Say Goodbye to FDCPA

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch issued his first opinion this week.  We learned a lot from this opinion.  Unfortunately, the most important thing we learned was that he can come to any conclusion he wants – that makes him a perfect fit for the Supreme Court.  This opinion is being heralded as well written and Gorsuch is praised for his “Melodic Phrasing”  (ABC) and his “Writing Flair” (FOX).  What was lost in all the praise was the simple fact that with one opinion, Justice Gorsuch eliminated the whole of the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act – 15 USC 1692).

The primary requirement when a judge is interpreting a law is to give the law some meaning.   What the Court ruled was that to avoid the FDCPA completely, all a debt collector has to do is buy the debt instead of collect the debt for another.  Nothing in the opinion states that a collector can not have a sell back provision and sell a debt back to the original lender if the collector is unable to collect.

Bottom line:  A lender and a debt collector can now write their agreement in such a way as to completely avoid the FDCPA.  Justice Gorsuch has now given the FDCPA no meaning.  For the 50% of adults in America who have debts:  You just lost your right to not be harassed.

What Happens to Your Unpaid Debt When You Die?

What happens to unpaid debt after death? It has to be handled through the probate process. A person who uses a will to handle his estate will name an executor or personal representative in the document. This individual will be responsible for the estate administration tasks. The process will be supervised by the probate court. Inheritances will not be distributed to the heirs until after the obligations of the estate are satisfied.

During probate, the executor is required to notify creditors to file a claim for payment of unpaid debts. Assets that are part of the estate will be utilized to pay any legitimate debts. What happens if there isn’t enough money in the estate to pay the unpaid debts? Under these circumstances, surviving family members are not held responsible even though the creditors will receive less than 100% of their claims.

There are some types of transfers that will not be subject to the probate process. For example, a person can add a beneficiary when opening a bank account or brokerage account. This is sometimes called a payable on death account or transfer on death account. The beneficiaries that are named on the account will have no access to the account while the holder of the account is still living. At the time of death, the beneficiary will assume ownership of the funds. Creditors can not step in to try to attach any of these assets. The same thing is true when it comes to insurance policy proceeds.

For real estate, Joint tenancy with right of survivorship is another arrangement that can protect assets from creditors. Let’s say you own your home outright, and you want your daughter to inherit the home after you are gone. You can add your daughter to the title or deed of the property. She will become a joint tenant or co-owner. After your death, she will assume ownership of the home in its entirety, and your creditors will have no ability to touch the home. There are other types of deeds that can also accomplish the same purpose.

Clearing up debts before passing away is the best way to ensure your creditors don’t come before your heirs. Our firm can help you clear up your unpaid debts before you pass away so that you can feel good about the legacy that you will be leaving behind to your loved ones. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can make your debts more manageable, and a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can completely wipe away many different types of debt. We have locations that can be conveniently reached from Eugene, Portland, Medford, and a number of other major cities in Oregon and Washington. If you will like to schedule a free consultation, give us a call at 1-800-682-5568.

Can’t Pay Student Loan Debt? Here Are Your Options

If you have not looked at the subject in a while, you may be unpleasantly surprised when you learn about the current state of college tuition costs. The College Board has compiled some very meaningful statistics that shed light on the subject. During the 2016-2017 school year, the average annual cost for private college tuition was over $33,000. The average tuition charge for a public university was about $9600 for in-state students, but that figure skyrocketed to almost $25,000 for students from out-of-state who are attending public institutions of higher learning.

The cost of a college education is considerable, but at the same time, the price that you will pay if you go through life without an educational underpinning will probably be much more significant. However, when you digest these tuition figures (and they don’t include living expenses and supplies), you can understand why so many students accumulate significant student loan debt. According to Forbes, the average amount of student loan debt that was being carried by students in 2016 was just over $37,000. Of course, this is the average, so some students owed much more.

Can Bankruptcy Help?

Many students who graduate from college don’t earn enough money to keep their student loan payments current. Plus, there are individuals who are carrying student loan debt who never actually graduated. It would make sense to assume that you could file bankruptcy to wipe away your student loan debt, but in fact, bankruptcy is rarely going to be an option. Student loan debts are not discharged through a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing unless you can prove that paying the debts would create an undue hardship for you. Very few people will be able to convince the court that they are in this position.

Outside of Bankruptcy

There are a few actions that you can consider if you are drowning in a sea of student loan debt. A lender may grant you a deferment or a forbearance that would suspend your payment plan for a temporary, agreed-upon interim. Plus, a number of federal student loan forgiveness programs exist, and this is an avenue that is worthy of exploration.

Schedule a Consultation Today

If you would like us to review your financial situation, including your student loans, we would be glad to provide a free case evaluation. We have offices in many different cities in Oregon including Eugene and Portland, and we also have locations in the state of Washington. To set up an appointment, send us a message through our contact page.

How Long Does Delinquent Debt Stay on My Credit Report?

If you are unable to keep up with your debt payments, the delinquencies will be on your credit report, but they do not stay there forever. The credit reporting agencies stop including most types of delinquent debt after seven years. This can sound like a very long period of time, and it is significant, but you may still be able to obtain credit even if there are collection accounts on your credit report. Plus, according to the credit reporting agency Experian, if you were to pay off accounts that are in collections, in many cases they would have less of a negative impact. In fact, under currently utilized methods, collections that have been paid may not have any negative effect on your credit score at all.

As bankruptcy attorneys, we assist clients who are struggling with overwhelming debt. There two different types of bankruptcies that are most frequently used by individuals: Chapter 7, and Chapter 13. A Chapter 7 is a liquidation bankruptcy. If you have any nonexempt property, it would be liquidated by the trustee, and the proceeds would be used to pay your debts. However, in most of these cases, there is no property to sell, so there are no losses. The unpaid debts would be discharged, and the creditors would be unable to seek payment going forward. This type of bankruptcy remains on your credit report for 10 years.

A Chapter 13 is a reorganization bankruptcy. You would be required to file a Chapter 13 rather than a Chapter 7 if you have enough disposable income to make payments on all or some of your outstanding debt. You make payments for 3 to 5 years when you opt for a Chapter 13 reorganization. The debts will be discharged if you keep your payments current throughout the duration of the term. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for seven years.

When it becomes apparent that you are not going to be able to keep up with your debt payments, you have decisions to make. The optimal course of action will depend upon several different factors. Since there are multiple ways to proceed, it is wise to discuss your options with a licensed bankruptcy attorney. A bankruptcy is often going to be the right choice, but there are other possibilities.

Our firm serves clients in many different cities in the state of Oregon, including Medford, Eugene, Portland, Grants Pass, and Salem. We also have offices in Tacoma, Vancouver, and Tri-cities in Washington. The attorneys at OlsenDanes are always standing by to assist if you would like to come in for a case evaluation, and these initial consultations are offered free of charge. If you are ready to make the connection, call us right now at 1-800-682-9568.

Are You Responsible for Your Spouse’s Credit Card Debt?


Credit card debt tends to sneak up on you, and it can become a problem for many people. There are those that make irresponsible purchases, but overwhelming credit card debt can accumulate for other reasons. For example, if your child needs a tonsillectomy, and you don’t have health insurance or a significant amount of money in the bank, what are you going to do? Medical bills are one underlying cause of unmanageable credit card debt, but there are others. A loss of income can necessitate excessive credit card usage, and people sometimes run up credit card debts because they are trying to assist family members or friends.

The matter of credit card debt responsibility is pretty cut and dried if you are single and there are no co-signers on your account or accounts. However, what about people who are married? If your spouse cannot pay his or her credit card debt, are you liable? The answer depends on a number of different factors, including the state that you live in. Most states are common law states, and in these places, you would typically not be responsible for your spouse’s personal credit card debt as long as you are not a co-signer. However, creditors could seek to attach your spouse’s share of jointly owned property.

We practice in Oregon and Washington. Oregon is a common-law state, but Washington is one of a handful of community property states. In a community property state, generally speaking, you could be held responsible for credit card debts that your spouse incurred while you were married. Debts that were owed before the marriage would not fall into the community debt category. If a personal credit card was used to benefit both parties, it would typically be looked upon as community debt. On the other hand, if the purchase only benefited the cardholder, his or her spouse may not be liable for the debt.

If you would like to explore avenues that can lead to credit card debt relief, our firm would be more than glad to assist you. We offer free case evaluations to people in Grants Pass, Medford, Coos Bay, and a few other cities in Oregon and Washington, and you can set up an appointment right now if you give us a call at 1-800-682-9568.

Develop Good Habits to Prevent Unmanageable Debt

Advertising has always made an impact on consumers, but the influence has been taken to another level now that we all spend a lot of time on the Internet. Search engines inundate you with images of products that you have showed interest in through your browsing history, so you are constantly tempted. Plus, in many cases, when you do decide to make a purchase, you are offered a discount if you apply for a line of credit with the company. Before long, it can seem as though you can buy anything you want without reaching into your pockets to lay out any cold hard cash. Over time, this misguided perspective can lead to unmanageable debt.

Without question, the system is set up to invite people to spend beyond their means, but you don’t have to fall into the trap. If you develop good habits when you are a young adult, you can utilize credit wisely when it is prudent, and steer clear of behavior that can leads to unmanageable debt and a subsequent bankruptcy filing. To keep a finger on the pulse of your financial health, you should always be aware of your credit score. Many credit cards provide cardholders with free credit scores on a monthly basis, and there are also websites that you can visit to obtain your score, and some of them are free.

You get the score itself, but you also get an explanation of the factors that are influencing your credit score either positively or negatively. These would include the timeliness of your payments, the length of time that you have had credit, the percentage of your credit lines you have used, and the number of recent credit inquiries. If you keep these core factors in mind when you are making financial decisions that involve the utilization of credit, you will develop the right habits. Of course, the ebb and flow of your credit score will inform you with regard to the impact of your recent credit usage, so you can adjustment your behavior when necessary. Some people will set credit score goals, and this can definitely help to keep you on track.

Without question, good habits can allow you to steer clear of monetary problems, but you do have recourse if you simply cannot pay all your debts for one reason or another. Bankruptcy will be the right choice for many, and our firm can help you understand your options so that you can make sound decisions that get you on a path that leads to financial wellness. We have offices in Eugene, Portland, and a number of other cities throughout the state of Oregon, and we also have locations in Washington. If you would like to schedule a free, no obligation case evaluation, give us a call right now at 1-800-682-9568.