Should I use a debt settlement attorney?

Although it isn’t strictly necessary to use an attorney to go the debt settlement route, there are many reasons why it can be to your advantage to do so, especially if you have multiple creditors.

Bankruptcy attorneyFirst of all, when you hire a debt settlement attorney, you have hired an advocate, someone who will work to get the best possible deal for you. Make no mistake: Although creditors and debt collectors may say they want to help you, they are not on your side. Their job is to get as much money from you as possible, and dealing with them can be extremely stressful. They may try to cajole you into giving them more information than you are required to provide. They may try to make you feel guilty. They may even try to intimidate you. By hiring an experienced debt settlement lawyer to negotiate with your creditors on your behalf, you are “evening the playing field.” At Trident Debt Solutions, we know the ropes—the process, the rules that creditors are required to follow, the most effective means of dealing with creditors and the pitfalls to avoid—and we are immune to their intimidation tactics. This makes it likely that creditors will settle more quickly and for a lower amount than if they were negotiating with you directly.

We are debt negotiation specialists with more than ten years of experience in helping people save thousands of dollars in paying off their debts. We have the experience to handle your creditors effectively—rather than them handling you—to reach the lowest possible settlement amount. We also know how to prioritize which accounts get settled first so that you can get out of debt more quickly and save the most money overall.

Our experience gives you leverage. We study the guidelines of each creditor, so even before we start the negotiation, we already have a pretty good idea of how low a settlement they’ll be willing to accept. Furthermore, our managing partner is an experienced bankruptcy attorney who has gone up against virtually every major creditor in the United States. Creditors know that we will not hesitate to advise our clients to file for bankruptcy when it is in their best interest to do so—in which case the creditors will receive nothing—which gives you more bargaining power at the negotiating table.

People get in over their heads financially for a number of reasons. Whether it is the result of job loss or change, unexpected medical expenses, unwise financial decisions—or, more likely, a combination of factors—chances are good that by the time people need real debt relief, they feel overwhelmed and helpless. And even if they have researched their options and have decided on a course of action, it can still be difficult to take those first steps without help. When you hire the debt settlement consultants at Trident Debt Solutions to handle the negotiations with your creditors, you are relieved of the stress of dealing with them yourself, giving you the immediate psychological relief that comes from knowing you’re not in it alone.

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Bankruptcy Alternatives

I have credit card debt but I don’t want to declare bankruptcy. Are there other options?

credit card debtYes! While bankruptcy is a legitimate means of obtaining debt relief in certain situations, it is one that many people prefer to avoid if at all possible. If you have credit card debt and want to avoid bankruptcy, even if your circumstances are such that filing for bankruptcy is a viable option, you may be able to resolve the problem through alternative means, such as debt settlement. With debt settlement (also referred to as “debt negotiation” or “debt resolution”), your creditors agree to accept less than the full amount you owe them in a negotiated settlement of your debt. Debt settlement can be a good option if you have more than $40,000 in debt but also have assets that can be liquidated for the purposes of negotiating with your creditors.

At Trident Debt Solutions, we will work with you to explore all your alternatives and determine which option is best for you. If you choose to pursue debt settlement, our expert debt settlement attorneys will negotiate with your creditors to reduce your debt as much as possible—in many cases, by as much as 50%.

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I’m up to my neck in credit card debt. What are my options?

Cut Credit Card DebtIn a nutshell, there are five basic ways to achieve debt relief, each of which is described briefly below. Which option is best for you will depend on your specific situation. Although they share certain aspects, these options vary greatly in the steps required, the costs involved, and the short-term and long-term consequences to your financial picture. You would be well advised to confer with a financial consultant, preferably an attorney, specializing in debt relief to carefully assess your situation, weigh your options and determine the best course of action for you. At Trident Debt Solutions, we have experience in all forms of debt relief and can assist you with determining the most effective route for getting you out of debt quickly.

Debt relief options fall into two categories: bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy. The two bankruptcy options available to individuals are called “Chapter 7 Bankruptcy” and “Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.” These names refer to the specific chapters of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code under which an individual can “declare bankruptcy.”

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also referred to as a “liquidation” bankruptcy, you file a petition asking the court to discharge your unsecured debts. The court allows you to keep limited assets, such as a vehicle, home or income, when their value falls below pre-established thresholds. These assets are referred to as “exemptions.” Assets that exceed the allowed values are considered “non-exempt” and are sold (“liquidated”), with the proceeds being distributed to your creditors. Any debts that remain after the assets are liquidated and creditors paid are then discharged by the court. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is usually a good option for people who have high debt and limited income or assets. An important point to keep in mind, however, is that Chapter 7 bankruptcy covers only unsecured debt. That is, it does not eliminate the right of mortgage holders or car loan creditors to seize your property to cover your debt. So even if your car or home is valued below the exemption threshold, Chapter 7 bankruptcy may not be the best choice for you, because if you are behind on your mortgage or car payments you will likely not be able to keep that property.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is usually referred to as a “debt adjustment” or “reorganization” bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 case, you file a proposed budget and repayment plan with the court, showing how you will pay off some or all of your past-due and current debts over three to five years. The plan typically calls for only partial repayment of the debts. You are then required to make monthly payments to the Chapter 13 Trustee assigned to your case, which are then divided among your creditors according to the terms of the plan, until the debts are paid off. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is normally used for individuals or couples who have high income, high debt or tax problems, or face foreclosure.

Non-bankruptcy options include debt settlement (also referred to as debt negotiation, debt resolution, debt reduction and similar terms), consumer credit counseling, and a do-it-yourself method of resolving your debt that involves systematically paying off your creditors over time.

Debt settlement, which is typically achieved with the assistance of a debt relief specialist such as a debt negotiation attorney, involves reaching an agreement with your creditors to reduce the amount that they are willing to accept to settle your debts with them—potentially by as much as half of what you owe them. It is also referred to as “debt negotiation,” “debt reduction,” “debt resolution,” “debt arbitration,” “debt solutions” and “debt management.” Another point of negotiation is the length of time over which the reduced amount can be paid; reaching a lump-sum debt settlement can often result in an even greater reduction in what your creditors will accept to satisfy the debt.

With consumer credit counseling, you work with a credit counseling company that deals with your creditors to work out a repayment plan. Consumer credit counseling services allow you to make one monthly payment to them and they pay your credit cards directly. With this option, you are still obligated to pay back all that you owe to your creditors, although usually at a reduced interest rate. In some cases the credit counselors can negotiate with your creditors to not only reduce your interest rate but also obtain extensions or get them to forgive late fees.

These supposed “counselors” claim to be working on your behalf, but the reality is that they are actually paid by the credit card companies—while they make money off you. It is quite possible that you can end up in even more debt than when you started, and impact on your credit rating can be quite serious. Credit counseling may be a viable option if you have less than $20,000 in debt and make a reasonable income, and the proposed repayment plan fits your budget and will be completed in less than 36 months. In most cases, however, consumer credit counseling plans last from four to six years, which is too long and can damage your credit even further. People who have high amounts of unsecured debt should avoid this option, no matter how appealing the “counseling” companies try to make it sound.

The third non-bankruptcy option is often called the “snowball method” or “margin-acceleration method.” It is a do-it-yourself means of eliminating your debt whereby you systematically pay off your debts yourself, tackling those with the highest interest rates first. As each high-interest debt is paid off, you then apply the money you had been paying on it to the debt with the next-highest interest rate, etc., until all of your debt is paid off.

Determining which of these options is right for you can be a daunting proposition, especially if you have a significant amount of debt and/or numerous creditors. But no matter what your situation, your first and best option is to meet with a qualified financial consultant such as a member of the Trident Debt Solutions team to help you find the best way to get out from under your debt and back on track to financial health.

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