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Month: July 2018
Student loans could become easier to discharge

On Behalf of O’Brien Law Firm, LLC

Posted on: July 25, 2018

At the end of March 2018, there was a total of $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, according to the New York Fed. Across America, there are 44 million people – many of whom live in Mississippi – who have student loan debt, and it is highly unlikely that it can be discharged according to current bankruptcy laws. However, there is support for new rules that may make it easier to get rid of this type of an obligation in a bankruptcy proceeding.

Under proposed legislation, the definition of undue hardship would be broadened. To have student loan debt discharged, the borrower must show that being required to make payments would constitute an undue hardship. The Department of Education has asked for public comment about this issue as it believes that current rules are discouraging some debtors from filing for bankruptcy. There is no set definition of what an undue hardship is, which means that criteria are applied on a case-by-case basis.

Generally speaking, a person must pass the Brunner test to determine if he or she faces an undue hardship. To pass, an individual must show that paying the debt precludes him or her from maintaining a basic lifestyle for the next several years. The applicant must also show that an effort was made to make student loan payments prior to filing for bankruptcy.

Those who are experiencing overwhelming debt that can’t be repaid quickly may benefit from filing for bankruptcy. Doing so may allow a person to get a stay from creditor collection calls and letters. It may also make it possible to have student loan or other debts discharged in part or in full.

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Automatic stay in bankruptcy halts creditor collection efforts

On Behalf of O’Brien Law Firm, LLC

Posted on: July 17, 2018

When people in Mississippi file for bankruptcy, the court issues an automatic stay that prohibits creditors from continuing to seek payment. Although issues like multiple bankruptcy filings could interfere with the immediate issuance of an automatic stay, the court order typically becomes effective as soon as debtors file their bankruptcy paperwork and lasts until the discharge of debts. Creditors might initially violate the stay in the first couple of weeks after a filing because they have not yet processed the notice about a bankruptcy. Unless evidence shows that creditors willfully violated a stay, they will likely avoid legal consequences unless they persist with collection efforts.

Since debtors could expect to receive letters and telephone calls right away a bankruptcy filing, they should be ready to provide their case number and bankruptcy court information. Debtors should keep records of contact with creditors so that they can show that they provided notice to creditors about the stay. The court also mails official notices to all creditors, and attorneys can alert creditors to the stay for their clients as well.

Creditors that might repossess a vehicle or advance a foreclosure case could be held liable by a court if they seize property during a bankruptcy. A court will require the return of repossessed property and the payment of damages to the debtor if applicable.

A person concerned about mounting debts and missed payments could seek out the representation of a bankruptcy attorney. A legal review of the person’s debts and income could provide insights about which chapter of bankruptcy to file. A lawyer could take action to inform creditors about a filing as soon as possible and challenge those that defy the automatic stay. With legal support, a person might prepare bankruptcy disclosures completely and stop repossession.

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The myth of building credit by carrying a balance

On Behalf of O’Brien Law Firm, LLC

Posted on: July 10, 2018

Some Mississippi consumers may be paying more than they have to in credit card interest rates because of a prevalent myth. Many people believe that carrying a balance is a way to build credit, but financial experts say this is not the case.

A report from found that more than one-fifth of cardholders carried a balance as a way to build their credit. However, this is not one of the criteria used to determine a credit score. In fact, carrying a balance can hurt a person’s credit if the balance is creeping up toward the card’s limit.

A balance on a credit card can damage an individual’s finances in other ways as well. Interest rates may be 16 percent or higher, so some experts say that even if the belief that carrying the balance were true, the additional costs would not offset the benefit of the boost. Paying a bill on time is much more important although more than 40 percent of people reported that they had made a late payment. The most common reason for a late payment is forgetfulness followed by a lack of money to make it. Experts say the best way to use a credit card is to pay it off in full on time each month.

Unfortunately, some people may be carrying a credit card balance not because they hope to build their credit but because they are unable to pay it off. People who are struggling may want to talk to an attorney about debt relief and whether it might be time to file for bankruptcy. While bankruptcy does damage a credit score, so does falling more and more behind on bills, and once the bankruptcy is discharged, a person can begin rebuilding credit once more.

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How a bankruptcy filing can actually improve your finances

On Behalf of O’Brien Law Firm, LLC

Posted on: July 5, 2018

When many people think about the prospect of filing for bankruptcy, one of their primary concerns may be how the filing will affect their financial future. There are many tales of bankruptcy causing financial ruin and the difficulty of rebuilding a solid financial foundation.

Many of the stories that circulate about bankruptcy ruining your finances are actually not based in fact. The truth is that a bankruptcy filing may actually be the most positive step you can make, depending on your particular situation.

How a bankruptcy filing can help

If your debt is overwhelming you and you cannot make your monthly payments on various obligations, your accounts are likely in the hands of collection agencies. The collection agencies’ job is to pursue you aggressively in order to collect on the debts. In addition to this persistent hassle, your credit rating continues to decline for each payment you miss. Ignoring the problem of severe debt does not make it go away, and in fact, worsens the situation.

At this point, it might seem like a bankruptcy filing can only make a bad situation worse. However, filing for bankruptcy can do several things to get the process moving for an improved financial picture. Filing for bankruptcy prevents collection agencies from continuing to contact you for payments. In addition, it halts the late payments on your accounts as you move through the filing process, so your credit record does not continue to deteriorate. In short, a bankruptcy filing signals that you are taking action to resolve the issue.

How to take action

One of the first steps towards taking action to resolve your debt situation is to begin to inform yourself about your options. There are two types of bankruptcy filings that you may consider: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. The right kind of debt relief for your particular situation depends on the types of debt you currently hold. Consumers typically have loans for cars and homes, and debt also comes in the form of medical bills, taxes and student loans. Not all types of debt are eligible for discharge under a bankruptcy, so it is important to understand what debts you can actually get rid of in a bankruptcy filing.

Taking the first step towards a brighter financial future will likely require some difficult decisions and some hard work. However, the benefits of getting the process started will pay off in the long run, so you can start rebuilding a debt-free life.

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Bankruptcy and alternative options

On Behalf of O’Brien Law Firm, LLC

Posted on: July 4, 2018

If you are struggling with overwhelming debt, you may be wondering what options you have. Bankruptcy is often a viable choice for people who have no other way to free themselves from their debt obligations. Bankruptcy can provide a much needed fresh financial start in order to begin financial rebuilding.

There are some options, however, that may be available to you before you reach the point of needing to file for bankruptcy. It can be important to consider these possibilities because bankruptcy, although a very useful solution for many, can bring with it some consequences that are better to avoid.

Negotiating with creditors

One option to consider before you file for bankruptcy is to contact your creditors or debt collectors and ask to work with them to restructure your payments into a plan and schedule that you can afford. Many creditors would prefer to get something rather than nothing, and therefore are often willing to work with clients to help them reorganize their payments. This type of solution works best if you have a steady income and can still realistically devote some of that income to paying off your bills.

Debt consolidation

Another possibility for reorganizing your debt is consolidation. In this option, your debts are combined into a consolidated one with a lower overall interest rate, so that you can begin to pay off your debt more effectively. There are several different ways to do this, and not all the solutions you see advertised are actually advisable. It is in your best interest to fully inform yourself about the conditions and parameters of a debt consolidation plan so that you can be sure you are actually getting a good deal and not further complicating your financial situation.

With some research and planning, you may be able to take advantage of a bankruptcy alternative to help you get back on track and get out of debt. Remember, however, that if your debt is spiraling out of control, ignoring the problem will not make it go away. Take action to get control of the situation and plan for your future.

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