[COLUMN] Customer compares Chapter 13 with various alternatives for $60,000 credit cards —
THE client is 50 years old and married. He owes $60,000 in credit cards. He pays $2,000 a month in minimum credit card payments to keep the $60,000 current. His wife is not jointly and severally liable on these cards. She only owes about $2,000 in credit cards alone.
They own a house that is currently worth $1 million with a mortgage of $300,000. So their equity in the house is at least $700,000. The client’s home exemption is $600,000. This means there is $100,000 of non-exempt equity. According to the liquidation analysis, compared to Chapter 7, the customer will have to pay off the entire $60,000 of Chapter 13 credit cards over five years in 60 equal payments, without interest. All payments made under the Chapter 13 plan pay off the principal balance as there is no applicable interest.
The Chapter 13 plan payment is about $1,000 per month for 60 months, which will pay off all $60,000 in credit cards in five years. If the client makes all 60 payments according to the confirmed plan, the court will issue a discharge order at the end of the 60th payment. The discharge order will state that the customer owes zero or nothing on the credit cards at the end of the 5th year. Can creditors still sue the client for unpaid interest, absolutely not! Legally, the customer no longer owes anything on these cards.
Additionally, while the customer is on the plan, creditors cannot sue, call, or otherwise contact the customer to collect on the cards. The customer has peace of mind. He doesn’t have to worry about being sued. They can’t garnish his wages or take money from his bank accounts. The bankruptcy court protects the client’s residence from any attached creditor lien. Thus, in Chapter 13, the automatic bankruptcy stay protects the client, including all of their assets and home. This is the order of the bankruptcy court directing creditors to cease and desist from all collection efforts against the client and its assets. Pretty cool!
The client pays their plan payments to the Chapter 13 trustee, a court officer whose responsibility is to ensure that all plan payments are distributed to creditors who have filed their proofs of claim. The trustee ensures that all payments are distributed to the correct creditors. In other words, the trustee can’t get away with your money. This is another reason why the client will have peace of mind in Chapter 13. It pays the trustee who is under the supervision of the bankruptcy court.
What other alternatives are there before the customer decides to seek Chapter 13 relief for his $60,000 credit card?
One option he had was to get a $60,000 loan with very high interest to pay off all his credit cards. There were many offers from lenders for these alternatives. Payday lenders have branched out into this type of medium-term, high-interest loan to avoid regulation. The offers are $60,000 at 50% to 100% interest. Does it make sense to get this type of high interest loan? No, this is not the case. The client could end up losing his house if he got this loan. He will live a life of pain. He is expected to pay off a $60,000 principal loan with $90,000 to $120,000 in three to five years. Compare it with zero or no interest in chapter 13.
Another option he had was consolidation. He was actually in consolidation and was paying $1,800 a month for 60 months for six months to a “consolidator”. A “consolidator” is not an officer of justice. He is a businessman and consolidation is his business. What if he decides to close his business? Well, that’s the risk you take. One issue that arose was that two creditors did not agree to toe the line and sued for $30,000. Compare this to Chapter 13 where the court shields the client from all lawsuits and collection efforts. All collection efforts, including legal action, stop the minute the customer’s Chapter 13 is filed.
He also had the so-called “settlement” option. He can negotiate directly with creditors or use a third party to “settle” the debt at a price lower than what is owed. The client actually received several offers from various creditors to cancel part of the debt owed with a lump sum payment. For example, Creditor A will agree to accept 70% of what is owed $10,000 as settlement. Thus, for a payment of $7,000, the creditor will consider the case closed. Good luck raising the $7,000. Maybe you can do UBER at night and not sleep at all. After three months, you could have $7,000. The problem is that they want the $7,000 up front, not in three months. And, the other creditors do not agree to settle, they prefer to sue you immediately to recover their money.
Another option is to get a $60,000 HELOC or home equity loan and use the proceeds to pay off all credit cards. The interest rate for the HELOC is lower because the client’s home will be used as collateral for the loan. The client will have to obtain a second mortgage on his house for $60,000. Remember that HELOC loan interest rates fluctuate. When mortgage rates rise, as they did yesterday, and will rise for the rest of the year to rein in the high inflation at that time, the customer will end up paying double-digit interest on HELOC. And, if he stops paying on the HELOC, guess what happens? The creditor can and will seize his house.
It’s really no surprise that the client chose chapter 13 relief to protect his home from levies, lawsuits, wage garnishment, bank levies and just put an end to all those harassing phone calls for collection, and the unwanted risk of foreclosure of the client’s home through a HELOC loan. Peace of mind, no interest and full legal protection from the bankruptcy court. Trustee guarantees that your payments are distributed to the correct parties.
Of course, if the client’s net worth was $625,000, they would only have to pay a little over $400 per month for 60 months. At the end of the plan, $35,000 is discharged or wiped out. He doesn’t have to pay the full $60,000, he only has to pay $25,000 of the $60,000 cards because according to the liquidation analysis, only $25,000 is not exempt.
If you need debt relief, schedule an appointment to see me. I will analyze your case personally.
Disclaimer: None of the above is considered legal advice and there is no attorney-client relationship between reader and attorney.
* * *
Disclaimer: None of the above is considered legal advice to anyone. There is absolutely no attorney client relationship established by reading this article.
* * *
Lawrence Bautista Yang specializes in bankruptcy, business, real estate and civil litigation and has successfully represented over five thousand clients in California. Please call Angie, Barbara or Jess at (626) 284-1142 for an appointment at 20274 Carrey Road, Walnut, CA 91789 or 1000 S. Fremont Ave., Mailstop 58, Building A-10 South, Suite 10042, Alhambra, CA 91803 .