Archive for November, 2016

Should I file for Bankruptcy?

Friday, November 25th, 2016

Bankruptcy is a serious step. Bankruptcy carries a certain stigma that you are probably hoping to avoid. However, if you are having financial problems, you would probably like for things to be different, and you don’t know how to achieve that without bankruptcy. So maybe you are not sure what to do. Perhaps you should ask yourself the following questions.


Are You Living Paycheck to Paycheck While Only Paying Minimum Payments?

At some point it’s important that you are honest with yourself about the old blood from a turnip logic. If you already spend every penny on bills and necessities and there is nothing extra, how will you ever get out from under it without bankruptcy? If you are honestly still spending money on luxuries and frivolous things, putting that money towards your high-interest balances could help avoid bankruptcy. Perhaps a second job would be another option, but will you have the discipline to spend that extra money solely on debt?

Are You Behind on Your Mortgage?

If there’s a possibility you could lose your home you definitely have to do something soon. Depending on how far behind you are on your mortgage, this is another situation where things have gotten too far to hope for some other solution. Unless you win the lottery, how will you save your house? Besides a place to live, imagine what else you would be losing. Your home is a valuable asset and investment that you want to hold on to at all costs.

Do You Use Credit Cards Every Month For the Same Bills?

Yes? Now you’re really just chasing your tail. Don’t be caught in that sense of satisfaction you get by paying your credit card bill when all you’ve really done is pay some regular bills, plus interest! You’re paying interest on your water bill? That is just adding debt to debt. If by chance you’re paying credit cards with credit cards it’s really time for a change.

Are Bill Collectors Calling You?

Now that we all use cellular phones and social media, you may have gotten so good at avoiding the calls that you’ve forgotten they really exist. If this is an ongoing problem, consider how deep you really are. When you consider your debt, are you remembering those accounts? Since you aren’t paying on them it might be easy to overlook, when in fact your debt amount is actually higher than you already know.

Do Your Finances Cause Physical Sickness, Anxiety and/or Loss of Sleep?

It’s very important to consider quality of life and protecting your health and happiness. You certainly can’t undo decisions in the past that led to this situation. The decisions in and about your future are wide open. Is the stigma of bankruptcy preventing you from freeing yourself and your family? Are you concerned with feelings of failure or loss? At the end of the day, we’re dealing with money and material possessions. Both of which are replaceable. Health and happiness are not.

If you’re experiencing any of these warning signs, it’s best that you seek a consultation from an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Most initial consultations are free and they can help guide you based on what is best for your unique financial situation.

Carolyn Secor P.A. focuses its practice in the areas of Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Defense in Clearwater, Florida.  For more information, go to our web site
or call (727) 254-1704.

1 Out of 3 Should Refinance Student Loans

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

According to a news broadcast on HLN News 11/16/2016, one of out three people who have student loans would be better off to refinance the loans at current interest rates. A typical person would save in the neighborhood of $20,000 over the life of the loan.


Eight million Americans could get a lower interest rate on their student loans, and many of them might not even know it.

That’s the estimated number of borrowers eligible to refinance their debt, according to a new report from Credible, an online student loan marketplace. It’s roughly one-third of all people who are currently paying down student loans.

Short of getting someone else to help shoulder the cost (good luck with that), refinancing is one of the only ways that could both lower your monthly payments and cut the amount of money you’ll pay over the life of the loan.
And it’s not just for people pulling in six-figure salaries.

Your eligibility does depend, though, on how much money you earn relative to the amount of debt you have, and it helps to have a good credit score.

Federal loans, which make up most of the country’s student debt, come with much lower interest rates now than they did a decade ago. But the government doesn’t allow people with older loans to refinance at current rates.

Instead, you have to turn to a private lender to refinance both federal and private loans.

Some banks offer student loan refinancing — like Darien Rowayton and Citizens. And a handful of online lenders have recently launched specifically for this purpose, like Sofi and CommonBond.

Credible, which helps student borrowers shop around for the best rates, analyzed data from its users over the past 17 months to see who was getting the best rates, and how much money they were saving. Here’s a look at what they found.

Who’s eligible?

Every lender has its own qualifications, but ultimately you have to show you’re able to repay the debt. It might hurt you if you’ve missed payments before, have a low credit score, or aren’t making the big bucks yet.

But it’s not uncommon for people with debts larger than their annual income to refinance, according to Credible. It could be helpful if you don’t have other big debts to pay like a credit card balance, mortgage, or car payment.

Recent grads who used Credible to refinance had an average income of $54,200 and a loan balance of $49,379.

What can refinancing do for you?

Ideally, you’re looking to pay less over the long term.

Refinancing will get you a new interest rate and possibly a different repayment term, which could be longer or shorter than the 10-year standard term that comes with a federal loan.

On average, borrowers who refinanced reduced their rate by 1.7 percentage points, cut their term by five years, and can expect to save $18,668 over the life of the loan, according to the report.

Most lenders don’t charge an origination or closing fee.

Even if you’re eligible, refinancing might not be the best option for you. A new loan with a lower rate and a shorter term might drive up your monthly payment.

Other ways to help pay down your loan

If you are struggling to pay your federal loans, you could apply for an income-driven repayment plan. Typically, the government will cap your monthly payment at 10% of your discretionary income. And if you make full payments for 20 years, any remaining debt will be forgiven. (If you have loans for graduate school, it’s forgiven after 25 years.)

President-elect Donald Trump has suggested capping your monthly payment at 12% of your income and forgiving your remaining debt after 15 years.

Currently, federal loan forgiveness is also offered after 10 years for people who work for the government and non-profit organizations.

But remember, you could lose some of these protections if you refinance into a private loan. While some private lenders offer similar income-based repayment options and hardship deferrals, many do not. So if your financial situation is unsteady, it might be worth staying put with a federal loan.

Refinancing your student loans is a good step in the process of getting on good financial ground. If you are having a problem with debts and your finances, perhaps you should have a consultation with Caroline Secor. Carolyn Secor P.A. focuses its practice in the areas of Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Defense in Clearwater, Florida.  For more information, go to our web site
or call (727) 254-1704.

Stop Wage Garnishments

Friday, November 4th, 2016

If you owe money to someone and it is a legitimate debt, they can take action to seize your wages. If you have children to feed, mortgage or rent to pay, gas for your car so you can get to work, this can be a devastating problem. Your creditor can go to court and apply for garnishment against your wages. The scary part about this is that the ruling in the state of Florida goes on until the debt is paid in full, which could take years.

Soign No

man wearing a suit sitting in a table showing a signboard with the word no written in it

Here is something that could help you. Florida Wage GarnishmentWage garnishment in Florida is not permitted against a debtor who qualifies as the head of household. This exemption is complex. A debtor who receives notice that his wages have been garnished has several methods of asserting a head-of-household exemption. The garnishing creditor is required to provide the garnished debtor with a claim of exemption form. The debtor may claim a head-of-household (or other exemption) exemption on the form, mail the exemption form to the court, and wait for the court to schedule a hearing on the head-of-household exemption. A more assertive debtor can file a motion to dissolve the wage garnishment and request an expedited hearing.

In the same court case that the creditor got a judgment against you, the creditor will file a Motion for a Continuing Writ of Garnishment. This motion is done ex-parte, which means without notice to you. After filing the motion, the judge will usually grant the Writ of Continuing Wage Garnishment, which is then served onto your employer. Once your employer receives it, the creditor must give you a copy of the motion along with other documents (including the claim of exemption).

Once your employer receives the Writ of Continuing Wage Garnishment, it will immediately begin freezing a portion of your wages–usually up to 25 percent. But that’s not the end of the process. The employer has 20 days to file an answer (response) to the Writ of Continuing Wage Garnishment and serve a copy of that answer to the creditor. You also will have an opportunity to object to the wage garnishment and claim any exemptions that apply. If you don’t object, or if your objections fail, then the judge will issue an Order of Wage Garnishment. That ends the process until the creditor is fully paid.

Keep in mind that some debts bypass the above process. For example, if you owe money for income taxes, child support, or student loans, then your wages can be garnished without a court order.

Debtors who are not head of household, or who have waived their head of household garnishment protection, may have their wages garnished only up to limits allowed by federal law. The Consumer Credit Protection Act limits wage garnishments to no more than the lesser of 25 percent of a debtor’s disposable weekly income or disposable earnings equal to 30 times the Federal minimum wage. However, greater amounts may be garnished to enforce tax debts or court ordered domestic support obligations.

Bankruptcy can get rid of garnishments for you. If you think your wages might be garnished, you should consider having a consultation with a bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible. Carolyn Secor P.A. focuses its practice in the areas of Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Defense in Clearwater, Florida.  For more information, go to our web site
or call (727) 254-1704.