Many professionals, including bankruptcy attorneys, will advise a debtor who is unable to pay monthly bills to “investigate your options.” So how many “options” does a person have when there is not enough money to pay the bills? The answer is: three.
The first is the “Do Nothing” option. Debtors who engage in this option hope that by avoiding phone calls and collection letters the debt will somehow just disappear. That is the same magic that makes a two year old become invisible when she closes her eyes. Obviously if you won’t see it, the collection companies can’t see it.
The “Do Nothing” option is the worst option of all because the debt does not disappear. In fact, the debt becomes bigger with increased fees and interest. Additionally, the debt collection efforts become more aggressive and may result in harassing telephone calls to family, neighbors, or your employer. Finally, you will likely be sued, your property seized or your income garnished.
The second option is “Negotiation.” Many debtors have had positive experience with this option which may include direct negotiation with the creditor for better terms, or help through a third party like a credit counselor or an attorney. Unfortunately, many people do not realize the consequences of negotiation which may include a resulting tax debt, negative items on a credit report, increased debt through fees and default interest rates, and substantial third party fees. It is well documented by the media and state attorney generals that many debtors that attempt the Negotiation option (e.g. credit counseling, debt settlement, debt negotiation, etc.) end up in worse financial shape because they opted for debt negotiation. If you elect the Negotiation option, hire a qualified and experienced professional.
The final option is “Bankruptcy.” Many professionals describe Bankruptcy as the “final option,” but in truth it may be the best option when you cannot pay your bills. Bankruptcy can give an honest debtor breathing room to reorganize debt without the pressures from collection agencies. Bankruptcy can also legally discharge debt without increased fees or tax consequences. At the end of a bankruptcy case the debtor can go forward with a “fresh start” and new financial beginning.
If your family is struggling with more month than money, it is time to examine your options. In the end, choose the option that is best for your family. Speaking with a qualified bankruptcy attorney can answer many of your debt questions. Contact Haines and Krieger today for a free consultation.