Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Get Protection from Creditors - But Wait, There's More!

"Protection from creditors" - just a euphemism for Bankruptcy? No, it is what filing Bankruptcy is and does. There are no more Debtors' prisons and no one has to walk around with a big scarlet "B" on his/her chest. Fine!, but what really happens, and who can file for protection? Before going any further, filing Bankruptcy WILL NOT force you to lose your house or car. In fact, it may help you to keep them.

My post of Monday July 27th discussed the need for completing a full personal budget for you and your family (if there is one to consider). Again, make a list of ALL regular living expenses, including cigarettes, gasoline, socks...EVERYTHING EXCEPT UNSECURED DEBT like credit cards and personal loans (Beneficial, CitiFinancial, HFC/HSBC etc. Then figure out your regular monthly income, including OT you ALWAYS get, bonuses you ALWAYS get, child support/alimony, pension, steady part-time jobs etc. then deduct all payroll taxes and insurance costs to get a net income. Next, if you are paid every 2 weeks, multiply the NET INCOME by 26 and divide that result by 12 to get a net monthly income.

THE MOMENT OF TRUTH - deduct your regular monthly expenses from your regular monthly income.If you have money remaining, is it enough to pay all of the minimum payments PLUS 1% of the principal for each card/debt? If the answer is yes, start by making a real month by month budget and start paying down each debt every month. Be sure to be on time, and that means the payments have to be in the mail at least 7 days before they are due, or 10 days before the start of the next billing cycle.

If you cannot make the payments and meet your expenses, then consider a bankruptcy consultation with an experienced Bankruptcy Attorney. You can find one on the web by going to , which is the site for the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, or by e-mailing me and we will get you a referral.

Bankruptcy is a RIGHT, not a privilege. The laws and rules are "spelled out" in Title 11 of the U.S. Code. It states clearly in Congressional intent and is sen again and again in cases, that the purpose of the Bankruptcy laws is to give Debtors, who cannot repay their debts, a "FRESH START". It is not punitive - it is a RIGHT.

For consumers, there are 2 sections of the Code that apply: Chapter 13, which is a way for people who have some money left over at the end of the month to repay a percentage of what they owe, be it 5%, 10% or 100%. The repayment period is up to 5 years, and the 30% interest rates stop immediately; and Chapter 7, where the consumer/debtor cannot make ANY payments for a 36 month period, or the amount of the payments would be so insignificant that the consumer really should keep the funds for emergencies.

Most good Bankruptcy lawyers will not charge for the initial consultation which is where she/he will help you determine if a Bankruptcy is the correct financial decision for you. The rules for filing are not that difficult to understand and the next Post will go into the details.

Author's Copyright by Richard I. Isacoff, Esq., July 2009

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