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Hello there Teri -
Once an account is in default it is completely up to the creditor whether or not they want to permit you to make payments or if they want to turn it over to a law firm to try to place a lien on any property that you have and/or take the matter to court to see if the court can assist them to recover any assets that they believe you may have. There are no laws in LA or any other state that force the creditor to leave the case with the collection agency no matter how much you pay to them or when you pay it to them/ However, if your only income is disability payments each month and they come from social security or VA benefits, then even a court cannot attach those benefits and make you and your husband pay anything towards the bill. Under your circumstances it will not really give you any advantage to hire an attorney and will most likely just add to your expenses at this time. While a court can order you to make payments, if you receive SS or VA benefits the court cannot order any attachments and the most that the court can do is to order you to make a small payment every month within your means. Unfortunately, by the time it is finished because you agreed to pay court and attorney fees in your original agreement and the creditor chose that route of collection, the court will have no choice but to add that amount to the overall bill. My overall suggestion to you is to speak to a bankruptcy attorney in your area as soon as possible -- if your income is low enough (and it sounds to me like it is low enough) and you do not have significant assets, the bankruptcy court can completely wipe out all of your unsecured debts (which are generally credit card debts) and any outstanding medical bills that you may have. To locate a bankruptcy attorney you should contact your local Parish bar association -- they all have referral services and they will put you in contact with a few bankruptcy lawyers in your area and then you can speak to a few of them and go from there.
Please let me know if you have further questions.
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It is true our monthly income is $1,900 in SS disability. However, we own our home in full and still own shares of Regions Financial. The shares are worth about $195,000. at $8.00 a share. Currently they pay .1c a dividend. Can the law firm take that money from us?? That is all we have if we needed to cash it out for emergency medical bills?? Would I have to disclose that?? Do I have to show that money, or can I request monthly payments??
Hello again Terri -
A bankruptcy court would make you cash it out and pay all of your creditors. The only way you will get a chance at monthly payments is if you negotiate with the law firm and try not to disclose all of the assets -- so under those circumstances you may want to speak with a general practice attorney who handles creditors claims and see if the attorney can get them to agree to monthly payments without going to court. The assets in your case make all of the difference and in a regular court proceeding (if they sue you) or in a bankruptcy proceeding either court will make you disclose the assets and the regular court may make you cash it out to pay the creditor or at least a downpayment to the creditor -- but the bankruptcy court will definitely make you cash it out to pay all of your creditors. In your case, hiring an attorney may avoid all of this if you are able to keep it out of court. I wish I had better news for you on that and I do understand that it is unfair to make you cash these things out when you are willing to make payments -- but if they get any knowledge that you have any assets at all they can pursue the matter into court and make you cash out the assets to pay them before the assets are gone.
Please let me know if you have further questions
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