Monday, November 14, 2011

Pay Bills or Eat?

There is a perception among those of us who are of retirement age, or past it, that we have to pay every bill we have even if it means going without prescribed medications or proper food. To say that this is a wrong or bad idea is not appropriate. Those of us who try our best to honor our commitments should be commended, not condemned.

HOWEVER, the LAW , that’s the Federal law, specifically Title 11 of the United States Code, provides for DEBT RELIEF. So, why don’t more people take advantage of this legal RIGHT? There are many reasons but most are rooted in a belief system that not paying obligations is immoral, unethical, something only shysters or "those kind of people" would do. Many of these same people, those of us who feel there is no way but to pay, have had no qualms, no hesitations, about utilizing many different sections of Title 26 of the US Code which provides TAX RELIEF.

We all take deductions when we file taxes, rather than paying the maximum tax that we could pay based on income. We use the standard deduction or we itemize - and we itemize everything possible: real estate taxes, mortgage interest, medical expenses including part of the cost of medical insurance, tax return preparation fees, costs of caring for a dependent - and on & on. Somewhere there is a disconnect in the two position/attitudes.

The Debt Relief is Bankruptcy Protection - Protection from Creditors. IT IS A RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE. Unless you have committed fraud, or some other unsavory act you are cannot be denied the Right to Obtain a Fresh Start. That is what the law discusses: a "FRESH START". And that refers to a FRESH START from DEBT.

There is no shame in admitting that the $10,000 of credit card debt that has been being paid for years, never denting the balance owed, is too much to repay. Keep in mind, that while it’s counter-intuitive, the credit card companies will not make deals to accept less than 100% of what’s owed. The fact that gas is now $4.00/gallon, and that fresh fruit and vegetables are more expensive than the best steaks, and that medical costs go up almost daily it seems....

The shame of the current economic environment is that some of the lifelines that many people have relied upon have been eliminated or cut-back. Programs like food stamps, fuel assistance, community health care programs, and subsidized housing are all under-funded because of the recession here and the on-going financial crisis world-wide.

I can only suggest that if you are having your own personal economic meltdown you seek advice from a competent Bankruptcy attorney. Any attorney worth her/her "salt" (or pepper) will give you enough information that you will know what options are available to you. If you cannot find someone in your area, feel free to call my office or send me an e-mail and I can get you connected to the proper referral folks.

Author's Copyright by Richard I. Isacoff, Esq, November 2011

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