Bankruptcy—It Affects Famous People, Too

by Jack Morrison on July 17, 2013

Money mis-management is a chronic issue that affects people of every age, race and social status. Debt can happen to anyone and doesn’t discriminate between low income, middle income and high income individuals. Just think of all the celebrities and athletes you hear about in the news that have had to file for bankruptcy.

If you’re thinking of filing for bankruptcy in Massachusetts, you won’t be the first to do so and you certainly won’t be the last. Your current financial problems won’t ruin your life forever. Hopefully you’ll feel a little bit better about your future when we share this next fact.

You’d probably never guess that these well-known figures have undergone bankruptcy and bounced back in a big way: P.T Barnum, Walt Disney Henry Ford, Larry King. These individuals had filed for bankruptcy but recovered so that it was only a blip on the radar of their life.

And what about athletes who receive huge signing bonuses worth millions of dollars? How in the world do they lose so much money so quickly? Just check out these statistics from SportsIllustrated.CNN.com:

• By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.

• Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.

Wouldn’t you think someone making all that money could control it? Unfortunately, too often the wealthy don’t understand debt, income and credit. Just like the rest of us.

There are two primary misconceptions that individuals in debt have about money. First, they think they’re alone. As the economy took a nosedive during the recession, jobs were lost, hours were cut, unemployment benefits stopped and bills kept piling up. This affected millions of Americans across the country. You’re not alone. Second, they think that filing for bankruptcy signifies the end. In fact, many people who have filed will tell you that it’s actually a new beginning. It gives them a chance to start over, make changes and learn how to effectively manage their finances.

If you want to sit down and talk with a knowledgeable professional about your situation (who won’t judge you), then you might want to sit down with a Worcester bankruptcy lawyer for a free consultation. Call my office, the Law Office of Jack Morrison, today at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form. Thank you.

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.

If you’re severely in debt with no hope of resolving your finances in the foreseeable future, you’re stuck in a very real hell. But like most people, you’d rather experience a root canal without morphine than file for bankruptcy. Why is that?

The social stigma and reputation of the “b” word: bankruptcy.

No one takes bankruptcy lightly. But chances are, your situation is not going to get resolved. And probably you’ve already beat yourself up enough. Bankruptcy could be just the salvation you need.

The truth is, how can bankruptcy have such an unpleasant reputation if it provides people with an opportunity to start over financially? Let’s take a look at what bankruptcy can really do for the average hard-working American who has come upon some really bad luck. Bankruptcy eliminates your responsibilities to pay the debt that’s owed. Credit cards, deficiencies on mortgages, wage garnishments, etc. can be erased by filing. Other than paying your debt in full, bankruptcy is the most efficient, permanent method of resolving outstanding financial debt.

But negative portrayals in the media and misinformation leads people to think the worst. Bankruptcy’s bad reputation comes from society’s (and possibly friends and family) suggestion that people who file for bankruptcy are taking advantage of the system. There is a misperception that people who file for bankruptcy are outcasts, that they lived a good life and don’t have to pay for that advantage. Those who are financially solvent just can’t put themselves in your shoes.

In reality, the majority of us who file for bankruptcy are not bad people trying to evade the system. You never once imagined you would be in this situation. But if you’ve fallen on financially troubling times, you are not alone.

Are you interested in talking to someone trustworthy and understanding about your situation? Then you might want to sit down with a knowledgeable Worcester bankruptcy lawyer. Call my office, the Law Office of Jack Morrison, today at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form. Thank you.

Almost every single American adult has been concerned about their financial situation at one point or another. In the past few years, this concern has escalated as tens of thousands are in severe difficulty. While many recognize that they need to seek help, there are others who don’t.  They think that money is a taboo, private topic. And that they’ll be able to dig themselves out of the deep hole they’re in. Does this sound like what you may be going through? If so, then you might be in financial denial. 

You think you’re going to turn things around…that your problem is not that serious. Just as an alcoholic tells himself he can stop after only one drink. And according to financial therapist Amanda Clayman, in a Fox Business article on financial problems, many of her clients suffer from a disorder called financial denial. Clayman says, “Money already causes a low level of anxiety for most of us. For these people, the anxiety is so great that it’s overwhelming, so they basically just checkout.” 

If you’re financially over your head but not sure if you have a problem, here is a good article: 15 Signs You’re in Financial Denial. According to the article, a few of the signs include: 

  • Hiding money problems from family and friends
  • Getting angry when confronted
  • Refusing genuine help
  • Having a rationalization for everything 

When you struggle every day, it burns up every ounce of your being. This is such a shame, especially when the solution is so simple: bankruptcy. But still, you avoid the “b” word like the plague. If this was a business decision, you’d be able to make it in a nanosecond because it would be a no-brainer. 

Make 2011 the year you free yourself. If you’ve come to grips with the fact that financial matters are getting worse, not better, than sit down with a Worcester MA bankruptcy lawyer. Call my office, the Law Office of Jack Morrison, today at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

“There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” We all know these famous words uttered by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.  For the most part, it’s true – there is no place like home. But when you’re struggling with financial problems and can’t afford your mortgage payments, having an emotional attachment to your home can be detrimental. It may be time for you to re-evaluate your thinking and start considering your “home” as a “house.” 

A house is a place where you reside. A home is a place that you make uniquely yours. Many people believe that when they purchase a home, it’s an investment. But that’s not always the case. Millions of Americans trying to sell their home in this real estate market know that they will most likely never recoup the money they spent on, or put into, their house. Unfortunately, the emotional attachment Americans associate with their home might be causing them to sink further and further into debt.

Let’s take the personal aspect of a “home” out of the equation. If you bought stock five years ago worth $100 and today that stock is now worth $30, what would you do? Keep it or dump it? While some people may want to hang on to it for years hoping it will someday be worth its original value, others may decide to cut their losses.  What would you do? 

Are You Behind on Your House Payments?
If you’re deep underwater on your house payments, you have to think: is it worth keeping my house? Many times, that answer is “no.” If you’ve reached that conclusion, you need to first understand two things:

  1. You can always make a “home” somewhere else. Letting go of your house can be a tough, but smart decision.
  2. You have alternatives to getting your payments back on track. 

 If you’re wondering what options and alternatives are available to you, call a Worcester, MA lawyer. I am an experienced bankruptcy attorney based in Worcester, MA and have helped hundreds of people in financial distress. Call my office, the Law Office of Jack Morrison, today at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

Debt and Depression: Are You Affected?

by Jack Morrison on February 11, 2011

Money and financial concerns are very emotional topics. When you have money, you’re perceived as being happy. When you don’t have money, stress and anxiety will inevitably arise. One of the most common emotions afflicted with personal financial problems is depression.

Depression is defined as:

=a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity.

According to Psychology of Money and Wealth Professor, Matthew Bowne, PhD, there is one thing that undoes people the most with regards to personal finance: a belief they are unworthy of, or unable to attain, a better financial situation. If you’re overwhelmed, sad, irritable, anxious or fearful about what the present and future hold due to serious financial problems, you should know how common these feelings are—and that there is something you can do.

As a Worcester bankruptcy lawyer I’m not a medical doctor, but I see many families having serious emotional concerns due to having money problems. I wanted to shine some light on how your emotional state can affect your current actions—especially when it comes to dealing with money. Here is what I found to be helpful. 

How to Beat Depression
Stress and depression can lead to health problems as well as emotional problems. Not only may you feel physical ailments such as indigestion, fatigue, high blood pressure and weight loss, you may also face mood swings, insecurity, guilt and restlessness.

Taking action is one of the best things you can do for yourself if you’re depressed over your debt. Here are a few things you can do today to take action and start putting yourself on the path toward correcting your financial problems: 

  • Join a support group: there are plenty local and online support groups for people that are undergoing financial difficulty or who have filed bankruptcy
  • Find a therapist: your feelings may go beyond just sadness. If feelings of depression are seriously affecting every part of your life, seek help from a professional.
  • Start eating right and exercising: this helps improve your focus and prevent fatigue.
  • Start keeping a journal: writing about your personal financial worries can provide the outlet you need to release negative emotions.
  • Seek a local legal professional: a Worcester bankruptcy lawyer can provide you with qualified and customized solutions on how you can realistically get out of debt.

 Take action today.  If you need someone to talk to about your financial situation, call me for a complimentary discussion about your financial experiences at 508-852-7800.

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. 

Bankruptcy: what do you think about when you hear that word? If you’re in the difficult position of deciding whether or not to file for bankruptcy, it’s important to consider what emotions you associate with it. Do you really understand the full implication of being bankrupt and what filing actually means? Chances are, it’s not as bad as you think.

Bankruptcy has a bad name and a negative stigma attached to it. Unfortunately, many people don’t really understand what it can do. There are a lot of incorrect assumptions out there. Is one of these misperceptions holding you back?

  1. Misperception #1: You’re a lowlife taking advantage of the system
    If you’ve been successful in your life and consider yourself a responsible person, debt can give you an identity crisis. You will inevitably have feelings of failure and doubt. But trust me, you’re much better off filing and letting this pain go away rather than constantly beating yourself up.
  2. Misperception #2: You may dig yourself out of this mess, so you’re going to hold off on filing
    Unfortunately, too many people put off bankruptcy for too long. Like many others, you may be delaying the inevitable and putting yourself in a much worse position than you need to be. Robert Lawless, a law professor at University of Illinois, was quoted in USA Today saying, “postponing filing is not good for debtors. It’s similar to delaying going to the doctor, because you’ll just end up with more problems.”
  3. Misperception #3: After I declare bankruptcy I’ll feel even worse than I already do.
    Filing bankruptcy is very serious. But in reality, every single one of my clients feels a sense of relief and a weight lift off their shoulders once it’s done. It gets their feet back on the ground financially, and they finally feel empowered.

Bankruptcy will give you a new beginning—a chance to make things right. If you think that filing bankruptcy is an option you might need to pursue but you are hesitant, stop and think: what is truly holding you back?

As a bankruptcy lawyer in Worcester, MA, I can offer you solutions and answers. I know that in a situation such as this, the worst thing is to have all the problems going round in your head. To discuss your situation, call my office today at 508-852-7800.