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Simon, Fitzgerald, Cooke, Reed and Welch
Simon Fitzgerald, LLC
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Shreveport Bankruptcy Law Blog

How Louisiana residents can avoid debt relief traps

When bills start accumulating and it becomes increasingly challenging to meet payments every month, it can cause a tremendous amount of stress in a Louisiana household. Facing difficult financial situations is definitely not uncommon in this state or elsewhere. The bad news is, however, that many well-meaning people wind up in worse situations when they fall for debt relief scams.

Therefore, it's a good idea to learn more about the potential financial dangers of many so-called financial relief programs. It's also wise to know where to seek valid guidance and support to help overcome serious financial crisis. The good news is that most financial problems are temporary and appropriate (and legitimate) support can not only help obtain immediate relief but can also help lay the groundwork for a stronger financial future.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy doesn’t have to mean losing everything

One of the concerns that prevents many people from using bankruptcy to discharge crushing debt is the possibility of "losing everything." Bankruptcy is rarely a painless process, but most proceedings do not take away all of a borrower's belongings, even Chapter 7.

If you are considering Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it is important to understand the value of strong planning and legal guidance in Shreveport throughout the process. With a clear grasp on the complex laws that regulate bankruptcy, you can ensure that your rights remain secure from the day that you file until you complete your discharge, allowing you to focus on rebuilding your financial life.

Debt relief solutions vary according to circumstances

Like most Louisiana residents, you've likely overcome your share of financial challenges through the years. Sometimes, you might expect a tough time ahead, for instance, if you hear rumors at work that people in your department are going to be laid off or you learn from your doctor that you need surgery. Other times, a financial crisis can hit without warning, such as when a family emergency arises and you have to exhaust your savings account to meet the need. These issues, as well as many others, may prompt a need for immediate debt relief.

Determining a best course of action isn't always easy. If you have a lot of medical bills that are creating a high balance on your credit card, you may be able to rearrange your finances so that you are paying down the card each month until your balance is zero. That's not always possible, however, and things can quickly take a turn for the worse if your balance is increasing but you're not generating enough income to match it.

Who is most at risk for high credit card debt?

Louisiana residents who are age 75 and beyond will be glad to learn that they are among those least at risk for carrying an outstanding balance on their credit cards. However, those in other age groups are not so lucky; as a matter of fact, some are at great risk for serious credit card debt. Not being able to keep up with monthly payments is a common problem nowadays.

Those between the ages of 45 and 54 are reportedly most at risk for amassing debt they are unable to pay off. Credit balances can easily get out of hand due to high interest rates. The longer a balance goes unpaid, the greater the chance an interest rate will increase.

Chapter 7 will discharge lawsuits, says bakery owner

Louisiana business owners understand how challenging it can be to stay afloat during economic turbulence or problematic situations involving workplace accidents. These two issues are perhaps the two biggest factors in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy that was recently filed in another state. The situation involves a bakery that has been in business for nearly 100 years.

The owner of the bakery said not only has his family's business struggled since the economic collapse in the early 2000s, the entire local region has had trouble recovering as well. The bakery's liabilities already outweighed its assets when two injured workers filed lawsuits against the owners, thus prompting further financial distress. One of the owners said that filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, however, will discharge the lawsuits.

How advanced technology affects those who need debt relief

It is not at all uncommon for Louisiana residents and others to encounter financial challenges in life. Any number of extenuating factors can prompt a serious need for debt relief. Such situations often also spark a series of unsolicited, potentially harassing phone calls due to automated dialing software made available through advanced technology.

The Federal Trade Commission says it is diligent in its efforts to protect consumers against illegal robocalls and other phone correspondence that violates Do Not Call restrictions. If a man or woman in this state is being hounded by callers who claim to be trying to collect a debt, they can, under certain circumstances, formally request that the calls cease. For instance, some types of bankruptcy activate an automatic stay against debt collection calls or litigation.

Bankruptcy can help you stop a potential wage garnishment

It feels like an impossible situation. You have a job, but you simply aren't making enough to pay all of your expenses. Maybe you had to accept a decrease in pay or position recently. Perhaps you simply racked up unexpected expenses due to an accident or an illness. Whatever the cause of your financial stress, you are likely already doing everything in your power to repay your debts and regain control of your financial life.

Unfortunately, many companies aren't patient with the people that owe them money. Even though you may make every effort to pay them, they may want their money faster. That can result in your creditor filing a civil lawsuit against you to seek a garnishment of your wages. Such a lawsuit can take a terrible situation and make it infinitely worse. The good news is that you have rights, including the potential right to seek bankruptcy protections.

Credit card debt: Beware potential downside of debt consolidation

It is not uncommon to encounter serious financial challenges at some point in life. In fact, most Louisiana residents would likely answer affirmatively if asked whether or not they have ever had to overcome a financial challenge. Some may currently be dealing with such problems, including credit card debt, which is often an underlying cause of financial problems.

Debt consolidation companies often offer to help people get their finances back on track by taking numerous debts and consolidating them into one monthly payment. To do this, they must be able to get all involved creditors to agree to a prospective plan. This is why such programs often backfire; if one or more creditors do not agree to a consolidation plan, the person in debt can be sued for liability.

Long history of bankruptcy laws

Those who could potentially benefit enormously from filing for bankruptcy protection often shy away from this debt-resolution tool because of its negative connotations. But often those are rooted in misunderstandings and misconceptions.

Most people have no idea that bankruptcy laws have been in existence since the heyday of the Roman Empire. However, our modern bankruptcy laws in the United States stem from English statutes from as far back as the 16th century.

Chapter 13: Weighing the pros and cons

Encountering serious financial challenges in life is not uncommon. In fact, some Louisiana residents are currently facing foreclosures on their homes or businesses. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is often a means for improving one's financial circumstances in the short term and also for laying the groundwork for a stronger financial future.

One of the benefits of this debt relief option is that it essentially buys time, meaning the petitioner is allowed to extend the time that he or she has to pay off a debt. The petitioner proposes a repayment plan over a three to five-year period, which must be approved by the court before it becomes effective. Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of Chapter 13 as opposed to other types of bankruptcy is that the person making payments may retain ownership of his or her assets while doing so.

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