Frank H. Coxwell, PC

I’m speaking mainly to those who know that they need to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.  If you wait until you are back to work for several months and everything is going well again (except for what is now the older debt), you run the risk of becoming ineligible to file a Chapter 7 case.  Eligibility is not based on how much debt you have – it’s based on your household income for the past six months and whether or not you have any “disposable” income that could go toward paying some or all of your unsecured debt.  The court looks at the past 6 months of your income, compares it to certain qualified expenses, and determines what is left over (your disposable income) that could go toward paying your other debt.  This process is called the Means Test.

For example, today I met with a newly married couple and they both were out of work for several months.  When things were bad, they did some research online about bankruptcy, talked to some friends, and pretty much knew that a Chapter 7 would be their best bet to pull out of this bad situation.  Their credit card bills, medical bills, and various other unsecured debts were all past due, but they had managed to keep their house and car payments current. In this instance a Chapter 7 would be their best option.  They did well in their research and friends had pointed them in the right direction, to my office.  They both got hired at really good paying jobs. However…..they waited and put off contacting me.  They didn’t have any idea how important the timing of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing would be. The hardest job I have is convincing people to come and see me early, sooner rather than later. Many times we just talk and make plans to file later on. But at least they would have the information and knowledge about what they need to do and when to do it.

Continue reading

If you are overwhelmed with medical expenses, you are not alone. I read an article recently where it stated that medical bills and accounts now represent over 50% of debt classified as being in collections status.   That’s huge!  According to the Federal Reserve, the government agency that keeps up with these things about 1 in 6 credit reports have medical debt collection accounts listed.  About 40% of these credit reports were also experiencing a lower credit score and the majority of these debts were listed as still unpaid.

There are two major issues.  One – people are struggling with the amount of medical debt that they are in – there isn’t a payment plan out there that would be feasible for them to attempt.   And two – people are struggling with somewhat manageable medical debt but the medical collections community seems to have absolutely NO desire to work with them on any type of reasonable payment plan.

I met with a couple the other day that make good money and had health insurance.  The husband recently had to undergo surgery and the bills were steadily coming in from the doctors, labs, and the hospital – but overall it wasn’t too bad.  The problem is that they all wanted their money immediately.  Pay or be sent to collections in 30 days. Pay the debt collector or be sued.  Be sued and be garnished or have your bank account frozen.

Continue reading

Yes! You can get back money that was garnished from your wages (if the debt is dischargeable) if you file bankruptcy.  In Mississippi, you can only recover garnished wages were taken within 90 days of your filing for bankruptcy and the amount taken was more than $600.  You are not entitled to recover everything that’s been garnished if you’ve been garnished more than 90 days before you file bankruptcy; just the 90 day portion they took right before you filed bankruptcy.  ***Keep in mind that filing bankruptcy STOPS a garnishment the moment the case is filed!

Depending on which kind of bankruptcy case you file and the amount, the money may go back to you or it may go to the Trustee.  But either way, it’s beneficial to you.  How would it be beneficial for it to go to the Trustee? Keep reading. I’ll explain!

Example #1: You have been garnished for the past 2 months for a total of $800 and you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy tomorrow.  The first two criteria are met (within 90 days and over $600) so you stand to regain all $800.

Example #2: You have been getting garnished for 6 months for a total of $1,500 and you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy tomorrow.  You’re qualifying but only the portion taken within 90 days will be eligible – which lets say totals $700.  The creditor is entitled to keep the other portion ($800).

Continue reading

Before you accept a new credit card, there are a few things you need to know and to consider:

  1. Don’t accept too many – Be selective about the cards you choose and don’t have too many at one time. There is rarely a good reason to have more than one or two.
  2. Beware the Subprime – Sometimes lenders will offer you subprime cards instead of turning you down for bad credit. Generally these subprime cards have high interest rates, expensive fees, and low limits. Avoid those that “help” bad credit (take for instance the cards offered on Bad Credit Offers site) because these can often make your credit worse than it was to start with.   Use a trusted source like Consumer Reports to compare credit card offers.  There are also lenders that offer you a new card, but add the old debt to the new account.  If you have filed bankruptcy and wiped out credit card debt, this action would be a violation of your discharge and you should notify your bankruptcy attorney right away.

2016 loan mod seminar3I attended the Regs X & Z / Loan Modification Seminar held in Shelby, NC this year with my daughter, Rachel. She is in law school and has heard me talk a lot about the mortgage crisis and how much wrongdoing happens every day to good, hardworking people so she went with me to learn more. It was wonderful! It is very rewarding to save someone’s home and bring to account a mortgage company that seems bent on taking it by almost any means necessary, lining their pockets as they go. 2016 loan mod seminar2

If you are an attorney and you are addressing mortgage fraud, predatory lending practices, and a host of other violations in this arena, attending Max’s boot camps and seminars are a must to keep up to date with the laws and defenses available to aid your client.  If you are reading this and are looking for a lawyer outside of Mississippi to help you with mortgage issues, I encourage you to look at the list of attorneys on his site that have been trained by Max and are keeping up to date.  If you are in Mississippi, call me. I’ll be happy to discuss your situation and the options available to you to get things back under control and save your home. 2016 loan mod seminar4

22nd annual conferenceI enjoyed speaking at the conference this year to my peers. The only thing I love more than taking a bite out of a banker and save someone’s home is teaching other attorneys how to do the same!  The title of my session was “Pulling Back the Curtain…” I compared mortgage companies to the Wizard of Oz – who was no wizard – just a great trickster who hid his activities behind the curtain.  You pull that curtain back and his power is gone! We need more attorneys equipped to fight the good fight and I’m determined to do my part to see that it’s done.

 

 

 

A paper written by David Bernstein, an economist at the U.S. Treasury, argues that credit card debt can play a part in families losing their homes and that this debt is deepening the mortgage crisis.  He posted this paper as a private citizen, but utilized information from the Survey of Consumer Finance.  Credit card debt, mortgage foreclosures, and access to bankruptcy are linked.

He studied families whose mortgage payments take more than 40% of their income.  Within this group, it is 21 times more likely that they will default on their mortgage payments than people who utilize less than 40% of their income to pay for their mortgage.  But, if these families eliminated their credit card debt, about 1.5 million households could bring their mortgage payments down below that 40% range and increase their chances significantly in keeping their homes.

He also noted that in order to save their homes, more homeowners should consider bankruptcy.  Even if you can’t redo your mortgage, if they were to write off enough of their other debt, they would be able to make their payments.  Bankruptcy offers many more options than people realize and often is significant in helping families to receive a modification to their mortgage.

Yes. You can file bankruptcy in the US if you do not have a Social Security Number (SSN).

  1. There is no requirement that you be a US citizen to file for bankruptcy in the US.
  2. There is no requirement that someone be a US resident to file for bankruptcy in the US.
  3. There is no requirement that someone be in the US legally to file for bankruptcy in the US.
  4. There is no requirement that someone live in the US to file for bankruptcy in the US.
  5. There is no requirement that someone have a SSN to file for bankruptcy in the US.

11 USC 109 states that a person “that resides or has a domicile, place of business, or property in the United States, or a municipality, may be a debtor under this title.”  Debtor meaning a petitioner, bankruptcy filer, person who wants to file bankruptcy.

If you do not have a SSN, you may need to sign a statement to that effect or you could request an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) from the IRS . These are provided by the IRS to those who cannot obtain a SSN.  Although you may file a bankruptcy without a SSN, you must provide acceptable proof of identity at your bankruptcy 341 meeting. Continue reading

There are 4 ways you can get a copy of your tax return information or transcripts.  If you are filing bankruptcy, you will need a copy of the last 2 (two) years filed tax returns regardless of whether you owe(d) taxes or receive(d) a refund.  Example – if you were filing bankruptcy in March 2015 and had not filed taxes yet for 2014 (not due until April 2015), you would need a copy of 2012 & 2013 tax returns.  If you were filing bankruptcy in May 2015, you would need a copy of 2013 & 2014 tax returns (unless you had filed an extension for 2014).  Unless you are exempt from filing (click here to see who is exempt), you must have filed all the tax returns that are due prior to filing for bankruptcy.

If you have lost your copy, there 4 ways to gain another copy of your tax return or transcript for whichever years you are in need of:

  1. Online – go to www.irs.gov and click on “Order a Tax Return or Account Transcript”.
  2. Call 1-800-908-9946 and follow the voice instructions.
  3. Mail – IRS Form 4506-T or Form 4506-T-EZ “Request for Transcript of Tax Return”.  The forms are available online (see #1 above) or by calling 1-800-829-3676.  The transcripts will be mailed to your home address, at no charge.  You must allow 5-10 days delivery time.
  4. Go to IRS office – There is an IRS Tax Department office located at 100 W Capitol Street, Jackson, MS. You may have to wait in line, etc, but if you are in a rush and do not have online access, it is possible to go to the IRS office and obtain a copy on the spot.  There may be other office locations that can assist you.  Look online or call the nearest IRS office and see if they provide this service. Not all locations provide the same services.

Continue reading

As part of the Federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act, every Mississippi Resident is eligible to receive one free Personal Credit Report every 12 months from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies. To learn more, please visit the FACT Act Central Site located at:  annualcreditreport.com.  Any other web site offering you free credit reports is a scam.  There are no free credit reports available other than on this site.

To order your free credit reports chose one of the following methods, Internet, Mail or Telephone:
1.    Go to the internet site at annualcreditreport.com and order or print online.
2.    Print out the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
3.    Call 1-877-322-8228 and order by phone.

Be very careful that you DO NOT agree to arbitration if you order the reports online.

Do not contact the three nationwide consumer reporting companies individually for your free annual reports. They provide free annual credit reports only through the above web site, the above telephone number, or by mail.

Note- if you have been turned down for credit in the past 60 days, then you are entitled to get a free report directly from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus each time you are denied credit.  In addition, you may also order a report  from them at anytime and if you pay their credit report fee, usually around thirty dollars. Continue reading