Department of Justice provides directive on bankruptcy cases involving marijuana assets

The multi-billion dollar marijuana industry is growing quickly, with twenty-eight states now approving the legalization of recreational or medical marijuana to some extent. On April 26, 2017 the Director of the United States Trustee Program provided a directive to Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy Trustees – do not administer cases involving marijuana assets. Apparently there has been an increase in the number of bankruptcy cases involving marijuana assets. The take-away for potential Debtors: even if certain marijuana assets, or income derived from such assets, are not considered illegal under state law – they are under federal law. If a Debtor files for bankruptcy relief and has an interest in marijuana assets, they will certainly be smoked out!

If you or your business is considering filing for bankruptcy relief, contact the McIntyre Thanasides law firm to schedule a consultation with an attorney who is a qualified bankruptcy professional.

Do not ignore your student loan debt

student debtIt is estimated that U.S. student loan debt exceeds $1.2 trillion, with over 7 million individuals currently in default.  There is approximately $1.3 trillion of outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. that affects 44 million borrowers who had an average outstanding loan balance of $37,172.  It is further estimated that over 77 billion of dollars is currently in default.  Put simply – many who attend college or other professional schools are not producing the income necessary to pay their student loan debt.   In such situations, it is easy to give-up.  However, giving-up can be the worst thing you can do. The consequences of ignoring your student loan debt can be severe, including, derogatory credit reporting, garnishments of your paycheck, garnishments of your IRS tax refund, and even garnishment of your social security benefits.  The good news, there are options.  The difficult part for any consumer is navigating the various options available, fully understanding the ramifications of each, and making sure you are choosing the option that best works for you.

At the McIntyre Thanasides Law Firm we have formed a student loan law practice group devoted to helping consumers who need guidance in addressing their student loan dilemma and taking back their future. Contact us today to learn more.

Behind on Car Payments? Bankruptcy can help!

car_payments_bankruptcyMany consumers find themselves in a tough position when they fall behind on their monthly car payments. Once a payment is 30 days past due the collectors begin to call. Repossession companies begin to look to repossess the vehicle around 45-60 days from a payment default. A consumer with limited income is confronted with difficult choices – you need your car to get to work, but you also need to put food on your table (not to mention all of life’s other daily expenses).

Bankruptcy allows consumers a number of options to deal with late car payments. Once a bankruptcy case is filed, an “automatic stay” is invoked, meaning that the repossession company must stop attempting to secure the vehicle. In the case a chapter 13 bankruptcy, a consumer may file a plan where the past due amounts are cured over a period of time while the monthly payments are made going forward. Alternatively, many consumers take advantage of bankruptcy rules that allow the consumer to pay the amount the vehicle is worth when the case is filed, rather than the amount that is owed on the vehicle. This may be accomplished in a chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy, and provides huge relief where a consumer owed a lot more than what the vehicle is worth.

We encourage you to contact a qualified consumer bankruptcy attorney at the McIntyre Thanasides Law Firm to fully understand the relief that is available. The McIntyre Thanasides Law Firm represents consumers throughout West Florida and the Tampa Bay area. Contact us today to get started.

Second Mortgages Still Being Discharged in Tampa Bankruptcy Cases

Second Mortgages Still Being Discharged in Tampa Bankruptcy Cases

After the market crash of 2008, and the resulting depreciation of many residential properties, many home-owners in the Tampa Bay area were able to get rid of second mortgages on their properties. This allowed a great benefit for those seeking to retain their homes, by way of eliminating the debt service of the second mortgage. Bankruptcy law is complicated, but the basics are that if you owe more on your first mortgage than the property is worth, you may void the lien of the second mortgage and discharge the debt in a chapter 13 bankruptcy. While home prices have been steadily gaining over the last few years in the Tampa Bay region, the McIntyre law firm is still working with many homeowners to discharge their second mortgages in bankruptcy. Further, we can assist consumers with restructuring their first mortgage loans. If you are facing issues regarding the servicing or payment of your home loans, we encourage you to speak with the bankruptcy attorneys at the McIntyre law firm.

How to file for bankruptcy without your spouse

how-to-file-bankruptcy-without-your-spouseFiling for bankruptcy is a daunting process. Throw a marriage into the mix and it can feel extremely complicated. Many people wonder if filing for bankruptcy is possible without bringing their spouses into the issue. The short answer is yes, but the thorough answer is to discuss it with your attorney.

The attorneys at McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A. are trained in handling problematic situations such as these. If you are planning to file for bankruptcy without your spouse, keep these three key steps in mind:

1. Consider joint debts vs. individual debts

Be sure to review your marital property with your spouse. If you and your spouse have joint bank accounts and mostly shared assets, those of which are contributing factors to your bankruptcy, then filing separately might not actually help. Even if you file bankruptcy on your own, your spouse will still be held responsible for his or her shares of the joint assets. If your individual debts far outweigh your joint debts, however, it is a good idea to file separately.

2. Determine which bankruptcy chapter you will file

There is a variety of bankruptcy chapters but as an individual, you will most likely choose between two when you file: chapter 7 or chapter 13.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges most of your obligations and you keep property that is exempt.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a reorganization. You can utilize it in order to lengthen your time of payment for your debts and effectively reduce the amounts each payment is worth.

Chapters 7 and 13 both require spouses to file these four pieces of information together: (1) a list of creditors with the amounts and nature of their claims, (2) source, amount and frequency of your income, (3) a list of all your property and (4) a detailed list of your monthly living expenses such as food, housing, clothing, transportation, taxes and more. According to the United States Courts official government website, “married individuals must gather this information for their spouse regardless of whether they are filing a joint petition, separate individual petitions, or even if only one spouse is filing.”

3. Consult with an attorney

When considering filing for bankruptcy – especially as an individual without your spouse – it is beneficial to discuss your courses of action with a professional. Your attorney will help you examine all the possible outcomes of your decision and offer sound advice on how you should go about filing for bankruptcy.

If you are filing for individual bankruptcy, you are not alone. The lawyers at McIntyre Law Firm are determined and ready to strategize and give you guidance during this time. Call our office at (844)511-4800 to make an appointment with one of our lawyers and get a head start on solving your bankruptcy claims.

What to look for in a Bankruptcy Lawyer?

No one opens a credit card, starts a business or goes to the hospital with the intent of getting into debt. We spend or invest money with the expectation of attainment not to be harassed by creditors or eventually trapped by our own bad decisions. However, we are all human and we all make mistakes. Sometimes mistakes have an impact on the quality of our life.

As the saying goes, trouble is so easy to get in to and so difficult to get out of. If you find yourself in debt, it’s very easy to feel like there’s no way to avoid a life of endless collection calls and a limited ability to make important purchases. There is a way out. Bankruptcy, while seemingly drastic, can hold creditors at bay and allow you the time and space necessary to regain solid financial footing. However, finding the right bankruptcy lawyer will require more than a simple Google search.

Bankruptcy law is complex. Finding a lawyer with experience, and an understanding of new developments in the field and a true interest in the welfare of their clients is critical to rising above your circumstances. Below are a few tips to help you find the right bankruptcy lawyer.

1. Find someone who is experienced in bankruptcy law: Asking questions like “how many bankruptcy cases have you handled” and “what types of cases” should be among the first you ask when meeting an attorney. As previously mentioned, bankruptcy law is complicated. An attorney who is not familiar with the laws can be detrimental in this setting. It’s important to work with a lawyer who has handled a large number of cases. While your situation may not be complicated, you’ll have a great confidence knowing that an experienced bankruptcy attorney will understand how to handle it.

2. Find out what their fees include: First and foremost, most reputable bankruptcy lawyers will not advertise their fees or quote their fee over the phone. It’s impossible for them to know your personal situation or develop the best course of action without speaking with you first. According to AllLaw.com, the average bankruptcy attorney charges “$500 to $3,500, depending on the complexity of the case”. The law firm’s size and where in the country your bankruptcy takes place are factors as well. Most people seeking a bankruptcy attorney may use price as a deciding factor but be careful. Drastically lower prices may be an indicator that the attorney may not handle your case with the attention and care needed or that they don’t handle very many bankruptcy cases at all. A bankruptcy attorney’s fees are likely to include an initial consultation, the preparation of the bankruptcy petition; a review of the petition with the client; attendance at the 341 meeting (creditor meeting) and following up as necessary. Litigation is typically not included.

3. Watch out for the bankruptcy mill: Like so many things, bankruptcy law is a growing business. Since there is a tremendous need for these services, a growing number of “bankruptcy mills” have developed. These companies take in a great deal of cases and, quickly, move through their cases to achieve a fast resolution with little regard for individual client needs. These bankruptcy mills aren’t typically respected by the courts and could jeopardize your chances to receive a positive resolution. One indicator that you may be dealing with a bankruptcy mill is if your meet a paralegal instead of an actual lawyer in your initial consultation. With bankruptcy mills, you typically don’t encounter an actual lawyer until your meeting with your creditors.

4. Do your homework: When looking for a bankruptcy lawyer, the best place to start is the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. Members of this organization are dedicated to the practice of bankruptcy and will likely represent you in the best possible fashion. To check if a lawyer is certified, visit your state’s bar association website to determine if a lawyer is certified to practice bankruptcy law, not applicable in every state. As always, recommendations from friends, family members and other lawyers are to be considered.

5. Will the lawyer give you a number of options: A good bankruptcy lawyer will always examine your situation intently and present you with options. Bankruptcy is not the answer in every situation. Sometimes a chapter 13 is not the answer either (lawyers typically profit more from chapter 13 cases).

6. Choose a lawyer who you feel good about: It sounds simple, but nothing is more important than finding a lawyer who you are comfortable with. Bankruptcy is an emotional, personal and individualized process. It’s critical that the bankruptcy lawyer that you choose shows a willingness to assess your situation properly and guide you to the best solution. Nothing else will do.

If you are experiencing a difficult financial dilemma and need a bankruptcy lawyer in the Tampa Bay area, contact the law offices of McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A. We provide the counsel and care necessary to help in this challenging time. Visit us our contact us page or call us at 844-511-4800 to discuss your case.

How does bankruptcy work?

Issues with money are some of the most devastating ones we can face in a lifetime. No one purposely incurs debt, but when we do, it can have an impact on our relationships, our career, and prevent us from building the life that we’d hoped to achieve.

The common perception is that bankruptcy is a negative thing. The perception is that only irresponsible people file for bankruptcy. Both perceptions are simply not true.

While people may find themselves in negative financial situations, for many, bankruptcy is the answer. It’s an opportunity to reset your circumstances, re-assess your financial practices, and, ideally, come out stronger than you were previously.

If you have to consider bankruptcy, it’s important to know how the process works. Below, we describe the steps you must take in order to order to successfully file for bankruptcy. Having a good bankruptcy attorney is critical to your success. Contact our Tampa bankruptcy attorneys at 844-511-4800 if you need the trusted legal expertise of our team.

Step 1- Consult a Bankruptcy Attorney

The first and best action to take is to find and consult a qualified bankruptcy attorney. While it is possible to file for bankruptcy on your own or with a regular lawyer, a bankruptcy attorney has the experience and knowledge to ensure that your case is handled in a proper way. Bankruptcy cases are vitally important matters, as a bankruptcy attorney will assuredly have an acute understanding of the details of your case and will have dealt with creditors before.

Step 2- Take a Means Test

Initially, you will take an assessment known as a “means test” to determine if your income is low enough to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The means test compares your income to unsecured debts. If a significant portion of your income is going towards your debt, you will qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and can go forward with the proceedings.

Step 3- Attend the 341 Meeting

Once it is determined that you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will be ordered to attend a 341 meeting. In this meeting you will meet with your creditors and the trustee that is presiding over your case. The trustee will inquire about your income, property and debt. The meeting gives you the opportunity to give specific details about your financial situation and if you have any nonexempt property that can be sold. Your creditors will also have an opportunity to ask questions about your debt.

Step 4- Reaffirmation

If you have property that is classified as a secured debt that you would like to keep, reaffirmation is an option to consider. In reaffirmation, you agree to continue to maintain the debt on a property that you’d like to continue to own. For example, if you would like to maintain ownership of your car, in reaffirmation, you’d agree to continue maintain and pay the debt on it. You also assume all the risks of that debt. So if you were to default on your car loan, you would not be able to utilize bankruptcy to discharge the debt.

Step 5 Discharge

After 341 meeting, the trustee and your creditors have 60 days to dispute your right to discharge your debts. If no objection is made on a particular debt (contested debts don’t delay the process of discharging other debts), a court order will be filed to discharge your debt.

Step 6- Financial Education

To complete your discharge, you will be ordered to take a financial education class. It is important to note, you must take the class no later than 45 days after your 341 meeting is scheduled. If you miss your deadline, you may have to refile for bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy is not the end. It’s an adjustment that some people need to make in order to create a healthier financial life for themselves and their loved ones. If you are considering foreclosure, talk to the Tampa bankruptcy lawyers at McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A. We can provide the guidance you need during this challenging time. Contact us today at 844-511-4800.

The CFPB Takes on the Payday Loan Industry with Proposed Rules Changes

The payday loan industry has provided a quick and convenient way for Americans to meet their financial needs when life’s issues arise. However, over the years that convenience has come at a heavy price. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, the average payday loan customer spends an average of $520.00 in fees in order to borrow $375.00. These loans have an average annual percentage rate of around 390 percent. Payday loans are often the last resort for people who need money quickly and have no other way of getting it. Unfortunately, payday loan companies have taken advantage of that.

To combat these numbers and some of the tactics that the payday industry employs, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed several new rules. The average payday loan borrower spends nearly half the year in debt. These changes are designed to make it easier for customers to get out of debt after they have received a payday loan.

Here’s what you need to know about the proposed rules changes:

  1. CFPB is proposing a “full payment” rule: CFPB is proposing that all payday lenders be required to verify that a borrower can afford to repay their loan while paying for basic living expenses and other debt.
  2. CFPB wants to put an end to “debt traps”: CFPB is proposing a rule that would limit the ability of payday lenders to grant the same loan or similar loans in consecutive months. It also puts restrictions on rolling over loans after they have been repaid or refinancing current loans.
  3. Notifications when an account is being debited: CFPB proposed that payday lenders be required to give a notification to a customer at least three days prior to debiting their bank account. Many payday loan customers have payments automatically debited. This can be problematic if the customer doesn’t have the money to cover the payment as they typically incur fees from their bank and the payday loan lender.
  4. Why can’t you get a payday loan from your bank? Experts speculate that larger banks are currently not doing payday loans because of a lack of regulatory standards in the industry. This leaves the industry to companies whose practices don’t typically favor customers.
  5. How will CFPB determine if their proposals have merit: The proposals are open to public comment from now until September 14th.

Contact the consumer rights attorneys at McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A. today. Their personal approach will help you achieve the results you need. Contact them today at 844-511-4800.