Why Is a Bankruptcy Petition So Confusing?

Lately there’s been a lot on the news about the fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling and even the US on the verge of bankruptcy. All one has to do is pick up a financial paper or go on the inter-web and they will see many articles even about a $23 trillion credit bubble that is starting to collapse in China. It seems that no one is immune from bad financial news globally. Let’s face it, the world has been living too high on the hog for too many years. The big banks have been behind a lot of the financial problems by loaning money to people and even countries that can’t afford to pay it back. All they care about is getting their interest payments monthly and are not too concerned about paying them back. The US is now close to the breakeven point where the taxes that are collected won’t even pay the interest on the US debt. The government recently reported that unemployment was down to 6.7% but zero hedge said that unemployment is closer to 37% and is higher than it was in the 30s after the Great Depression. What the government is not accounting for, is all the people that lost their jobs and never found a new one before losing unemployment insurance. If it wasn’t for all the social programs, like food stamps, there would be long soup lines just like there was in the depression.

Now, many people are once again dangling at the end of their rope not knowing what to do next. Creditors once again have become overly generous allowing Americans to get in historically deep debt like we’ve never seen before. People are now using one credit card to pay another one so they are able to continue charging and digging themselves a deeper hole. At some point in time the only thing that will help this group of people is filing bankruptcy.

When a person decides filing bankruptcy is in their future, they should speak with a bankruptcy attorney about the process. Although it is possible to file for bankruptcy on your own, it’s best to have the help of a bankruptcy attorney. The first thing the attorney will need to do before filing bankruptcy is fill out the bankruptcy petition. In most cases, a bankruptcy attorney will use an online software that has a secure web portal that allows their clients to log in and submit all of their information to help populate the bankruptcy petition. This will keep the bankruptcy attorney from having to go back and forth with their clients while trying to pry information out of them.

The bankruptcy petition includes all financial information about the person filing for bankruptcy. The information will be divided up into schedules and that is where the bankruptcy attorney really comes in handy. For the layman, knowing where to put information can be complicated and sometimes can cost the person money or even property if the bankruptcy petition is filled out improperly.

Can Filing For Bankruptcy Keep The Creditor Sharks Away?

Are you tired of the phone calls and voice messages asking you to call some 1 800 number so you can be reminded; how many payments you are behind? Perhaps you are like I was, hesitant to open the mailbox for fear of seeing a notice to appear in court. If you are you are either hoping for a miracle or wondering if filing for bankruptcy can keep the creditors from taking all of your stuff please read on.

The good news is that for the most part, creditors don’t want your stuff. They just want their money plus interest. If you give them their money, they will go away for good. If you don’t pay them, they will be relentless in their efforts to get you to pay up. There are times when folks are forced to liquidate their assets to help pay off their debts. It depends on the case and the circumstances surrounding the debt.

The bad news is that most creditors have money and time on their side to wait for you to pay up. When they get tired of waiting they may sell the debt to someone else who will patiently but methodically try to get you to pay.

Now in fairness to the creditors they are not sharks. Outside of the unscrupulous Lenders, most creditors are fair and not seeking to crush you mentally, emotionally and financially. It just seems that way when you are dealing with financial difficulties.

So can filing for bankruptcy stop the harassing calls and letters?
Well, to be quite honest, you can in most cases stop the harassing phone calls without filing for bankruptcy. You simply need to do 2 things to get the calls to stop. First, tell the company calling that you no longer want them to call you and if they do you will file a harassment complaint. Second, write them a letter and reiterate the request for them to only communicate with you in writing. It worked for me and the calls stopped immediately.

Now keep in mind that just because the calls stop it doesn’t mean that your problems are going away. It does mean that your phone won’t be ringing off the hook and you won’t have to listen to endless messages asking you to pay up.

Now what about the creditors seeking to collect on the outstanding debt that you owe? Can filing for bankruptcy stop them? The answer is maybe. It depends on your assets, liabilities, income and types of debt you owe. The key is to figure out the following;

The positives and negatives associated with filing for bankruptcy
How will you be filing i.e., with or without an Attorney
What options do you have if you don’t file for bankruptcy
Is it better to file and have some of your debt wiped out or let the creditors sue you to collect what you owe them (the problem is law suits may have you in court more days than you could imagine
Are you ready to travel down the road of filing for bankruptcy

I know that financial woes are stressful and considering filing for bankruptcy is difficult. For most cases, once you file for bankruptcy the creditors go into a wait and see mode. They will wait and see if your case goes through or gets dismissed. So the sharks will still be in the water waiting to see if they will get a chance to bite at you again or be forced to swim away.

3 Effective Ways to Avoid Inheritance Conflicts

These issues come up mostly while talking with those who have gone through conflicts in their families during property division process in any of their estate settlements. In most of the cases there are references to the input from one of the members of family “once removed”, and not necessarily the ones who are the so called immediate heirs. These other people who are usually spouses or grandchildren don’t always have the similar emotional connection when compared to the ones who are immediate heirs. In most of the cases this may be unintentionally done. But, when children or spouses have things they want and they make demands, they often end up creating situations that finally result into conflicts.

Here are 3 ways that can help in avoiding such conflicts.

Understanding the Personality of other Heirs: It is very important that you try and understand what kind of people the other heirs who are also involved in the settlement issue are. Analyse their basic traits and find out the way to communicate with these heirs. This approach often resolves most complications even before they arise and clears off lot of misunderstandings. Personality difference is often the main cause behind a conflict concerning settlements. It will become more and more difficult to avoid conflict or maintain peace without understanding the differences.

Keep the Home Untouched before Formal Division: It is very important that you don’t claim your right on something that logically belongs to other heirs. It can also mess with their emotional sentiments and can further complicate the case for you. This is why it is important that the house remains untouched or undisturbed till a legal division is announced. An in-depth scrutiny of the property is important before there is any legal division and you can contribute to the process by not disturbing anything. Without the consent of other beneficiaries or heirs if you remove items from an estate or a home it is very much possible that the issue will get complicated. Very often we see people making this mistake of just going into a property and picking what they want without any consent with the concerned people and such actions are often justified by them through some facts or instances of the past. That being said, legally it will only complicate the case.

Only Beneficiaries or Immediate Heirs should be Part of the Property Division: Property division is a sensitive case and hence it should not be made a mass trial. Only immediate heirs or beneficiaries should become part of the process and other outside influences like children of heirs, grandchildren, in-laws, spouses etc should be kept away from the process. This is particularly more important at the beginning of the division process.

Credit Cards: Tips to Use Them Safely

There was a time when people roamed with a lot of cash in their pocket. This was because if you went shopping, the only choice was to pay by cash. But carrying cash always carried a safety threat as well. People could be robbed in the middle of the street and all that cash being accumulated by you is lost in a matter of seconds. Then came credit cards. For public that found it cumbersome to carry cash in the pocket, these cards were a boon. After all, this little innovation empowered them to buy all that they liked without bothering about the amount of cash in their wallet.

Today, credit cards are a common story. People have even equated the ownership of credit cards to be like a status symbol. However, none of this is true. We do agree that credit cards add convenience to your routine. But, at the same time, we would also recommend you to practice certain safety measures when you are using credit cards:

Always sign on the magnetic line. Most people forget to swipe their plastic card when they receive it. This results in the situation where they have been using the card for close to a decade without their signatures. Believe it or not, committing frauds using such unsigned cards is easy.

Swipe carefully: When you eat at a restaurant, don’t give the credit to your waiter for swiping it. Instead, ask for the machine to be brought on the table and swiped in front of you. With the new age portable machines, this is completely doable and minimizes the risk of being duped by the hotel staff. This rule is applicable in all transactions that you do with your credit cards.

Don’t reveal data to unknown people. If people call you and ask you for your plastic card number under the garb of making you participate in some other activity, please don’t reveal the details to them. Instead alert the legal authorities and let them handle the matter if you get such requests repeatedly.

The CVV number is secret. The CVV number is unique to your card and if it is revealed to a greater number of audience, the risk of being duped by the people also increases. Even when you are using the credit card for online shopping ensure that the transaction is facilitated by a secure and reliable payment gateway easily.

Mastering Your Credit Scores

Your credit score can impact nearly every aspect of your life. It can control whether you can obtain a mortgage, auto loan, or even a job. With this said, it is vital that you understand how to improve your credit score. Federal law requires that everyone have access to one free credit report per year. The reason this law exists is to allow individuals to verify that their credit reports are accurate. If there is inaccurate information listed on your report, by law you have the right to dispute the inaccuracies; the credit bureaus have 30 days to investigate and respond to the disputed items. If the creditor who put the disputed item on your credit report cannot provide proof that you are responsible for the debt, it should be removed. To obtain a copy of your free credit report you can call 877-322-8228, or mail a request to annual credit report request service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

After you have received a copy of your free report and have reviewed it for any inaccuracies; you will need to dispute them directly with all three credit bureaus. The bureaus include TransUnion, Experian, Equifax. Once you have verified the information on your credit report is accurate, you can then use the following suggestions to help you increase your scores.

• Make Your Payments On-Time – The single most important thing you can do to improve your credit score is to pay your bills on time. If you have had late payments in the past because you simply forgot to make the payment, you may want to set up automatic payment arrangements to pay your bills. This will ensure that your bills are paid on time.

• Credit Card Balances – Credit cards (revolving credit) account for 30% of your score. To maximize your score, you should always keep your revolving card balances below 30% of their available limit.

• Credit Availability – Your scores are calculated based on your unused available credit, how much credit is open, and the length of your credit history. The length of your credit history accounts for 15% of your score. Based on this factor, it would be in your best interest to keep your revolving cards open instead of closing them, because closing old revolving cards would significantly shorten the length of your credit history. To keep a revolving card open, you should use the card at least once every six months. This will keep them from being inactivated.

• Lack of Credit – Unfortunately, if you have very little credit because you pay cash for everything; you probably also have a low credit score. Scores are only determined by the activity reported on your credit report; cash purchases have no bearing on your current score. Therefore, you want to have at least one installment loan and two revolving accounts open at all times. If you are having trouble getting credit, you could apply for a secured card from a local bank or credit union, or you could ask a relative or significant other if you could become an authorized user on one of their revolving cards. Becoming an authorized user will give you an instant payment history. Just make sure that the account you are going to become an authorized user on does not have late payments, or has a balance near the accounts limit.

• Judgments and Collections – If you have a judgment or collection that originated years ago, when you pay or satisfy the derogatory item it may temporarily lower your credit score. Keep this in mind if you plan to apply for credit. You may want to delay paying off old collections right before applying for a mortgage or auto loan.

There are many other ways to help increase a credit score; but keeping your payments on time, managing your debt properly, and having a reasonable amount of available credit are the easiest ways to ensure an acceptable score. Just remember, derogatory credit will immediately lower your scores, whereas making your payments on time and keeping your balances low may take as long as six months to recover from one negative item reported on your credit report.