July 20, 2014

Supreme Court Narrows “Retirement Account” Creditor Exemptions

Filing bankruptcy is a legal way to eliminate unwanted and unmanageable debt. For those considering bankruptcy, it is important to remember that there are traps for the unwary, including the potential loss of property and assets in the bankruptcy process.

While many accounts, including retirement and savings, are exempted from bankruptcy, it is important to take informed and strategic action to prevent the loss of an IRA to creditors. According to Supreme Court decision analysts, filers should be reminded that employer-backed 401(k)s and IRA inheritances can be at risk in the event of bankruptcy.

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Bankruptcy is a strategic and legal way to eliminated unwanted debts, including medical expenses or credit card debt. When facing the important question of whether to file bankruptcy, it is best to consult with an experienced advocate you can trust. Our Birmingham bankruptcy attorneys are dedicated to representing individuals, families and businesses who are considering legal ways to eliminate debt. We will review your assets, debts and income and help you pursue the best available option, including alternatives to bankruptcy.

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July 15, 2014

Managing and Paying Off Your High-Interest Debt

When faced with overwhelming debt, financial experts agree that you should tackle you high-interest debts first. While interest can accumulate on student loans, mortgages, or even taxes, the most damaging interest can accrue on high-interest credit cards. What is the best way to manage and tackle high-interest debt? Should you get a home equity loan? Take out a new card and do a balance transfer? Continue to make minimum payments? Regardless of the route you take to pay off high-interest debts, remember that long-term credit card debt can be extremely damaging, and in some cases, irreversible.

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Our bankruptcy attorneys in Birmingham are experienced in helping Alabama residents protect their rights and recover from overwhelming debt. If you have high-interest credit card debts, you already know the nightmare. Your monthly minimum likely keeps growing, and that is only the interest. Paying off a credit card will be even more challenging, if not impossible, if you suffer from an unexpected medical event, divorce, or job loss.

Here are some tips for tackling your high-interest debts:

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July 10, 2014

State Senator Files Bankruptcy - Nearly $1 Million in Debt

Athletes, celebrities, and public figures, including politicians, are often the target of headlines when they file bankruptcy. The number of high-income earners who are forced to file bankruptcy sheds light on the reality that unmanageable debt can strike any individual, family or business owner.

According to Minnesota Public Radio, Republican State Senator Sean Nienow and his wife filed for bankruptcy on June 1st. According to court records, the couple has more than $900,000 in debt, owing money to the federal government, credit card companies, as well as a former business partner.

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The most substantial of the debts is nearly $750,000 the couple owes to the federal government for a small business loan they took out in 2009. The couple stopped making payments on the loan in July of 2010 and the business is no longer in operation. According to documents, the federal government sued the couple for default in March and is seeking repayment of the loan plus court costs and interest. Our Birmingham bankruptcy attorneys are committed to helping individuals, families and business owners explore their debt relief options. We are experienced in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy aimed at restructuring or eliminating debts.

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June 30, 2014

Miss Alabama is Daughter of NFL Star and Bankruptcy Filer

For public figures, bankruptcy can be an embarrassing airing of dirty laundry, especially when financial decisions become scrutinized by the press. Despite these consequences, many celebrities, including professional athletes, have pursued the benefits of bankruptcy to achieve a fresh start. Filing bankruptcy can help families restore security, eliminate unwanted debt, and help to create a solid financial future to help their children in the long run. In another bankruptcy success story, the daughter of former NFL quarterback has been crowned Miss Alabama three years after her father filed for bankruptcy.

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Bankruptcy is often a last resort for individuals who have unmanageable debt, including outstanding credit card bills, medical expenses, unpaid utility bills, and other obligations. Taking action through bankruptcy is one way to quickly put an end to creditor harassment and stop any legal action, including foreclosure proceedings. Our Birmingham bankruptcy attorneys are experienced with helping individuals, families, and businesses eliminate unmanageable debt. We can help you explore your options, including Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy to identify the best debt relief solution for you and your family.

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June 20, 2014

Alabama Included in $550 Million SunTrust Mortgage Settlement

SunTrust mortgage has agreed to a near $1 billion settlement to compensate borrowers for faulty mortgage loans, according to an announcement from the Justice Department. The mortgage company is settling a lawsuit with the government as well as direct borrowers after allegations that it underwrote bad loans. Alabama borrowers who were victims of mortgage abuses will be paid directly from a $550 million joint state-federal settlement. According to reports, there are 572 eligible Alabama residents who may be eligible for payments. These borrowers lost their home to foreclosure between January 2008 and December 2013.

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Foreclosure is often a threat to borrowers who have missed mortgage payments and are unable to keep up with the terms of their lending agreement. Despite the banks’ right to foreclose on a home, consumers also have rights in the foreclosure process. Our Birmingham bankruptcy lawyers are dedicated to helping consumers protect their rights and prevent foreclosure. Borrowers who may be eligible for a portion of the settlement may also have been in debt; however they were given faulty loans and suffered mortgage abuses. Our consumer rights attorneys are dedicated to helping borrowers prevent foreclosure through bankruptcy and in raising awareness to prevent predatory lending.

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June 13, 2014

Irresponsible Spending: Not a Leading Cause of Credit Card Debt

Divorce, job loss, unexpected illness or death, even a natural disaster or other tragedy can send a family spiraling into debt. A new study reveals that the greatest cause of accumulated debt has nothing to do with irresponsible spending. According to the report and analysis, costs for child rearing, unemployment, and lack of insurance are the leading factors that contribute to unmanageable debt. For those who are struggling, it is important to remember that there options for debt relief. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are legal ways to stop creditor harassment, prevent foreclosure, and help your family get on the path towards financial security.
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When weighing debt relief options, most Americans see bankruptcy as a last resort. While they do not want to damage their credit, they may also feel the stigma attached to filing. Namely, that their debt was caused by overspending, overindulgence, and being financially irresponsible. Our Birmingham bankruptcy attorneys are committed to protecting the rights of clients when confronting unwanted and unmanageable debt. We will take the time to weigh your options, review your debts, assets and income, and pursue the best possible solution for you.

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June 8, 2014

Public Economic Damages and Foreclosure: Who is Liable?

L.A. has sued JP Morgan Chase after a wave of foreclosures caused citywide economic damages. The argument is that the banks were negligent in distributing loans to those who could not afford them. Now, in taking back the homes and failure to maintain property, the banks have caused significant damage to neighborhoods throughout LA. According to the lawsuit, the actions taken by JP Morgan Chase led to a wave of foreclosures that caused, “blighted neighborhoods, reduced property taxes, and increased the need for costly city services."
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Prior to the 2008 mortgage market collapse, banks routinely gave loans to individuals who may not have been able to afford them. In this case, the city attorney has alleged that JP Morgan gave black and Latino borrowers predatory home loans, knowing they would fail in making payments. This led to thousands of foreclosures at the time the housing bubble burst. The banks made matters worse when they denied refinancing to those homeowners who they knew would default. Our Birmingham foreclosure defense attorneys are committed to raising awareness surrounding predatory loan practices and to helping Alabama residents protect their property rights.

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May 25, 2014

Debt Settlement or Bankruptcy in Alabama?

When overwhelmed with debt, you may consider your options and ask the question, “What is worse for my credit—debt settlement or bankruptcy?” While bankruptcy can impact your credit score, there are a host of other concerns when considering debt settlement. In any case, you should review your individual circumstances with an experienced advocate who can assess your debts, assets and income. Depending on your net worth, property ownership and the structure of your debts, some options will be better than others.

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Debt settlement may be an enticing option if you believe you can reduce your overall balances without having to file bankruptcy. Before you consider debt settlement, consider that there are also potential immediate and long-term pitfalls. Our Birmingham bankruptcy attorneys are experienced with representing individuals who are suffering from overwhelming debt. We are dedicated to helping individuals, families and business owners regain financial control and freedom. Here are some potential issues if you are considering debt settlement:

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May 15, 2014

Bankruptcy Watch: Americans Relying Less on Credit Cards

When do you use your credit cards? For vacations and large purchases? Everyday purchases including gas and groceries? Only in emergencies? Americans’ credit card usage varies among individuals and families, but trends show that overall, consumers are relying on their credit cards less. This could signal an improved economy, better spending habits, or an awakening to the difficult reality of accumulating credit card debt. For individuals who become reliant on credit cards, compounding bills, interest, and fees could lead to a downward spiral and unmanageable debt.
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According to a recent Gallup Poll, more Americans are paying off the full amount of their credit card balances every month. This could mean an overall reduction in credit card debt and interest, which can make it difficult to pay off balances over time. Our Birmingham bankruptcy attorneys understand the struggles faced by American consumers. We also know that overwhelming debt is a significant source of stress. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy are available to help you tackle insurmountable debts and get control of your finances.

The Gallup Polls indicate that 48% of Americans are paying of their balances every month. This is higher than the years prior to the 2008 Great Recession. Those who do not pay off their balances (33%), have a record low balance since Gallup started recording the data. The polls also show that less than 1% of Americans are not paying the full minimum amount, which could minimize the fees and penalties associated with using credit cards. Analysts say that the 64% of Americans paying their debts on time is the highest Gallup has ever recorded, showing trends of fiscal responsibility and perhaps, an improving economy.

Americans may not be relying on credit to make purchases or taking out as many credit cards as they used to during the 80s and 90s. The recent report shows that 29% of Americans do not own a credit card and only 7% own more than 7 credit cards. The average number of credit cards for an American consumer is 3.7. This figure is the lowest ever documented by Gallup polls. These numbers reflect all credit cards including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and any credit cards for department and retail stores as well as banks or credit unions.

In addition to looking at the number of credit cards and credit card payment behaviors, the polls also reflected the total amount of debt on a credit card. On average, Americans carry a total of $2,426 in debt. Again, this is the lowest figure ever recorded by Gallup. The credit card balance average is down since 2008. Trends also show that the majority of Americans either do not have outstanding de debt on credit cards or do not own a credit card.

Though the polls reflect an average, this does not mean that every American is out of credit card trouble. For individuals who cannot seem to get ahead of debts and accruing interests and fees, there are options. Bankruptcy is one way to put an end to creditor legal action, harassment, and the overall debt struggle. An experienced advocate can help review your individual circumstances and pursue the best debt relief strategy for you and your family.

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May 10, 2014

Can I Refinance My Mortgage After Bankruptcy?

For thousands of American homeowners, the threat of foreclosure is always looming. Whether you have missed a mortgage payment or have already entered the foreclosure process, the thought of losing your family home can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are immediate steps you can take to put an end to foreclosure proceedings. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy will stop foreclosure and allows you to take control of your debts with a manageable payment plan. But, what if you have already filed bankruptcy? Can you still refinance a mortgage after filing?
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This is an important question for those who have already filed bankruptcy and for those who are considering the bankruptcy process. Our Birmingham bankruptcy attorneys are committed to protecting the rights of consumers. We will take the time to review your assets, debts, and income and consider the best possible debt relief solutions. While Chapter 7 is available to eliminate all unsecured debts, a Chapter 13 may be a better option for homeowners who do not qualify. If you have already filed bankruptcy, you will want to know the best steps to restore credit and maintain financial independence.

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May 5, 2014

What if a Co-Signer Files Bankruptcy?

Students and other young adults just starting out in the world may need help getting credit and loans. A co-signer may be necessary to obtain a first car loan, a mortgage, or a student loan—but, what happens if the borrower’s co-signer files bankruptcy? According to Reuters, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warned that some student loan borrowers could be shown to default if their co-signers file bankruptcy. This should not prevent some debtors from filing, but all consumers should be aware of the potential consequences of co-signer bankruptcy.
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In a new report, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau stated that some private lenders stipulate that the balance of a loan may come due if a co-signer is unable to continue to share responsibility for a loan. This could potentially shift a loan into default, even if payments have been made on time. Our Birmingham bankruptcy attorneys understand the complexities of loans, family financial obligations, and the long-term consequences of filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Our priority is to review your assets, debts and income to determine the best course of action to help you and your family out of debt.

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April 25, 2014

Preventing Utilities Shut-Off Through Bankruptcy

When it comes to debt, most consumers are not struggling with one bill, but with compounding fees, interest and the inability to keep up with multiple creditors. Overwhelming credit card debt and medical bills can leave you unable to pay the most important bills, including utilities. The threat of losing water and electricity is extremely stressful, especially when children are involved. If you have received notices that you may lose water, electricity, or your phone account is in delinquency, you can take immediate action to prevent lost utilities.

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Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy are immediate solutions if you and your family are facing a utility shut off. To protect your access to electricity, gas, water and the use of your phone, you can file bankruptcy to stop further action from utilities creditors. Our Birmingham bankruptcy attorneys understand the severe pressures and stresses faced by our clients. Our priority is to help individuals, families, and business owners navigate debt crises to regain control and financial independence. Remember that bankruptcy law can be complicated so it is important to consult with an experienced advocate who can help protect your rights.

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