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A Chapter 7 filing is not the end of the world

Numerous Illinois residents are struggling financially due to job loss or lack of sufficient income to pay their debts. In order to help their economic situations, some will turn to Chapter 7 bankruptcy to clear their debts and achieve a fresh start. While there are those who would advise against this due to the impact such a filing can have on one's credit score, a recent report suggests that filing for bankruptcy really is not the end of the world.

Following a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the filing will remain on one's credit report for 10 years. That sounds bad, but according to LendingTree, a little over 40 percent of bankruptcy filers are able to raise their credit scores back to 640 within a year of bankruptcy approval. Roughly 65 percent of filers are able to achieve credit scores over 640 in a two-year period.

How to wipe out credit card debt

Far too many people in Illinois and elsewhere depend on their credit cards to survive. Because of this, credit card debt is a major problem in the United States right now. It is believed that most households carry balances on credit cards. What can be done? How can one wipe out credit card debt?

According to a recently published article, there are a few different ways a person can pay off or get rid of credit card debt. The first is by using all disposable income to pay down the debt. This takes a lot of effort and requires discipline in sticking to a strict budget. It can work, if balances are low enough to be paid off fairly quickly. If accounts have high interest rates, this may not work, as interest will just continue to grow despite the efforts to pay down the balance.

Can a Chapter 7 bankruptcy cause more debt?

When Illinois residents hear the word bankruptcy, they think debt relief. This is particularly true for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, as this form -- if approved -- results in the complete discharging of certain debts. Is there ever a time when filing for bankruptcy can actually cause a person to take on more debt after the fact?

There is a trade-off when filing for Chapter 7. Yes, one may achieve some level of debt relief; various debts may be wiped clean off one's record. However, credit scores take a big hit, making it difficult to obtain credit either at all or with decent interest rates. So, if one is not careful about finances after filing for bankruptcy, he or she could end up basically trading one debt for another.

3 things you should know about bankruptcy

Many people carry high credit card debt or medical bills, and if financial circumstances change, it can be challenging to keep up with these debt payments. Getting trapped in overwhelming debt can happen quickly and soon become unmanageable.

This is not just an issue for young people who may have taken out a credit card without sufficient income. Many times, financially well-established couples get in over their heads with debt as they are heading into retirement. The good news is that there are options for people who feel suffocated by a massive debt load. Filing for bankruptcy is often the first positive step for building a fresh financial future.  

Heading into retirement, is filing Chapter 13 or 7 a good option?

Debt, just about everyone has it. It does not matter at what phase of one's adult life one is currently in, money struggles can happen at any time. Illinois residents, particularly those who are heading into or currently in their retirement years and are burdened with significant debt, may want to know if filing a Chapter 13 or 7 bankruptcy is the right way to address their situations.

A 63-year-old woman in another state did recently reach out to a financial advisor with such a concern. She has a car loan, a mortgage on a house that constantly needs repairs and quite a bit of credit card debt. She is already retired and her monthly income is not enough to cover all of her living expenses and debts.

Illinois residential real estate transactions: Selling a home

The joy of buying one's first home usually comes with the trouble of trying to sell it down the road. People have to move for work or personal reasons and that does not always come at a time when the housing market is in a good place for sellers. Those in Illinois who find themselves needing to sell can seek help from an attorney who has experience handling residential real estate transactions

Buying versus selling are very different processes with different goals. When selling one's home, the goal is to achieve maximum profit. This can be done by:

  • Picking a good agent and talk about commission and fees
  • Pricing accurately
  • Staging the property
  • Choosing the best time to list the  property
  • Being flexible when it comes to home showings
  • Responding to offers in a timely manner

Chapter 7 debt limit -- is that a thing?

When thinking about pursuing bankruptcy, it is perfectly normal to have questions about it. Obviously, one wants to make sure it is the right thing to do before going down that road. One question Illinois residents may have about Chapter 7 bankruptcy in particular is if there is a debt limit -- meaning, is it possible to have too much debt, which would result in one's petition being denied?

Unlike Chapter 13 bankruptcy, Chapter 7 does not have a debt limit. This means that, as long as a person meets the income restrictions associated with this type of bankruptcy, all qualifying debts may be discharged. Wondering what the income restrictions are and what debts are considered qualifying?

Chapter 13 can offer an affordable debt solution

Ever fail to pay a debt even though one has income coming in? It is okay; it happens. Sometimes, financial obligations get to be too much. What one does after the fact matters. For Illinois residents who find themselves in this position, Chapter 13 may offer an affordable debt solution.

Having to decide what bills are going to get paid in any given month can be a tough decision, but it is a decision that numerous people have to make. Sometimes, the money to meet all of one's debt obligations just isn't there. This can leave a person wondering what would happen if they just stopped paying certain debts altogether.

3 tips for selling your home

Homebuying season is fast approaching. The flowers are blooming and the "for sale" signs are too. As you prepare to sell your home this spring or summer, you want to do everything you can to get top dollar. 

Whether this is your first or tenth time selling a house, you should keep some guidelines in mind. Here are the best tips for selling your home fast and for a good price.

Illinois estate planning: What are advance directives?

If a person becomes incapacitated, what happens to him or her? Who will make any medical decisions for that individual? Illinois residents who want a say in their medical care even if they are not in a state to express their wishes have a way to do it, and that way is by setting up advance directives. This they can do while going through the estate planning process.

What are advance directives? In short, they are a type of health care proxy that can come in the form of a durable power of attorney or living will. With a power of attorney, a person designates a trusted individual to make one's medical decisions if he or she cannot. A living will, on the other hand, is a detailed document in which a person expresses his or her own wants for medical treatment and care.

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