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Author: lovingrose Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 308482  
Subject: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/15/2011 1:47 PM
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Thanks to everyone who offered such great suggestions to my previous question about which has the greater hit to credit rating (bankruptcy or walking away from debt).

Here's the update:

1) I just purchased the car I needed (an 09 Toyota Yaris, certified pre-owned, former Hertz rent-a-car), so I am back in business in a lot of ways.

2) I have decided to write letters to my creditors (credit card companies) offering to pay 15%-20% on the balance. This amount was suggested in an article I read recently about dealing with debt collectors. I'll be writing those letters today.

My question is this: what exactly do I say to them? Do I tell them that I am contemplating bankruptcy or leave that out? I am going to offer them a set dollar amount.

Any other suggestions?

Thanks once again for your input!
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Author: joelcorley Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303598 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/15/2011 3:30 PM
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lovingrose,

You wrote, 1) I just purchased the car I needed (an 09 Toyota Yaris, certified pre-owned, former Hertz rent-a-car), so I am back in business in a lot of ways.

2) I have decided to write letters to my creditors (credit card companies) offering to pay 15%-20% on the balance. This amount was suggested in an article I read recently about dealing with debt collectors. I'll be writing those letters today.

My question is this: what exactly do I say to them? Do I tell them that I am contemplating bankruptcy or leave that out? I am going to offer them a set dollar amount.


Say whatever you like. They'll probably just toss the letter in your file and ignore it.

I assume that if you qualified for a car loan you are probably more or less current on all your other obligations. No lender is going to accept anything like 20% of the balance unless they have charged-off the account. That usually means you've not made a payment in 180 days. If you are to that point, I'm surprised you could purchase a car.

- Joel

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Author: aj485 Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303599 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/15/2011 4:49 PM
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1) I just purchased the car I needed (an 09 Toyota Yaris, certified pre-owned, former Hertz rent-a-car), so I am back in business in a lot of ways.

2) I have decided to write letters to my creditors (credit card companies) offering to pay 15%-20% on the balance. This amount was suggested in an article I read recently about dealing with debt collectors. I'll be writing those letters today.


So you recently committed yourself to pay $10k - $15k (plus interest) for a car, but you want to settle with your other creditors?

My question is this: what exactly do I say to them? Do I tell them that I am contemplating bankruptcy or leave that out? I am going to offer them a set dollar amount.

I also agree with Joel that unless your debt is severely delinquent and/or written off, you are not going to get a creditor to consider your offer seriously.

As far as the BK question - Have you actually decided to file BK and have you hired an attorney? The threat of filing BK is likely to be ignored unless you include the name of an attorney that you have actually hired, and the attorney will confirm that you are in the process of filing BK, and the attorney is going to be the creditor's contact for your account from this point forward.

As far as the set dollar amount - do you actually have that amount in hand ready to pay them? If not - I would say that you shouldn't bother making any offer at all. You'd be telling them that you want to renege on your current payment plan (the minimums that they require each month) and yet you want them to agree to accept another payment plan from you? How receptive do you think that a creditor will be to that offer?

If you want to be 'successful' in your endeavor to settle credit card debts, your process should probably be:

1) Stop paying your credit card payments
2) Save the money that you would have otherwise paid to the credit cards
3) Once you have the amount that you are willing to offer to a particular creditor, and you've missed at least 5 payments to that creditor (i.e. you are on the verge of being written off) write to the creditor and offer them that amount
4) Keep in mind that while you have missed the 5 (or more) payments, interest and late payment fees will have been added to the balance of your account, meaning that the 15% - 20% will need to be a larger amount than it would have been when you started missing payments

Additionally, the 15% - 20% that the article suggested was probably quite optimistic - IMO, if you are a really good negotiator, you might be able to get them to settle for 1/3 of the balance at the time you make the offer - including the interest and fees that have been added since you stopped making payments.

Any other suggestions?

I'd suggest buckling down and paying the obligations you've committed yourself to, but you have apparently already rejected that option.

AJ

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Author: xtn Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303600 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/15/2011 4:55 PM
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lovingrose -

Joel and AJ have, as usual, hit the nail right on the head. I wish somebody would hit you on the head. You thief.

xtn

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Author: joelcorley Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303601 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/15/2011 8:22 PM
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aj485,

You wrote, As far as the set dollar amount - do you actually have that amount in hand ready to pay them?

Good point. Negotiating for both a (much) lower settlement amount AND payment terms is pretty much doomed from any starting point.

Also, 1) Stop paying your credit card payments

Actually this can be a good idea or a bad idea - depends on where you live. In many states, her creditors can just sue her in small claims and obtain a wage garnishment order pretty cheap and quickly. I've read stories where creditors have gone out and filed suit right after the creditor defaulted (even before the 180 days have passed) because the creditor told them flat out they were not going to pay. The creditor's position was that they wanted to be first in line for a wage garnishment. [Wage garnishment is first-come, first-served at the maximum rate state (or federal) law allows.] Also in a number of states, personal bank accounts are fair game for seizure to satisfy a judgment, so the quicker the creditor is to react, the more likely they are to recover something. And in states that protect very few consumer assets against seizure to satisfy a judgment, the creditor may have a lot of incentive to act quickly.

So I guess my point is that if anyone plans to just bail on their debts, they should really think about what the consequences are. And those consequences might be different depending on where you live, so advice that might be good for me, might not be good for you...

- Joel

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Author: aj485 Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303602 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/15/2011 9:25 PM
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1) Stop paying your credit card payments

Actually this can be a good idea or a bad idea - depends on where you live.

The supposition that both you and I told the OP was that she needed to get her account written off (or at least severely delinquent) before the creditors would take negotiations seriously. I'm not sure how you expect the OP to become delinquent unless she stops paying......

Oh, wait - you're suggesting that the OP continue to pay her debts, instead of pursuing settlments?

In many states, her creditors can just sue her in small claims and obtain a wage garnishment order pretty cheap and quickly.

According to previous posts, the OP is self-employed, so wage garnishment probably wouldn't be effective, although bank accounts may still be able to be seized. Assuming that the OP has sent money from her checking account (via check, EFT, ACH, etc.) to the creditor, the creditor has the routing and account number for the account, and may be able to seize money in the account if they get a small claims judgment.

AJ

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Author: joelcorley Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303603 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/15/2011 11:36 PM
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aj485,

You wrote, The supposition that both you and I told the OP was that she needed to get her account written off (or at least severely delinquent) before the creditors would take negotiations seriously. I'm not sure how you expect the OP to become delinquent unless she stops paying......

Oh, wait - you're suggesting that the OP continue to pay her debts, instead of pursuing settlments?


As you know, that's not exactly what I meant. :-) What I meant was that depending on where she lives, it may not be that easy to just skip out on your debts by simply not paying. But yes, the honest thing to do is probably to continue paying her debts.

Finally, According to previous posts, the OP is self-employed, so wage garnishment probably wouldn't be effective, although bank accounts may still be able to be seized. Assuming that the OP has sent money from her checking account (via check, EFT, ACH, etc.) to the creditor, the creditor has the routing and account number for the account, and may be able to seize money in the account if they get a small claims judgment.

I didn't catch that bit. But being self-employed may not be a panacea against a wage garnishment.

Just because she owns the business doesn't mean she can ignore a court order. To avoid contempt charges, she might have to produce a set of books and/or show she doesn't have any (significant) income.

Simply not complying with a court order can be a very bad idea unless you enjoy time in your friendly neighborhood pokey. Admittedly the court may be reluctant to give jail time for a civil offense; but I wouldn't want to bet on the court's leniency.

In some "deadbeat" states like Texas and Florida, you have a lot of leverage to get a creditor to negotiate for terms. Other states offer you no leverage to speak of. Most give you something in between.

What I'm saying is that if the OP really thinks she's bankrupt and will never be able to pay off her obligations, she really should understand what the creditors can do to her so she can make an informed choice.

Of course she ignored the board's good advice that she shouldn't be buying a new car, so I'm probably wasting my time typing this... (Paying $11-13.5K for a 2 year old car isn't more or less the same as buying new in this situation.)

- Joel

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Author: numbrel Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303604 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/16/2011 9:17 AM
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Ok, suppose they do take your offer of 15-20%. Do you have the money to pay the income tax on the 80-85% that is written off? The IRS will not be so easy to get rid of as credit card companies.

Barbara

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Author: aj485 Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303605 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/16/2011 11:56 AM
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Ok, suppose they do take your offer of 15-20%. Do you have the money to pay the income tax on the 80-85% that is written off?

Yes, 1099's are required to be issued by the creditor for written off debt (including interest and fees) that is more than $600. For written off debt that is less than $600, there may or may not be a 1099 issued, depending on the creditor's policies, but the taxpayer is still required to report the forgiven debt as income.

The IRS will not be so easy to get rid of as credit card companies.

If the taxpayer can show that they were insolvent at the time of the debt forgiveness, they don't have to pay taxes on the imputed income. However, given that the OP was able to obtain a car loan, and plans to continue making payments on that loan, it may be difficult to prove insolvency.

AJ

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Author: lovingrose Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303607 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/16/2011 6:47 PM
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Joel and AJ have, as usual, hit the nail right on the head. I wish somebody would hit you on the head. You thief.

****************
LOL Thanks for the laugh, sweetie!

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Author: kahunacfa Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303610 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/17/2011 12:07 PM
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...My question is this: what exactly do I say to them? Do I tell them that I am contemplating bankruptcy or leave that out? I am going to offer them a set dollar amount.

Any other suggestions?

Thanks once again for your input!
- lovingrose | Date: 11/15/2011 1:47:46 PM | Number: 303609

DO NOT include any information in a written letter to any creditor that you may be considering bankruptcy. That is an issue between you and your bankruptcy attorney. All credit card companies and other creditors are BIG BOYS, they have a clear understanding of the Bankruptcy laws.

Kahuna, CFA
Venture Capital
Portfolio manager

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Author: NoIDAtAll Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303611 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/17/2011 10:27 PM
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2) I have decided to write letters to my creditors (credit card companies) offering to pay 15%-20% on the balance. This amount was suggested in an article I read recently about dealing with debt collectors. I'll be writing those letters today.

I would forget that possibility, unless and until you first retain a bankruptcy attorney. You might get some knocked off, but nowhere near 80-85%. Citibank offered me around that amount, but only after I retained a bankruptcy attorney. I will end up repaying around 14%, but only after filing a Chapter 13, if I can complete the plan. The only advantage to them in offering such a low repayment is the fact that they can take a tax write-off and pass it on to me, whereas they can't if a bankruptcy is filed.

Also, stay way far away from debt settlement companies. In my experience, they don't help, in the least, only add to your debt load, lengthen the time frame and diminish the amounts that you can afford to repay. Creditors will tend to listen to you more readily than a debt settlement company that you are paying, when you can't afford to repay the debt that you owe them.

Barring your filing bankruptcy or negotiating a documented settlement, creditors can pursue the amount that you owe them years from now, and restart pursuit from scratch. Plus, if you miss a single timely payment on either a settlement or a Chapter 13 plan. the original debt can be reinstated.

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Author: NoIDAtAll Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303612 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/17/2011 10:33 PM
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Whatever you do, do not get short with the bill collectors. Acknowledge that you realize that you owe the debt, that you want to repay it, but that you don't have the means.

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Author: NoIDAtAll Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303613 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/18/2011 8:17 AM
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Also, it sounds like you may need to sit down, take some time and compute your income and expenses. There are some courses available for doing so. In fact, completing such a course is a requirement, at least here, in filing a bankruptcy, and you need to take one that is provided by an organization that is accredited/accepted by the bankruptcy court in your jurisdiction, and submit a certificate of completion of the course, along with a legitimate, supportable budget that you've prepared.

I also had to file an asset valuation spreadsheet - Be conservative in assigning asset values, but be prepared to support the valuations, say with actual sales of comps that can be found on the Internet. My attorney advised me that she could only protect $4,000. The Trustee's office rep reviewed both the budget and the asset valuation worksheets. She asked what was kept in the storage shed that was on my budget. I was pretty straight and thorough in both the budget and asset valuation spreadsheets and didn't have a problem in their review of them. I supported asset valuations with photos and printouts of comparable offerings and sales. Most of the comps that I used were, more or less, distressed sale comps.

Both an honest budget and the asset valuation spreadsheets will help, whether in try to negotiate a settlement or in filing a bankruptcy. The budget will help you find expenses you can cut. I exported my data file from Quicken Home and Business and refined from there... still refining - It's an ongoing process. I don't particularly like it, but it is a must and helps me in deciding, "No, I can do without that - I got this, that and the other I HAVE to pay, and I don't have this, that and the other income to pay those." The asset valuation might help identify some assets that you might sell on Craigslist or eBay. Do you really use them, or are they just sitting around, ultimately waiting for a distressed sale?

Posting this is as much for my own reference, as any other purpose. It helps me to write stuff down and check back with what I've written, against what I've done...

My bad(s) need(s) adjustments.

Bob

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Author: PSUEngineer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303614 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/18/2011 10:33 AM
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Joel and AJ have, as usual, hit the nail right on the head. I wish somebody would hit you on the head. You thief.

She is a frequent contributor to the Everyday Ethics board.

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Author: lovingrose Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303617 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/18/2011 3:26 PM
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Thanks, NoIDAtall. The attorney I consulted with recommended Chapter 7 bankruptcy, not 13. I've also looked into at least one debt settlement company (supposedly nonprofit) over a year ago and wasn't pleased with the fees.

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Author: lovingrose Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303618 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/18/2011 3:27 PM
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Whatever you do, do not get short with the bill collectors. Acknowledge that you realize that you owe the debt, that you want to repay it, but that you don't have the means.
************
Thanks again. I'm always 'sweetness and light' unless they get nasty with me.

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Author: lovingrose Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303619 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/18/2011 3:28 PM
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She is a frequent contributor to the Everyday Ethics board.
**************
As are you, honey.

By the way, aren't you the one who made a remark about eating puppies on another board?

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Author: Fuskie Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Ticker Guide SC1 Red Winner of the 2010 Rule Breakers Challenge Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303620 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/18/2011 3:29 PM
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Go to NFCC.org and find an accredited consumer credit counseling service if that is a path you still want to explore.

Fuskie
Who cautions that the ones that shout the loudest are the least viable...

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Author: xtn Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303621 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/18/2011 3:34 PM
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She is a frequent contributor to the Everyday Ethics board.

Robin Hood was a frequent contributor. Doesn't mean he wasn't a thief.

xtn

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Author: PSUEngineer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303624 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/18/2011 4:15 PM
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By the way, aren't you the one who made a remark about eating puppies on another board?

AFAIK, I have never posted about eating puppies but now that you mention it, I bet they would be tender.

PSU

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Author: Fuskie Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Ticker Guide SC1 Red Winner of the 2010 Rule Breakers Challenge Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303625 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/18/2011 4:22 PM
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Robin Hood was a frequent contributor. Doesn't mean he wasn't a thief.

He founded Occupy Nottingham, right?

Fuskie
Who is sure there is a point to this somewhere...

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Author: NoIDAtAll Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303632 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/18/2011 9:36 PM
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Thanks, NoIDAtall. The attorney I consulted with recommended Chapter 7 bankruptcy, not 13.


I'm kind of surprised that your attorney recommended that, if all of your debts are unsecured. I asked my attorney what the difference was between filing a Chapter 13 and a Chapter 7. She replied, "With a Chapter 13 you get to keep your stuff."

A friend who owned and operated a restaurant in a leased building had to close the business because it wasn't turning a sufficient profit to pay the bills. He vacated the building a couple of years before the lease expired. The landlord, finding it hard to rent the building to another, pressed for continuance of payments under the lease agreement, which amounted to around $2,000/month. Prior to signing the lease, the landlord had promised, verbally, to lower the very high ceilings in the building to help reduced power bills. The landlord also verbally advised that he would reduce the rent, but instead served him with an eviction notice when he paid the reduced rent the landlord had verbally advised. He filed Chapter 7 on the lease agreement only. I thought it was a shame that the landlord pushed him to filing. Doing so didn't gain the landlord a thing. I certainly wouldn't want to rent from the guy, and apparently few other people want to either.

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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303635 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/19/2011 12:11 PM
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<<By the way, aren't you the one who made a remark about eating puppies on another board?


>>



Any particular breed recommended?

I'm thinking beagles for their barking would be good, and nothing would probably beat a pit bull....


Seattle Pioneer

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Author: PSUEngineer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303645 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/19/2011 7:19 PM
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nothing would probably beat a pit bull....

I think a pit bull would be pretty tough unless you marinated it for several days.

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Author: kahunacfa Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303651 of 308482
Subject: Re: update & ? re: letter to creditors Date: 11/20/2011 4:06 AM
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Thanks, NoIDAtall. The attorney I consulted with recommended Chapter 7 bankruptcy, not 13. I've also looked into at least one debt settlement company (supposedly nonprofit) over a year ago and wasn't pleased with the fees. - lovingrose | Date: 11/18/2011 3:26:14 PM | Number: 303650

A Chapter 7 is usually desperation or near desperation. However, under the post October 2002 bankruptcy revisions a Chapter 13 plan is very difficult for most debtors to successfully complete. Many plans start-out as a Chapter 13 and eventually are converted to a Chapter 7 because of difficulity in completing the Chapter 13 Plan successfully.

Kahuna, CFA

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