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Richard Killen on Tunedin with Lucy Zilio

In this video, Lucy Zilio talks with Richard Killen on Richard Killen & Associated 25th Anniversary.

Richard, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) talks about more and more people with debt challenges choose a consumer proposal over bankruptcy. Watch the video for more information.

What Happens To My Debts If I Go Bankrupt

 

In this video, Richard Killen, a Toronto-based Licensed Insolvency Trustee talks about, What Happens To My Debts If I Go Bankrupt.

People sometimes ask me what is really happening with regards to my debts if I go bankrupt or if I do a consumer proposal? The first thing that happens with regards to your debt, when a person does a bankruptcy or proposal, the first thing that happens is a Stay Of Proceedings goes into effect. It’s kind of like a wall that goes up and separates them from their debts, from their creditors. This Stay Of Proceedings prevents the creditors from being able to continue to pursue them for the money. So, the first thing that happens is that you get this relief from the creditors who you are delinquent with. But eventually, when you go bankrupt or do a proposal, you are essentially trying to get to debt free land. And, when you get your discharge from the bankruptcy, or when you get the certificate at the end of the proposal, to show that you have paid the proposal in full, essentially you have reached debt-free land. So, what happens at the end is, basically, you are no longer responsible for all the debts you had on the date you went bankrupt. Now there is an exception to that, that exception, of course, is a secured creditor. A secured creditor, if you own a home or a car, and you want to keep the car, then you are going to have to keep paying that creditor throughout the bankruptcy or proposal in order to retain the asset.

If you are uneasy about bankruptcy you should definitely visit a licensed insolvency trustee so that you will be given an advice about your bankruptcy problems.

Is A Payday Loan A Good Idea?

In this video, Richard Killen, a Scarborough-based Licensed Insolvency Trustee talks about whether a Payday loan is worth considering.

I guess one can say that going into debt, any kind of debt, is hardly ever a good idea. Usually, the cost of the debt outweighs whatever benefits you may get from borrowing the money. However, sometimes debts make a good case for making some worthwhile. For instance, is a mortgage worthwhile? Because you borrow a large amount of money for buying a house, you are going to pay back that money with interest but the house will appreciate in value. And over time that appreciation more than outweighs the cost of the debt. Maybe that kind of debt is a good idea.

Ultimately, it always boils down to whether the cost too much and how much is the cost? Now there is going to be interest on any loan and that is what you must consider. Now, unfortunately, Payday loans are on the high end of all interest calculations so one can say that it is tough to say if a Payday loan is worth it.

If a Payday loan is a part of your coping with bills, you should consider having a consultation with one of our trustees. It may be the most stress relieving call you make this year.

Will I Lose My Home If I Go Bankrupt?

In this video, Richard Killen, a Toronto Licensed Insolvency Trustee answers the question most homeowners ask, which is “Will I lose my home if I go bankrupt or do a consumer proposal?”

Because you may have debt problems, you may be concerned with losing your home and most people figure that “if they go bankrupt they are never going to keep their house.”  And for most people, that is a very traumatic thought, however, it can be avoided.

I found that over the last 10 years, very few people who own a home with equity have to lose the home if they don’t want to. They can find a way to keep it. The only way to keep it is to deal with the matter of equity. The trustee is responsible for obtaining the equity from the property in order to pass the money along to the unsecured creditors. They have the right to their money.

Therefore, if a person or family wants to keep their home, they’re going to need to arrange for financing or to pay the creditors. Of course, it depends on how much equity there is in the home. If you really want to keep your home, generally you can. You can keep it whether it’s a bankruptcy or proposal. In fact, if it’s a consumer proposal your home equity is not up for grabs. This really only applies to a homeowner declaring personal bankruptcy.

If you are a homeowner and considering a debt solution, I encourage you to call our office. Why lose sleep wondering what will happen. Your initial meeting is free, and in that meeting, we will explain all of your options so you may make an educated decision on the best option to obtain debt relief.

5 Keys to Securing your Financial Freedom

realistic financial planningFinancial freedom – that’s what everyone aims to attain at some point in life. We all dream of “getting there” financially, to live the rest of our life without financial fear or worry, a life where we don’t merely work to pay the bills and not have enough left over, but actually want our hard work to pay off in the sense that we can meet all our debts, have enough in savings or investments to secure us during our golden years and then still have some more available to spend, to take pleasure in and enjoy life with.

Is financial freedom a reachable dream? It is quite reachable, but it takes some specific goal setting and realistic financial planning.

These key points, adapted from Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad, can help you align your money goals in the direction where you are able to secure your financial future easily.

Budgeting is basic

A budget can provide a solid structure for all of your financial activities. It will help you monitor income and expenses for a specific period, so you can see how much money is coming in, how much is available to use, where you’re overspending and where you can make cutbacks. It gives you a concrete plan to prioritize where your money should go and to live within its limitations.

Manage spending

About one in five Canadians acknowledge that it’s their bad spending habits that have brought about their financial hardships. You can make enough money, even more than enough money, and you can have the most sophisticated budget in the world, but if you don’t break off little every day spending habits that allow money to leak out of your wallet, you’ll never be able to straighten out your financial situation.

If you get in the habit of tracking your expenses and consistently keep to your budget, you will learn to recognize these bad spending patterns. To undo them, start forming new habits that can help you manage your money properly — try looking for ways to increase your income, educate yourself to manage your expenses carefully, start a plan to pay off your debts and learn saving habits.

Learn to save

If spending money is very easy for you to do, then you’ll have to reverse that and make saving money second nature to you instead. Saving habits won’t form overnight, so be patient and stay committed. A good budget will incorporate a savings plan — save for an emergency fund, save for retirement, save for college tuition, etc. One of the best ways to save money is to put it away in a separate account so that, one, it’s out of your reach and you can’t spend it easily, and two, you can see how your money is growing. Once the amount reaches a certain level you’re comfortable with, learn ways to invest it so that it can keep growing.

Get rid of debt

Planning for your financial future includes examining your debt status. If you have a debt problem, bring it under control right away. Ignoring it will only compound the debt – and the stress you’ll be feeling. Don’t hesitate to get professional assistance from accredited credit counselors who can work with your creditors and make arrangements to pay smaller monthly payments. You may feel overwhelmed and helpless, but you’ll find that you actually have many options available to help control the bleeding, including filing for a consumer proposal or declaring bankruptcy. Set up a meeting with an accredited trustee to discuss your financial circumstances and find out what debt relief option is the right choice for you.

Debt can deprive you not only of financial security, but of your dreams, hopes and goals in life, so make it a life goal to live debt free.

Gain financial knowledge

As Benjamin Franklin says, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” You don’t necessarily have to be academically educated on finance, just do the necessary research and planning to help you make well-informed money and investment decisions and to keep you up to date on current financial matters.

These five key steps will guide you to set a realistic financial plan that’s devoid of guesswork, misinformation and wishful thinking. Once you have a solid financial plan to measure by you can become singularly focused on how you can make your money work for you so you won’t have the pressures of making a living hanging over your head and you can finally be financially free to do what you really want in life.

How Much Debt is too Much Debt?

How Much Debt is too Much DebtCanadians like their stuff. They’re not afraid to go into debt for their new cars, homes, large-screen TVs and other items, big ticket and small.  As a result, many of us owe way too much.

Moody’s, one of the world’s leading credit agencies,  recently gave Canada an AAA rating for its “relatively solid economic performance” and stable banking system. But at the same time it warns that the country’s high household debt levels and soaring house prices pose “a potential risk” to those strengths.

Even though debt isn’t usually a good thing, sometimes it can be justified. Rather than simply buying something we can’t afford, debt can be a shrewd way to get ahead if you’re reasonably sure that you will have the means to pay it off.

For example, a graduating lawyer expecting to make $250,000 could probably take on a mortgage and expect to pay it off in a decade, where someone freelancing in a shakier industry might find themselves on the road to financial disaster owing this much money.

So how much debt is too much?

A recent Financial Post article reports:

Statistics Canada says that the average level of household credit market debt to disposable income was 163.6% between April and June. That means we owe almost $1.64 for every $1 that we make. . . . Economists have said that a more stable ratio would be between 110% and 120%. The ratio was closer to those figures in the early 2000s when the economy was on firmer ground, says Cris deRitis, senior director at Moody’s Analytics.

From the bank’s point of view, when you total your monthly debt payments along with heating and taxes for your house, this number should not exceed 40% of your income. Lenders call this the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR). If you exceed this ratio, then you will have a hard time borrowing money.

When you make out a budget, you can figure out what minimal amount you need to support your lifestyle. Once you know this number, you can figure out how much money you can put towards your debts. If you don’t have enough money left over to pay these, then your debt level is too high.

And keep in mind that the bank doesn’t know this number when they offer you more credit. Just because you’re eligible for increased credit doesn’t mean you can afford it.

Generally speaking, if you’re worried that your debt level is too high, it probably is. The fastest way of all to measure this the 50% rule. If more than 50% of your income is going to servicing your debt load, your debt is too high. No question about it.

So in the end, if you’re having trouble servicing your debts and would like some help in assessing your prospects and options for dealing with the problem, call us at Richard Killen & Associates. We can help you sort it out and the consultation is free.

Scared to Death of Taxes

Scared to Death of TaxesDeath and taxes are inevitable. For some they are the same thing.

Fear of the tax man may be justified. As a creditor he has super collection powers that ensure that most people don’t have a smile on their face when they receive a notice from the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA).

Among the things the agency can do are charge penalties and interest on all overdue accounts, withhold child tax credits and GST credits, and garnishee your bank account and pay. Without your consent, it can register a lien against your home. And it can take actions without going through a court process, as other creditors are forced to do.

But the news is not all bleak. Some people labour under the misconception that tax debts are not included under a personal bankruptcy. They in fact are, so when you receive your bankruptcy discharge, back taxes are usually included.

This is, if you owe the government less than $200,000 in back taxes. If you owe more in personal income tax debt, representing 75% or more of your total unsecured debts, then you must appear in bankruptcy court to decide if any conditions should apply to your discharge.

If you are undergoing a bankruptcy, then some special handling of your income taxes is required. The trustee will prepare two tax for you during the course of a year. A pre-bankruptcy income tax return must be filed from January 1 to the date of bankruptcy. Then a post-bankruptcy return must be filed from this date to the end of December.

If there are any funds in a return from the post-bankruptcy filing, then they are paid to creditors. Any taxes owed prior to the bankruptcy are discharged. And if there is an amount owing the government on the post-bankruptcy tax return, then it is up to you pay it.

Negotiating the ins and outs of taxes and bankruptcy can be a tricky and delicate process. Consult an expert at Richard Killen & Associates so you can discover your options and keep the tax man off your back.

Will I Lose My Home in a Bankruptcy?

Will I Lose My Home in a BankruptcyThe fear of losing your home is a powerful one. When their finances go south, many imagine that bankruptcy will leave them homeless. Is this fear justified? Not really, or not in the normal course of a bankruptcy.

Yes, when you go bankrupt, you give control of your assets to a trustee in exchange for getting rid of your debts. This, in theory, could mean that the house gets sold to help pay back the creditors. But in practice this rarely happens, mainly because it is not in the best interests of everyone involved. The trustee has a lot of discretion, which he or she generally uses to safeguard the rights and interests of both the creditors and the debtor. Selling the house outright usually doesn’t achieve this purpose. So what normally happens?

Well, there are many different scenarios. If you have no realizable equity in the house – equity is the amount you’d get selling the house after deducting the mortgage and other associated costs – there is no point in  selling the house, because all the money would just go to pay off the mortgage(s). In this case you get to keep the house as long as you keep paying your mortgage. The trustee doesn’t get involved.

But, what if you did have some equity, say roughly $20,000? To keep the house, you would have to pay the trustee this amount, because that’s what the creditors would have received if the house had been sold. So the creditors end up getting their fair share and you keep your house.

Yes, but if you had $20,000 to throw around, you wouldn’t be bankrupt in the first place, right? Well, you would have to raise the money, but the trustee would work with you to accomplish this. For instance, you might be able to get the money through a second mortgage. Or you could work out a direct monthly payment plan with the trustee. In either case, you would keep your house.

Where things start to get more complicated is if you have a significant amount of equity in the home, let’s say $100,000. In order to hang onto the castle, you would have to pay the trustee 100 large – a whopping sum, but not impossible and financing is usually obtainable.

But, in such a case you probably would want to explore the legal alternative to bankruptcy: a consumer proposal. If you go this route, you don’t risk losing the house. You simply offer the creditors a settlement, negotiated by your trustee under the protection of the law. Most often this solution satisfies everyone because it pays the creditors an acceptable sum while allowing you to escape the debt quagmire in an orderly and manageable way: win-win.

There are a couple of other points to understand when you’re dealing with the house question.

The first  is that in all these scenarios the trustee will remind you of your right to get advice from a lawyer of your choice, someone who is there to protect specifically your interests. This is your basic legal right, but it becomes much more important if you have a lot of equity in your home. A good lawyer will help you deal with the situation and probably get you a better deal from the trustee and creditors than if you were doing this on your own.

The second point is that you should ask yourself: Whether I go bankrupt or not, can I afford to keep the house? If I try to hang on to it will it just drag me back into debt trouble down the line?

This is a tough one. We tend to be emotionally attached to our house in a way that we aren’t with most other things, even our cars. But, we have to ask ourselves this question if we’re going to regain control of our finances. The trustee can help you better understand your situation, but the answer to this question can only come from you. And you need to be brutally honest with yourself about it.

So, to get back to the original question: “If I go bankrupt will I lose my house?” For most people (the vast majority) the answer is “No!” So don’t be afraid to consult a trustee because you’re worried about losing the house. Contact us and get the facts. Remember our TV commercial: “It may be the most stress-relieving call you ever make.”

Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy?

consumer proposal or bankruptcyIf you are coping with severe debt problems, you have five choices to deal with the crisis: Get a consolidation loan, try to negotiate with your creditors, run away, do a consumer proposal, or go bankrupt.

The first three options you can handle yourself (we don’t recommend trying to run from your problems; they have a nasty habit of catching up). Personal bankruptcies and consumer proposals are solutions governed by the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, and they can only be handled by Licensed Insolvency Trustees.

So why would you choose one of the legal solutions over the other? Well, every person’s case is different, so you need to come into a trustee to get advice tailored to your particular situation. But painting with broad brushstrokes, a bankruptcy is a faster and less expensive process, whereas a proposal may protect more of your assets and save your name from being associated with bankruptcy.

With a personal bankruptcy, you are released from your debts after you comply with certain duties. It’s a process that can be over in as little as nine months. Some of your assets would be exempt from this legal process – such as furniture and personal effects – and others would be handed over to the trustee and be used to repay creditors.

This latter category could include houses, high-worth cars, jewelry and certain RRSPs. Also, if you have an income over a certain set amount, you would have to pay 50% of this surplus to creditors, probably lengthening the time you were discharged from the bankruptcy.

A consumer proposal essentially reorganizes your debts. If the proposal is accepted by your creditors, you only have to make one manageable payment a month to the trustee. The length of term for a consumer proposal is five years or less, depending on fast you want to and are able to address your obligations. But generally speaking, it’s a longer more expensive process that a bankruptcy.

With the proposal you avoid the ‘stigma’ of bankruptcy and get to keep all your assets, providing you make your monthly payments and don’t slide into bankruptcy anyway. You may also want to consider a proposal if bankruptcy would also force your spouse to follow the same route, or if you are expecting to receive a large sum of money down the road.

Also, with a bankruptcy, you must complete a monthly budget for all income and expenses, as well as supply copies of your pay stubs to the trustee. If your income goes up during the period of your bankruptcy, then your surplus payments would also increase. With a consumer proposal, there are no monthly reporting requirements.

Cure Your Holiday Hangover with Credit Free Fridays

holiday hangoverDuring the holiday season, the joy many of us feel is tempered by our dread at opening credit card invoices in January. Apparently we pay for our pleasures.

We will make New Year’s resolutions and vow to shed weight at the gym and through dieting. Why not put your budget on a diet, embracing the discipline of Credit Free Friday?

This is a movement espoused by personal finance gurus David Ramsey and Canada’s own Gail Vaz-Oxlade. The belt-tightening up here gained steam last year when the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and Vaz-Oxlade announced the launch of the Credit Free Friday campaign.

“Excessive use of credit cards, especially premium credit cards, contributes to escalating consumer debt and hurts small businesses,” explains its. “Credit Free Friday is a campaign that encourages Canadians to take a break from using their credit cards, one Friday at a time, by paying with cash or Interac Debit.”

The site also provides sobering credit card facts (the average Canadian now owes more than $27,000, and that doesn’t include mortgages), advice on how to get involved with Credit Free Fridays, a few debt stories and tools to help manage debt problems.

About Richard Killen & Associates


Since 1992, Richard Killen & Associates, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, have helped thousands of people resolve their financial problems. With 25 years experience in this industry, our president, Richard Killen, and the rest of our team understand the difficulties that honest people can sometimes find themselves in. This expertise makes it possible to provide you with a service that effectively deals with the issues.


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