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When too late isn’t

May 2nd, 2011 Scott Wantland Posted in Bankruptcy, Chapter 13, Chapter 7, Foreclosures, Mortgage, Taxes, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Someone today asked me if it was “too late to file bankruptcy” to save a house.

Generally, it’s too late if the foreclosure sale has occurred. If a lawsuit has been filed, it’s not too late. It a sale date has been set, it’s not too late. If a collection agent tells you it’s too late- it isn’t.

There’s reasons to file as soon as possible. Filing a bankruptcy stops the foreclosure process. It halts collection calls and dirty letters. A chapter 13 begins the repayment process.  Property taxes potentially are halted from becoming liens.  The sooner you file the sooner you get peace of mind, make the calls stop, and the frest start stops.

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Insurance

April 25th, 2011 Scott Wantland Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I meet with people every week that have suffered some sort of tragedy. Too often they don’t have insurance, enough insurance, or the person that should have had insurance didn’t. To add insult to injury, they’re hurt AND now broke. If someone hits you, totals your car, and does not have insurance, you’re left holding the bag. Most folks I know can’t just write a check and get a new car.

Be sure to have underinsured motorists insurance on your cars. If you have a motorcycle, get PIP (or have GOOD health insurance. Invest in health insurance. Get flood insurance on your home. If you’re not sure what coverage is a good idea- ask your lawyer for suggestions.

I’m not saying EVERY insurance is a good idea. Typically, I don’t recommend WHOLE life insurance (term is a must), credit life insurance, credit protection coverage, extended warranties…

To quote ole Dimwitty- be wise, be insured.

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Student Loan relief in a chapter 13

April 23rd, 2011 Scott Wantland Posted in Bankruptcy, Student Loans | 1 Comment »

Every week someone calls to ask me about getting rid of student loans in bankruptcy.  Most of them have heard that bankruptcy can’t help with student loans.  They’re half right.

Student loan debt is generally not dischargeable in bankruptcy.  This means the debt will still be owed at the end of the bankruptcy.  However, bankruptcy can still help with collection and sometimes repayment of student loans.

Rarely would a chapter 7 bankruptcy be helpful in dealing with student loan debt.  The automatic stay would stop collection activity during the time the bankruptcy is pending, but, at the end, the balance would still be owed.  Of course, if you were unable to pay the student loans because of other pressing debts, the bankruptcy may free up some cash.  However, the debt will be untouched by the bankruptcy.

A chapter 13 is used to repay and restructure debt.  Using a chapter 13 a person can put off paying student loans for up to sixty months.  Additionally, a portion of the student loans will usually be repaid.  At the end of the chapter 13, a balance will still be owed.  However, the hope is that at the end of the chapter 13 a person’s financial condition will be greatly improved making you able to repay.

Bankruptcy may not be the perfect answer for dealing with student loan debt but at least it can help.

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April 17th, 2011 Scott Wantland Posted in Bankruptcy, Debt, Medical Debt | 1 Comment »

Real people have to figure out how to pay bills

 

Credit to the Courier Journal.

Maybe Congress wouldn’t make it so hard for real families to get rid of medical debt if they had a budget like the rest of us.

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Internet Check Advances

April 12th, 2011 Scott Wantland Posted in Bankruptcy, check advance loans, Credit | 2 Comments »

It’s no secret that check advance loans are not a bright decision.  The interest rates and fees on these loans make the real interest rates on these loans several hundred percent- more than times the interest rate of even the most expensive of credit cards.  Even check advance lenders will remind you that check advance loans are high interest and should only be used as a loan of last resort.

As bad as they are, some are worse than others.  At all costs, avoid internet based cash advance loans.  Many of these operations operate from outside the United States- and United States law.  Most don’t respect common protections of bankruptcy.  Even if you seek bankruptcy protection, they will continue to take money from your account.  You can still sanction them in bankruptcy court, right?  WRONG.

Because they operate off shore in far away lands, they don’t respond to court notices.  They are far from justice and far from fair.  They often charge fees beyond what is legally permissible.  They are a really bad deal- even for what is already not such a great deal.

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HELOC, Mortgage, Second Mortgage, Home Equity Line

April 7th, 2011 Scott Wantland Posted in Debt, Foreclosures, Lien, Mortgage | 1 Comment »

There’s an old saying that a rose by any other name smells just as sweet.  The point of the saying is that no matter what you call an item, if it quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, has webbed feet…you get the point.

There’s something scary for a lot of people about getting mortgage.  They understand that it’s a loan against the house that if not repaid will result in foreclosure. 

Knowing that people are afraid of second mortgages, banksre creative and call them other things- home equity lines, HELOC, home equity loan- who cares what they call it.  They want you to borrow against your house.

It does not matter what it’s called.  If you sign a piece of paper that says my home stands good for my loan then you are signing a mortgage. 

Another play on words- it is what it is.  It doesn’t matter what you call it.

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How Celebrities Go Bankrupt

August 19th, 2010 Wantland Posted in Bankruptcy, Celebrity Debt, Debit | 7 Comments »

Karen Hartline –

What do Burt Reynolds and Thomas Jefferson have in common? How about Kim Basinger and Gary Coleman? What about MC Hammer and… well I think that name tells you where this is going. They are all famous filers of bankruptcy and members of a long line of celebrity debtors. We look forward to their tales of woe on the last five minutes of the eleven o’clock news. We marvel at the details of each financial fiasco. One can’t help but wonder how could such fortune turn into such debt?

If you ask Kim Basinger, she might tell you it was her weakness for the town of Braselton, Georgia. Basinger bought the town for $20 million around the time she dropped out of the movie Boxing Helena. While this might have been a wise career decision, the financial fallout was severe. After being sued for breach of contract, Basinger filed for bankruptcy and had to sell the town.

Mike Tyson might point his finger at his pet tigers. They were among the boxer’s many outrageous purchases and accounted for over $8,000 of his debt. Of course, these innocent, caged beasts represented only a fraction of Tyson’s lifestyle which demands $400,000 a month to maintain.

For Debbie Reynolds, bankruptcy stemmed from her hotel. The opening of the Las Vegas property, named none other than the Debbie Reynolds Hotel and Casino, made the perfect home for her extraordinary collection of movie memorabilia. However, her finances fell into bankruptcy when the casino flopped and Cleopatra’s Headdress retired to storage.

Famous spending sprees are also to blame. Michael Jackson has been reported at various times to be in financial crisis. He’s also famous for outrageous spending. He purchased ten artificial intelligence Sony AIBO dog robots at $5,000 each, and it takes over $200,000 a month just to maintain and run his home. The King of Pop dazzled the American populace when he shopped away $6 million within a matter of hours on the TV documentary “Living with Michael Jackson.”

Robots, tigers and towns, oh my! While there are differences in the details, there does seem to be a common thread with these celebrity bankruptcies.

In a recent New York Times article, former comedian and director of the film PhatBeach explained the typical Hollywood financial story. “When you make money in this town it’s very fast, and it feels like it’s never going to end,” said Mr. Ellin. “I’ve done it myself. I’ve been the idiot who was spending money and then thought, ‘Wow, I haven’t had a job in two years.'”

Parents try to raise fiscally responsible kids by repeating clichés like “money doesn’t grow on trees.” Apparently, it doesn’t even grow on the trees behind the houses on MTV’s Cribs. Show business is a winner-takes-all career. When celebrity hits and the paychecks roll in, they don’t come with sound financial advice attached. Many of those who do strike it rich are suddenly so deep in wealth they don’t consider reaching the horizon.

Evan Bell is a business manager who represents a number of Hollywood newcomers. He recently told the New York Times, “When the agent says, ‘No one read that bad review’ and that ‘it doesn’t matter,'” his job is to be the voice of reason. “I say, ‘You got a bad review — don’t buy that new car.'”

Athletes aren’t immune to delusions of eternal wealth either. Derek Sanderson, a former football star, is one of the most famous for this misconception. In 1972, he signed a contract for a record breaking $2.65 million and lost it all to alcoholism and a string of bad investments. Back on his financial feet, he now advises athletes who find themselves in this daunting position of wealth.

“Almost every player is not conscious of the fact that it will end,” Sanderson says. Of his work as a business manager at Boston’s State Street Research he says, “We educate the players as to what risk is. Once you show the player how quickly the money can go, they get a good sense of calming down.”

Being a financial tamer sounds easier than it actually is. One Hollywood financial advisor, Scott Feinstein, told the New York Times about a call he received from a client in his mid-twenties who wanted to buy a $35,000 watch. “I said ‘What time does it say?’ and he said, ‘Ten minutes after 3.'” Feinstein recalled. “I told him, ‘Mine says 10 after 3 too, and it cost me 60 bucks. Put the watch down.'”

Of course, one $35,000 watch does not pave the road to bankruptcy. The problem occurs when exorbitant spending goes from isolated incidents to a must-have lifestyle. Apparently, when MC Hammer sang “Can’t Touch This,” he was not singing about his money. The famed rapper’s forty-member entourage outspent his $33 million income on lavish day-to-day living.

Though some of these anecdotes may ring familiar, you probably don’t think of any of these celebrities as actually suffering financially or sleeping out on the streets. Burt Reynolds, despite his $8 million in debt, kept a house that was valued at over $2 million. Kim Basinger certainly never looked like she was having any financial difficulty.

Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy was a way for these debtors to wipe the slate clean and basically avoid paying their bills. The number of filers increased dramatically over the course of the nineties. For this reason, bankruptcy laws were challenged in 2001, and a new bill was put into place. Such a bill had faced contention in legislation due to the demographics of most bankruptcy filers. “This is a class issue, these are poor people we are talking about,” said Senator Paul Wellstone, Democrat of Minnesota in a call for compassionate conservatism.

But other Democrats charged that passing the bill was a form of payback to corporate America. They thwarted cases, such as those of Kim Basinger and Toni Braxton, which seemingly took unfair advantage of the law as it stood.

CNN Congressional Correspondent Kate Snow reported on changes to the federal bankruptcy code. She claimed the most significant aspect of the new bankruptcy legislation would be that filers would be subject to a “means test.”

“Anyone making over a certain amount of income would be forced to file under Chapter 13 rather than under Chapter 7 bankruptcy.” said Snow. “This means that they would have to pay off some or all of their debt – they would not be able to wipe the slate clean.”

So, is it working? Well, perhaps the fact that Tyson filed for chapter 11 due to his earning potential is evidence of justice for the average debtor. The fighter is planning a comeback, however. Not many others could so confidently boast of such a possibility with $40 million dollars in bills looming overhead. Perhaps recent changes to the law will make it more of an uphill battle for Tyson than it was for famed financial fumblers of the past.

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Summer vacation.

June 6th, 2010 Wantland Posted in Bankruptcy | 1 Comment »

Seems like everyone wants to hit the road as soon as the kids get out of school. There are some vacation days saved up from work and if we don’t use ’em, we lose ’em. So, let’s go! Don’t have enough cash? Well…

Here are my top few financial mistakes people make on vacation-
1. Putting all the expenses on a credit card. I’ve seen people come in to file bankruptcy whose debt, or at least a chunk of it, is a vacation from 4, 5, 6 years ago. Is a week in Destin really worth paying for the next 3 years?
2. Timeshares- My dad swears by his timeshare. He paid cash and bought it from a ruputable company with a complete understanding of the terms and conditions. Unless you are paying for a timeshare with cash, understand all the terms, and can afford the fees, don’t buy. No matter what the salesman says, the same great deal will be there tommorow.
3. Gambling too much- no explanation needed.
4. Not looking for a deal. It you’re reading this blog chances are you know how to use the internet. Take time to research your destination- this will save you a few bucks and make your vacation more fun.

Well, I’m off to plan my vacation- I’m going this winter.

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What bills should I pay?

April 6th, 2010 Wantland Posted in Bankruptcy | 3 Comments »

Clients often wonder what bills to pay in the time leading up to the time for filing bankruptcy. Usually, they wonder if they need keep paying credit cards, car payments, and mortgages and other bills.

The following list is comprised of things that I tell folks to pay in the time leading up to bankruptcy and why: 1. Child support. Well, you go to jail if you don’t pay it. Your kids have to eat even if it means that Citibank is not going to get its minimum payment. In short, it’s the law and it’s the right thing to do. Pay your child support (or alimony). If not, you’ll need bail and child support money. 2. Food- starving is just no good. 3. Utilities- Besides the obvious the reasons to pay the utilities, there are other considerations- if your utilities are turned off you’ll have to give a deposit next time you sign up for them. There are also fees associated with reconnection. It will cost you even more money in the long run if you don’t pay the light bill. I’m not talking about charged off old bills. I am talking about current utility usage. Besides, who really want to live in a house where the toilet does not flush? 4. Housing- you can’t live in a Visa or American Express- you can live in a house or apartment. Consult with me before continuing to make housing payments if considering bankruptcy. There are some situations, like when surrendering a house in foreclosure, where paying the house is not worth it. 5. Car payments- take what I just said about housing and repeat it here. Often times, because of the amount of the car loan, it just makes more sense to let the car go. Call me. I’ll be happy to help you make a decision. 6. Taxes- Uncle Sam can reach right in your pocket if you don’t pay. Some taxes can be discharged or given preferential treatment in bankruptcy. You’ll want to decide what your plan of action is before deciding for sure whether or not to pay taxes. 7. Everything else…

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A bad bet- gambling problems.

March 24th, 2010 Wantland Posted in Bankruptcy, Gambling Debt | 4 Comments »

It’s a gamble.

It’s moments before my trip to Sin City. Like a lot of people, I enjoy a good bet. For some people, no bet is good.

Last year I saw people lose homes, wives, and cars because of the inability to deal with gambling addiction. Gambling is a source of entertainment- not a way to make money. NEVER go to the casino to try and make money for the mortgage, child support, or as a way to “make a living”.

Here are some signs of problem gambling: • Losing more than you planned. • Friends and family telling you that you have a problem • You feel bad about gambling • You want to stop but “just can’t” • You’re hiding your gambling from people • You are borrowing money to gamble • You are taking time from work and school to gamble. It you think you have a gambling problem, call, 800-522-4700.

I see people that have gambling problems. Bankruptcy can help. First, you need to help yourself.

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The attorneys of Wantland Law in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, advise and represent individuals and families in bankruptcy cases and debtor-creditor negotiations in Bullitt County, Nelson County, Spencer County, Hardin County, Okolona, Jefferson County, Louisville, and such communities as Mount Washington, Brooks, Lebanon Junction, Bardstown, Taylorsville, Elizabethtown, Radcliff and Fort Knox.

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