January 26, 2024
Whether you’re in a challenging financial place from income changes or high debt that has just become too much to bear...Read More >
Considering filing for bankruptcy? You are most likely going to file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. But how do you know which bankruptcy option is best for you and your situation? The Debt Doctors are here to explain the major differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 and help you decipher which case would be most appropriate.
There are several types of bankruptcy, but only two are common for individual debtors. Chapter 7, which is a liquidation process. And Chapter 13, which involves restructuring debt into a long-term plan
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you essentially wipe out your debts and get a fresh start. Chapter 7 is a liquidation where the trustee collects all the debtor’s assets and sells any that are not exempt, (click here to see PA Exemptions.) The trustee sells the assets and pays the debtor any amount that is exempt. Then, the net proceeds of the liquidation are distributed amongst your creditors.
However, certain debts cannot be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy such as alimony, child support, fraudulent debts, certain taxes, etc. You can read more on PA’s Non-Dischargeable Debts here.
In many Chapter 7 cases, the debtor has a large amount of credit card debt, other unsecured bills, and very few assets. In the vast majority of these cases, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can eliminate these debts.
Under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the debtor proposes a 3-5 year repayment plan. This plan goes to the creditors that are offering to pay off all or part of the debts from the debtors future income. Chapter 13 can be used to:
As long as you stick to the terms of your repayment agreement, all your remaining dischargeable debt will be released at the end of the plan.
Several factors go into the amount that is to be repaid, like the debtor’s disposable income. This is usually determined as part of the Pennsylvania Means Test. In addition, the total amount paid to creditors in the Chapter 13 plan must also be as much as creditors would receive if the debtor filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy instead.
To file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must have “regular source of income” and some disposable income to apply towards your payment plan.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is generally used by debtors who want to keep secured assets like a home or car. When they have more equity in those secured assets, they can protect them with PA’s bankruptcy exemptions.
Understanding the ins and outs of filing for bankruptcy can help you decide if it’s the right path for you. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a reorganization and restructuring of debt. Whereas, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation. If you are unsure which chapter is best for you and your situation, contact us for a free consultation. Making the right decision now can enable future financial success and eliminate sleepless nights.
When is the best time to start saving for retirement? The answer is simple: as soon as possible. But like most things in life, that is easier said than done. Given the job market, high student loan payments and other personal situations, the last thing young adults want to do is sacrifice a portion of their hard-earned paycheck for a retirement that is not happening for at least 30-40 years.
A recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article highlights how putting away even as little as $20 a month can compound and grow into much more by the time retirement rolls around:
As the article explains, saving money takes discipline and financial planning. Our financial expert, Matt Herron strongly believes the only way to acquire wealth is through saving and earning interest, not paying interest. So take advantage of your automatic deduction 401k plans to help save without effort. Additionally, avoid borrowing and taking withdraws from you retirement or 401k. Your 401k is not a checking account. Early withdraws and loans are expensive and will dilute your ability to compound money. If debt is keeping you from making your best effort to save call us to eliminate your debt and develop a plan to start saving your financial future depends on it.
The Wall Street Journal reported recently that The White House is looking into ways to help people who are burdened by insurmountable student debt to alleviate some of that stress through new bankruptcy options. Currently, neither federally backed or privately-issued student loans can be discharged in a bankruptcy, but through the Chapter 13 Process you can force an income based payment on your student loan servicer for 5 years.
The plan that the White House is exploring could go a step further than this. However, there are few things you should know about the plans that The Obama Administration is exploring, and points to consider if you have crippling student loans.
While a borrower may have ensured the benefit of their education, student loan servicers don’t differentiate between parents and students when collecting their debt. This measure would help to lessen the burden on parents that have co-signed for private student loans. However, be aware that filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy now for student loans can help protect co-signors from collection because the Court can enter an order protecting co-signors if one of the parties files a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.
Unfortunately, while this bill may add some additional tools to our arsenal for managing student loans this relief may never actually pass the Republican controlled Congress.
Until we find out what is going to happen, there are still options; if you have federal or private student loans from creditors who are being overly aggressive, or if you can’t afford your student loan payments, or even if you just want some options, call us at 1-877-332-8369. We will give you a consultation and you can find out more about how the Debt Doctors can help you manage your student loans and help you prepare “for life after debt”.
The goal in bankruptcy is to have your debts discharged. Your discharge will remain on your credit report for 10 years. However, you can rebuild your credit in two to four years. During this time, you will receive offers for credit cards and car loans from lenders because you are determined to be a good risk. Following a bankruptcy discharge, creditors know you have few debts and you can’t file for bankruptcy for eight years.
When banks lend, they examine your last two years of credit history. After your bankruptcy discharge focus on obtaining new credit by opening three new accounts that you can pay on time for 24 months. If you plan to buy a car be sure you can afford it. Coming out of bankruptcy, you will be charged a high interest rate so buy a cheap car that can last for two years; you can trade it in once your credit improves.
I advise most clients to open three new credit card accounts, or two accounts and a car loan, and to pay the balance every month to avoid the high interest rates. Do not incur debts and carry a balance. If you can do this for 24 months, you can restore your credit and then consider buying a home or buying a car at a good interest rate. After bankruptcy, with careful monitoring of your spending, you are able to restore your credit much sooner than you would assume.
If you’d like to learn more, I offer a free consultation. I can be reached by filling out the contact form on our website or by calling our office at 1-877-332-8369.