We have helped many clients settle their debts when bankruptcy is a bad option or when bankruptcy is simply an option the borrower discounts for any reason. Unfortunately, we have also been unsuccessful in settling debt for clients.
The number one reason our debt settlement negotiations have been unsuccessful is a lack of cooperation from the borrower. Convincing a creditor to take less than what is owed is not poker. Sure there may be some bluffing involved; a majority of the time, however, we believe that full disclosure is a more effective technique than withholding information. Debt negotiation is not criminal law - there is no such thing as "innocent until proven guilty" or in debt settlement terms "unable to pay until proven an ability to pay." In fact, it is the opposite - debt collectors will try to repossess assets, garnish wages, or levy against bank accounts until the borrower proves those assets are exempt, over-encumbered by debt, or simply not worth pursuing. Therefore, disclosing the nature of those assets, although it reveals their identity to the creditor, also shows the creditor that those assets are protected, unavailable for forced collection, or simply not worth pursuing.
Recently someone told us they would refuse to provide a spouse's information for fear that the lender would pursue the spouse for debt collection, on a debt that was incurred prior to the marriage. While we respect that decision, we think it was wrong for two reasons: (1) the spouse had no obligation, thus no liability to the creditor, so providing the spouse's information posed no danger to assets owned individually by the spouse; and (2) providing the spouse's information would have proved that the borrower was exempt from wage garnishment as the Head of Household based on the spouse's unemployment.
If judgment is entered in favor of the creditor, the borrower is required to provide a Fact Information Sheet (FL Civil Procedure Form 1.997) and failure to do so will possibly create contempt or other sanctions against the debtor by the Court. In many cases, providing the information will assist us in the settlement of the debt and, in rare cases, cause the creditor to drop collection activities entirely.
Certainly, there is some bluffing involved and there are creative ways to answer questions included on the Fact Information Sheet; although we would never endorse or recommend lying to the creditor (even a lie by omission - "they never asked for that information.") However, presenting the information in such a way that the Creditor sees the borrower's assets are exempt or upside down will go a long way towards a quick and easy settlement - and if that information is provided at the outset of our negotiations, that's even better.
If you owe creditors who are suing you, or if you are unsure whether you will be able to repay your creditors, please contact us for a free initial consultation. We will provide you with all of your options to assist in making the creditor go away - whether that be by debt settlement, Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or some other resolution.For more information, please contact our firm at: 813-774-5737 or email me at: email@example.com.
- Shawn M. Yesner, Esq.
Shawn M. Yesner, Esq., is the founder of Yesner Law, P.L., a Tampa-based boutique real estate law firm that helps clients erase mistakes and eliminate debt by providing options, so they can create the lifestyle of their dreams. We assist clients withdebt settlement and debt negotiation, Chapter 7, Chapter 13, liquidation, reorganization, short sales, loan modifications, and foreclosure defense, for clients in Tampa, Westchase, Carrolwood, St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg Beach, Treasure Island, Medeira Beach, Reddington Beach, Kenneth City, Gulfport, Pinellas Park, Seminole, Clearwater, Clearwater Beach, Oldsmar, Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Palm Harbor, Lutz, Wesley Chapel, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, and other areas that comprise the greater Tampa Bay area.