Bankruptcy and Your Credit Score

How does bankruptcy affect your credit score? Behm Law Group Ltd. explains.

It should go without saying that filing for bankruptcy can carry with it certain consequences. While bankruptcy protections are in place to relieve many of the burdens of crushing, intolerable debt, filing for bankruptcy can impact your life in many ways over the next several years.

Perhaps most notably is the impact bankruptcy will have on your credit score. Following a bankruptcy, it’s still possible to obtain credit cards and loans. However, creditors will sometimes ask that you have a co-signer (someone with good credit who will assume responsibility for the debt with you). People who file bankruptcy will have the bankruptcy reflected on their credit histories anywhere from 1 to 7 years, irrespective of whether one files a chapter 13 bankruptcy or a chapter 7 bankruptcy. Both types of bankruptcy will reflect the same on credit histories. Sometimes people who have filed for bankruptcy relief or who have gone through a foreclosure will have to wait 3 years after the bankruptcy or foreclosure to qualify for a home mortgage through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.

While bankruptcy can negatively impact your credit history—which may not have been too great to begin with—you can start to repair your credit history almost as soon as you complete your bankruptcy process. Be sure to accurately and honestly reflect your bankruptcy situation. Potential creditors will want that information noted up-front so they can assess your credit risk. To most creditors, a bankruptcy filing simply represents a point in time. To them, the time predating the bankruptcy filing represents a time full of economic chaos and incredible financial uncertainty. The time after a bankruptcy filing represents financial order and economic balance. Most creditors will work with you following a bankruptcy because they know that they will not have to compete with pre-existing bankruptcy creditors for your payments because those creditors will have been discharged; they know that they will be first in line. Also, they will know that you will not be able to file for bankruptcy relief again for several years. They know that they could pursue collection action against you for several years if you do not pay them.

Unsecured credit after bankruptcy can be obtained. However, to improve your credit, you should look to secured credit, if possible, by placing money in the bank that’s equal to or more than the credit limit you’re looking to secure. Putting money away for a secured loan or credit can be challenging, particularly following bankruptcy, but the goal is to repair your credit history as much as possible and getting a secured line of credit is a good way to do it.

Any student loans you have will likely not be discharged through bankruptcy, so those debts will remain and they can be a ticking time bomb to your credit history if they go unpaid. Pay them on time, and pay over the minimum payment when possible, because that will likewise improve your damaged credit history.

There are companies that specialize in repairing credit history and credit scores, but they can be very expensive, and they’re not all reputable. In fact, some even engage other people who voluntarily allow the companies to “ghost” credit histories. The companies do not engage in identity theft. However, some people with good credit will, for a fee, allow credit repair companies to use their good credit standings and “ghost” those good credit standings for people with poor credit histories. Do your research before approaching a credit repair outfit but the best course may be to just stay away from them.

The bankruptcy attorneys at Behm Law Group Ltd. are experts at advising how best to rebuild your credit history following bankruptcy, and we’re happy to guide you accordingly. If you’re facing a bankruptcy situation of your own, Behm Law Group Ltd. can provide expertise in guiding you through the process and explaining what you can expect following filing for bankruptcy. We proudly serve Mankato, MN, and all of Southern Minnesota. We stand ready to help you through your stressful financial ordeal. Give Behm Law Group Ltd. a call today!

Beware Fraudulent Transfers | Bankruptcy Law Tips

Minnesota Bankruptcy Lawyers at Behm Law Group Ltd.

If you wish to keep your friends and family members in your good graces, don’t attempt to transfer property to them if you anticipate filing for bankruptcy within the next two years and they don’t pay you a reasonable market value for the property. Embarking on such a path may be considered fraudulent and could result in your friends or relatives being sued to give up that undervalued property. They’d be out whatever money they paid you plus the property they thought was theirs.

According to 11 U.S.C. Sec. 548, a bankruptcy trustee can sue individuals who purchased property, such as a vehicle, from the debtor who received substantially less than equivalent return value. Therefore, if a debtor sold a vehicle or similar property worth, say, $15,000, to a friend or family member, but only received $3,000 in compensation, and that transfer took place within two years before the debtor filed bankruptcy, the trustee could sue to reclaim that property in order to sell it for a more accurate market value. The trustee would then take that increased capital and distribute it evenly among the debtor’s affected creditors.

To avoid this potentially embarrassing fraudulent transfer situation, make sure you enter into financial agreements with friends or relatives by asking for a reasonable market value. This is especially important if you’re selling property when you’re under extreme financial duress that could lead to a bankruptcy filing in the near future.

The Bankruptcy Code can be extremely difficult to understand, especially when delving into the more arcane language and clauses that are best left to bankruptcy law professionals. Behm Law Group Ltd. serves Mankato, MN, and surrounding communities, and our bankruptcy expertise is at your disposal to help you successfully emerge from the stressful experience of filing for bankruptcy protection.

To better navigate this somewhat obscure bankruptcy side road, our professional team of bankruptcy attorneys at Behm Law Group Ltd. is available to assist and advise you. Contact Behm Law Group Ltd. today and begin your personal journey out of debt.

Minnesota Bankruptcy Advice- Are Student Loans Eligible for Discharge?

Tips from Minnesota Bankruptcy Attorneys- Behm Law Group

Student loans are generally understood to be “exempt” when it comes to bankruptcy protection. If you have student loans, you are required to pay them back in full, and the federal government has put rules into place to ensure that debt is collected. There are provisions that can help ease student loan debt, but the burden of proof is on you to prove you are in a position that makes it practically impossible for your to pay your loan. Filing for bankruptcy in Minnesota is a viable option. The Minnesota bankruptcy attorneys at Behm Law Group offer advice on how to navigate these tricky waters.

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Student loan debt is a huge concern nationwide. As college tuition continues to skyrocket, hundreds of thousands of graduates and perhaps their parents are saddled with debilitating student loan debt that can equal or exceed the price of most starter home mortgages. Private and federal student loan debt exceeded credit card debt in 2010, hit the $1 trillion mark in 2011, and as of this year stands at $1.2 trillion dollars. Meanwhile the economy is struggling to regain past employment levels and starting wages are generally lower, leaving college graduates with burdensome debt and little opportunity to get back on track.

Up until 1976 all education loans could be discharged through bankruptcy. That year the bankruptcy code was changed which disallowed college or government loans to be discharged during the first five years of repayment. After five years of payment the loans could be discharged though bankruptcy or if “undue hardship” was being experienced by the borrower. In 2005 Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act which gave further protections to student loans, both federal and private, from bankruptcy protection.  The only “door” left open for bankruptcy protection was if the borrower could demonstrate to the court that repayment of the student loan would cause an “undue hardship.”

Undue hardship can be exceptionally difficult to prove. Just the simple fact that you don’t have the funds available to pay your loan generally does not qualify as undue hardship.

Navigating through this complicated legal landscape is something best left to a professional bankruptcy attorney. Though full bankruptcy protection is still far from an attainable goal regarding most student loan debt, legal avenues do exist for at least a partial discharge of the overall debilitating debt burden that’s all too common for today’s college graduates.

Behm Law Group, Ltd. employs a professional team of bankruptcy attorneys who can help you through the daunting legal world of bankruptcy protection. With our years of dedicated training in the field of bankruptcy we can advise you about your student loan debt options and whether or not you meet the demanding criteria for having your student loans discharged through bankruptcy.

Serving Mankato, MN, and surrounding areas, Behm Law Group, Ltd. is available to help clients maneuver their way through financial difficulty and avoid the stress and uncertainty of unnecessary, burdensome debt. Contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. to discuss your bankruptcy options.

They Are Not on Your Side- Credit Cards Can Lead to Bankruptcy

Considering bankruptcy in Minnesota? Behm Law can help.

Commercials for big credit card companies make it look and sound like their only intent is provide you with an easy alternative to cash or checks to help all your “wants and needs” come true. The commercials show happy people buying bag-loads of goods at high-end stores, retiring to a beach-front home, or treating friends to an expensive dinner at a pricey restaurant. But are they really on your side? Are they really there to help you make your dreams come true? A look at their net incomes give you a glimpse of what they’re really out to do, and who truly benefits from their services.
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One recognizable company, Capital One, which gets half of its income from credit cards, reported a $1.1 billion net income for third quarter, 2013. Think about that—$1.1 billion in one quarter. The biggest credit-card issuer, American Express, reported a $1.37 billion net income for third quarter, 2013. Wells Fargo, the largest U.S. home lender, reported a third quarter net income of $5.58 billion. One thing is certain; these companies can’t achieve net incomes in the billions of dollars each quarter by giving money away. They make their exorbitant profits by charging high interest rate
s, massive late fees, and ridiculous overdraft fees. In other words, they lure you with friendly promises of luxury and convenience, and then snag you with highly predatory interest rates and insurmountable fees and penalties.

Credit card companies love to advertise “easy, affordable” credit. But, when times get tough and you’re financially struggling, they can make resolving your financial hardships unbearable and hopelessly unaffordable. Have you been entrapped by the large credit card companies? Is your income being sapped by high-interest payments? Are you over your head in debt? If so, do everything you can to get out of their snare. Your financial future depends on it. But if you are in so much financial trouble you cannot escape on your own, bankruptcy might be your only option. To see if bankruptcy is the right solution for you, call the personal bankruptcy attorneys at Behm Law Group Ltd. Unlike the big credit card companies, we really are there for you.

 

The Government Shutdown and Bankruptcy

How does the government shutdown affect Minnesota Bankruptcy?

minnesota bankruptcy behm law groupUnless you’ve been on an extended vacation in a far-away land with limited access to television, radio, or internet, you have heard about the U.S. government shutdown. The media calls it a “partial shutdown.” You may be wondering, “How does the government shut down relate to Minnesota bankruptcy?” Well, for the countless people who are affected by the government shutdown, there’s nothing partial about it; many are left completely without wages and pay. Not only are government employees affected, but also government contractors. Furthermore, there will be a financial domino effect. Companies that do business with the government won’t get paid. In addition, the restaurants, coffee shops, and retails stores that cater to government employees will see a reduction of business, and could end-up laying off employees, or worse, even be forced to shut their doors for good. And, when the unemployment benefits and savings accounts for these people dry up, many will have no option but to file for bankruptcy.

All of these victims of the government shutdown who end up filing for bankruptcy will have to do so not because they are careless, shopaholics, or addicted to gambling, but because of something over which they have no control: the decisions of a handful of powerful legislators. At Behm Law Group Ltd, we understand that this is true not just for furloughed government workers, but for most people who file for bankruptcy. Their financial problems were caused by forces and events over which they had no control, such as a CEO’s bad business decisions, skyrocketing medical costs, or the lagging economy.

At Behm Law Group Ltd, you will find understanding bankruptcy attorneys who will handle your case with compassion and professionalism. We know it’s not your fault. All we want is to help end your personal financial crisis. If your finances are being ruined by forces out of your control and you’re not sure what to do, call Behm Law Group. We can help you.

 

Why Chapter 13 Bankruptcy? Advice from Behm Law Group

Mankato Bankruptcy Tips

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Behm Law Group, Mankato BankruptcyFor some people, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the best option to consider when deciding which type of bankruptcy to file. While Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges people from all of their unsecured debts, Chapter 13 allows you to renegotiate your debts into more affordable payments which you make over the next three to five years. Chapter 13 isn’t for everybody, but it just might be the right option for you. The experienced bankruptcy attorneys at Behm Law Group can help you decide which option is right for you.

Ineligible for Chapter 7

Not everyone is eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. To be eligible, you have to pass the means test, which we have discussed in a previous post . However, Chapter 13 bankruptcy offers you some protection that Chapter 7 does not.

Protect Your Property

If you want to retain your property, such as a house or a car, you will want to file for Chapter 13. While Chapter 7 bankruptcy only discharges debt, Chapter 13 can allow you to reorganize your debt on secured property under much more favorable terms. Also, Chapter 13 allows you to protect property that you might not be able to keep in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Protect Your Conscience

Even though they are in a bad situation through no fault of their own, some people feel guilty about filing for bankruptcy. They want to feel like they have kept their obligations. For these people, Chapter 13 provides the opportunity to reorganize their debt  into more manageable payments and may afford them greater peace of mind. 

We’re Here to Help

The bankruptcy attorneys at Behm Law Group, Ltd. are dedicated to helping people make these difficult decisions. We can help you decide whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is best for you. If you need help deciding between Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, give us a call.