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Debt Dilemmas: Common Concerns about Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Process

July 10th, 2015 at 7:10 pm

Texas chapter 13 lawyer, Texas chapter 7 attorney, Texas bankruptcy lawyer, There are many options available to Americans who want to resolve their debts, but for those who wish to avoid a mass liquidation of assets, chapter 13 bankruptcy may be the answer. If you are struggling with insurmountable debt, you likely have many questions and concerns about the chapter 13 bankruptcy process.

An experienced bankruptcy attorney can evaluate your situation, address your concerns, and provide recommendations for debt relief. In the meantime, here are three common questions about chapter 13 bankruptcy:

Will I Lose My Property?

Many first-time bankruptcy filers confuse chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcies. Unlike chapter 13, chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidating assets to pay creditors. However, chapter 13 filers can keep their assets and instead pay debts through a structured repayment plan, according to Uscourts.gov.

What If I Cannot Keep up with My Payments?

Chapter 13 works by restructuring your debt into a more manageable payment plan that takes into account your total debt owed and your ability to pay. In some cases, it is possible to modify a repayment plan; however, debtors who cannot keep up with payments may eventually have to transfer their case to chapter 7 bankruptcy.

How Does Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Affect Tax Debts?

Bankruptcy laws treat credit card bills, mortgages, and similar debts differently than federal and state tax debts. However, chapter 13 bankruptcy places all of these debts – including tax debt – into the applicant’s payment plan.

If you are struggling with debt and want to know if chapter 13 bankruptcy is right for you, contact the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee. With more than two decades of experience as a skilled San Antonio bankruptcy lawyer, Mr. McGhee has the resources to guide you through the bankruptcy process. Call our office today for a free consultation at 210-342-3400.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: A Brief Overview of Eligibility and Asset Liquidation

June 19th, 2015 at 7:11 am

Texas chapter 7 attorney, Texas chapter 13 lawyer, Texas bankruptcy attorney,There is a multitude of relief options for Americans who are struggling with debt, and in some situations, filing for bankruptcy is a smart decision. Many debtors find that either chapter 13 or chapter 7 bankruptcy can put them on the path toward financial stability. Before filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy, though, it is important to understand if you are eligible and what may happen to your assets.

The best source of information about your unique bankruptcy case is an experienced attorney. A bankruptcy lawyer can evaluate your debts to determine which bankruptcy chapter – if any – is ideal for your particular situation. In the meantime, here is some important information about state median incomes and asset liquidation as they relate to filing for bankruptcy:

State Medians and Your Income

According to UScourts.gov, one of the factors that determine if a person qualifies for chapter 7 bankruptcy is his or her income. If your income is too high, a judge may request that you file for chapter 13 instead, because you will have the means to work with a structured payment plan. Of course, whether or not your income is high or low is relative to the state median.

Selling off Your Assets

Paying off debt through a liquidation of property is one of the distinguishing characteristics of chapter 7 bankruptcy — and it is perhaps one of the more worrying aspects. Many applicants are concerned about whether they will lose their homes, cars, and other property.

In some cases, it may be necessary to sell a home or vehicle in accordance with the chapter 7 bankruptcy process, but some property may be exempt from debtor collections. There is an intricate process involved in determining what assets qualify as exempt. A bankruptcy lawyer can help you understand what property may be safe from liquidation.

If you wish to speak with an experienced San Antonio bankruptcy attorney, contact the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee at 210-342-3400 to schedule a free consultation. With more than 20 years of experience in bankruptcy law, Mr. McGhee help you decide if filing for bankruptcy is a smart option.

Bankruptcy Qualifications: Can You File for Bankruptcy Twice?

May 8th, 2015 at 8:17 pm

Texas chapter 7 lawyer, Texas chapter 13 attorney, Texas bankruptcy lawyer,Provided that you qualify for bankruptcy, it is likely that you will only apply once in your life. If everything pans out well, the process should set you on a more financially healthy course. However, whether due to a serious injury, loss of income, or another financial hardship, some people may find themselves considering bankruptcy a second time.

Is There a Limit to the Number of Times You Can File for Bankruptcy?

For the most part, you may file for bankruptcy as many times as you wish — although this does not imply that you should. Applying for bankruptcy too soon after the first may void your ability to discharge your debts, according to the Federal Trade Commission. This is critical because, in many cases, the purpose of bankruptcy is to discharge debt to make your finances more manageable.

The amount of time you should wait before filing a second time largely depends on whether you are filing for chapter 7 or chapter 13. After applying for chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must wait eight years until applying for the same chapter again. This differs from chapter 13, for which the wait period is only two years.

The time period between your first bankruptcy and hypothetical second begins on the day you filed the first bankruptcy. You should only consider a second bankruptcy after researching other options and consulting a bankruptcy attorney.

Filing under a Different Chapter the Second Time

Regardless of your first bankruptcy, you are not obligated to file under the same chapter during subsequent filings. However, changing the type of bankruptcy you file may affect the wait period. If you file for chapter 7 first, you must wait four years to file for chapter 13. For the converse, the waiting period is six years, provided that you have not paid off all unsecured debt. It is also possible to apply sooner if you have made regular payments for more than half of the debt owed, and you can show that a chapter 7 discharge is necessary to gain control of your finances.

To speak with a San Antonio bankruptcy attorney about filing for bankruptcy, either the first time or the second, contact the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee for a free consultation at 210-342-3400.

Tips for Dealing with Debt Collectors

April 24th, 2015 at 9:53 am

Texas bankruptcy attorney, overdue bills, Texas chapter 7 lawyer, As anyone with experience can relate, debt collectors can make life stressful. The sound of a ringing phone is enough to cause anxiety, and although some collectors may be easier to work with, their persistent efforts can feel overwhelming.

Many debtors are surprised to find out that there may be several options available to help them climb out of debt. Some of these can stop the actions of collections agencies almost immediately. In the meantime, here are three tips for dealing with collector calls:

Answer the Phone

According to Creditcards.com, one of the most important steps when dealing with debt collectors is to be responsible and answer the phone. It is equally important to respond to any written notices. Even if the debt seems like it is not yours, do not let it stagnate. Ignoring calls and attempts to contact you can hurt your ability to work out a payment arrangement.

Note the Details of Each Call

There are several laws governing what collection agencies can and cannot do. It is important to take notes about each call just in case the collector is breaking the law. While on the phone, you should jot down:

  • The name of the collection agency;
  • The name of the agent you spoke with;
  • What time of day he or she called you;
  • The total balance owed;
  • Payment dates;
  • Any threatening or abusive language; and
  • Contact information.

If a collection agency has knowingly violated consumer laws, it may be required to pay you money. The only way to prove inexcusable activities, however, is to keep proper records of each conversation and transaction.

Do Not Agree to Payments You Cannot Make

The offer of scheduling a payment just to stop the calls seems tempting — even if you are not sure you can afford it. However, you should not make empty promises with debt collectors. Your credit report may show missed payments. It is better to ask the collector to call you another time when you have reviewed your finances fully and can schedule a realistic payment.

If you would like to end creditor harassment or inquire about other debt relief strategies including bankruptcy, contact an experienced San Antonio bankruptcy attorney. Call the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee at 210-342-3400 for a free initial consultation.

The Importance of Following Bankruptcy Laws

April 3rd, 2015 at 8:13 pm

Texas bankruptcy attorney, Texas chapter 7 lawyer, Texas chapter 13 attorney, bankruptcy fraud, Filing for bankruptcy should not feel like an admission of guilt or defeat.  Chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcies can help people stabilize their finances and work toward a debt-free life.

Bankruptcy laws are complex, which is why the guidance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney may prove invaluable. A lawyer who has handled cases similar to yours can provide advice and potentially expedite the process. You also may be more likely to avoid mistakes that could compromise your interests.

Although bankruptcy is a smart option for many, not understanding the legalities can make the process more difficult. One recent story demonstrates how not following bankruptcy laws can lead to trouble.

Judge Says Houston-Based Realty Company Circumvented Bankruptcy Laws

According to the Houston Business Journal, American Spectrum Realty, a self-storage space and assisted living center company, allegedly filed separate bankruptcy petitions in two different states. The overseeing judge ruled this action as an intentional means of circumventing specific aspects of bankruptcy law.

Following Bankruptcy Laws the Right Way

Different forms of bankruptcy come with specific regulations and requirements. Two of the most popular forms, chapter 7 and chapter 13, differ in how they resolve debt. The former is a more straightforward liquidation and dismissal of debt while the latter creates a repayment plan to help the debtor manage his or her finances.

No matter which form of bankruptcy you file, you must follow bankruptcy laws. An attorney can help you avoid critical mistakes while also helping you compare the options.

Consult a Bankruptcy Lawyer in San Antonio, Texas

If you are struggling with debt as either an individual or a business, and would like to speak with an experienced San Antonio bankruptcy lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee. Call us today at 210-342-3400 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Understanding Wage Garnishment Laws in Texas

January 28th, 2015 at 5:43 pm

wage garnishment in San Antonio, Texas bankruptcy lawyerMost Americans have some form of debt, and many struggle to make payments. Some are fortunate enough to get by with responsible budgeting, consolidation, and other financial strategies. However, unexpected circumstances, such as a suffering an injury or losing a job, can cause a debtor to fall behind. In some cases, creditors will garnish a debtor’s income to pay debt.

Although wage garnishment can severely limit a person’s financial freedoms, certain requirements must be met in order for wage garnishments to be legal. This article will briefly discuss how wage garnishment laws work in Texas.

Texas Laws Regarding Garnished Wages

For citizens of Texas, creditors cannot garnish wages to pay consumer debt, according to NPR. However, debts involving taxes, student loans, alimony, and child support may lead to wage garnishment.

Also, whether or not the debtor was born in Texas may affect the creditor’s ability to garnish wages. There are other complexities to these laws, which is why the guidance of a bankruptcy lawyer may prove invaluable.

What to Do When Wage Garnishment Begins

When wage garnishment begins, it is important that the debtor remains in contact with all relevant parties. These include the creditor, collections agency, and any attorneys involved. Do not avoid phone calls from these parties.

Although it may seem embarrassing or uncomfortable for an employer to learn about your debt, employees cannot lose their jobs due to wage garnishment—provided this is the first time it has happened.

Filing for bankruptcy may be a smart option if you face wage garnishment. A bankruptcy attorney can assess the facts of your case to determine if this is the right decision.

If you wish to learn how bankruptcy might help you financial situation, contact an experienced San Antonio bankruptcy lawyer. The Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee may be able to help. For more than 20 years, Mr. McGhee has helped clients return to financial stability, and he may be able to do the same for you. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 210-342-3400.

 

Is Taking Out a Loan a Smart Way to Get Out of Debt?

January 6th, 2015 at 10:43 pm

getting a loan, San Antonio bankruptcy attorneyNo one wants to be in serious debt, however, carrying some form of debt is unavoidable. To start, everyone needs to build credit, and one of the most effective ways to accomplish this is by taking on “good” amounts of debt and paying it off in a timely fashion.

While credit can be a luxury for some, for others—especially those in a low income bracket—credit becomes a way to help with bills, groceries, and other daily expenses. Unfortunately, even a small amount of debt can be a precursor to bankruptcy if a person falls on hard financial times.

The truth is that filing bankruptcy is a smart decision in many cases. However, there may be other ways to solve debt problems. One method that many people consider is consolidating debt by taking out a loan. This often is an effective strategy, but it is important to understand a few basic aspects about debt and loans.

Understanding What Taking Out a Loan Means

When the money from a loan comes in, paying off credit cards and other debt can feel like a giant weight has been lifted. With a zero balance and no creditor phone calls, one might even feel like they are out of the woods. It is important to understand, however, that the debt is still there and requires payment.

Start Putting Money Away, Know How Much You Owe, and Do Not Add to the Debt

It is important never to lose sight of how much debt you actually owe. An effective strategy is to write down the total amount of the debt while slowly saving enough money to meet each payment—or to pay it off entirely.

There are a lot of benefits to taking out a loan. According to BB&T, loans often have lower interest rates, and placing all of the debt into one area can really make a difference when it comes to focusing one’s own finances. By sticking to basic fiscal wisdom, a personal loan can be a tremendously beneficial means of taking control of debt.

If you need to speak with a Texas bankruptcy attorney, contact the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee. Call us today for a free consultation at 210-342-3400.

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.

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.

Call today for a FREE Consultation

210-342-3400

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