Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Bankruptcy Trustee – Recognizing their Role

If you are drowning in debt and having trouble making even the minimum payment on any of your cards – or worse, not making them - it might be time to admit that you have a debt problem. Ignoring this problem will only end up making things worse, and so avoidance should never be an option. For many in this position the best solution is bankruptcy – but how does one know who to turn to when this is the case – who can you trust? It is very important when making this type of financial decision to understand the role of a bankruptcy trustee and the part they play in your financial future. 

What is a bankruptcy trustee? Bankruptcy is a legal process and must be handled by a licensed professional, a bankruptcy trustee. This is the individual who will administer your bankruptcy or consumer proposal and manage your assets held in trust. This individual can also provide advice and assistance to make sure both your rights and your creditor’s rights are protected. They are an objective party – their role is to remain impartial throughout the process, acting in both parties’ best interests.

A bankruptcy trustee has several jobs. The first main job is to repay your creditors – this is done by selling your assets. This includes negotiations with your creditors as far as settlements. A bankruptcy trustee may also provide debt counselling or put you in contact with an insolvency lawyer if deemed necessary.  During your bankruptcy, a bankruptcy trustee is the person who monitors your activities and ultimately decides when you can be discharged. For example, if your financial situation changes and your income now leaves room for surplus income, a bankruptcy trustee may determine that a longer term may be necessary before discharge.

Can you trust a bankruptcy trustee? The short answer is yes – they are licensed and regulated by the Superintendent of Bankruptcy, their actions monitored and any questionable behaviour is addressed. Their goal should ultimately be to help get you out of the financial pickle you are in – and most adhere to this. All of this being said, it is sometimes best to visit a professional debt solutions company first – that way you can be sure that all avenues have been examined before entering into bankruptcy, and if the end conclusion is to file, they can put you in touch with one that is trusted and respected.

For more information about bankruptcy and the role of a bankruptcy trustee, please contact DebtCare Canada today at 1-888-890-0888 or visit www.debtcare.ca

Monday, 18 November 2013

Prepare for the Coming Holidays with a Debt Reduction Plan that Works!

With the holidays quickly approaching, the dollar signs may quickly begin to add up – this time of year never fails to leave the wallet feeling just a tad lighter. When you are in debt, the excitement brought on by this time of year can rapidly be overshadowed by the stress that comes with having to spend when sometimes spending isn’t the best idea for your bank account. In the spirit of giving, here are some pre-holiday debt reduction tips that may just help you ease that stress and allow you to enjoy the season. 

1.      Stop avoiding. Just because you ignore that fact that you have debt doesn’t mean it isn’t there – and avoiding it is not going to make it magically disappear – if anything this will just tempt you to continue spending. Be proactive and admit that you need to get on top of your debt reduction plan.
2.      Establish a debt reduction plan. Yes, you need to sit down and think about your financial goals for the next year, 2 years and 5 years. Getting rid of debt in a month is not feasible for most individuals, so don’t be unrealistic. However, jumping in head first without a plan may just leave you worse off than when you started.
3.      Set a budget – for both monthly spending and holiday spending. Monthly – again, be realistic, but starting a budget may mean cutting out some luxuries that are not really necessary. For example, you may not need to eat out or order in dinner once a week, but be realistic – don’t cut it out altogether. With holiday spending, set maximums. Maybe it means doing a gift exchange by drawing names, rather than buying something for everyone.
4.     Stop using the cards. This may be difficult, but remember, if you can’t pay cash you really can’t afford it. Stop purchasing on credit if you can avoid it. Since it is likely this spending that got you into trouble to begin with, quit it.
5.      Seek out debt help. You don’t have to do it alone. One of the best ways to get your finances back on track is to seek out the assistance of a professional, someone who can work through all of the roadblocks and speed-bumps and help you on a path to becoming financially fit. The solutions may include things like credit counselling, consolidation, or a consumer proposal or bankruptcy – it will depend on your own unique financial situation.
When you are in debt and feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, just remember: getting out of debt may take time, but it is possible. Use these tips to help ease the stress caused by debt and take back control of your money. 

For more tips on developing a debt reduction plan before the holidays get underway please contact DebtCare Canada at 1-888-890-0888 or visit www.debtcare.ca.


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

How Investment Advisors Can Better Protect Clients’ Portfolios in a Consumer Proposal

When we think about making investments there are so many products to choose from. Whole life insurance, segregated funds, TFSA’s, RIF’s, mutual funds and more… Financial and Investment advisors representing clients considering investments know that they are entrusting them to help them best gain a positive yield, balance risk and also consider their long term financial well-being. 

When the economy is great and times are good people are in the mood to invest. Sometimes though the economy can take a turn for the worse and aside from the fact that your clients may not be in the mood to invest for a while, they may find themselves in other financial trouble. 

While the Canadian economy performed well during the last recession it is a known fact that Canadian households are carrying significant debt, in excess of $40k per household, on average. When financial times are tough – someone loses a job, a divorce takes place, etc. - usually unsecured debt is the first thing to be sacrificed – it is easy to stop making payments on these in an effort to meet other financial responsibilities.  

This is one reason why it pays for financial advisors and financial planners to have a strong relationship with companies who are equipped to guide their clients through tough financial times. Most people don’t know that many investments are actually protected through a consumer proposal or bankruptcy. Consumer proposals are an excellent way to gain legal protection for a client who is having a serious financial problem and help them retain their assets, such as their home, vehicle and some investments including RRSPs.

The challenge is that some financial and investment advisors send their clients directly to bankruptcy trustees in these circumstance which can be a huge mistake. Trustees have an obligation to protect the interest of your clients’ creditors. In the case of consumer proposals the fee is earned based on the amount of the consumer proposal. The more that they secure for your clients’ creditors, the better.

When you work with a debt consultant, the debt consultant represents your client. This means that the client receives a safe review of their income and assets and can have things structured before seeing the trustee to sign on the dotted line. This enables your clients to have areas of concern identified and addressed before these issues can impact their ability to get protection.

We all want to ensure the best for our clients so just referring your client to any debt counsellor to help is not necessarily the right answer either. Like your industry, there are good advisors and bad ones. It is prudent to interview and forge a relationship with a debt consultant that you can trust to refer your clients to.

For more information about how you can better protect your clients’ portfolios please contact Michael Goldenberg, president of DebtCare at 416-907-2582 or visit www.debtcare.ca.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Beware of Imitations – Debt Consolidation Companies and You

It is very common, no matter where you go, to hear commercials or radio ads talking to you about debt. With consumer debt levels as high as they are in Canada, it comes as no surprise that many Canadians are looking for a way to help ease their financial worries by getting rid of some of that debt – and debt reduction or debt companies are offering this help. Unfortunately this umbrella term encompasses both those companies who genuinely want to assist you in getting your debt under control and those with less than virtuous objectives.  

Firstly, what is a debt consolidation company (or rather, the right kind of debt consolidation company)? A reputable company can help you get rid of your debt in a way that not only protects you, but helps you regain control of your debt. The possible solutions may include consolidating your debt, mortgage refinancing, bankruptcy or a consumer proposal – but whatever the solution, it should be based on your own unique situation. The company should not require full payment of a set amount before paying off creditors, and should not hold fast to only one type of debt reduction plan. 

When you struggle with debt, the last thing you need is someone taking advantage of that vulnerability. Thankfully, the Ontario government has stepped in to help reduce that likelihood. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Consumer Services took a step to help protect consumers from the unfair business practices of those companies claiming to offer debt relief services. This commitment included new rules put in place outlining appropriate and acceptable behaviour.

Here are a few of the rules that companies must adhere to:

-        No company may charge upfront fees
      -        Fees charged to consumers cannot go above a specified amount
      -        Contracts must be clear and easily understood
      -        Consumers must be given (and informed about) a 10-day ‘cooling-off’ period, during which they can consider the agreement and change their mind if so desired

Any company not complying with these new rules will have their license revoked.
All of this being said, there are still a number of companies out there that try to skirt the rules and remain persistent in their attempts to put their needs before yours. If you are looking for a debt consolidation company make sure you do your research and find one whose methods are going to actually help you achieve your goals.

For more information, or to speak to a professional debt consolidation company, please contact DebtCare Canada today at 1-888-890-0888.