[COLUMN] New retiree chooses Chapter 7 fresh start to wipe out $45K credit cards

THE client just turned 67 and has been working for 40 years at a job that pays him $70K a year. He retired two months ago so he doesn’t make the $70,000 a year anymore. He now gets a public pension that gives him $1,800 a month and social security that pays him $1,900 a month. There are some deductions from those two amounts. There’s a 7% tax on the pension and $400 of health insurance, and there’s Medicare premium deductions of about $160 from social security. So it’s a gross income of just under $4,000 a month for retirement, minus about $800 for deductions, giving a net of about $3,200 a month. That’s not bad for retirement; a little tight but not bad at all. Let’s look at his other personal circumstances.

 God’s will be done

He divorced about 3 years ago after more than 10 years of marriage. You know what this means, right? If the marriage lasted at least 10 years, you’ve got alimony. That means you will have to pay your ex-spouse domestic support until death does it stop. Of course if there is remarriage, it stops. But who in his or her right mind will remarry when you can just live in and still enjoy alimony. “Come on man,” as President-elect Biden would say. Yes, it looks like we have a new president elect at this writing. It looks like that at this point in time. Both Georgia and Pennsylvania turned blue this morning, with Arizona and Nevada still light blue. Mr. Biden only needed AZ and NV to get 270. Incredibly, Georgia and Pennsylvania have Biden ahead with razor thin margins of 1,000 votes each but there are still lots of votes being counted in Atlanta and Philadelphia, which are both democrat strongholds. No doubt recounts will be demanded by the loser, but our God has chosen Mr. Biden to unify and protect us from the virus, and to lead all Americans in all states, whether red or blue, to prosperity and security. His will be done!

Alimony and $45K credit cards

In addition to the prospect of alimony, the client has $45,000 of credit cards. I asked the client if he pays alimony. He says he pays $1,000 a month to his ex-wife as court ordered alimony. Court ordered means that the alimony is contained in the divorce judgment. It’s not a voluntary payment. The client has to pay $1,000 every month, until he or she dies.

What about the $45,000 of credit cards, how much is required for that as minimum monthly payments? Client needs $1,400 a month to keep the $45,000 current every month. That’s a pretty bleak picture at retirement. Alimony and credit card payments will take $2,400 a month from client’s net of $3,200 a month net retirement income. That leaves him only $800 a month to pay rent and other necessary expenses. I ask him how much his rent is. He says $1,100. Well, you can see at this point that something has to be done. What are his options? Well, he can stop paying rent by moving into his 2010 Camry.

The problem is all the gyms are closed because of the virus. There’s no place to take a bath. Or, he can wipe out the $45,000 of credit cards thereby saving $1,400 a month.

Client makes up his mind in less than a minute. He decides to file for Chapter 7 for a fresh start without the $45,000 of credit card debt. It’s the right choice.

If you’re a senior, or whatever your age is, watch out for “scams” that are designed to part you with your money by stoking your greed. I’m serious with this warning. I have a senior client who was promised $10 million if he came out with $300,000. This is not fake news.

It’s true. He actually believed it. If he had come to me before parting with his $300,000, I could have saved him $300,000. He claims he was shown a warehouse full of cash. First of all, don’t be greedy. Greed is one of the vices, just like gluttony and lust. Recently, a doctor, yes an M.D. in India was snookered into paying a down payment of $40,000 as partial payment for $200,000, to buy “Aladdin’s lamp.” The perpetrators were his patients who were able to convince him that the lamp would make him super rich. The genie would appear in a puff of smoke. Obviously, if the lamp were real, why would they sell it for $200,000 when they can ask the genie of the lamp for immense wealth? “Come on, man,” as President-elect Biden would say.

If you have too much debt and need relief, please set an appointment to see me. I will analyze your case personally.

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Disclaimer: none of the foregoing is considered legal advice. Each case is different.

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Lawrence Bautista Yang specializes in Bankruptcy, Business, Real Estate and Civil Litigation and has successfully represented more than five thousand clients in California.  Please call Angie, Barbara or Jess at (626) 284-1142 for an appointment at 20274 Carrey Road, Walnut, CA 91789 or 1000 S. Fremont Ave., Mailstop 58, Building A-10 South, Suite 10042, Alhambra, CA 91803.

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