more.

Ask Someone with Experience

Believe it or not, you will begin receiving offers from lenders offering you loans and credit lines shortly after finalizing your bankruptcy. Unfortunately, many people accept these offers for fear that there will be no other offers. Advice to consider is to avoid large loans in the beginning. If you work with small lines of credit and keep them paid on time, eventually better offers will come in. If you have questions about how bankruptcy can help your current situation and your future, a Boerne bankruptcy lawyer can help. At  Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee, we provide cost-efficient and compassionate counsel to individuals, families, and small business owners struggling with a financial crisis. Call us today at 210-342-3400 to schedule a free case review.

 

Sources:

http://www.txs.uscourts.gov/bankruptcy

 

“Credit Counseling” and “Debtor Education”

September 28th, 2016 at 7:00 am

These two requirements are quite straightforward to accomplish, but can trip you up if you don’t take care of them when you need to.

 

“Credit Counseling”

Before you can file a personal bankruptcy case, you have to go through what is essentially a simple bureaucratic formality. But it IS a strict legal requirement that can cause unnecessary headaches if not done correctly. So it’s important to understand the “credit counseling” requirement. 

The U.S. Bankruptcy Code requires the following during the 180 days before filing a bankruptcy case. You must get, “from an approved nonprofit budget and credit counseling agency,” “an individual or group briefing (including… by telephone or on the Internet) that outline[s] the opportunities for available credit counseling and assist[s]… in preforming a related budget analysis.” (See Section 109(h) of the Bankruptcy Code.)

This “counseling” is really a simple procedure.  You provide information, usually online, about your debts, income, and expenses. You are then almost always informed that you do not have enough income to meet your expenses. The practical result is you get an emailed certificate stating that you’ve received the required “counseling.” That enables you to file bankruptcy.

The timing is critical. The certificate of completion is good for only 180 days. So don’t do the “counseling” unless you will be filing bankruptcy within that time. But also don’t hold off too long to avoid being pressed for time when it’s time to file bankruptcy.

What’s the point of this requirement? It’s to encourage people to consider alternatives other than bankruptcy. The Government Accountability Office has called that into question:

The counseling was intended to help consumers make informed choices about bankruptcy and its alternatives. Yet… by the time most clients receive the counseling, their financial situations are dire, leaving them with no viable alternative to bankruptcy. As a result, the requirement may often serve more as an administrative obstacle than as a timely presentation of meaningful options.

“Debtor Education”

Beyond this “credit counseling” before filing your bankruptcy case, you must also complete “an instructional course concerning personal financial management” after filing the case.” You have to do this “debtor education” to get a discharge of your debts.

“Debtor education” is required in both Chapter 7 “straight bankruptcy” and Chapter 13 “adjustment of debts” cases. (See Sections 727(a)(11) and 1328(g) of the Bankruptcy Code.)

The most important thing about “debtor education” is to get it done, and on time.

The main goal of a Chapter 7 case is to get a discharge of your debts. Most Chapter 13 cases have that as a major goal as well—to discharge whatever debts are not paid during your case. If you do not complete the “debtor education” step, your bankruptcy case will close but you will not receive a discharge of your debts. You would have spent a lot of money and effort without accomplishing your main goal.

“Debtor education” is a 90-minute or so class is “designed to assist debtors in understanding personal financial management.“ This includes the appropriate use of credit, and budgeting skills. Like “credit counseling,” it can be done online, over the phone, or in person; in English or various other languages. When both spouses file a joint bankruptcy, both spouses must take this course. When you complete the course, you receive a certificate of completion which your lawyer files at the court.

Also like “credit counseling,” the service is provided by a long list of agencies approved by the U.S. Trustee’s Office. These agencies’ quality, convenience, and cost can vary widely, so get a recommendation about which one to use from your bankruptcy lawyer.

FAQs about Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

June 5th, 2015 at 8:12 am

Texas bankruptcy attorney, Texas chapter 7 lawyer, Texas chapter 13 attorney,Although much of the United States seems to have recovered from the Global Financial Crisis, thousands of Americans still declare bankruptcy every year. Although many are familiar with the general implications of bankruptcy, few first-time filers understand the intricate laws and how they relate to their particular case.

To shed some light on this complex legal field, here are four common chapter 7 bankruptcy FAQs:

What Makes Chapter 7 Unique?

Unlike chapter 13 bankruptcy, which restructures debt into a manageable payment plan, chapter 7 involves the liquidation of assets to pay off creditors. Depending on the types and amount of debt, chapter 7 bankruptcy may allow the filer to pay off his or her debts completely.

Is Chapter 7 Right for Me?

Before deciding to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy, you should find out if you qualify in the first place. Chapter 7 is available to any legal entity, individual or otherwise, according to Uscourts.gov.

In order to be eligible, you must attend credit counseling within 180 days before applying for chapter 7 bankruptcy. When filing, you must have enough income to pay your debts. There are other factors involving your legal and bankruptcy histories that may influence your eligibility. A bankruptcy attorney can assess your case to help you decide if filing for chapter 7 is the right decision.

What Information Will the Courts Require?

Like other forms of bankruptcy, chapter 7 requires an individual to file a petition. An attorney can help with the necessary paperwork. You will need to list all creditors, debts owed, and assets. You will also need to provide a comprehensive record of your income and living expenses.

Will I Lose My Home?

Chapter 7 involves the liquidation of assets to pay debts. You may have to sell your home or other properties during this process. However, this is not always necessary, and a lawyer can help you develop a bankruptcy plan that represents your best interests.

If you would like to speak with an experienced San Antonio bankruptcy attorney, call the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee at 210-342-3400 for a free consultation.

How Bankruptcy Can Be the Start of a More Secure Financial Life

October 27th, 2014 at 9:46 am

bankruptcy solutions in Texas, San Antonio bankruptcy attorneyLet us redefine the popular yet misguided perspective of bankruptcy. First, here are the facts: Bankruptcy  may have a negative impact on a credit score and will stay on record for 10 years. Lenders will consider someone who recently went through bankruptcy as a risk and will be less likely to loan  money. According to Bankrate, it is even possible to see insurance rates rise. Due to these conceptions, many view bankruptcy as a stressful and that it is a difficult way out of debt. But, this does not have to be true.

Bankruptcy is an opportunity—even a tool—that grants debt relief while teaching some valuable financial lessons. There are a variety of reasons why one might consider bankruptcy, and the best chapter to file depends on the circumstances surrounding the debt.

What You May Learn While Going Through Bankruptcy

Different forms, or chapters, of bankruptcy offer different solutions to getting out of debt. What they all have in common, however, is a direct lesson in financial security—both literally and figuratively.

First, applicants for bankruptcy must go through some basic monetary schooling before completing the process. This includes credit counseling, as well as debtor education, which offers lessons, advice and tips for maintaining finances.

Living After Bankruptcy

After going through the process of bankruptcy, the real work is only half complete. Filers may need to commit to a lifestyle that incorporates less spending and fewer luxuries. Learning to live off of income is one of the first steps in this journey. For those with limited income, the transition can be quite difficult.

Establishing credit is another concern for those who have recently declared bankruptcy. For the most part, a secure line of credit is the first way to start. By making responsible purchases and paying them off on time, it is possible to move on to a regular, unsecured credit card with relatively low amounts of interest.

Bankruptcy offers the opportunity for debtors to attain financial stability. If you feel that declaring bankruptcy is the solution for you, having a San Antonio, Texas bankruptcy lawyer with you every step of the way can be beneficial. For the past 20 years, the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee have helped clients break down their financial hurdles. Contact us 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.

Call today for a FREE Consultation

210-342-3400

Facebook Blog
Back to Top Back to Top