Does Debt Disappear After Bankruptcy?

Does debt disappear after filing for bankruptcy? Debt relief attorneys at OlsenDaines in Oregon State

If you’ve found yourself battling against a mountain of debt, you may be considering bankruptcy as a way to get back on your feet. After all, filing for bankruptcy can be an effective method for relieving debt and regaining control over your finances. But, should you file for bankruptcy, will all of your debt disappear?

The answer to that question is a little complicated. Though bankruptcy can help relieve many different kinds of debt, there are some kinds that will stick with you. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it’s important for you to know what kinds of debts are covered and which kinds are not.

What Debts Can Be Forgiven by Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy can help you regain financial stability by relieving a wide variety of debts. Your exact amount of relief, however, will largely depend on your specific situation and what kind of bankruptcy you qualify for. If you aren’t sure which path would be best for you, a bankruptcy attorney can help you find a solution that relieves as much debt as possible.

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is intended for individuals with a lower income and fewer nonessential assets. To qualify for this type, you have to pass a means test, which verifies your income. The types of debt that this chapter can cover include:

  • Medical bills
  • Overdue utility charges
  • Outstanding credit cards
  • Collection agency accounts
  • Lease agreement deficiencies
  • Checks written on insufficient funds

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is intended for individuals with more disposable income and more nonessential assets. This type of bankruptcy is considered “reorganization”, where you will create a payment plan to repay secured debts – such as alimony, child support, and mortgage delinquencies.

Depending on your specific situation, other types of debt may be reduced, but that is not always the case. Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be tricky to navigate, so it is best to contact a skilled bankruptcy attorney to determine the best approach for debt relief.

What Debts Cannot Be Forgiven by Bankruptcy?

Though bankruptcy can absolve many kinds of debt, there are a few types that usually cannot be discharged. The types of debt that bankruptcy generally cannot cover are:

  • Student loans
  • Alimony and child support
  • Tax debts

While these debts are generally not forgiven through bankruptcy, each person’s situation is different. A knowledgeable and experienced bankruptcy attorney can examine your unique circumstances to help you relieve as much debt as possible.

Experienced Debt Relief Attorneys

Bankruptcy can be difficult to navigate, and without the right guidance, you may miss
opportunities to relieve debt. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, contact the skilled bankruptcy attorneys at OlsenDaines in Washington and Oregon today. Our experienced lawyers understand the ins and outs of bankruptcy law, and they can help you get the best outcome possible for your situation. We can help you through any step of the process so you can regain financial security as easily and effectively as possible. Call us today to schedule your free legal consultation.

How to Avoid Debt This Holiday Season

How to avoid debt this holiday season in Salem OR - OlsenDaines bankruptcy attorneys

The reality of holiday debt usually doesn’t sink in until you get the bills or check accounts. Too much unpaid debt can cause your credit score to drop so we are sharing some tips to follow to avoid racking up holiday debt.

Pay in Cash When Possible

Statistics show 57% of Americans with credit card debt are willing to accrue more debt during the holidays. Gifts and décor commonly cause the most holiday debt, and since consumers rarely save for this, they charge for it.

Avoid this added debt by setting a little money aside each month to pay for gifts and holiday décor in cash. Leave your credit card at home to reduce the temptation to make spontaneous purchases, and use debit cards. Several studies have shown consumers spend less with cash, and it comes with less security risk.

Create a Budget and Make Lists

Decide how much you are going to spend, including travel, and ensure it doesn’t prevent you from making necessary payments. Make a list of things you need, a list for gifts, stick by it, and cross them off as you go.

Consider having some gifts be homemade, such as mixes in a jar, which you can often make for less than buying. If you are easily influenced by others, go shopping alone to avoid going over budget.

Use Credit Wisely

If you must use a credit card, try to stay within less than 20% of the limit, and don’t max them out. Set a budget the same as you would for cash, but check the remaining balance on the cards.

Use credit cards that give rewards for purchases and apply points you have already accumulated to gifts. Don’t be tempted to take out cash advances on your credit cards, because they often have high-interest rates.

Experts in Bankruptcy Law

With some careful planning, you can avoid falling into the holiday debt trap and you will enjoy the holidays better without the stress of debt.

We hope you have a great holiday season and if you need debt relief, consider OlsenDaines. We have offices all throughout Oregon and Washington with highly experienced bankruptcy attorneys ready to help! Just give us a call today to schedule a consultation. 

Debt Snowball vs Debt Avalanche

Debt snowball vs debt avalanche repayment methods with OlsenDaines in Oregon

This time of year many people are reviewing their finances in preparation for the holidays. For many, this means looking for ways to eliminate debt which can feel like an overwhelming task – especially without the right plan in place.

Thankfully, there are many different repayment strategies that you can choose in order to begin rapidly paying off your balance. Two of the most popular and effective debt repayment plans are known as the “snowball” and “avalanche” methods. While these tactics are similar, they have some key differences that can help you decide which strategy is best for you.

What is the Snowball Method?

With the debt snowball method, you pay off debts in order of smallest to largest balances. By putting the majority of your money toward loans with smaller balances and making minimum payments to all other debts, you can swiftly cut through your debts. This method is popular because it is easy to implement and provides quick results, which is great for building momentum and motivation.

What is the Avalanche Method?

In the debt avalanche method, you pay off loans based on interest rates. By targeting loans with higher interest rates first while making minimum payments to any other debts, you can quickly pay off debt while cutting down on the amount of interest you pay over time.

Though this tactic is great for eliminating debt quickly and with the least amount of interest, it is a little more difficult to implement and keep up with. The debt avalanche method also produces slower short-term results, which may be challenging for individuals who struggle with motivation.

Which Debt Repayment Method is Best?

Unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits-all” plan when it comes to debt payment plans. It all comes down to which plan you can feasibly implement and keep up with – after all, no plan is useful if you won’t be able to stick to it. To help you determine which tactic may be better for you, here are some pros and cons of both debt repayment strategies:

Debt Avalanche

  • Eliminates debt faster
  • Reduces total interest paid
  • More difficult to implement
  • Takes more time to see results

Debt Snowball

  • Produces results quickly
  • Builds motivation and momentum
  • Takes more time to eliminate debt
  • Requires you to pay more interest

If you have a mountain of debt that you are struggling to pay, these repayment strategies may still feel too overwhelming. If that’s the case for you, it may be useful to contact a legal expert who can help you assess your options. That’s where the trusted professionals at OlsenDaines can come in handy! Our experienced attorneys are trusted all throughout Oregon and Washington. We are dedicated to helping you get your life back on track. Call us today for a free consultation!

Should I Stop Paying Creditors If I’m Going to File for Bankruptcy?

Woman looking through bills. OlsenDaines, serving Oregon and Washington explains if you should stop paying creditors if you're going to file for bankruptcy.

If you’re choosing to file for bankruptcy, and you’re current on your debts, you may be asking yourself if you should stop paying creditors now.

Automatic Stay

The short answer is, no you shouldn’t stop paying creditors until you’ve officially filed. When you file for bankruptcy, the court will order an automatic stay which will prohibit lenders from making harassing collection calls, sending threatening letters, and trying to file lawsuits against you. But until then, they can continue to harass you so don’t be surprised if you suddenly stop making payments.

In most cases, the automatic stay remains in effect until your bankruptcy case is concluded. Keep in mind, it won’t stop every debt collector. Automatic stay orders will not halt child support, loans against your pension, or back taxes. And if you filed for bankruptcy in the previous year, the order will expire after 30 days.

  • Auto Loans: if you stop making payment on your auto loan, at some point the creditor will attempt to repossess your vehicle. If you want to keep the vehicle, you may want to continue making payments so you don’t run the risk of getting it repossessed.
  • Credit Cards: in most cases, people are fine not making their credit card payments, but you will likely be subjected to collection calls until you file for bankruptcy. If you just used a card before you realized you were going to file, you may want to continue to make payments. We recommend consulting with a bankruptcy attorney.
  • Home Loans: as with auto loans, if you stop making your mortgage payments, at some point the creditor will attempt to foreclose the home. If you want to keep it, you may want to continue making your monthly payments. Every case is different.

Bank Setoffs

If you’ve taken out loans through your bank or credit union and you’ve stopped making payments, they can institute a setoff. This allows them to withdraw money from one of your accounts to another to cover the loan payment. You may want to move your money around before missing a debt payment.

Experienced Bankruptcy Attorneys

Filing for bankruptcy can help you “start fresh” if you’re facing mounting debt and pressure from creditors. However, there are many missteps you should avoid in the months and weeks leading up to filing.

To ensure you reach your financial goals, it’s best to work with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. OlsenDaines has vast experience with bankruptcy. In fact, we’re the top bankruptcy filer in Oregon. We’ll help you navigate the process and get your life back on track. To schedule your free initial consultation, contact us today!

Life After Bankruptcy

Woman sitting on her sofa in relief, relaxing. OlsenDaines in Oregon and Washington talks about life after bankruptcy.

Filing for bankruptcy can provide you with relief if you’ve struggled with unmanageable debt but it also comes with some new challenges, such as dealing with a low credit score. The bankruptcy attorneys at OlsenDaines want you to start off strong after filing for bankruptcy, so follow these tips as you prepare for life after bankruptcy.

Think Positive

First of all, don’t be ashamed after filing for bankruptcy. We understand there’s a stigma involved with bankruptcy, which is mostly just misconceptions. Think positive, get back up, and try again. Many people and businesses have overcome bankruptcy and you will too.

Start Saving

Sit down and calculate your income and expenses. This will help you determine how much disposable income you have. After you’ve determined that figure, make it a point not to spend more than that every month.

Cut Down on Expenses

If you filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’ll repay secured debts through a court-managed payment plan. This means you’ll have to change your lifestyle a bit and you cannot take on a new car loan or credit card without the court’s permission first.

Rebuild Your Credit

Now that you’re starting off with a clean slate, you’ll want to rebuild your credit. Keep in mind, this is especially hard the first year following a bankruptcy filing. Apply for a secured credit card. Unlike a typical credit card, secure credit cards require a cash deposit. Pay off the balance each month and over time you’ll improve your credit score. OlsenDaines will set you up on a credit rebuilding program after filing bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy Experts

Any bankruptcy is difficult. Whether you’ve just finished discharging your debts or are thinking about declaring bankruptcy, OlsenDaines can help. We’ve been helping people throughout Oregon and Washington for over 40 years. Visit our website for more about bankruptcy and schedule your free bankruptcy consultation today!

Signs You Should File Bankruptcy

Woman looking stressed about debt. OlsenDaines serving Oregon & Washington talks about the signs you should file for bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy is typically a taboo subject, but filing for bankruptcy has helped thousands of people get the financial freedom they need. It will help repair your credit score, allow you to be stress-free, and most importantly, it will allow you to get on with the rest of your life.

Let’s take a look at some signs you should file bankruptcy.

You’ve Tried Negotiating Already

If you’ve already tried negotiating with creditors and they haven’t budged and you don’t have the funds to make your payments, it may be best to file for bankruptcy.

You’re Facing Foreclosure

If you’re behind on your mortgage payments and your lender is now threatening to foreclose on your home, filing for bankruptcy can help. It will allow you to keep your home and catch up on your mortgage payments.

Your Liabilities Exceed Your Income

If your debt amount is more than the monthly amount you have coming in, you may want to consider filing for bankruptcy. Underemployment and unemployment are major reasons why many individuals file for bankruptcy.

You’re Being Sued

If your unpaid debts have led to creditors filing a lawsuit against you, it’s a good idea to file for bankruptcy. Creditor lawsuits are often the start of aggressive tactics to seize your assets.

You Don’t Have Any Savings or Retirement Funds

If you’ve already used all of your savings and retirement funds to repay your debts, filing for bankruptcy may be a good idea because it will free up some of your income so you can better prepare for your future. You should talk with us before using up all of your retirement as those accounts can be protected from your creditors.

Experienced Bankruptcy Attorneys

If you have more debt than you can repay and are weighing your options, filing for bankruptcy may be your best option but it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Before making a decision, you should consult with a reputable credit counselor like OlsenDaines. We have knowledgeable and experienced bankruptcy attorneys all throughout Oregon and Washington ready to help. We’ll give you candid, honest, and caring advice. So contact us today for your free debt relief consultation.

What You Need to Know About Bankruptcy

Woman holding document, thinking. The bankruptcy lawyers at OlsenDaines serving Oregon and Washington talk about what you need to know about bankruptcy.

If you’re dealing with serious debt issues, filing for bankruptcy may be an option. It’s like getting a second chance. But it cannot wipe out all of your debt and it comes with some consequences, so keep reading to learn more about bankruptcy as you weigh your options.

What is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal court proceeding when a person is unable to repay their debt. A judge and court trustee will examine the person’s liabilities and assets and determine to discharge the debts. If they find the person cannot repay their debts, the person will have to declare bankruptcy.

Filing for bankruptcy can stop repossessions and foreclosures, and it can temporarily halt evictions.

There are two main types of bankruptcy people file for:

  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: this is the most common type of bankruptcy. You must earn less than the median income for family size in your state to qualify for this type of bankruptcy. In Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the court will sell all of your assets, so you can pay off as much debt as possible.
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Also called a wage earner’s plan. To qualify, you must have a steady income and unsecured debt (less than $394,725) and secured debt (less than $1,184,200).

How do I know If I Should File for Bankruptcy?

While job loss and medical debt are the most common reasons people file for bankruptcy, here are some other situations which could cause you to consider bankruptcy.

  • Your wages are being garnished
  • You’re getting a divorce
  • You are unable to negotiate your debt
  • You have no assets or they’re worth less than your debt
  • You’re being sued
  • You can only afford to pay for things using a credit card
  • You use one credit card to pay off another credit card

If you’re facing serious debt, contact OlsenDaines for your free consultation because every situation is unique. As experts in bankruptcy law, we’ll address your financial difficulties and help you determine whether bankruptcy is right for you. We also offer a complimentary credit rebuilding program.

Bankruptcy and Student Loans

Ahh, the American dream. You start with nothing, get an education, work your assets off, and end up rich and successful. But is that really how it goes? Everyone knows that it is absolutely critical that you get a good education in order to get ahead. The average price of a college education can range anywhere from  $24,610 to $49,320! So what happens when you have little to no money yet need a college education or advanced degree to live the American dream? Many times, you take out student loans. And sometimes you end up living the American nightmare instead of the American dream. You find yourself drowning in student debt and despair.

Does that mean that you are you destined to drive a truck, work in the factory, be a farmworker, waitress, or work construction forever? Or that you have to always live near the poverty line in order to pay back your student loans?

We don’t think so. We believe that the poor should have access to good financial advice and be empowered with the financial information they need to not be taken advantage of when it comes to student loans or anything else.

Student Loan Debt.

We know that it is difficult to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy. Most debtors won’t be able to discharge student loan debt through a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 filing. But that does not mean you don’t have any options or possibilities.

The Undue Hardship Test.

Most courts are reluctant to discharge student loan debt. However, if you can qualify for the “undue hardship” exception, you may get your student loans discharged in bankruptcy. To qualify for undue hardship in Oregon, you have to be able to prove to the court that:

  • You have no money left over each month to pay your student loans
  • Your money problems aren’t going to get any better in the future
  • Over the years, you made a good faith effort to repay your student loans.

If you can answer these and other questions honestly, you may be able to qualify to have your student loans discharged.

Defenses to Student Loan Debt.

Another possible source of relief from student loan debt lies in unfair and illegal treatment. If you have defenses, such as a breach of contract, unfair business practices or fraud against your loan companies, you may not have to pay the debt at all.

Learn Your Options.

When it comes to student loan debt, there is no magic wand you can waive to get rid of them. But that does not mean you do not have hope or options. We are Oregon and Washington bankruptcy attorneys. We offer free consultations and we can help you. To set up an appointment, call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568.

What You Can Keep After Filing for Bankruptcy

 

Many people believe that they will lose everything they own if they file for bankruptcy. Not true. In fact, most people who file for bankruptcy do not lose anything they own at all.

How can that be?

Well, the secret lies in…

Exemptions.

Most consumers file for Chapter 7 (or “liquidation”) bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7, exemptions determine what property you get to keep. If your property is exempt, whether it is your home, your car, your pensions, furniture, your clothes, etc., you can keep it during and after the bankruptcy. Exemptions protect your property and put it beyond the reach of the bankruptcy trustee (“trustee”).

If the property is nonexempt, then the trustee is entitled to sell it to pay your unsecured creditors.

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it is the exemptions that determine how much you will have to pay to nonpriority, unsecured creditors.

If you are considering bankruptcy in Oregon or Washington, it’s important for you to understand how exemptions work and to know what property is exempt in those states. We can help. We have offices in Tigard, Salem, Albany, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, Bend, and several other cities in Oregon. We also have offices in Vancouver and Tri-Cities in Washington.

A Little More About Exemptions.

Every state has its own set of bankruptcy exemptions and most states require that you use the state exemptions only. However, some states allow a debtor to choose whether to use state exemptions or federal bankruptcy exemptions. Like all states, Oregon has its own set of bankruptcy exemptions. But in Oregon, if you file for bankruptcy you can elect to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions instead of the Oregon state exemptions. In Washington, you can use either the federal exemptions or the state exemptions.

How Exemptions Work.

There is a lot to know about exemptions, but briefly, this is how it works: if you have property that is worth a certain dollar amount that is equal to or less than the exemption, you will be allowed to keep the property. If, on the other hand, the property’s value exceeds the exemption, it is highly likely that the trustee will sell that property and use it to pay your unsecured creditors. Why? Because the federal government assumes that honest debtors try to pay off their debts. So, if a debtor has excessive property, the federal government believes it should be sold to pay those debts. On the other hand, the bankruptcy laws are designed to give debtors a “fresh start” —– not to leave them destitute. As a result of these dual concepts, both state and federal bankruptcy laws provide debtors with property exemptions.  Generally, Chapter 7 exemptions are far lower, stricter and are less flexible than Chapter 13 exemptions.

 We Can Guide You Through It.

If you are considering bankruptcy and want to know what property exemptions you would be entitled to, contact us. We have offices throughout Oregon and in Washington, and we offer free consultations.