Peter Francis Geraci attends Dave Ramsey Bankruptcy Leadership Summit in Nashville

I went down to Nashville recently for an intensive course in effective leadership using Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership principles. Dave Ramsey has devoted his career to Debtor Education the way I have to practicing bankruptcy law. Dave has quite a company, and his methods of operation are almost identical to Geraci Law. In fact, except for the obvious Christian background of Dave’s company, the guiding principles of Geraci Law are almost identical to Dave’s: honesty, integrity, and helping others come first. We even like the same Bible passages! And remember, Bankruptcy is a biblical law, Old Testament: Deutoronomy 15: 15 “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. 2 And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Lord’s release”.
Dave believes, as do I, that everything else follows if you do the right thing and help others. Dave Ramsey has a large meeting room where his 400 or so employees gather each week to share reports on the business operations.  Geraci Law only has about 130 staff, but the Geraci Law teams also meet weekly, in person or electronically, and each team leader shares their reports.  In that way, the organization is able to communicate and improve service to their clients.  It was quite a thrill to meet Dave Ramsey in person, and we had a great time and learned a lot, although I think my Debtor Education Course at http://www.pfged.com is better than Dave’s!!

(his is pretty good, though, and his new book is great!)  140522 Dave Ramsey Bankruptcy Leadership Summit photo

Happy Bankruptcy Clients

We at Geraci Law strive to have “happy clients”. Why? Our clients are almost always under stress, and our mission is to take as much of that away for them as possible. Here is what one recent client took the time to say in a thank you card to me:
“I want to extend a warm thank you to you and all the lawyers at your firm. You have a wonderful group of lawyers and you have helped me get out of debt and start my life once again. I especially want to thank your lawyer at your Berwyn office because they personally helped with my case. I want to thank Frank Hernandez. He helped me understand the whole case, and always answered by questions. He is so generous he even shared his dinner with me once. I had never tried Italian Beef before then. I also want to thank Belfor. He always greeted me and welcomed me into the office. I have recommended your office to my friends, who also need help with their bills. Thank you Mr. Geraci for everything your firm has helped me with. The little things you do mean so very much. Thank you.

Student Loan Interest Increases

I will blog often about student loan debt. Student loans are just a bill you must pay. Most people have education debt in some form or another. Federal and private student loans are not typically handled by a bankruptcy filing. However, other debts like financed cars, credit cards can hinder student loans from being paid.

Student loans are the next housing bubble. Most families simply cannot afford to send children to college without financial help. Other than working with the financer directly (there are some programs available) there is not a 3rd party program to consolidate loans to an affordable payment. Simply, you must pay the loans.

On July 1st, the interest rates on federal student loans will increase. Stafford loans for undergrads will rise from 3.86% to 4.66% and PLUS loans will increase from 6.41% to 7.21%. If you have a large balance in student loans and other debt, the increased payment could significantly affect your budget.

Bankruptcy will not help eliminate your student loans. But, you could eliminate the rest of your debt to make the loans affordable. When there is substantial other debt (i.e. credit cards, payday loans, etc), something has to give. Whatever is not paid, can go into collections and ultimately into a lawsuit.

Take the long weekend and make a budget. You can use a Geraci Law version by clicking here. If you have more going out then coming in, give us a call to see if bankruptcy can help!

Unhealthy Credit Scores

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a report analyzing the effect of medical bills on credit scores. Findings show unpaid medical bills carry the same weight as unpaid rent when calculating scores. Medical debt and credit scores

Many people do not realize they owe medical bills. After a hospital stay or doctor’s visit, it’s easy to assume insurance covers 100% of the cost. If unpaid, a bill can go to collections and start negatively affecting a credit score.

Debt is reported to credit bureaus in two ways – from the original creditor (i.e. doctor, hospital) or from a collection agency. Majority (close to 99.4% according to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) is reported by collection agencies.

Most medical bills are caused by expensive and unexpected procedures – i.e. emergency surgeries, hospital stays, and emergency room visits. Insurance may pay part but not the entire bill. You could easily find yourself owing thousands for an emergency room visit.

Bankruptcy is an option. If you have a tremendous amount of medical bills, filing a bankruptcy will alleviate the stress that comes with owing. I spoke with a man from Illinois who was diagnosed as a diabetic. He was uninsured and spent three days in the hospital. In the end, the bills amounted to over $80,000.  Without a bankruptcy option, he would spend the rest of his life trying to pay down a three day visit.

Retire the Debt

Retirement should mean enjoying golden years and relaxation. It shouldn’t mean stress and sleepless nights trying to figure out a way to juggle debt. When most people retire, most live off a pension or Social Security benefits. Trying to pay debt, prescriptions and other expenses is difficult when you have other expenses.

Last year, people receiving Social Security benefits received a cost of living increase. Around the same time, the cost of Medicare and Medicaid increased, many retirees lost income. Many need to pay for supplemental insurance adding another expense to a fixed budget.

Increases in living costs can be disastrous for a fixed income. Monthly fixed expenses easy to pay when you are working are budgeted for when you retire. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of a gallon of milk increased 50 to 60 cents per gallon since January 2014. A gallon of milk could be a luxury for someone on a fixed income!

If you are about to retire and have debt; consider bankruptcy so you can retire debt-free! By eliminating the minimum payments on your unsecured debt, you can readjust your budget to afford the rising costs of things like milk.

I am the 4th generation of lawyer in my family, going back to my great-great grandfather, Francis Albert Hoffmann, who was lieutenant governor of Illinois during the Civil War, a founder of the Republican Party and staunch abolitionist, my great-grandfather Francis A. Hoffmann, who was corporation counsel of Chicago in the 1880’s, and my grandfather Francis A. Hoffmann, who went to North Division High School in 1905 (now Lincoln Park High School), Knox College and Univ. of Michigan Law School.  My mother unfortunately was unable to go to law school, but my sister is an attorney, and so am I.  I am quite proud of my family, and my profession.  So it pains me when ignorant people make lawyer jokes, or take a line from Shakespeare like “Let’s kill all the lawyers” out of context and spout it with an ignorant laugh.   

This line is from (2 Henry VI, 4.2.59), Dick the Butcher to Jack Cade “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”  If we read the play, we see that Dick the Butcher and Jack Cade are low characters plotting the overthrow of the government for their own ends, and his “ragged multitude…rude and merciless… of want to “first kill all the lawyers” and educated persons so that they may destroy the kingdom.  Not exactly the kind of people that you would want to imitate, much less repeat their disgusting plot to murder anyone with education. So, read the play, respect the law, and stay out of jail.  (what happened to Dick the Butcher and Jack Cade anyway?)