Tag Archives: Bankruptcy Trustees


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.


Sands & Associates Featured Office: Burnaby

Sands & Associates’ Burnaby office is located in Office Tower II at Burnaby’s Metropolis at Metrotown mall.  With over fifty years combined experience, Tracey Lowe, Trustee in Bankruptcy and Estate Managers Darlene Mullen and Cindy Wortley are available to assist you with debt options and can confidentially review any questions you may have around debt management strategies.

Darlene’s Top Trustee Tip:  “People regularly get caught up in tax scams not realizing it, and are often faced with interest, fines and penalties from Canada Revenue Agency as a result, which can be a financial disaster.  Although we are able to help in this type of situation, to help avoid it altogether, it’s a good idea to educate yourself on fraud, scams and protecting your financial interests when considering any financial strategies.  The old adage applies often: If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.”

Contact us to arrange a free, confidential evaluation of your debt solution options in our Burnaby office.


Five Mistakes Business Owners Should Avoid

Every day business owners walk through our doors seeking advice on how to help their small businesses survive financially.  As an entrepreneur, you may have been initially advised to structure your financial affairs as an incorporated or limited entity to avoid undue personal liability.  Unfortunately some decisions entrepreneurs commonly make when facing financial difficulties tend to increase your personal liability – meaning the separation between your corporate and personal dealings has been reduced (or eliminated altogether), essentially lifting the proverbial ‘Corporate Veil’. We’ve outlined five common mistakes business owners should avoid when faced with financial difficulty:

Procrastinating.  Waiting too long to assess your options often results in making irrational and reactive decisions that can have serious consequences on your personal finances.  Other options may also become impossible once too much time has passed, or the situation becomes pressing.  In order to properly consider all options available to business owners, it is imperative to be proactive and seek assistance at the onset of any financial difficulties.

Not Planning in Full.  Making long-term financial plans without preparing a cash-flow projection, or completing any financial analysis is something akin to setting off on a long (and costly) road-trip without a map or provisions.  Help avoid further speed bumps by careful planning!  It’s also a good idea to seek legal advice before making major business decisions to be sure you have all the knowledge you need to make the right choices for your company.

Borrowing More.  Even if it’s possible to obtain more credit, be cautious before doing so.  Applying for more credit before fully assessing your business can easily result in credit being over-extended, unmanageable payment obligations and unmet financial deadlines.  If it’s already a struggle to pay the debts owing then adding more creditors is unlikely to be the solution.

Injecting Personal Resources.  While a business may initially require a personal investment of funds, failing to draw a salary from your business, accumulating personal debt to support a failing business, or signing personal guarantees without legal advice should all be avoided.  Investing family or personal funds or adding directors (particularly family or friends) as part of an effort to save the business can also have undesirable results.

Delaying Payments to Canada Revenue Agency.  Although it may be tempting to defer payments to the government for things like GST or source deduction remittances, this can have serious consequences.  Furthermore, the directors of a limited company are actually personally liable for some debts with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), so while it may work for the company, it’s risky for you – CRA is a very powerful creditor.

If you think your business is in trouble, avoid taking yourself down with a ship that may be sinking.  Seek advice from regulated, competent professionals who can provide you with legal and financial advice before making your next move.

For more information on how a licensed trustee can assist with your personal and business debts please contact us to arrange a free, confidential consultation.


Ask the Expert – February Edition

Credit counselling expert and debt specialist, licensed trustee Blair Mantin answers your questions about how to manage debts, including options such as Consumer Proposals and Bankruptcy in BC!

Q:  How do my spouse and I get on the same page when it comes to our debt?

A:  Some general Do’s and Don’ts when dealing with debt together:


  • Ignore bills and assume your spouse is dealing with them.  Be an active financial partner.
  • Play the blame game.  If there are debts, a plan of action is more useful than finding fault.  Think like sidekicks and tackle financial issues together.


  • Talk about your separate and shared finances to get a sense of the family’s financial reality.
  • Set budgets, goals and support each other, money skills take time.
  • Be honest with your partner, hiding debt or overspending will only compound problems.
  • Ask for professional assistance if the problems are unmanageable.

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

CP VS Bcy-Blog

Consumer Proposal VS Personal Bankruptcy

If you’re considering a Consumer Proposal or Personal Bankruptcy as a debt management solution, here are some of the key differences between Consumer Proposals and Personal Bankruptcy:

Personal Bankruptcy VS Consumer Proposal

Click the above infographic to enlarge.

To arrange a free and confidential consultation to discuss your debt resolution options in one of our twelve BC office locations, please contact us.




Sands & Associates Featured Office: Tri-cities / Port Coquitlam

Serving the Tri-cities area (Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody), Sands & Associates’ Tri-cities office is located in Shaughnessy Square, Port Coquitlam, just off Lougheed Highway.  Tri-cities residents are welcome to meet with one of our experienced professionals to discuss their specific debt solution needs.

Both government-licensed trustees Deane Gurney and Geoff Orrell serve our Port Coquitlam office, as well as Estate Manager and Qualified Insolvency Counsellor Julie Medeiros.  Julie has over 5 years’ experience assisting individuals in solving their financial difficulties and she is also enrolled in the CAIRP (Trustee) Qualification Program.

Julie’s Top Trustee Tip:  “Knowledge is power.  See a trustee and become fully informed about your situation and available options before making any financial decisions.”

Contact us to arrange a free, confidential evaluation of your debt solution options in our Tri-Cities office.