Creditors

Filing for bankruptcy: it’s a raw, emotional, devastating personal decision. I can attest to this personally as I have clients who come to me daily in bad shape. Bankruptcy involves real people with real problems. Financial problems that, regardless of how they happened, are not going away.

To humanize bankruptcy and shed some real light on what someone goes through, I’d like to share with you a story of a real person, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy client named Alan (of course, I changed his name to protect privacy).

Before Filing for Chapter 7 in Massachusetts…
Alan is a 45-year  old single man who lives here locally in Worcester County. When Alan came to me, he was emotionally drained. He was “throwing in the towel.”  Ever since his work hours were cut, debt started mounting. While he was barely living month to month before, now he was deep in the red. He had been dealing with harassing phone calls from collection companies at all hours of the day. Along with not being able to pay his credit card bills in four months (with their current incredibly high interest rates), he was about to forego making car payments too.

Alan’s debt was around $25,000. Although he considered going to a debt consolidation company, he was distrustful and had heard the overall experience was not positive. He needed more than a temporary fix. And, he didn’t want to lose his car which he needed to get to work.

Finally, Alan decided to search around for a bankruptcy attorney in Worcester County. He called, and we set up a meeting to discuss his finances and lay out his options.

What Our Bankruptcy Explorations Entailed…
A common misconception is that when you approach a bankruptcy lawyer, you have to be ready to file for bankruptcy immediately. Not so. I always talk to the client first to find out their goals, get an idea of their debt, their assets, and then we look at options.

Alan admitted that it took him a long time to take this step and look for a lawyer because he was hoping for a miracle. Unfortunately, that miracle never materialized, so he was ready to get a plan to eliminate his debt.

This is exactly what Alan and I did. We discussed several things, two of which included:

  1. The pros and cons of calling his credit card companies to see if they would work out a payment plan with him. However, Alan decided to forego this option once I explained that most companies won’t reduce the amount you owe unless you’re 3-4 months behind. And, it’s really only worth it if you can pay a large sum of money up front. Unfortunately, Alan didn’t have access to cash.
  2. The pros and cons of taking money from his 401k. I rarely, rarely advise pulling from retirement accounts. Unless Alan was getting threatened by collection agencies with bodily harm, which thankfully he wasn’t. (which, of course, is illegal) So Alan decided to hold on to what he had worked so hard to build up, as it is his legal right and this money is protected.

Armed with information and a set of options (with repercussions) clearly presented to him, Alan felt empowered for the first time in a long time. Alan decided to wipe the slate clean; although it was tough decision, he decided to go ahead and file.

Here’s what happened to Alan after filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:
Alan filed for Chapter 7, went through the process, and 4 months later received his discharge. The discharge legally wiped away his $25,000 in credit card debt. And, he had a clear plan for making car payments, so he gets to keep his car.

The constant worry of how to get money to pay the credit card debt was gone. The phone calls stopped. Alan told me, a few months later, that this was a total relief. He was free again. And he vowed never to get in the same position again. He’s now living his “new normal”: paying cash for purchases, building back up his credit, and putting a small amount of savings aside every month. Alan’s quote to me was, “If I had known how easy this was, I would have filed a lot sooner.”

Does Alan’s situation sound a lot like yours?

My name is Jack Morrison and I am a Worcester bankruptcy lawyer. If you want to explore your options, call my office, the Law Office of Jack Morrison, today at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form. There’s no obligation and the call is free. If bankruptcy is not the best option for you, I’ll let you know straightaway. Thank you.

Last month, we told you about our free 21-point checklist, “Are You in Financial Trouble? And What You Can Do to Get Back on Track.” 

This online checklist of 21 “yes” or “no” questions takes less than 5 minutes to complete. So what’s holding you back from filling it out?  Most Americans in debt don’t like to talk about money. But you should know you’re not alone. And, if things aren’t going to get better, you need to do something about it now before you have another sleepless night or frustrating day avoiding calls from creditors. 

If you’re a Massachusetts resident who is in financial difficulty, you have nothing to lose. Here’s some information to get you started:

5 Sample Questions from the Checklist:

  • Do you owe more money on your first mortgage than the house is worth? Yes or No
  • Have you overdrawn your checking account more than 2 times in the last year? Yes or No
  • Do you carry a balance of $10,000 or more on your credit cards each month? Yes or No
  • Do you know the balance in your checkbook within $200 to $300 dollars? Yes or No
  • Have you thought about cashing in your retirement to pay your bills? Yes or No

5 Important Things You Need to Know

  1. Who am I? My name is Jack Morrison and I am a licensed bankruptcy attorney in Massachusetts. I have helped hundreds of clients stop the endless cycle of debt and financial struggles.
  2. Who should take this? Massachusetts residents who are unsure if they’re financially on the edge or near the edge.
  3. Why should I take this? The questions are very easy – you only have to answer “yes” or “no.” After you finish the checklist, you’ll get a confidential, customized response sent back to you within 24 hours. It takes less than 5 minutes to fill out.
  4. How do I get started? Click on this website link that will take you directly to the bankruptcy checklist: http://helpineedtofilebankruptcy.com/are-you-in-financial-trouble-21-point-checklist/.
  5. How do I find out the results? Once you finish, you’ll get a confidential, customized response emailed back within 24 hours.   

There’s nothing to be ashamed of—don’t be too proud to get the help you need. Click here to get to the Checklist. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. Here’s what a few of my bankruptcy clients have to say about our services: 

“Jack is very sympathetic and understanding of our situation. He listens well and offers advise as though he was impacted as well.”

“Jack was compassionate, friendly, and non-judgmental. I was completely comfortable with him because of his honesty about a bad situation, yet he always gave me hope.” 

“You (Jack Morrison) were very helpful, but in no way condescending. (we had some less than great experiences with other lawyers).” 

“Attorney Morrison made me feel better about myself. I was embarrassed about my situation. Jack gave me peace.”

 Call my office, the Law Office of Jack Morrison, a Worcester Bankruptcy Lawyer, today at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

Hunting for your homestead? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy—or fun—as hunting for candy-filled eggs. The older we get, we don’t have as much time to spend looking for hidden objects.  But this Easter, The Law Office of Jack Morrison is helping you get a JUMP on locating your homestead information. 

With a homestead, either you have it or you don’t. In light of the new 2011 Massachusetts Homestead Law changes, you might be wondering whether: 

  1. You have a homestead
  2. Your homestead is valid 

As we explained in last week’s blog post, a homestead is a law that gives protection from creditors (provided you own the home and it’s your primary residence). 

For our Easter promotion, we’ll do three things: 

  1. Check to see if a homestead was ever recorded and filed on your property
  2. Check to see if your homestead needs to be updated
  3. And, as a bonus, we’ll give you a copy of what we find 

This egg-cellent promotion is yours FREE until April 27, 2011. 

If you don’t have a homestead and don’t know how to get one filed, we can help you with that. Or, if you’re interested in filing for the full $500,000 equity exemption, we can help you with that too. 

To get started, call the Law Office of Jack Morrison today at 508-852-7800. Or, email us here.

For more information on Jack Morrison, a Worcester, MA Bankruptcy Lawyer, hop over to http://helpineedtofilebankruptcy.com/.  

As a resident of Massachusetts, you may or may not know about the new homestead exemption act that went into effect in March 2011. On a basic level, the law grants homeowners expanded protection. Here are three more important facts about the law you should know: 

  1. With the new Massachusetts homestead law changes, you get an automatic $125,000 equity exemption. To qualify for this, you must own a home and live in it as your primary residence. The new homestead law provides you with the automatic $125,000 without having to record anything. However, you can still get an enhanced exemption—$500,000—if you record the document.
  2. The biggest thing is that before the law changed, you had to file a document to get the $125,000 protection. Now, it’s automatic just by owning a home and deeming it as your primary residence. You’re no longer required to “record” your document.
  3. Want to know how to calculate your home equity? Take what your house is worth (market value) and subtract your mortgage. That difference is your equity. With the new homestead law, you’re protected up to $125,000 of that.  

As of March 16, 2011, the homestead law changes went into effect and clarified ambiguities that existed before about filing a document with the registry of deeds.

If you’re interested in filing for the full $500,000 equity exemption, call the Law Office of Jack Morrison today at 508-852-7800. Even if you just want more information on the Massachusetts Homestead Law, I can help you get started.

 

Last month we offered a free credit card analysis. Basically, this analysis featured a limited time offer to Massachusetts residents struggling with credit card debt. As an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in Worcester, MA, I often give advice to clients about lowering or eliminating their debt. 

Here is a case study of one couple that benefitted from the analysis:

Scenario: A married couple had $13,250 in credit card debt on three different credit cards. The interest rates on the three cards were 7.9%, 11% and 18%.                                                                

Solution: I advised them to do the following:

  • Transfer the balances to the lowest interest rate credit card (7.9%)
  • Stop using all credit cards
  • Calculate a monthly payment for the balance to be paid in 2 years: $599/month for 24 months
  • Apply their income tax refund to the balance of the loan and lower the payoff time

Outcome: Although initially hesitant to talk about their money problems, the couple was happy to have a viable plan that would resolve their debt. They walked away from the analysis confident with the plan and ready to put it into action. 

To reach this outcome, these are the six steps I take with every client who comes to me for debt eliminating advice:

  1. Analyze your spending patterns and use of the credit cards
  2. Review of additional charges and/or fees incurred
  3. Discuss the timing of card use to maximize “other peoples’ money” theory
  4. Discuss how the credit card company makes money from you
  5. Have realistic repayment plan discussions  
  6. Provide alternative remedies to resolve your credit card debt  

Although the window for the free analysis has passed, that doesn’t mean I can’t still help you. As a bankruptcy lawyer in Worcester, MA, I have helped hundreds of clients, just like you, discuss what your situation is and what options you have available.

For more information, on a credit card debt analysis, call our office today at 508-852-7800. I look forward to speaking with you.

Can the Luck of the Irish Help You Get out of Debt?

by Jack Morrison on March 17, 2011

Are you relying on luck to get you out of debt? How great would it be to win the lottery or discover a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Unfortunately, reality has shown us that the only thing you’re likely to find is a pot of coal.  

Getting out of debt is not easy. It took you many years to get yourself into this situation, so there’s probably no quick remedy or single solution that will resolve your financial problems. Depending on the severity of your debt, there are dozens of ways you can get back on track. Here are a few suggestions from experts and authors: 

  • Cut out non-essentials like magazines, coffee and fast food
  • Make a budget and stick to it
  • Get a second job
  • Pay your bills on time
  • Use cash for everything

But what if you, like many others out there, owe tens of thousands of dollars and see no hope in sight? Small changes aren’t going to stop the creditors from calling. How much debt is too much before you get professional help and advice? Paying a few hundred dollars here and there on delinquent bills will only get you so far and could actually cause more harm than good. 

Instead of drowning yourself in sorrows and green beer this St. Patrick’s Day, perhaps you should talk to a financial advisor or MA bankruptcy lawyer

Don’t let the luck of the Irish dictate your financial future. Call my office, the Law Office of Jack Morrison, today at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

Special February Promotion: Free Credit Card Debt Analysis

by Jack Morrison on February 25, 2011

Special February Promotion:

For the First 6 People Who Act Quickly: Free Credit Card Debt Analysis

If you are one of the thousands of Massachusetts residents struggling with credit card debt, then we have put together a special promotion that you will greatly benefit from.  It’s called the Free Credit Card Debt Analysis for MASSSACHUSETTS RESIDENTS ONLY.  An experienced Worcester Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jack Morrison will conduct a Credit Card Debt Analysis for the first 6 people. The details are below. 

Special Promotion: Free Credit Card Debt Analysis**

Who: Massachusetts residents with credit card debts of $10,000 or more who are not able to resolve their debt. You will receive an analysis with Worcester, MA bankruptcy attorney Jack Morrison.
What: Free Credit Card Debt Analysis

FREE 6 Point Analysis of your current credit card debt to determine what you can do to lower and/or eliminate your debt.   This is what to expect when you call to set up the appointment.

  1. Analyze your spending patterns and use of the credit cards.
  2. Review of additional charges and/or fees incurred
  3. Discussion of the timing of card use to maximize “other peoples’ money”  theory.
  4. Discussion of how credit card company make money from you
  5. Realistic repayment plan discussions  
  6. Alternative remedies to resolve your credit card debt.

The best part? At the conclusion of the meeting, you will receive a detailed analysis of your current credit card debt resolution plan.    
Where:  Through email and at scheduled times over the telephone.   
When: This promotion is available for 14 days (March 11, 2011) OR until the first 6 people respond to my office by email, mel@jackmorrison.com or telephone (508)852-7800.   (The reason why I am limiting this to the first 6 is because I only have 6 hours in my schedule over the next 2 weeks to squeeze in these appointments).  So don’t delay!  
Why: Take the steps to get back in control of your finances and resolve your debt now. As an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in Massachusetts, I have helped hundreds of clients resolve their debt.
How: Call our office today at 508-852-7800 and ask to speak with Mel. Or email her at mel@jackmorrison.com. She’ll respond quickly and will get an appointment set up.
Cost: there is no cost to participate in this credit card debt analysis.

 **This promotion is limited to the first 6 callers or emailers – so reserve your spot now! Don’t hesitate.

This analysis is free, so what do you have to lose? Don’t lose out on this rare opportunity. After the phone call, you’ll rest easier and will know what options you have available so you can make confident decisions. Call our office today at 508-852-7800. This promotion is worth your time—just see what our bankruptcy clients have to say about us here, or read some of our rave reviews below:

“Jack (Morrison, Esq.) was compassionate, friendly, and non-judgmental. I was completely comfortable with him because of his honesty about a bad situation, yet he always gave me hope.”
Donna J., Worcester, MA 

“Mr. Morrison was very polite and professional, always reassuring. He never made people feel inadequate.”
Priscilla M. Auburn, MA“You (Jack Morrison) were very helpful, but in no way condescending. (we had some less than great experiences with other lawyers)”
Cindy G. MA

“Attorney Morrison made us feel very comfortable with the process and helped to put us at ease with our situation.”
Nate and Elizabeth C. Shrewsbury, MA

“Attorney Morrison made me feel better about myself. I was embarrassed about my situation. Jack gave me peace.”
Mike P. West Boylston, MA

 

Like many others out there experiencing financial difficulties, you probably feel overwhelmed and anxious by the burden of your credit card debt. However, by taking a proactive role with your creditors, you can often get them to work with you on your payments. 

Negotiating with creditors can be difficult—but not impossible. There are ways to do it successfully, whether you’re dealing with a collection agency on behalf of a creditor or dealing with the credit card company directly. You’ll want to make a list of options to offer. That can include lowering your monthly payments, waiving late penalties, deferring a payment or reducing the balance.

You’ll also want to consider these three important tips: 

  1. To negotiate, you have to be behind on your payments. You also have to have a solid understanding of where you are financially and what you can realistically pay.
  2. You get more bang for your buck, deeper discounts and more negotiating power if you have cash to pay the debt off in one lump sum.
  3. If you settle, get it in writing. The creditor could come back later saying that you only gave them a partial payment even though it was the total payment you negotiated on the phone.

There is one more important point you need to consider: make sure you get all your debt combined. Do all or none. Otherwise, you’re not going to resolve the problem. You’ll be putting a band-aid over an artery bleed. If $15,000 cripples you, you might want to consider filing for bankruptcy.

No matter how intimidating this process might be, you owe it to yourself to get your financial future back in order. If you want to speak with a professional about your options, I am an experienced Worcester attorney who helps people with financial matters. Call my office today at 508-852-7800 for a free consultation. I have worked with hundreds of clients in debt and have helped them negotiate with creditors and get back on their feet financially.