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Orlando Bankruptcy Law Blog

Besides bankruptcy, what are my options for debt relief?

When consumers realize that they have more debt than they can handle, their first thoughts might not turn to bankruptcy. Indeed, there are other debt relief options that some people in Florida might want to utilize first. However, if they are not effective at reducing debt to a manageable level, then bankruptcy is still an option. 

Making a budget is a good place to start for most people. Consumers can get a good idea of how much money they are making, how many bills they have and what they are spending on other expenses. A budget is not a cure for debt, but most people can use it as a guide toward improved spending habits or debt repayment. 

Be sure to include all debts for optimal bankruptcy relief

No one wants to fall behind on their bills and dodge phone calls from their creditors. Even individuals who are financially responsible and wealthy encounter situations that cause them to become delinquent on their accounts. If you are not sure of how you can get control over your circumstances, you may want to consider bankruptcy in Orlando. 

Bankruptcy requires you to disclose all debts, even those that you may not remember or believe belong to you. By listing your debts, the courts can notify your creditors. By law, they have the right to know about bankruptcy filings so that they can protect their interests and your rights. Any debts you forget to include in your filing can come back to haunt you. 

Stop repossessions, achieve debt relief with bankruptcy

Being faced with losing your car or other important asset because you cannot pay your bills is an understandably troubling situation. While repossession is a common tactic that Florida creditors resort to when faced with nonpayment, you have the power to stop these attempts. By filing for bankruptcy, you can both stop repossessions and set yourself on a path toward debt relief. 

For most people, owning a vehicle means having steady, reliable access to transportation for work, school and other important matters. Since public transportation is not always reliable or even available in certain matters, potential repossession of your vehicle can be life-changing. When you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect, which prevents creditors from continuing any type of collection efforts against you. This means repossessions stop, your foreclosure is put on hold and harassing creditors have to stop calling you at all hours of the day and night. 

Should we be talking more about credit card debt?

Florida parents usually teach their children about which matters are polite to discuss, and what issues they should simply keep to themselves. Although these lessons might be useful in some situations, it leaves some adults unable to engage in meaningful discussions about serious issues affecting their daily lives. Namely, debt.  While no one wants to bring up how much credit card debt they have, one expert thinks it could be useful to engage in these types of discussions. 

A prominent psychotherapist recently described one of the biggest concerns she hears from patients -- their debt. Stories of overwhelming student loans, car payments, rising rents, rising insurance deductibles, credit card debt and much more are probably not as uncommon as most people think. However, since talking about financial worries is a sort of cultural taboo, few realize that their neighbors, friends and even family members are facing similar struggles. 

Important deadlines for Chapter 13 bankruptcy

Realizing that you need to file for bankruptcy can be an overwhelming experience. You already know that you must make your initial filing and that at the end of the process your unsecured debt will be discharged, but what happens in the middle? Although it may seem complicated at first, the process for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is easy enough to follow. However, you should be aware of certain dates and deadlines that you must adhere to. 

Your path toward debt relief will usually start around six months before you actually make your filing. You must undergo credit counseling with a court-approved agency 180 days before you actually file for bankruptcy. Undergoing credit counseling as soon as you realize that you need debt relief is a good idea, as waiting can delay your ability to seek bankruptcy in a timely manner. If you plan on filing in Florida, you must be a state resident for at least 90 days prior to your filing. 

Florida home foreclosure rates higher than national average

National foreclosure rates are now as low as they were back in 2006, but not everywhere is experiencing this relief. Some states -- including Florida -- are seeing a drastic increase in home foreclosure rates. Some experts believe that rising foreclosure rates in the state could be related to so-called underwater homes, which are valued at less than the homeowner's current mortgage balance. 

Florida experienced a 35 percent increase in foreclosures on condos and single-family houses. The nationwide rate is down to a mere 0.5 percent, though, which is the lowest it has been since before the Great Recession. So why are Floridians struggling so much more than the rest of the United States? Although a busy 2017 hurricane season certainly contributed to the issue, it is not the only reason. 

Small medical debts can be relieved through Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Sudden financial disasters certainly contribute to some people's money issues, but this is not always the case. Many Florida residents struggle with the slow accumulation of small bills that eventually snowballs into something much larger and more difficult to handle. For those considering Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it might have been a relatively small medical bill that pushed them in that direction. 

A group of researchers conducted a study on 2016 credit reports for over four million people. They found that around 2 percent of all adults that year had collection agencies come after them for medical debts that were less than $200. Around half of all of that year's medical collections were for bills under $600. While these are not the hefty, thousand-dollar debts most people associate with financial troubles, they certainly seemed to have an impact on debtors. 

Credit card debt rapidly rising in Florida

Florida consumers swiped their credit cards more than almost everyone else in the nation over the year's second quarter. While experts caution that this is not necessarily a sign of incoming disaster, it could spell trouble for some people. Consumers who have considerable amounts of credit card debt may also be struggling to handle finances in other areas of their lives, and the high interest rates associated with credit cards could make things worse. 

Credit card balances in Florida shot up 8.95 percent in 2018's second quarter, the second-fasting growing rate in the nation and higher than the average 6.58 percent. However, since many credit cards offer rewards like travel miles or cash back, some of that balance could be from monthly expenses. Many consumers now choose to pay their regular expenses with their credit card then quickly pay off the balance, thus earning those rewards. 

Homeowners have options for avoiding home foreclosure

Owning a home can be a stressful but rewarding experience -- from tackling those first home repairs to arguing with one's spouse over paint colors, there is truly nothing else like it. For those who encounter brief financial problems that make paying the mortgage difficult, those experiences could all disappear with foreclosure. It is important for Florida homeowners to understand that there are options for avoiding home foreclosure. 

Foreclosure is the process by which a lender repossesses a home that an owner has stopped paying for. When homeowners first realize that they will be unable to pay the mortgage, they should contact their lender and alert them to their situation. Being up front as early on in the process as possible is important for utilizing one of the many available alternatives, such special forbearance. This is an arrangement made between a lender and a homeowner, which temporarily reduces or even suspends payments after a sudden increase in expenses or decrease in income. 

Send your kid to college, face home foreclosure?

Sending a child off to college is often seen as an important step in life, and most Florida parents feel proud that they are helping their children further their educations. While a college education is often essential for a good job, it can also have a downside. Families with children in college may be more vulnerable to home foreclosure during difficult economic times. 

Between 2005 and 2011, tuition for both two- and four-year institutions nearly doubled. For families supporting the nearly 40 percent of people aged 18 to 24 who were attending college at the time, this was financially devastating. Not only did these families have to contend with the difficult economic period of the Great Recession, but they also had to deal with growing and seemingly impossible tuition. During that time, parents often drew money from their earnings and savings, with many also turning to loans to cover the high costs of higher education. 

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Paul Urich
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