Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Myths and Fallacies

Bankruptcy Solutions

1. YOU CAN’T FILE BANKRUPTCY UNDER THE NEW LAW
No, THE 2005 REFORM ACT just made it more difficult and added SPEED BUMPS to overcome. This is why you need to consult a consumer bankruptcy attorney before you do anything if you are in financial distress.

2. YOU MUST BE BEHIND IN YOUR BILLS OR BROKE TO FILE BANKRUPTCY
No, do not wait until it is an emergency with bank restraints and income executions. Figure out where you will be financially 6 months from now. Will it be better or worse?

3. YOU CAN’T WORK AND FILE BANKRUPTCY
No, the starting point is the MEDIAN INCOME set in the Means Test under the new law which is currently $38,294 for single person with no dependents in Texas.
– $55,178 for family of 2.
– $65,477 for family of 4.
– Each state is different.
This is just a starting point. Certain expenses will help qualify you, so one’s gross income can be substantially higher in some cases. See your local Salinas and Monterey bankruptcy attorney to see if you qualify.

4. YOU WILL LOSE YOUR HOME IF YOU FILE BANKRUPTCY
NO: Each state has different protection for homes. If your home is underwater (meaning no equity in it), it is not considered an asset in the bankruptcy and you may elect to keep it or surrender it. Texas has an unlimited dollar value homestead exemptions to protect equity in your principal residence.

5. IT WILL DESTROY MY CREDIT IF I FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY MY CREDIT SCORE WILL GO DOWN
Let’s face it: most clients already have bad credit. Question is: What are you going to do about your debt? Most credit scores will go up after filing bankruptcy, particularly in a Chapter 13.

6. YOU WILL NEVER GET ANOTHER JOB OR BE ABLE TO RENT AN APARTMENT
You have a better chance of landing that job if you take action to fix your finances. Employers do not want harassment at work or income executions. Landlords want tenants who can use their salary to pay rent, not the Marshal or credit cards.

7. IF YOU FILE BANKRUPTCY, YOU MIGHT AS WELL MAX OUT CREDIT CARDS
WRONG! Stop using the cards and stop paying them and see a consumer bankruptcy professional. Maxing out those cards will create more problems in your bankruptcy filing and may be bad faith. Bankruptcy is meant for the UNFORTUNATE but HONEST debtor.

8. YOU SHOULD DO ANYTHING TO AVOID BANKRUPTCY INCLUDING CASHING IN 401K OR RETIREMENT FUNDS
WRONG! Your retirement funds are protected! And, you will be taxed and penalized on retirement withdrawals by the IRS! Don’t listen to those Cable Television Talkingheads who tell you to cash in your retirement!

9. IMMIGRATION STATUS WILL BE AFFECTED AND YOU WILL NEVER BECOME A CITIZEN
NOT TRUE: Filing bankruptcy is NOT a crime and will NOT affect your Green Card or CITIZENSHIP!!

10. MY BANKRUPTCY WILL BE IN THE NEWSPAPERS AND EVERYONE WILL KNOW ABOUT IT.
Bankruptcy filings are published in some newspapers since it is a matter of public record. Your real friends will understand, and who cares about anyone else. They aren’t in your shoes and don’t know what led to having to file Bankruptcy.

11. THOSE DEBT MANAGEMENT PLANS (DMP) ADVERTISED ON TV AND RADIO WORK!
NO! If you pay the DMP and do not pay your creditors, you will be sued by the creditor. Most DMPs are being investigated by the Attorney General.

12. YOU CAN KEEP 1 CREDIT CARD (JUST DON’T TELL YOUR BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY)
No. Bankruptcy allows a Fresh Start. You must list all of your debts. It is likely that the card will be closed anyway.

13. YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO FILE BANKRUPTCY
Most bankruptcy attorneys have payment plans. In Chapter 13, most of the fees can be paid through the plan payments. You are generally instructed to stop all credit card payments freeing up money for fees.

14. YOU ARE A FAILURE IF YOU FILE BANKRUPTCY
Studies show that bankruptcies are generally caused BY HEALTH PROBLEMS, EMPLOYMENT PROBLEMS, and MATRIMONIAL PROBLEMS.

15. YOU HAVE TO PAY EVERYTHING BACK ANYWAY, SO WHY FILE BANKRUPTCY?
In A Chapter 7 bankruptcy debts are wiped out with the exception of certain taxes, child support/alimony and student loans. In Chapter 13 you pay back debts that must be paid, such as certain taxes, mortgage arrears if you are keeping the house, or payments for vehicles on which you still owe money.

Contact us with any of your Bankruptcy questions. The initial consultation is free.

Law Office of Gregory A. Ross, PC
4245 Kemp Blvd., Ste 308
Wichita Falls, TX 76308
Telephone: (940) 692-7800
Facsimile: (940) 692-7813
Email: info@gregoryrosspc.com
www.gregoryrosspc.com

Facing Foreclosure

Purchasing a home can be one of the most significant investments a person or family makes. After the sale is complete, there is often no one available to consult with when you experience financial troubles and face foreclosure. This article is designed to provide a basic introduction and description of the foreclosure process, the laws governing foreclosure, and possible options for those facing foreclosure.

What Are the Different Types of Foreclosures?

In Texas, the type of foreclosure process that is used by a lender depends on the type of debt that is owed. There are two general classes of foreclosure: a non-judicial foreclosure and a judicial foreclosure. A non-judicial foreclosure — performed without involving a court or judge — is used when the loan was used to purchase the home or to refinance the original purchase loan. A judicial foreclosure generally occurs when a government entity is seeking to collect taxes owed on the property. The government will file a lawsuit with the court seeking to have your property sold to pay for property taxes that are owed.

There is also a third type of foreclosure that combines parts of the non-judicial and judicial foreclosures and is used only for specific types of loans. If a homeowner has received a home equity loan or a loan that was used to pay property taxes, the lender must obtain a court order approving the foreclosure before performing a non-judicial foreclosure. After the lender provides the first notice and the homeowner does not pay the debt owed, the lender must file an application with the court requesting an order of foreclosure. The homeowner has 38 days to file a response to the foreclosure application. If a response is filed, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether the lender is entitled to foreclosure. If a foreclosure order is signed by the court, the lender will then be allowed to continue with a non-judicial foreclosure by providing the second notice, which is the Notice of Sale.

What Steps Are Involved in a Non-judicial Foreclosure?

Once a homeowner has missed a mortgage payment and is in default under the promissory note, the lender may attempt several unofficial steps to resolve the problem, such as collection calls, letters, acceptance of partial payments, or negotiating a temporary payment plan. Assuming that these efforts have not resolved the problem and the lender is ready to proceed with a nonjudicial
foreclosure, the following actions must be performed by the lender:

1) Notice of Default and Intent to Accelerate (the first notice);
2) Notice of Sale and Acceleration of Debt (the second notice);
3) Foreclosure Sale;
4) Distribution of Proceeds;
5) Eviction;
6) Deficiency Action; and
7) No Right of Redemption for Non-judicial Foreclosure.

What Options Are Available to Avoid a Non-judicial Foreclosure?

A foreclosure can be canceled, delayed, or avoided at any time prior to the sale at the courthouse. The best time to reach a resolution is during the 20-day period after receipt of the first notice. During this time, you are required to pay only the past due amounts and not the entire loan amount. If you believe that you will be able to gather the necessary funds to bring the loan current, it would be wise to contact the lender and keep them informed on your progress as they may be willing to extend the 20-day period if they believe that the matter can be resolved without further action. If you cannot pay the entire amount that is due, your lender may be willing to agree to a payment plan, loan modification, or other arrangement to bring the loan current and ensure that you will be able to make future payments. In certain situations, it is possible that your lender must consider modification if your home loan qualifies under new laws passed to provide relief from rising foreclosures, such as the Making Home Affordable plan and the Home Affordable Modification Program.

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure

A deed in lieu of foreclosure involves a scenario where the homeowner voluntarily transfers ownership of the property to the lender. Deeds in lieu of foreclosure are quicker to complete, cost less money for the lender, and are more confidential than a public sale. However, this is usually only an option when ownership of the property is free and clear of mortgages, liens, and encumbrances. Homeowners will be left with the same final result as with a foreclosure — the loss of their residence.

Bankruptcy

The filing of a bankruptcy petition will immediately stop a foreclosure sale from occurring as of the filing of the petition. However, you will be required to continue making some type of regular payments and make some payments toward the delinquency as part of your bankruptcy plan. Filing for bankruptcy is a major event and should not be taken lightly or performed without careful consideration.

For assistance when facing foreclosure, please call the Law Office of Gregory A. Ross at 940-692-7800, or email us at info@gregoryrosspc.com

This article was excerpted from Facing Foreclosure, a brochure prepared as a public service by the Texas Young Lawyers Association and distributed by the State Bar. To obtain a complete copy of the pamphlet, write to the State Bar Public Information Department at P.O. Box 12487, Austin, 78711-2487; call (800) 204-2222, ext. 1800; or visit www.tyla.org.

IRS Form 1099-C: Discharged Debt is NOT Income

If you settle a debt for a certain amount of money, the amount you don’t have to pay is “forgiven.”  Using a really simple example, if you have a $10,000 debt, and you settle it for $5,000, the creditor has forgiven the remaining $5,000.

Creditors are known to file IRS Form 1099-C on that forgiven debt.  As I’ve mentioned here when discussing debt settlement, that forgiven amount can be considered income.  Tax liability on that amount is something to be considered in determining the affordability of a debt settlement.

If debts are discharged in bankruptcy, is that considered income?  No.

But if that’s the case, why am I hearing from reliable sources that debtors all over the country are receiving IRS Form 1099-Cs from former creditors?  What’s going on?  And what can YOU do about it?

It’s wise that you not ignore it.  Talk to your tax professional about filing Form 982 (Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness), at least for the amount reported in the 1099-C.  I have seen that it can take up to a few years for the IRS to determine that you under reported your income because you did not include income from a 1099-C.  This form will report the essential facts to the IRS which will show that you are not responsible for the taxes on this “income.”

If you filed bankruptcy and received a Form 1099-C from a creditor, speak to your bankruptcy attorney.

While the creditor is allowed to file a 1099-C, they are required to make sure it is accurate, including indicating on the form that the debt was discharged in bankruptcy (see Box 6 of Form 1099-C, and IRS instructions).  Even so, debtors will find it unsettling – even more so if they receive inquiry from the IRS next year, or the year after requesting an explanation as to what might be perceived as under-reported income.

Since it’s tax time, it’s important that I at least sound the alarm that something may not be right with creditors issuing IRS form 1099-Cs.  If you’re in chapter 13 or if you have received a discharge, make sure you’re not getting a 1099-C that you do not deserve, and if you do be proactive to avoid problems down the road.

Financial Peace University

“More than one million families have attended Financial Peace University with amazing results. On average, these families paid off $5,300 in debt and saved $2,700 in just the first 90 days! Stop worrying about money, and start your journey to Financial Peace today.”  Taken from Financial Peace University, http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu/home/

Years ago I discovered Financial Peace University (FPU) and can honestly say it made a significant difference in my financial life.  While I sometimes stray from the ideas taught in this course, overall its teachings guide my financial planning.  I would encourage you to look into this program.  The instructor, Dave Ramsey, is entertaining as well as passionate about  FPU. The course teaches on the following subjects:

  • Super Saving – How and why to save money
  • Relation with Money – How to communicate with your partner about money
  • Cash Flow Planning – Developing a monthly budget that works
  • Dumping Debt – Tools to eliminate debt in your life
  • Credit Sharks in Suits – Credit scores and how to deal with debt collectors
  • Buyer Beware – Marketing and its effects on you
  • Clause and Effect – Understanding the world of insurance
  • That’s Not Good enough – Understanding the power of purchasing with cash
  • Of Mice and Mutual Funds – Understanding the jargon surrounding investing
  • From Fruition to Tuition – Retirement/college planning
  • Working in Your Strengths – Finding that right job
  • Real Estate and Mortgages – Understanding the largest investment most will make
  • The Great Misunderstanding – How generous giving can change your life

I have no connection with and make no money from this course.  I simply think it is the best course out there.  If you’ve ever struggled with finances, please consider Financial Peace University.