Do your debts have the best of you? Once you make the decision do something about it, you usually contemplate debt consolidation or bankruptcy. They are both valid options for you to consider. Below we have explored some of the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Debt consolidation can take many forms, but for this blog we will look specifically at companies that take some or all of your debts and negotiate a settlement with your creditors. This agreement allows you to make a single monthly payment to the debt consolidation company who then distributes payments to your creditors. The negotiated settlement percentage is often agreed to in advance between the debt consolidation company and your creditors. The debt consolidation company then makes your monthly payment to the creditors. This sounds great, so are you ready to move forward with debt consolidation? We suggest you closely look at the pros and cons.
You make one single payment each month for your debts to the debt consolidation company.
You may lower your overall monthly payment.
You can avoid bankruptcy.
The debt consolidation company is unable to negotiate with all of your creditors leaving you to negotiate with some creditors on your own.
Creditors report negatively on your credit since you are not paying the full amount owed each month (this is frustrating since they agreed to the reduced amount).
The debt consolidation company may not pay your creditors timely, and sometimes not at all, each month resulting in derogatory impact on your credit. This can stay on your credit report for seven years.
A surprise lawsuit is served on you by the Sheriff’s office when you discover one or more creditors have not been paid as part of the debt consolidation.
Creditor sends a 1099C to you for the forgiven debt, a/k/a taxable income, resulting in taxes owed to the Internal Revenue Service.
Your monthly payment is only slightly lower than before entering debt consolidation.
Duncan Law, PLLC believes that debt consolidation is a viable and appropriate approach for some individuals. However, be careful who you choose since there are scams and questionable companies marketing as debt consolidation or credit counseling organizations. We recommend you contact the Better Business Bureau or your local United Way to see who they recommend.
Bankruptcy is the legal approach to consolidating or eliminating your debts. Depending on your income and your personal situation, you may want or need to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy which consolidates your debts. Similar to debt consolidation, you pay a percentage of your unsecured debts (credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, foreclosures, repossessions, etc.) back over a period of time. The percentage paid back to unsecured creditors varies by client but is usually between 10% – 20%. In some situations, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the correct approach and it will completely eliminate debts on credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, foreclosures, repossessions, etc. So you think bankruptcy is the best approach? Again, we suggest you look at the pros and cons.
In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you make a single payment each month to a Trustee that makes the payments on your behalf. The Trustee is appointed by the federal government and payment made by the Trustee are scrutinized and audited. This payment plan is a minimum of three years and a maximum of five years depending on your specific situation.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will eliminate unsecured debts while allowing you to retain your home and car in most cases.
Once the bankruptcy is filed, a “stay” in enacted which keeps your creditors from suing you, repossessing or foreclosing on your property, or taking further legal action against you.
You are not taxed by the Internal Revenue Service on the debt forgiven in bankruptcy.
You are able to obtain a fresh start once the bankruptcy is complete, and obtaining credit after bankruptcy is much easier than you would expect.
Not everyone will qualify for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy will be on your credit report for seven years from the date of filing in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and ten years from the date of filing in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must obtain approval from the bankruptcy court for the purchase of cars, homes or other items that cause you to incur additional debt.
Bankruptcy is viable option when a fresh start is needed. Depending on the individual’s circumstances, bankruptcy can provide a repayment plan, a Chapter 13, or a debt elimination plan, a Chapter 7. If you are considering bankruptcy, please contact Duncan Law, PLLC to discuss your options.