Tag Archives: Bankruptcy Trustees

DebtTypes

What Debts does a Bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal Cover?

When investigating the different types of debt solutions available in Canada, two that offer federally licensed and regulated protection are bankruptcy and consumer proposals.  While it’s generally understood that common debts such as credit cards, lines of credit or loans can be resolved using a trustee or proposal administrator, many people have questions about what other debts can and can’t be included:

Student Loans:  If it’s been more than seven years since you were last a student, student loans can be included under a bankruptcy or consumer proposal.  If only five years have passed since your last study date you can alternatively make an application for your student loans to be released under hardship provision following your bankruptcy.

Income Tax Debts:  Whether it’s for personal income taxes, GST or business taxes due, debts with Canada Revenue Agency can be included in a bankruptcy or consumer proposal and bank account seizures or wage garnishments stemming from the debts will be immediately halted.  In fact, a consumer proposal is the only method that can be used to negotiate a reduced balance owing for tax debts.

Co-signed Debts:  If there are debts that have been co-signed or that are held jointly with someone else, the person filing the bankruptcy or consumer proposal will be discharged from having to repay the debts.  The guarantor or co-signor however, will be obligated to repay the full balance owing.  Having a co-signor gives the creditor additional means to recover their debt in full, whether it’s the original party paying, or their guarantor.

Secured Debts:  Debts that use assets such as a property or vehicle as collateral can be included under a consumer proposal or bankruptcy should you wish to end the ongoing commitment, as well as the shortfall/deficit once the asset has been returned.  If the account is in good standing and the creditor with whom you have the debt is in agreement, you could choose to continue with the arrangements in place instead

Since debts and financial obligations can be unclear, it’s always best to speak with a licensed trustee before self-assessing your situation.  Situations and circumstances can vary greatly so when in doubt as to how to approach certain debts, a professional can make the navigation much more clear.

Questions about your debts?  Contact us for a free, confidential consultation in one of our 12 BC locations.

Zoomershow

Meet Sands & Associates at Vancouver’s Zoomer Show

Canadians aged 55 and older have become one of the most rapidly growing group of debtors in BC in recent years.  Between 2009 and 2011 alone, the number of people aged 50 and older whom Sands & Associates assisted with personal bankruptcy, consumer proposals and credit counselling rose over 160%.  Confronting the challenges of retirement while juggling debt obligations can be an overwhelming prospect – we’re here to help!

We’ll be attending Vancouver’s Zoomer Show March 21st and 22nd at the Vancouver Convention Centre.  Stop by and meet some of our friendly knowledgeable staff!  Zoomer Show is Canada’s largest consumer show and lifestyle expo for men and women aged 45 plus.

Please click here for more information about Zoomer Show.

In 2015 BC’s largest firm of licensed Proposal Administrators and Bankruptcy Trustees focused exclusively on personal and small-business insolvency services, Sands & Associates, are celebrating 25 years of providing debt solutions to consumers and small businesses.  We operate from 12 offices throughout British Columbia and have more than 50 people available to help you resolve the financial difficulties you may be facing.

To find out more about Sands & Associates or arrange a free, confidential evaluation of your debt options in one of our local offices please contact us.

2014DebtStudy

Sands & Associates Releases Third Annual BC Consumer Debt Study

Sands & Associates, BC’s largest firm of licensed Credit Counsellors, Proposal Administrators and Trustees in Bankruptcy released results of their third annual BC Consumer Debt Study today, specifically focused on markets throughout Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.  The third annual BC Consumer Debt Study profiles trends and key information regarding consumer debt levels and debt reduction strategies used in British Columbia.

The 2014 study by Sands & Associates is the only BC-specific study to gather and analyze responses from nearly 900 individuals throughout the province to take an in-depth look at consumers’ debts, the factors causing their financial difficulties, strategies used to resolve debts and the level of knowledge consumers have regarding their debt restructuring options.

Click here to read the full report in PDF format.

SA_Infographic_ConsumerDebt_Web

Sands & Associates 2014 BC Consumer Debt Study Infographic (Click to enlarge)

The 2014 BC Consumer Debt Study highlighted the following trends:

  • Overextension of credit and financial mismanagement was cited as the number-one primary cause of financial difficulties.
  • Nearly 65% of respondents indicated that making only the minimum payments on debts was the trigger for them to conclude their debts were becoming a problem.
  • 12% of individuals were charged a fee to meet with a debt solution provider other than a licensed Trustee – of this 12%, fees of $1,000 or more were charged to nearly one-quarter of respondents.
  • 57% of participants felt they had a good or excellent grasp of financial skills and concepts, however, only 3% correctly answered a series of questions relating to knowledge of debt and debt solutions.  Of that 3%, all had previously filed a Personal Bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal.

As debt levels continue to rise among Canadians, concerns among industry professionals surrounding consumers’ debt knowledge and understanding have also increased.  British Columbia residents continue to remain particularly vulnerable due to a lack of both awareness, and regulation surrounding non-legislative debt settlement options.

Blair Mantin, Vice-President of Sands & Associates offers further insights, “The high cost of living in BC’s lower mainland combined with attempting to service debt at unmanageable levels often leaves people reaching out for solutions in the wrong ways.  The need for consumers to become better educated when it comes to debt management tools and identifying warning signs that could reduce their personal distress and financial difficulties is very real.  Too many British Columbians are driving blind when it comes to debt.”

Mantin urges consumers to take a closer look at their finances, if your debt payments are higher than roughly ten percent of your monthly take-home pay, you should investigate whether professional debt assistance is necessary.  He invites individuals with further questions or need of an assessment of their available options to contact Sands & Associates for a free, confidential consultation.

Click here to read the full report in PDF format.

About Sands & Associates:

Celebrating 25 years providing debt solutions, Sands & Associates is British Columbia’s largest firm of licensed Credit Counsellors, Proposal Administrators and Bankruptcy Trustees, focused exclusively on personal and small business insolvency services.  Currently operating from 12 offices throughout British Columbia, Sands & Associates uses a non-judgmental, empathetic approaching to helping resolve financial difficulties and has been recognized as a multi-year Consumer Choice Award winner.

AskExpertQuestion

Ask the Trustee – March Edition

Licensed trustee Blair Mantin answers your questions about how to manage debts, including options such as Credit Counselling, Consumer Proposals and Bankruptcy in BC! 

Q: How does my credit report and credit score actually work?

A:  A credit report is a summary of your credit history – credit you’ve had makes up the credit history.  Details about your debts, such as balance, when you opened the account, if payments are made on time, or if credit limits are exceeded will be noted.

Your credit report is used to calculate your credit score, which ranges from 300 (low) to 900 (high).  Positive actions increase points and actions reflecting difficulties cause a loss of points.  Lenders often have policies on what is considered a permissible score and use scores to set interest rates and credit limits.

If debt is negatively impacting your credit score, consider meeting with Sands & Associates to achieve a fresh financial start.

Sands & Associates has been assisting people with their debts for 25 years.  To discuss your debt solutions, contact us for a free, confidential consultation in one of our 12 office locations.

FallNewsletter

Legislative Changes Proposed for Debt Settlement Laws

Amendments aimed at restricting debt settlement agencies were brought to legislation yesterday by the BC government, hopefully to be effective in the fall of 2015.  Debt settlement companies currently typically offer to negotiate lump-sum settlements with a person’s creditors, often requiring the consumer to pay excessive upfront fees that are non-refundable.  If passed, the legislative changes will prohibit these agencies from charging fees until both the individual debtor and the creditors have approved the debt repayment agreement.

Debt settlement organizations gained media attention in recent years, as Sands & Associates Vice-President and licensed Trustee Blair Mantin has shared with notable media outlets, including The Globe & Mail, The Vancouver Sun, CTV and Global News.  With limited government regulation, debt relief agencies aggressively targeted in-debt consumers who were unaware of both the nature of these agencies and the lack of protection of their consumer rights.  In 2013 Mantin noted that he had seen a spike of more than 2,000 per cent in calls about debt settlement over a two year period.  Since 2010 Consumer Protection BC received an exponential increase in calls and complaints about debt settlement companies, leading them to highlight the issue of debt settlement companies to the government.

While the proposed legislation changes are arriving too late for some, if approved, the amended regulations will afford further protection for British Columbians carrying unmanageable debts.

To read the full news release please click here.

For more information about regulated and licensed debt options in Canada, contact BC trustees, Sands & Associates.  Celebrating 25 years providing debt solutions! 

ProfessionalConsiderations-Blog

Four Questions to Ask When Choosing a Credit Counsellor

There’s a lot to think about if you’re getting ready to meet with someone who specializes in debt restructuring.  There can be a lot of new information and concepts to understand, in addition to any reservations about opening up about your financial situation to someone who is essentially a stranger. When preparing for a meeting to find out about the various debt solutions available to you, we’d suggest making note of our top four questions to ask when it comes to debt or credit counsellors:

Are they licensed?  Whether or not your advisor has a wall full of certificates of education, the bottom line is that you want to be sure any advice you receive is from someone licensed and trained in the specifics of Canadian credit and debt.  Many people operating as credit counsellors do not have any set qualifications or licensing.  Even a stellar Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating doesn’t necessarily mean that you are dealing with a properly licensed firm.  Ask if the person you’re dealing with is licensed by the federal government if you’re in doubt as to whether you’re speaking with a qualified trustee.  Industry Canada is the only body that licenses Trustees in Canada.  This licensing and regulation exists to protect consumers and gives you the ability to get issues resolved if things do not go according to plan (see below re: What if you have a dispute?)

How will they be paid?  While it should never ever cost you to discuss your debt options, generally there will be some cost associated if you decide to go forward with a financial restructuring plan.  In a consumer proposal all costs of administration are included in the amount you offer to pay the creditors, however, with some credit counsellors you will be expected to shell out for monthly monitoring, consulting fees and other levies in addition to the creditor repayment.  Also be clear on whether or not you will be expected to pay upfront fees before any work will be done on your behalf.

Will the creditors work with them?  Like so many other things, not all debt specialists’ abilities are created equal.  Before committing to any process or program, be sure that it will cover the debts you need it to.  For example, things like income taxes or student loans can only be dealt with and discharged via a licensed trustee.  It’s also important to find out what will happen if any creditors are not in agreement with the plan.  For example, in a consumer proposal, acceptance by 50% of the creditors who vote will mean ALL creditors are bound by its terms, whereas in other credit counselling programs you must continue to repay creditors who do not agree to the plan.

What if you have a dispute?  Unfortunately with unlicensed credit counsellors, there is no regulatory body.  Meaning if you disagree or have a complaint, there is no formal process in place to ensure a fair and “by the book” progression.  If you’re dealing with a licensed trustee however, the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (part of Industry Canada) is the government branch in charge of trustee regulations, and procedures are in place to address disputes or requests for mediation.

While there are many factors to consider when it comes to debt and credit counselling, the main focus should be on whether or not your needs will be met and whether you feel confident and have a clear understanding about the process you choose.  When in doubt, always ask!  Once you know your options, the decision as to which direction to take really is all yours.

Knowing is not owing!  Contact us for a free, confidential consultation in one of our twelve BC locations.