Dollars and Sense: How Bankruptcy Lawyers Will Help You Out of Your Sticky Financial Situation

The word “bankruptcy” tends to strike fear into our hearts, especially if we’re going through financial trouble. But most people can’t see themselves ever filing for bankruptcy. The process seems like it’s made for failing businesses, government bodies, and other organizations. But personal bankruptcy laws exist to protect citizens who find themselves struggling with severe debt. If your finances drop into the red zone, taking the following steps will get you back on your feet:

Assess the Damage

Look closely at your financial portrait. If you owe large sums to multiple creditors, if collectors are calling your house, or if you find yourself paying for essentials with a credit card, you should start to consider remedying your situation. Begin by tallying up your financial assets – bank account balances, retirement funds, stocks and bonds, real estate, vehicles, and anything else of value. Once you have a grand total, compare it to the amount you owe. If your assets are worth less than your total debts, you should seriously consider filing for bankruptcy.

How Do I File?

You may voluntarily file for bankruptcy as soon as you determine it’s necessary. Alternatively, you may be compelled by your creditors to file. However your legal process originates, don’t try to navigate it by yourself. Get in touch with bankruptcy lawyers who will look closely at your circumstances and advise you on how to proceed. There are two different claims you can file, so an attorney will help you determine the legal route that best serves your interests.

Filing a Chapter 7 Claim

A Chapter 7 claim is fairly straightforward. If approved, this claim liquidates your assets and uses them to pay off a large chunk of your debt right away. In other words, it turns most of what you own into cash, and then distributes this cash among your creditors. It sounds scary, because you lose most of your holdings. But it’s not the end of the world – many people bounce back and rebuild their assets without all that debt holding them back. Especially with trusted bankruptcy lawyers on your side, this process can lead to a much-needed fresh start.

Filing a Chapter 13 Claim

Since they involve seizing most of the filer’s holdings, Chapter 7 claims aren’t great for people who own businesses, property, and other major assets. When you have large properties that you don’t want to lose, a Chapter 13 claim is the better choice. It allows people with consistent, predictable annual incomes to pay off debts over a three- to five-year grace period. Once a judge approves a Chapter 13 claim, creditors must stop contacting the debtor. The debtor then continues to work, paying off his or her debts as best they can during the grace period. No property or other assets are liquidated in this process.

Bankruptcy lawyers will tell you: filing isn’t so scary, and can drastically improve your situation. If you’re letting unpaid bills stack up and trying to ignore them, know that you can pursue legal options to relieve the stresses of debt and protect what you own.

Medical Emergencies: Leading Cause of Bankruptcies in America

There are several reasons people file for bankruptcy. What may come as shocking news is that most people are a SINGLE major health issue away from considering bankruptcy as an option. How can this be when majority of families have some form of health insurance? For one thing, it all depends on a number of circumstances. Here are a few examples of what needs to be considered:

• What type of insurance you have
• What sort of medical issue you have
• What is the co-pay percentage

Medical bills are actually the biggest cause of bankruptcies within the United States. In 2013 alone, almost 2 million people had filed for bankruptcy citing medical bills as their reasons. Even health insurance provides minimal help in preventing these cases.

Why?

One reason is that the average co-pay in most plans is 20%. This works out well for check-ups and minor injuries but if you happen to contract a major illness or get in a serious accident, you could possibly rack up a bill over $50,000 where you would need to cover 20% or $10,000 along with the deductible. For just about anybody, this would be a life-changing tragedy that necessitates seeing a bankruptcy lawyer.

Who are affected?

Of those who have stated medical bills as their reasons for filing bankruptcy, 78% of them had medical insurance of some sort. Most of those affected were educated middle-class families. 1 out of 5 Americans will face problems paying medical bills this year. Accidents and life-changing diagnosis can happen to anybody.

Even with proper savings and good spending habits, the burden of some medical bills is simply too much for most people to handle. This is a problem that an estimated 56 million Americans will need to face this year alone.

What can happen?

Seeing as most health care institutions employ their own means of collecting debts, overdue health bills are treated the same way as other types of debt regardless of the fact if you are now incapable of maintaining your job due to your health issue. You can expect similar means of debt collection such as multiple phone calls, court ordered actions, and other harassing techniques.

How to address the issue?

Bankruptcy is, and should always be, considered as the final option and should only be seriously considered once all other options are exhausted. Lawyers that specialized in bankruptcy are also experts when it comes to finding working solutions for debts. Your best course of action would be to seek the assistance of a bankruptcy lawyer as soon as you are facing a massive medical bill.

The common belief is that credit card debt or mortgages are the main causes for filing for bankruptcy. Most people are caught blindsided by such big bills that they find themselves at a loss for what to do. Simply having the knowledge that 3 out of every 5 bankruptcies are caused by medical bills is already a good start. Knowing is always half the battle and it always beats being caught off-guard.

About Safety of Self-Driving Cars

Google recently announced their self-driving cars have been in 11 crashes ever? Like… ever. But, I’ve never been in a car accident so does that make me better than them? Last time, the Associated Press reported Google’s self-driving cars were involved in 11 minor crashes in six years. Is that a lot?

Not according to Google. They count it as a win that their cars have driven 1 million automated miles of testing in the six years they’ve been at it, and have only had these few fender benders. By comparison, the human population crashes about 0.3 times for every 100,000 miles, (161,000 km) per driver according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Wait a second… So really, Google’s stats aren’t that much better at 0.6 per 100,000! So why are they spending so much money to develop a self-driving car that doesn’t seem safer? Because many non-fatal crashes go unreported, so it’s very likely that point three crashes per 100,000 miles isn’t even accurate. On top of that, 94 percent of all crashes ever are caused by human failure. We are the absolute worst at driving. Cell phone bans don’t reduce crashes, drunk driving prohibitions, speed limits, and the like don’t stop drivers crashing; instead fatalities are still in the tens of thousands every year.

In fact, for example according Discovery News, the reason there were collisions with the self-driving cars at all was because of driver error! Sources say the car has been rear-ended mostly, but it’s also been sideswiped and hit by a car that ran a red light or stop sign. Since the crash specifics are secret, we can’t be certain, but Google says the car was never at fault, and eight of those crashes were on city streets. If you buy their spin, then yes – the cars probably are safer! And private cars are just the tip of the iceberg.

We’re also gonna be seeing autonomous vehicles in the commercial space. Earlier this month, auto manufacturer Daimler unveiled its self-driving semi-truck. The “Inspiration Truck” can drive itself on the highway, and only needs a human operator in cities. On top of that, they can network on the road and drive in a caravan, getting improved gas mileage as a crew by taking advantage of the slipstream of the truck in front of them. Basically, only the truck in front has to fully cut through the air, the rest “draft” and get a mileage boost.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics estimates commercial freight logged 3.3 trillion ton-miles in 2012, and trucks represented 38 percent of that — or 1.3 trillion miles. That’s a lot of ground to cover for the Inspiration Truck or other similar commercial trucks. Aside from Google and Daimler, Audi and Nissan have also developed self-driving cars. Tesla announced the Model S will have autonomous features within a few months.

So the future is pretty much here. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ranks self-driving vehicles, and both the Google cars and the Inspiration Truck as “Level 3” autonomous vehicles; unlike an airplane on autopilot. They can travel autonomously, but quote “The driver is expected to be available for occasional control… sufficiently comfortable transition time.” So the car can’t just toss it to the driver when someone jumps in front… but then who is at fault? If “driver” wasn’t actually driving, and Google programmed the thing; what happens?

At this point, no one knows. California, Nevada, Michigan, Florida, and Washington, D.C are the only places that license for self-driving cars, so far, and there are only 48 autonomous vehicles registered in California; 23 of those are Google’s. In the end these laws are still so new, and the technology isn’t entirely proven. Driving a million autonomous miles is small compared to the trillions travelled by truck drivers in the U.S. alone.

How Pizza Began

Who does not love pizza? We all do. But before you take a bite out of your favorite slice, we would like to ask you something. Do you know the rich history of pizza?

Humble Pizza Beginnings

Before pizza came into existence, there was focaccia – a Roman dish that consists of flatbread with added toppings. But historical records show that even before there was focaccia, there were already several versions of flatbread that was famous among individuals during the Neolithic age. In fact, bread goes back as far as 7,000 years ago, among the ancient Sardinians who used leaven to bake bread. Ancient Greeks too, have their version of flatbread that they call plakous. Plakous often had onion, garlic, and herbs for toppings.

It was not until about 997 AD that the name ‘pizza’ first surfaced among the residents in Gaeta, Italy. Back then, pizza was not for the wealthy. The pizza was food for the poor and sold on open street stalls. The first pizza flavor was Marinara, which consists of a topping of garlic, oregano, tomato, and extra virgin olive oil. The flavor owes its name to the seamen’s wives, who traditionally prepared this dish for their seafaring husbands when they return from their fishing trip in Naples. Another classic pizza flavor is Margherita, which consists of a topping of mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, and fresh basil. The history of Pizza Margherita goes back to 1889 AD when a certain Raffaele Esposito baked this pizza in honor of King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy. Of the three pizza flavors that the baker prepared, the pizza with the colors of the Italian flag-white, red and green, was her favorite, so the people named the pizza Margherita.

Pizza Today

Pizza has surely come so far from its humble beginnings as a dish for the poor. Now, pizza has become a favorite in almost every part of the world, particularly among the Americans. Although a lot of changes and innovations have become popular over the years, some pizza stores still retain the old methods of baking pizza. In fact, 1984 saw the formation of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana or True Neapolitan Pizza Association, which established guidelines on how to make pizza. Among the many guidelines that the association set is the method of cooking hand-kneaded pizza using a wood-fired domed oven and that its diameter should not be greater than 35 centimeters. The association even prescribed a particular measurement for the thickness of the pizza crust-a third of a centimeter!

How Healthy is Pizza?

You may wonder, though, is pizza healthy? We are sure that you do not think so because of the thousands of calories that they contain. But admit it, even when you have already promised yourself that you would not eat more calories than you should, you find yourself craving for a pizza slice. Just a small portion of that pizza, you would say, and then you eat and feel guilty afterward.

As much as we would like to reassure you that pizza is good for those who are on a diet, we cannot. We all know that pizza is on top of the list of foods that those who want to lose weight should not eat.

Those who are merely on a gluten-free diet but not on a weight loss regimen, however, would be triumphal to know that you can eat pizza! Hurrah! Just make sure that you buy yourself a pizza with a gluten-free pizza crust to avoid eating gluten.

5 Common Misconceptions About Bankruptcy

Misconception #1: YOU LOSE ALL YOUR BELONGINGS IN BANKRUPTCY.

Truth:

Many of the bankruptcy cases that are filed by individuals are known as “no asset” cases. This means that the debtor or debtors preserve all of their belongings. The reason for this is bankruptcy gives you the privilege to keep a certain amount of property in which you can start over with. The belongings that you are able to keep are known as exempt property. Depending on the state you live in will determine what you can keep.

Misconception #2: BANKRUPTCY RUINS YOUR CREDIT FOR 7 TO 10 YEARS.

Truth:

This misconception is unbelievable. There are many cases in which filing for bankruptcy will improve your credit. This is accurate for many debtors, because upon receiving their discharge, they are debt free. Often, their debt to income quota is zero. Once your bankruptcy is over, you can then begin the development of rebuilding your credit. If you are a proactive person, it is important to obtain new credit and to pay all of your necessities on time. If you are doing this for a constant two to three years you can reestablish good credit.

Misconception #3: YOU CANNOT DISCHARGE TAXES IN BANKRUPTCY.

Truth:

Conflicting with the common misconception, typically income taxes can be freed in bankruptcy if you have the following information:

1. The taxes have to be a minimum of three years old

2. The associated return must of been filed a minimum of two years ago

3. Any added appraisal was more than 240 days ago.

4. There was no engaging in fraud or tax evasion from the taxpayer

There are many reasons in which these time periods have the possibility to be extended, do not count on these things alone to determine the discharge-ability of taxes depending on your situation.

Misconception #4: MEDICAL BILLS CANNOT BE DISCHARGED IN BANKRUPTCY.

Truth:

Just like most bills, medical bills can also be discharged in bankruptcy. There are many suspicions in which individuals think otherwise. Wherever this misconception is coming from is false. In fact, one of the main three reasons that an individual will file for bankruptcy is medical bills, alone with job loss and divorce.

Misconception #5: YOU CAN PICK AND CHOOSE WHICH DEBTS TO LIST IN YOUR BANKRUPTCY.

Truth:

False. It is mandatory for all debts to be filed, including debts owed to family and personal friends, business partners, and future debts that you may have. It is not possible for you to eliminate one credit card from the bankruptcy.