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Why choose a Chapter 7?

Illinois residents who are considering bankruptcy may be confused about the different bankruptcy types and their benefits. This week, this column will address some of the benefits of choosing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy over a Chapter 13 bankruptcy -- if one qualifies to do so. Chapter 7 filings are not available to everyone.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is available to those who meet the necessary income restrictions. This type of bankruptcy is meant for those Individuals who lack the income to pay creditors. Those who want to know if they meet the income restrictions can take a means test.

The sooner credit card debt is paid off, the better

No one wants to be in debt. Sometimes, it cannot be avoided, though. The vast majority of Illinois residents have some type of debt. For many, it may be credit card debt. As interest rates are set to rise this year, paying of this type of debt sooner, rather than later, is advised.

According to a recent report, the Federal Reserve says that national credit card debt currently totals over $1 trillion. Some believe that this is a sign of consumer confidence. That may be true, but it also may be that people have no other options. Many individuals use their credit cards when they have no other way to pay their financial obligations.

4 ways to preserve family harmony after your death

It may be uncomfortable to face your mortality, but it is necessary if you have assets you want to leave to your loved ones. As you know, this is a major reason not to put off writing your will. However, disputes may arise among your family members even if you do have your will planned. To avoid fights that may create irreparable rifts in the family, you and other Illinois residents may need to be creative and conscientious during your estate planning.

As you may know, losing a loved one can cause the worst to come out in some people. Your relatives might create contention as a way to deal with their grief, or someone may simply be selfish or feel entitled to more than his or her fair share. The following tips may help ensure your wishes are followed and prevent disputes regarding asset division after your death:

  1. Be detailed and explicit when creating your will. Name your assets individually and clearly state the beneficiary of each item.
  2. Invite your family members to a gathering to decide which of your items, such as jewelry, furniture and heirlooms, they would treasure the most. Make a list and inform them that this will go into your will.
  3. Consider giving away some items while you are alive. This not only puts the assets in the hands of those you have designated but gives you the chance to see your loved ones appreciate them.
  4. If you think a family member might take some possessions before the will is read, change the locks to your home and give one key to the executor of your will. Make sure your executor is someone you can trust.

Illinois residential real estate transactions: Disclosures

A lot goes into selling real estate in Illinois. It is not as simple as finding a buyer and exchanging property for funds. Buyers have a right to know if there are any issues with the property. So, when conducting residential real estate transactions, sellers have a responsibility to disclose any issues that may affect the property value. Failure to honestly disclose such issues could land one in some legal trouble.

What kind of things must one disclose? As previously stated, anything that could negatively impact the property value must be documented. This does not mean that a seller has to go looking for problems. It just means that any known problems must be documented.

Chapter 7 may help those in debt and lacking income

The financial reality for millions of American -- including many living in Illinois -- is pretty bleak. According to a recent news report, roughly 39 percent of the population lacks sufficient income and savings to cover any sort of emergency or large unexpected expense. For such individuals, Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be able to help.

A woman in another state recently shared her story of monetary strife. Serving as a registered nurse for roughly four decades, helping others facing medical issues, she found herself having health problems. Frequent migraines and subsequent mini-strokes landed her in the hospital on more than one occasion. Unable to keep up with her full-time job, she found herself taking jobs whenever she was physically able. This left her with spotty insurance and massive medical bills.

Up to your ears in credit card debt?

Charge it! That seems to be what many Illinois residents do when buying things they do or do not need. Some put expenses on credit cards in order to take advantage of the card benefits -- such as cash back or travel points, -- while others do it simply because they lack the funds to pay any other way. In either case, credit card debt can quickly add up to the point where it seems impossible to pay it back.

If you have found yourself with a massive amount of credit card debt, you may be wondering what you can do to get on top of it. You've tried budgeting, but at the end of the month their just isn't enough money to meet your obligation. What else can you do?

Estate planning for the new tax law

Most Illinois residents are likely aware of the new tax law Congress passed in December. Some individuals may like it, while others may not. Some may feel it does nothing to help them, while others may see a lot of positive benefits from it. One area where it may help some is with estate planning and estate taxes.

So, what is the big change? Those with estates valuing certain amounts have always had to pay federal estate taxes. That is not something that will change; it will still be required. However, fewer people may find this something they have to do.

Chapter 13 may help when other debt relief options do not

This is the year -- the year to get out of debt. Becoming debt free is a New Year's resolution that many Illinois residents set every year. Some meet that goal and others do not. For those who have the desire to join debt free society, there are ways to get it done. If certain debt relief options fail, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be a viable option.

According to a recent news report, there are a few relatively simple things a person can do to help improve his or her financial situation. The first is to focus on paying off one debt at a time. The Journal of Consumer Research published the results of a study back in 2016. It indicated that focusing on just one account at a time helped debtors pay off debt faster as they felt they could actually see their hard work pay off. In other words, paying off one account was great motivation to keep paying down other debts.

What to do when a bank wrongfully forecloses on you

Home foreclosures are an unfortunate reality for many Americans. In fact, a report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found that one out of every 200 houses in the United States will face foreclosure at one point or another. A quarter of a million families will face foreclosure every three months in this country. 

There are various actions a homeowner can take to prevent foreclosure, such as filing for bankruptcy. However, banks make mistakes all the time. You may think you are in the clear only to still have your bank breathing down your neck ready to foreclose. In instances of a looming wrongful foreclosure, there are steps you can take to protect your property. 

Can I buy a house after filing Chapter 13?

Many Illinois residents may feel that filing for bankruptcy is the worst thing they can do to help their financial situations. While it is not generally the first thing to resort to in a financial crisis, it is not something to shy away from either. A Chapter 13 filing can have numerous benefits and will not prevent a person from achieving his or her economic goals in the future.

One question many people have before filing for bankruptcy is: How will this affect my ability to buy a house down the road? The simple truth of the matter is, filing for bankruptcy will cause one's credit score to drop. This can make getting a home loan somewhat difficult; however, it is possible to rebuild one's credit after a bankruptcy petition has been approved.

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