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    A Look at Record High Consumer Debt

    Last updated 4 days ago

    Consumer debt has risen five percent from last year, with the average U.S. household owing $15,480 in credit card debt alone – not counting mortgage debt and student loan debt. With sky high interest rates and annual fees, credit cards are a common reason why many people have to declare bankruptcy. It can be very challenging for an individual to pay back a mountain of debt when interest keeps adding to it.

    You can hear more about the latest trends in consumer debt by watching this news clip. You’ll hear the story of Tracy, who found out the hard way that it can be all too easy to rack up excessive credit card debt. You’ll also hear why some banks are allowed to charge unreasonable interest rates and fees.

    If you’re burdened with excessive credit card debt, you may wish to consider declaring bankruptcy. Call (847) 505-0380 to consult Cutler & Associates, Ltd., a bankruptcy law firm serving Aurora and Schaumburg.

    What Happens to Your Car in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

    Last updated 14 days ago

    One of the primary concerns people have about filing for bankruptcy is whether they will be allowed to keep their assets, such as their vehicles. Your bankruptcy attorney can give you advice for your specific circumstances; however, you may find it comforting to know that many people do indeed maintain possession of their cars and other assets. For example, if you’re no longer making payments on the car and its value is below a certain amount, you’ll be able to keep the car.

    Filing a Statement of Intention (SOI)

    If you’re still making payments on your vehicle, your situation is a little more complex. Your bankruptcy attorney will file a Statement of Intention (SOI) along with your bankruptcy petition. The SOI informs the court what you intend to do with your car. You may decide that it’s easier to simply surrender the vehicle. If you lease your car, you may decide to use the SOI to either reject or assume the lease. If you do want to keep the car, you must continue to make payments to your lender while your bankruptcy petition is pending.

    Paying the Lender a Lump Sum

    If you have the means to do so, your bankruptcy attorney might recommend maintaining possession of the car by paying your lender a lump sum. This is known as redemption. It enables you to purchase the car at the current value.

    Entering Into a Reaffirmation Agreement

    If you decide to reaffirm the promissory note on your vehicle, your lender will give you an agreement. This reaffirmation agreement may either have the same terms as your old agreement or you may negotiate new terms that are more favorable for you.

    Using the Ride-Through Option

    Your lender may allow a ride-through option, which enables you to simply continue to meet the terms of the old agreement. If so, your bankruptcy attorney will not need to negotiate a reaffirmation agreement on your behalf.

    Get the answers to your questions about bankruptcy by consulting Cutler & Associates, Ltd. Our bankruptcy attorneys will review your case for free and let you know which assets you may keep after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Residents throughout the Aurora and Schaumburg areas are invited to contact our law firm at (847) 505-0380.

    Understanding the Good Faith Requirement in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

    Last updated 25 days ago

    There are many requirements you must meet for your bankruptcy petition to gain the approval of the court. Fortunately, when you work with an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy cases, he or she will ensure that you meet all of those requirements, such as the good faith requirement. The good faith requirement involves the repayment plan that your bankruptcy attorney will submit to the court along with your Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition.

    Defining the Good Faith Requirement

    Under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will repay a portion of your debt over a period of three to five years. The court expects you to designate all of your disposable income for this purpose and your repayment plan should reflect this. This is known as submitting the repayment plan in good faith. Your disposable income is any money that you do not need for basic living requirements, such as housing, transportation, and food. If the bankruptcy court and the trustee believe that you have submitted the repayment plan in good faith, they will approve it. Otherwise, the trustee may raise objections and the court may reject the plan.

    Identifying Possible Reasons for Objection

    Your bankruptcy trustee may raise objections if he or she believes you have not calculated your current monthly income accurately. Your current monthly income is the average income for the past six months just before your bankruptcy filing. If the trustee determines that you received a pay raise shortly before your bankruptcy filing or another type of increase in income, he or she may object to the repayment plan on the basis that you did not report it. Another possible reason for an objection is when the trustee believes you overstated the amount you need to support yourself and your family.

    At Cutler & Associates, Ltd., our bankruptcy attorneys have years of experience handling complex bankruptcy cases. We’ll work closely with you to ensure that you have a reasonable repayment plan that your bankruptcy trustee will accept. Contact our offices in Aurora or Schaumburg by calling (847) 505-0380 and ask about scheduling a free evaluation.

    Can a Debt Collector Target Your Social Security?

    Last updated 1 month ago

    For millions of Americans, Social Security is a vital source of income. However, Social Security alone is often not enough for people to live comfortably and pay off any outstanding debts. If you’re deep in debt, and Social Security is your only income, you might be worried that creditors will start garnishing your Social Security benefits. 

    Fortunately, Social Security benefits are largely exempt from garnishment. However, Social Security may be garnished if you owe child support or if you owe money to the government. In all other cases, banks must review the debtor’s account before approving garnishment—if less than two months’ worth of federal benefits are left in the account, the bank will deny the garnishment request. However, accounts with more than two months of Social Security payments may be garnished.

    If you’re struggling with debt and are having trouble finding a way out, contact the bankruptcy attorneys at Cutler & Associates, Ltd. Our firm has been providing bankruptcy services in Aurora, Schaumburg, and elsewhere in Chicagoland since 1990. 

    Talking with Creditors if You Can't Pay Your Bills

    Last updated 1 month ago

    Once you miss a payment, your creditors will start calling you and demanding money. If you don’t have the money, however, repaying your creditors simply isn’t an option.

    In this video, a certified public accountant discusses how to speak with creditors. She says it’s important to stay current on utilities, auto loans, and any debts that are set up against assets. If you can’t pay off your credit card, medical bills, or other unsecured debt, simply let the creditor know. The sooner you come clean to your creditor, the better chance you have of negotiating a repayment deal. 

    If your debt is insurmountable, you may need to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If that’s the case, the expert bankruptcy attorneys at Cutler & Associates, Ltd. will provide skilled assistance. Call our Aurora office at (847) 505-0380 if you have any questions. 

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