Debt Relief & Financial Freedom
“El Show Sin Fronteras”
Welcome everyone to our today’s show related to bankruptcy and financial topics with our fabulous bankruptcy attorney Amy Wilburn, who knows almost everything on this matters.
There is a lot to know about bankruptcy, that is why our main goal is to enhance your bankruptcy knowledge. It’s interesting because with immigration there’s always some new policy and it’s most politically related, and people who aren’t in the process are interested in hearing what’s going on.
Even if bankruptcy doesn’t affect you personally or financially, getting good financial planning is of interest to people but, like bankruptcy and debt and how to manage it and all that, is not necessarily of interest to people unless it applies to them, so what we’re trying to do is keep these shows a bit shorter, and talkabout questions that come up a lot that we see people asking so that this is just targeted to people who need this information and we love hearing from you guys.
If you want us to talk about other topics related to immigration or bankruptcy, just send us a message, we do free consultations so if you want to discuss your case with us feel free to reach out and schedule a consultation but also if there’s just something you want to hear, or talk about at one of our future shows, feel free to just send us a message.
So Amy, before we jump into the questions, is there anything you want to say?
Amy: ”No, I think this is a topic even though it’s not in the news, it’s not the kind of thing that you know, it is a hot topic on the political stage.
It’s something that affects everybody.
Either you have debt or someone you know has debt or the person next to you on the airplane has that.
It does affect everybody and that’s one of the reasons I love doing bankruptcy law, is that it has such an immediate and tangible impact to people’s daily lives and how they live, so that’s my approach here.”
What Happens To My Debt When I Die?
Kate: ”I would say most people have at least at some point in their lives been stressed about money, and that feeling that we have when we wake up worrying about money sometimes in the middle of the night, we go to bed worrying about money, and you wonder how you’re going to just make it all happen and pay for it.
It clouds everything in your life, especially when you’re in those critial moments trying to get some help and some relief.
Let’s jump into the questions Amy, this is an odd one but a good one, so can you tell us what happens to someone’s debt when they die? Do their relatives inherit the debt?”.
Amy says: ”That’s a great question. Debt is not inherited when you die.
What you are left behind in terms of property, bank accounts, or whatever becomes your estate, and then any debts that you might have can make a claim against that estate, so let’s say you have a discovery card and you left behind some property with some equity.
Then the estate through probate will send out a letter to everybody you owe money to and say that you’ve passed unfortunately and then that debt gets paid through the sale of the property or sale of other assets.
It does not get passed down and if there isn’t enough in your estate to pay for those debts that you left behind, it usually just gets wiped out by the lender at that point ”.
What Happens To Your Debt If You Leave The US
Kate: ‘’Very useful information so question number two: What happens to my debt if I leave the country”.
Amy: ‘’I like the idea of somebody just hopping on a plane and fleeing the debt that does not disappear.
What this question sounds like to me is: Am I trying to get out of being served with a lawsuit? or I have to go overseas for work or that kind of thing and it still exists? and if you’re not in communication with the lender, then they will in all likelihood go through legal remedies, to try to get that debt paid, so legal remedies if they’ve tried to call you, they’ve sent you letters, they’ve given you time to reach back out to them, they will likely file a lawsuit, a collection lawsuit through the county, and if you’re overseas and you’re not getting your mail you will probably not know about that lawsuit, and if they have reason to believe that they got in touch with you, best they could use your last known address.
Sometimes it’s noticed by publications where they put it in a legal journal.
Then they can get a default judgment, and that debt is sitting there waiting for you when you get back or it gets attached to the property that you might have here, or it can have your bank accounts levied to pay that debt.
Once you have a judgment from the court, then they have lots of remedies they can use to get that money from you.
Just the fact that you’re not present in the United States, or wherever that debt is, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to pay it.
It’s always a good idea to be in touch with your lenders wherever you live”.
I’m About To Be Evicted & I Am Declaring Bankruptcy
Kate: ”I’m going to jump ahead because this flows into the next question.
Let’s say someone you know does have their bank account levied or they have some form of garnishment happening, they’re getting foreclosed on in their house, they’re getting evicted.
What does bankruptcy do when someone is in that situation And they decide that bankruptcy is the right thing for them. What happens next when they file?”.
Amy: ”This is the part that I love: This is where bankruptcy acts like a real sledgehammer to stop that collection, eviction, garnishment, foreclosure, whatever it happens to be the levy of the bank accounts, you may hear from your lender: oh we won’t foreclose until we’ve worked this all through.
Or from debt consolidation, oh they won’t t collect if we’re making these little payments, that’s a nice thought but there’s no legal way to stop these things from happening, except through bankruptcy.
Everything else is justa favourice thing that they’re gonna not foreclose, but they don’t have any legal obligation to stop.
Bankruptcy is the sledgehammer that stops those things from happening. It’s something called the automatic stay, and it’s for your law needs.
Out there it’s section 362 from for the bankruptcy code, and it says this is why bankruptcy petitions when you file, it’s time-stamped to the second, so if a foreclosure takes place 10 seconds after you file it’s void it can’t happen.
No collection nor action can go forward after you’ve filed the bankruptcy to the second.
Nothing else can happen now if you have had a repossession or a garnishment and or some other actions that take place in the three months before you file.
You might be able to get some of that money back or have the car returned to you that was repossessed.
There are some remedies if it happens right before you file bankruptcy, but it’s supposed to stop it the minute you file bankruptcy, so nothing can happen after”.
Kate: ‘’And now that you know a lot of the cares out protections are lifting, and we’re starting to see a lot more lawsuits from creditors and evictions and foreclosures,We in our office have recently seen some sledgehammers functioning well, and protecting our clients it’s been so relieving for us.
Internally we have this little group chat at the firm as our shout-outs whenever something great happens, and we’ve been seeing some shoutouts related to the bankruptcy sledgehammer functioning for our clients to protect them”.
Amy: ”It’s the real feel-good part of things on our end if we can help somebody stay in their home.
I know my children tell, or when they were young they would tell their classmates when they asked: What does your mom do? They would say: Oh she saves people’s houses, and I love that part.
I like helping people, keeping their property, keeping their bank accounts, opening all of that.”
What Happens When You Co-Own A Debt
Kate: ”I want to recognize Natalia who was here with us in our immigration radio show just a few moments ago, so hi again Natalia!’’
She has a question for us: If you have a debt with your significant other do they own the debt and have to pay fully? And I presume you mean Natalia if you have a joint debt, and let’s say the wife files for bankruptcy, What happens with that debt as it relates to the husband?”.
Amy: ”That’s a great question, and in Texas, it’s a community property state so it can be even more complicated than you might think.
We think of community property often when it comes to divorce that sort of thing, but it has to do with debt, so even if only your name is on the credit card, for example, if you’re married as a community property, that means community debt.
Even if only your name is on it, your partner also has the debt.
If you file a chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is sometimes called a fresh start bankruptcy or liquidation bankruptcy, then there is no protection for the other person on the debt.
That means that the creditor could come and get that payment from your partner.
In reality, I have not seen that happen very often but, they have the right to, and if you’re going to file bankruptcy you need to know that that’s a risk if you file a chapter 13.
However, there is something called code debtor protection.
The other person does not have to pay, is not responsible for payments or anything like that and that applies to consumer debts”.
Kate: ”Excellent thank you Amy, and Natalia did a follow-up clarification so we’re going to replace dies so if you come in debt and your significant other dies how does that function?”.
Amy: ”Now we’re getting into state law.
Typically it has to do with that person’s estate. I want to stay away from that question because my expertise is more in bankruptcy law and not estate planning but that’s a great question”.
How Much Debt Is Too Much Debt?
Kate: ”But you know, hearing you say that Amy is a good reminder for me to tell everyone we do immigration and bankruptcy at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law.
Those are the two practice areas that have a lot in common, even though a lot of people think those are two very odd practice areas to put together, but one of the things we’re committed to being a resource for our client communities, which means if you need something if you have a question and it’s not something that we do, we are committed to helping get you referred to the right people.
If you or if someone calls us and they need an estate planning attorney, we’re going to get you to trusted estate planning attorneys that we know will take good care of you.
Feel free to reach out to us if you just need recommendations or referrals for other professional services, because we are working hard to create a list of people that we trust so that we’re not sending our clients to people who will not take care of them.
Back to our list, here’s a good one Amy. How much debt is too much debt?”.
Amy: ”It’s different for everybody.
A lot of it has to do with your comfort level, if you’re comfortable and you feel secure that your job is going to be pretty secure for a serious amount of time and you’re okay with carrying a bunch of debt that is very personal to you, that is your personal choice.
Where I think people start feeling the push is if they have financial goals that they’re not able to meet because they’re busy paying off their debt.
For example, you want to save for retirement but you’re not able to do that, or not able to do it at the rate you’d like to because so much of your money is going out the door for an expensive car, credit card debt, medical debt.
Another example when it might be too much is obvious, but it bears stating if you’re not able to meet your day-to-day needs.
I have had clients come to me who have to choose between: Do I get this medication that I need? or do I pay my credit card bill so they don’t garnish my wages?
No one should ever have to make that choice, that’s just a horrible thing to have to consider.
I want to have children but I have to hold off because I’m trying to get out of debt, and I have another 10 years left on this payment.
If you’re not able to reach your goals because you’re being bogged down by all that debt payment, definitely seek out some advice just like Kate said earlier, we offer a free consultation so you know it’s worth an hour of your time.
I think to see if this is something that might help you get closer to reaching your goals, then you would be, otherwise for me that would be the sign of too much debt.
If you’re not able to move forward in your life the way you want to and it’s holding you back, that’s when it’s time to think about this”.
Kate: ”That’s good and I think you said something important Amy about scheduling a free consultation just to see if something that we say this a lot on the immigration side it’s true, on the bankruptcy side we are not going to push people into something that’s not right for them.
Some people come to us for immigration consultations and we say to them, you’re better off staying, you don’t file for citizenship, it’s too risky for you, and we’re not offering you service because it’s not in your best interest, and we’re glad when we can do that for people because that’s important information for them to have.
They’re not going to go down the road and get taken advantage of by someone else. because they know.
The same is true in bankruptcy, we are not here to just sell people a service that t isn’t in their best interests, so really you can just reach out just to see if this is a solution that would help you, and we’ll tell you yes or no
if we think it’s in your best interest and there are people for whom it is not, and we’ve had that happen in consultations when we say this is not gonna solve your issues, it’s not the best option for you at this moment, so anyway”.
Amy: ”Or there are other options you have, other solutions that are available to you.
For example, you might be judgment proof that you don’t need to take the credit hit that bankruptcy will introduce.
If you can solve this problem, another way I can tell you with absolute certainty, I have talked people out of bankruptcy before, if that’s what’s in their best interest”.
Kate: ”For sure, and that should be an expectation, when you call someone on immigration or bankruptcy you should expect that they’re going to tell you the truth about whether you need it.
If you get the feeling that that’s not what’s going on then step away”.
Amy: ”I agree. Hiring an attorney for immigration or bankruptcy it’s kind of an intimate process.
We get to know each other well, and so going with an attorney that you feel like you can trust, that you can, lay out all your dirt financial or otherwise, it’s very important so if one firm is not the right match, go to the next. It’s important”.
What Can I Do To Avoid Bankruptcy?
Kate: ”Here’s our last question for today’s show. Amy on the same note for some people thinks this isn’t the best solution for the people who are watching this show, who don’t want to file for bankruptcy.
They don’t want that to be their solution for whatever reason.
Maybe there is a story in their family about it. Maybe there are better options for them, but they are in this painful place of not being able to cover their needs because of the debt that they’re paying”.
What are some tips for people like that to avoid bankruptcy?
Amy: ”There are three things that come to mind.
For me, one is temporarily increasing your income if you’re able to drive for Lyft or Uber the cell door dash, you know whatever it takes if you’re earlier.
When I said you want to meet a goal, if your goal is you want, maybe to go to Hawaii on vacation.
It’s going to cost X amount of money, then if you’re able you have the time and the resources and you can maybe take on an extra job for that time, then do it.
That’s a great way to stay out of bankruptcy or if you know it’s going to take you this much money to pay off this one credit card, drive for Lyft and pay that off.
The second issue is finding a way to reduce your expenses, so maybe you trade in your more expensive vehicle for a less expensive commuter car.
I have found it’s a little time intensive but I download all of my bank transactions every month into an excel spreadsheet and I know some services do this, but I’m a hands-on kind of person, so there are things like mint.com or you need a budget to do things like that and will do the same thing and I think for doing that for two or three months, you see where your money is going.
I will just confess my own story as a working mom.
There are nights that I do not like to make dinner, so if you asked me a year ago how much are you spending on dining out, on door dash, or whatever, I would say probably about 150, 200 a month is what I’m spending, and then I started downloading my transactions and it was over 600 a month.
I had no idea that that’s what I was doing until I saw it on that spreadsheet, so I think finding out where your money is going and seeing can I do without Starbucks once a week, can I do without this?
That will help to reduce your everyday expenses”.
Kate: ”And figuring out what all the subscriptions are, that you have, that you haven’t been using and you forgot?”.
Amy: ”Yes that’s right exactly. I had no idea that yoga was now charging me twelve dollars a month you know”.
Kate: ”Actually, I think I still have my gym membership now that we’re talking about this, and I haven’t gone to the gym since Covid so, I want to write that down”.
Amy: All counts in .
Everything builds up when you think about it every year, it’s really helpful.
The third thing is that if you can’t increase your expenses and you’ve already reduced everything that you can reduce is to think about a settlement with your credit card companies, or your lenders if you have medical debt through a hospital.
Hospitals always have payment plans, they always have charity care that is available to you so look into that with their business office, but with loans, it usually only works once that credit card or loan goes into collections, but they are happy to accept pennies on the dollar, so you can negotiate with them saying I will pay you 4,000 of the 7,000 that I owe you or whatever, it is now two warnings”.
So don’t be afraid to share, don’t be afraid to call, don’t be afraid to use the services, so we at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law recommend it.
If you have additional questions about bankruptcy, how to improve your income, or about your specific case, you can contact us at (855) 502-0555. After a short 10 minute evaluation of your case via telephone, we will let you know what options you have. You can also follow us on our social networks so you don’t miss our weekly broadcasts via Facebook, YouTube & Twitch.
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What Our Clients Say
“In what was probably the most difficult point of my life Lincoln-Goldfinch was able to guide me through the tough decision of getting out of debt through a chapter 7 bankruptcy. After considering all options of debt management/consolidation/ settlement and reaching out to numerous lawyers and agencies Lincoln-Goldfinch spent the most time with my initial consultation and made me feel like I was really listened to and not just a statistic. Amy Wilburn was wonderful every step of the way in being available to answers all my questions and put my mind at ease. My case was dismissed successfully and I am now living such a better quality of life after learning a stern lesson in life of fiscal responsibility. I recommend the team at Lincoln-Goldfinch 100% if you find your self in need of quality representation.”