How Do I Prioritize my Finances During the Pandemic?

How Do I Prioritize my Finances During the Pandemic?

On top of huge concern for health and safety, many Connecticut residents are also facing some very overwhelming financial obstacles in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In such an unprecedented time, it is critical to keep in mind what is most important regarding your financial circumstances.

Firstly, pay what is absolutely necessary. Food and utilities come first. Secondly, if you are unable to make payments on your mortgage or rent, there may be temporary protection from your Bank or Landlord. Government-backed lenders and many other banks are offering moratoriums on your payments and many landlords are willing to be accommodating. The foreclosure courts are briefly on hold.  The eviction courts are closed. You will not lose your house or apartment immediately.  Keep Thorough Documentation and Records. As things change with time, there will likely be confusion, so confirm everything you can in writing especially with the Banks, who don’t keep transparent records or designate specific people responsible for your account.  Long waits and numerous changing customer representatives aren’t going to evidence your account.  Keep records.

Nonetheless, these are all temporary fixes and you need a more permanent plan. If you have lost your job or your household has had a decrease in income, budgeting can still fail as you try to keep you and your family financially afloat, Mortgage moratoriums and temporary rent suspensions are also extremely short-term solutions, but there are long-term answers and smart ways to survive tough economic times and overwhelming debt. You have a legal right to financial recovery.

If it is difficult for you and your family to get by, please contact the Law Offices of Neil Crane, LLC. Contradicting information and constant policy changes make understanding your finances extremely challenging. Our team of attorneys can clarify what is actually going on and analyze your financial circumstances to help you explore your options.

Steps to Improve Credit Score Following Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy Helps Thousands of Connecticut Residents

The American economy and current job market has made bankruptcy the best option for a lot of people.

Individuals tend to have several questions that must be addressed before deciding bankruptcy is appropriate. These questions include what might happen to the family home, which debt is eligible to be discharged, as well as how bankruptcy might affect their life down the road.

Restoring Your Credit Score

One of the most common questions people have following the bankruptcy process is how they can restore their credit score. Obtaining new credit after bankruptcy can be difficult, but there are steps people can take to begin rebuilding credit for the future. These steps include:

  • Take on as little new debt as possible – debt to income ratio is an important credit score determinant.
  • Obtain a secured credit card if your previous cards have been cancelled (this will establish a positive payment history).
  • Pay off credit cards at the end of every billing cycle and avoid charging more than 30 percent of their limits.
  • Pay with cash whenever possible.
  • Avoid submitting multiple credit applications (credit scores take a hit with each inquiry).
  • Develop a budget and abide by a strict budget.

This list is not exhaustive, but following these recommendations can jump start even a recent bankruptcy filer on the road to a sound financial future. Bankruptcy is designed to give debtors a fresh start, so it is important to realize anyone can emerge from bankruptcy with a positive outlook for the future.

Anyone who is considering bankruptcy or wondering how they can rebuild their credit should speak with a qualified attorney immediately. The experience bankruptcy attorneys provide is invaluable before, during and after the bankruptcy process.

Understanding Connecticut Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

We know that over ten thousand Connecticut families enjoy a better life and financial future as a result of the bankruptcy and debt relief work done by our educated attorneys and staff. The Law Offices of Neil Crane is the largest provider of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy relief in Connecticut.

Connecticut Bankruptcy Attorneys Helping You Stop Creditor Harassment and Get Debt Relief

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most affordable and comprehensive debt relief available under the Bankruptcy Code. It completely discharges almost all forms of unsecured debt – allowing people to permanently eliminate unsecured debts, such as:

  • Lawsuits, judgments and garnishments
  • Credit card debt
  • Medical bills
  • Old apartment rent payments
  • Many types of older tax debt
  • Personal unsecured loans (loans not secured by collateral)
  • Other debts

If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may choose to eliminate certain secured debt as well, such as an automobile loan or a house mortgage.

Chapter 7 Income Guidelines: The first step in examining families for Chapter 7 relief is an analysis of household income from all sources over a trailing six month period. This income, doubled, becomes the determining household annual income for purposes of determining eligibility for “automatic” Chapter 7 relief with its full discharge of unsecured debt and no repayment. Family size is determined by the number of dependents listed on the prior year’s tax return or the true number of people in your household. In Connecticut, the numbers are approximately:

Family of 1 – apx. $60,000+ Family of 2 – apx.$78,000

Family of 3 – apx. $88,000+ Family of 4 – apx.$109,000

All additional individuals – $7,500 per person

For families who are over these median numbers, the new laws under the 2005 Bankruptcy Code require a Means Test.

MEANS TESTING UNDER CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPTCY

This is a somewhat complicated, in-depth analysis of your income and expenses over the past six months. It utilizes formulated amounts for “allowable deductions” for certain expenses and overriding “actual deductions” for certain types of monthly expenses, such as mortgage payments, car loans, support obligations and others.

At the Law Offices of Neil Crane, our highly experienced practitioners know how to use the fullest opportunities under the law to maximize our client’s utilization of both elements of the means testing examination, “household income” and “allowable expenses.” The rules are complex, extensive and critical. The new key to full Chapter 7 debt relief is excellent, dedicated lawyering and full implementation of all aspects of means testing rules and regulations. It takes work, but it’s worth it.

People who do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may still qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. At The Law Offices of Neil Crane, LLC, we can help make sure your decision will be the right one for you.

Chapter 7 Is Alive and Well After the New Bankruptcy Laws

After the new bankruptcy laws went into effect in 2005, we are pleased to report that – although there are far greater paperwork demands and stringent means testing rules – The Law Offices of Neil Crane, LLC, is still able to obtain Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief and our same excellent results in the vast majority of cases. In all events, Chapter 13 is available to all clients. The death of bankruptcy relief has, in fact, been exaggerated and over-publicized. With our experienced lawyering, most clients can still obtain the same debt relief that was available under the old law.

In the hands of skillful and experienced Connecticut Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorneys, clients can still get immediate protection and permanent debt relief. Now, more than ever, our experience and dedication is critical to your relief.

Talk With Us About the Benefits of Filing for Bankruptcy

There are many benefits to obtaining the full relief and debt forgiveness still available under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Please do not hesitate to call us today at 203-230-2233 to discuss these benefits with an experienced attorney. You may also complete our online contact form.

Because your financial relief and peace of mind are our highest priority, we do not use voice mail. Every call placed during normal business hours is answered by a live person. If an attorney cannot speak with you immediately, your call will always be returned by an attorney promptly.

Bankruptcy Relief And Divorce Proceedings

We help people across Connecticut who are considering filing for bankruptcy before, during and after divorce proceedings. We regularly serve clients who have questions about debt relief and how it impacts their divorce.

Financial problems are one of the leading causes of divorces in the U.S., and financial issues are typically one of the biggest concerns of both parties in a divorce. Court orders and divorce proceedings do not separate or eliminate obligations to pay creditors for joint debt regardless of what a divorce judge decrees. Co-signed and joint obligations can cause long-term problems and serious consequences to both parties long after the divorce is finalized.

  • Are you more concerned about how you will settle or divide debt burdens than assets?
  • Are you worried about protecting your assets or business in divorce or bankruptcy?

The timing of a Divorce Decree and the choices for debt relief and asset division are important considerations in nearly all divorce proceedings. Options and alternatives can be maximized by experienced attorneys working together to ensure your financial future.

FILING BEFORE DIVORCE

By filing before or during the divorce process, you can provide immediate relief with more options at a lower cost for both parties. This can assure that neither party is straddled with large joint debts that become unpayable, subjecting both parties to suits by creditors for years after the divorce is finalized. Filing for bankruptcy before divorce allows for thorough advanced planning and assists in protecting the maximum amount of assets while providing fast and affordable relief, sometimes individually, and sometimes through joint proceedings with shared legal counsel.

FILING DURING DIVORCE

This process is quite common and the Bankruptcy Code makes special provisions to allow divorces to proceed uninterrupted by a pending bankruptcy case. Filing during a pending divorce proceeding has many of the benefits of filing before a divorce. It allows for all financial issues to be carefully examined in full and resolved before the divorce is completed. It also avoids the problems of either spouse defaulting on long-term joint debts and co-signed obligations in a manner that injures the other ex-spouse at any time in the future.

Filing before or during a divorce is usually the optimal choice of our experienced lawyers based on thousands of such cases here in Connecticut.

At the Law Offices of Neil Crane, we can work with you and/or your divorce counsel to properly plan for your financial benefit. Call us at 203-230-2233 for a free consultation.

Debt Relief After A Divorce

Often parties don’t obtain debt relief or bankruptcy counsel until problems arise after their divorce. While this is not the optimal choice, filing after a divorce can still provide essential relief from joint debt obligations that have fallen into default after the divorce, regardless of who was held responsible for such joint obligations in the court-ordered divorce decree. A properly prepared bankruptcy filing can provide permanent relief from creditors on co-signed pre-divorce obligations, including long-term debts and defaulted mortgage payments without disturbing new current obligations and post-divorce recovery.

By strategically planning a divorce proceeding and decree, our experienced bankruptcy counsel can properly draft the Divorce Decree to provide for full Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief from all unsecured debts. With our expert assistance, divorce proceedings can be used to satisfy the new requirements of means testing for higher income filers. Family assets are protected and future income stays protected and “in the family.” This prevents excessive bills from threatening support payments and the household income necessary to properly provide for separated spouses and their children long into the future.

Altering Divorce Decrees Through Bankruptcy Law

Experienced bankruptcy counsel can craft a divorce decree to utilize the special provision of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 to make finalized divorce decrees affordable. With our specialized knowledge, Chapter 13 can be used to protect all forms of child support and alimony.

An experienced bankruptcy attorney should always be consulted in order to structure a plan that fits your unique marital situation. Protecting assets and assuring your best interests in divorce agreements, requires our specialized and experienced bankruptcy knowledge. The results can be powerful and permanent.

To evaluate your Divorce Proceeding or your Divorce Decree, call us today at 203-230-2233, or complete our online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation. When you call us, you will always speak to an attorney. We do not use voicemail. We are committed to providing excellent service, legal protection and a financial relief plan that fits your unique situation in divorce.

Student Loan Debt Solutions

Student Loan Debt Solutions

As the burdens of increased student loan debt reach historic levels, many graduates are searching for answers that will allow them to stay current each month and preserve their hopes for a solid financial future. While the banks that issue overwhelmingly high interest student loans have enjoyed unreasonable Congressional protection, various options exist for relief from excessive student loan burdens from:

  1. Government Student Loan Debt –These are direct loans from the U. S. Department of Education.
  2. Private Student Loan Debt – These loans are issued by banks based on credit and loan applications.

While both private and government student loans are protected from elimination in Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows for the restructuring and consolidation of student loan debt into affordable monthly arrangements.

Solving Student Loan Debt Through Other Debt Relief

The first step to resolving student loan debt is the prioritization or elimination of all other forms of debt. Relief from other forms of less important debt allows limited financial resources to be preserved for student loan servicing and the reduction of principal balances.

Continual deferments on student loan obligations is a costly and temporary mistake made by thousands of Connecticut graduates. It merely avoids true student loan debt solutions.

Many people feel that their student loans are too overwhelming to approach or impossible to resolve, placing themselves in a type of student loan debt paralysis that requires the assistance of financial and legal professionals.

Consolidation Of Student Loans And Prioritization

Establishing a full spread sheet with the amounts and payment terms of your student loans is the initial step to evaluating an appropriate plan of attack. This allows graduates to choose from a variety of solutions; including:

  1. Consolidation
  2. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Relief
  3. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Relief
  4. Income Based Repayment Plans

Student Loan Debt And Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Hardship

While Chapter 7 bankruptcy will allow for relief from all forms of unsecured debt, private and federal student loans are deemed non-dischargeable without proof of hardship. Unfortunately, the standard for Chapter 7 student loan hardship relief is nearly impossible to satisfy. Chapter 7 relief for hardship is not a worthwhile avenue, despite recent extreme hardship cases.

Chapter 7 relief for all other forms of debt is helpful for student loan repayment but Chapter 7 does not discharge student loan debt.
However, Chapter 7 debt relief eliminates unimportant debt and allows for the proper allocation of income resources to more important student loan obligations. On its own, Chapter 7 should not be viewed as an avenue for the discharge of private or government student loan debt.

Chapter 7 Debt Discharge For Student Loan Relief

While Chapter 7 bankruptcy will not allow for the discharge of private or governmental student loans, it does provide general debt relief that can be used in combination with other avenues for overall student loan debt relief.

Since all forms of student loan debt relief won’t make room for payments needed for other debt obligations, relief from these obligations can be critical to your success under any and all student loan debt repayment programs; including:

  1. Student Loan Consolidation
  2. Income Based Repayment
  3. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plans

Income Based Repayment Plans

The recent strengthening of Income Based Repayment or IBR has made this program a viable option for dealing with overwhelming student loan debt. While the Income Based Repayment program is a step in the right direction, there are a number of important limitations that may reduce the relief granted; namely:

  • Loan dates, rates and qualifications
  • Gross income parameters
  • Seasonal income adjustments

At the Law Offices of Neil Crane, we’ve solved financial problems for thousands of Connecticut residents since 1983. To learn more about approaching and resolving your student loan debt problems, call us at 203-230-2233 for a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.

Understanding Chapter 20 Bankruptcy

Understanding Chapter 20 Bankruptcy

Chapter 20 Bankruptcy

DEBT RELIEF UNDER CHAPTER 20 BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS

Chapter 20 Defined:

The filing of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, followed by the often immediate filing of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition is known as a Chapter 20 bankruptcy. The benefits of Chapter 20 proceedings have been a boon for many troubled borrowers seeking maximum relief from overwhelming bills through a Discharge under Chapter 7 with a subsequent Chapter 13 repayment for non-dischargeable tax debts.

The discharge, or extinguishment, of numerous types of unsecured general claims of low priority to a burdened debtor under Chapter 7 can clear the way to allow for proper payment of more important priority, secured and non-dischargeable claims – items like recent taxes, mortgage payments and other critical debts, all of which are subject to favorable treatment under Chapter 13.

After eliminating low priority debts and obligations through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy Discharge, those debts not eliminated or discharged can be paid from all remaining income with the importance they truly deserve. These payments can be made under the favorable repayment terms of a subsequent Chapter 13 Plan of Reorganization.

Chapter 13 is in general the most under-utilized chapter of bankruptcy. In fact, very few bankruptcy specialists focus their practice on the somewhat complicated and specialized provision and procedures specific to Chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. This void in qualified bankruptcy professionals is unfortunate, since Chapter 13 allows for the greatest debtor protections and options available under any provision of the law.

Chapter 13 allows the borrower:

  1. The full protections and avoidance powers of a debtor-in-possession; i.e. lien avoidance, preferential payment, avoidance and litigation powers;
  2. All the provisions and protections found under Chapter 7;
  3. Full jurisdiction throughout the United States in a swift and favorable forum for the litigation of any and all creditor claims adjudicated “at home” in the debtor’s place of residence;
  4. The ability to alter all forms of obligations, including all types of tax claims, priority claims, secured claims and otherwise non-dischargeable claims;
  5. The ability to obtain court orders on “confirmable” plans with or without the voting rights or consent of creditors as required under Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 proceedings.

Chapter 20 for Tax Elimination and Favorable Repayment

Although few practitioners are experienced or proficient under the provisions of Chapter 13, properly utilized, Chapter 13 or Chapter 20 is the strongest forum available for complete tax elimination or restructuring. In general, older state and federal income taxes can be eliminated and more recent income taxes can be restructured in accordance with affordability and without creditor or tax authority consent.

Although somewhat unknown and rarely discussed, Chapter 20 does, in the hands of experienced counsel, provide the best possible relief available under state or federal law. Its utilization to eliminate dischargeable, low priority obligations through Chapter 7 and the immediately subsequent filing of a Chapter 13 proceeding to eliminate or restructure all forms of state, local and federal taxes makes it a panacea for consumers with overwhelming tax debt.

As one of the leading providers of Chapter 20 relief throughout Connecticut, we are always available to discuss the applicability of the provisions of Chapter 20 to your clients’ specific circumstances. We have routinely encountered and swiftly resolved tax problems in the most complicated and long-term circumstances imaginable.

At the Law Offices of Neil Crane, we have been providing Chapter 7, 11, 13 and 20 tax solutions since 1983.