I represent individuals in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases filed in the Northern District of Georgia, which includes Atlanta, Newnan, Gainesville and Rome. I publish several informative web sites, including https://www.atlanta-bankruptcy.com and an Atlanta bankruptcy blog, https://www.thebklawyer.com/thebkblog. Please mention Bankruptcy Law Network when you call.

 

Author: Jonathan Ginsberg, Esq.

09 Apr How Cognitive Biases Can Drive You Into Bankruptcy

Are you familiar with the term cognitive bias? A cognitive bias represents an error in reasoning or decision making when you disregard accurate information in favor of your subjective preferences and beliefs. In other words, you exhibit a cognitive bias when you “go with your gut” rather than more objective information. Taken to an extreme, cognitive biases can lead you into bankruptcy, or can prompt bad choices when you are in bankruptcy. Here are some examples.

Have You Fallen Victim to the Sunk Cost Fallacy?

One cognitive bias I see frequently in my bankruptcy practice is the sunk cost fallacy. It usually takes the form of a client refusing to surrender an expensive and unaffordable house or car because “I have put so much money into that house/car I would be throwing all that money away if I gave it up.” Obviously, your financial capacity to pay a car note or mortgage in the future has nothing to do with what you have invested in that item in the past. Either you can comfortably afford your purchase or you can’t, and if you are contemplating bankruptcy you should fight against the sunk cost fallacy. There is an old saying “don’t throw good money after bad” which is the correct frame of mind if you are struggling with a sunk cost decision.
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06 Mar Are We Seeing a Return to Debtors’ Prisons?

Some time ago, I posted a video on my YouTube channel posing the question “Can I Go to Jail for Not Paying Credit Card Debt?” The answer to this question is “no” - if you don’t pay your credit card bill, the lender bank can sue you for money damages, but they have not power to throw you in jail. Only the state or federal government has the power to incarcerate you for not paying debts and the type of debts that could result in jail time include unpaid such obligations as past tax debt, fines due to governmental units, past due child support and other debts owed to governments. Interestingly I get comments on this video claiming that the commentator or someone the commentator knows has been put in jail for common private debt like unpaid credit card bills and other signature loan. It turns out that there is some truth to what my video viewers are saying.
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06 Feb Why Surrendering Your Car or House in a Chapter 13 May Create Unexpected Problems

One of the more powerful tools available to you when you file a personal bankruptcy has to do with your option to cancel an installment contract and surrender secured collateral. This applies to all forms of secured collateral, including such things as houses, motor vehicles, furniture, and jewelry. In a Chapter 7, your surrender of secured collateral will usually mean an end to your obligation to the secured creditor. Any remaining debt owed to the creditor for a deficiency balance will be treated as unsecured debt and unsecured debt is generally going to be eliminated with your Chapter 7 discharge. In Chapter 13, however, your act of surrendering collateral does not necessarily mean that you are done with the now unsecured creditor. Unsecured creditors often do get paid in Chapter 13 - sometimes as little as 1 penny on the dollar, but sometimes as much as 100 pennies on the dollar (i.e, they are paid in full).
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06 Sep Yes You Can Refile Your Chapter 13 Case, But Should You?

If you are facing a foreclosure, vehicle repossession, wage garnishment or other financial crisis, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a great tool to stop the chaos.  As the type of bankruptcy that includes a repayment plan, Chapter 13 can empower you to reduce your monthly payments, eliminate accruing interest on credit card debt, reduce your total indebtedness - all while protecting your real and personal property from creditor actions.If you are facing a foreclosure, vehicle repossession, wage garnishment or other financial crisis, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a great tool to stop the chaos.  As the type of bankruptcy that includes a repayment plan, Chapter 13 can empower you to reduce your monthly payments, eliminate accruing interest on credit card debt, reduce your total indebtedness - all while protecting your real and personal property from creditor actions. When Chapter 13 plans work, they can literally be life changing and every experienced bankruptcy attorney can recount stories of grateful clients who successfully completed their Chapter 13 plans with property intact and debt gone. Unfortunately, however, most Chapter 13 plans fail before completion - in some jurisdictions the failure rate is 65% or higher.  Often repayment plans fail not because of bad faith on the part of debtors or even because of unrealistic budgeting.
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06 Jun How Bankruptcy Can Solve Your “Too Expensive Car” Problem

Next to home mortgages, motor vehicle loans are often your most expensive purchase. According to USA Today, the average transaction cost of a new car or truck sold in the U.S. was around $33,500. Lenders are now extending vehicle purchase loans to 6 years or longer, and when interest rates are factored in, you can easily find yourself responsible for $40,000, $50,000 or more. Unlike real estate purchases, motor vehicles are depreciating assets. If you finance your car or truck over 4 to 6 years, there is a good chance that you will owe more on your vehicle until year 3 or 4 of your contract. This means that in the event of a financial crises such as an illness or job layoff, you won’t be able to eliminate your financial obligations by selling your vehicle. If you “roll over” your loan into a new loan for a less expensive car, you’ll just delay your day of reckoning because you will end up owing far more on the less expensive car than it will ever be worth. Further, your installment payment is not your only vehicle expense. Insurance costs can rise quickly and unexpectedly if you or a family member has an accident. Routine maintenance and service such as new tires and brakes can add to your cost of ownership.
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