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Admitting your debt has spun out of control and realizing you are financially incapable of managing your liabilities can often lead to moments of sheer frustration and uncertainty. It takes a personal leap of faith to place your trust in an experienced bankruptcy attorney, but it may be a necessary step in stabilizing your financial situation.

If you are an Illinois resident considering bankruptcy, take note that every U.S. state requires completion of credit counseling before filing for bankruptcy. The counseling must also occur 180 days before filing, and you will be required to submit your completion certificate to the presiding bankruptcy judge. This action is enacted under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (Public Law-109).

Once credit counseling has been completed, your next step is to contact a qualified bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options. Choosing an attorney that will best suit your needs may seem daunting but beginning the process should not prove yet another stressor. It is a step in the right direction.

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According to a recent survey from Gallup® Politics, six of every 10 Americans polled believe the federal government holds too much power. Over 1,500 adults, age 18 and above in all 50 states and the District of Columbia were surveyed via telephone, and the new statistics were the highest recorded percentage since Gallup® first posed the question in 2010.

The concern over government power is warranted. For instance, the United States Department of Justice houses 53 different in-house agencies, beginning with the Antitrust Division and concluding with the U.S. Trustee Program.

If you are an Illinois native recently considering bankruptcy, you may wonder what role the U.S. Trustee Program may play in your personal bankruptcy proceeding. With the passing of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 (11 U.S.C. 101), a pilot program was administered by the federal government covering 18 districts with expansion later encompassing a total of 21 regions, Illinois included. Further legislation, called the Bankruptcy Judges, U.S. Trustees, and Family Farmer Bankruptcy Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-555, Statute 3088) empowered the agency to serve as “the watchdog over the bankruptcy process” and to protect the integrity and efficiency of our bankruptcy system for all parties involved in the process.

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As Chapter 20 bankruptcy rulings are rounding the circuit court system and gaining momentum, there is one instance where the application of lien stripping second or third property liens may be hitting a snag.

Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit concluded that if a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is filed within four years of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, the Chapter 13 would wipe out second and third junior mortgages as unsecured debt, eliminating the requirements of repayment via a Chapter 20 bankruptcy ruling.

This is welcomed news to those facing financial hardship and possible foreclosure of their homes due to upside down mortgages. Who is entitled to take advantage of this new bankruptcy option poses another issue, especially for married couples seeking financial relief.

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Consumer credit has a colorful past. The ability to say “charge it” was not always in the U.S. consumer's vocabulary. Consumer credit or being able to purchase goods and services without cash on hand had its humble beginnings in the late 19th century.

Since most of the population resided in rural areas, the use of credit was established by local shopkeepers who extended credit to fellow neighbors based solely on reputation alone. This exchange would soon decrease with the industrialization of the country as larger companies pushed the local retailer into the background thus eliminating the extension of credit to the local consumer through reputation alone.

Not until the 1920s did manufacturer's began extending credit to the average American consumer. General Motors forged first with the installment credit model in 1919 with other manufacturer's soon following suit. Credit experienced a rebirth. In 1949, Diners Club arrived on the scene as the first consumer credit card with bank backed credit cards issued for widespread usage in the 1960s.

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Eight years ago, President George W. Bush signed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) into law. This law restricted a person's right to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy to once every eight years, causing many to impulsively file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Illinois before the law went into effect. Unfortunately, many filed too early for their situation, causing them to lose homes and other assets without any further preventative help available.

Now, the BAPCPA is entering its eighth year, opening the way for thousands to finally have the opportunity for the fresh start they missed in 2005. While this opportunity is an excellent chance at a fresh start for many, it's important to realize that filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy does come with some drawbacks. You may still lose personal assets such as your vehicle or your home, and not every debt can be discharged. Your bankruptcy attorney can help you analyze your situation and determine the best option for you.

You may be tempted to try to hide money or assets you have before filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy by transferring them to a family member. It's important that you do not do this. Taking actions such as these could cause your bankruptcy claim to be denied, and may lead to even greater financial hardship.

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