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Council Bluffs Law Blog

SUPREME COURT EMPOWERS BANKRUPTCY COURTS

In Wellness International Network, Ltd., et al. v. Sharif, the United States Supreme Court ruled that bankruptcy judges have the power to adjudicate certain claims if all parties knowingly and voluntarily consent. In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court reversed a Seventh Circuit holding that the bankruptcy court did not have constitutional authority to decide whether certain property belonged to the bankruptcy estate because the dispute also involved state law issues. The Supreme Court found that Article III of the Constitution permits bankruptcy judges to make final judgments so long as those involved consent. Justice Sotomayor, writing for the Court, said "Adjudication based on litigant consent has been a consistent feature of the federal court system since its inception." TheWellness decision marks the third time in the last four years that the Supreme Court has decided questions relating to the power of the bankruptcy court.

Pricey mistakes when paying off credit card debt in Iowa

As many Iowa residents with high credit card debt know, figuring out how to pay it off can seem like an insurmountable challenge. With wages stagnating and the cost of living rising every year, it can seem difficult enough to get by, let alone get out of debt.  Luckily, there are options to get help people get out of credit card debt. However, some of these options might actually be more expensive in the long run.

This is the perfect time for Iowa residents with credit card debt to explore their options and pay their debt down, as the Federal Reserve is set to raise interest rates at some point this year. There are many avenues that people could take to do this. Some consider balance transfer offers from credit card companies to be the best option, as many offer 0 percent interest on balance transfers. There are many of these offers currently, but that number will surely decrease as the Fed begins to raise rates.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy may help seniors in Iowa protect assets

Many Iowa residents face financial setbacks at some point or another in their lives. Some setbacks are easier than others to bounce back from, but as people get older and their finances are in arrears, it can be difficult to recover. Considering credit card debt, mortgages, medical expenses or divorce, there are a number of ways that seniors can run into financial difficulties. When these debts spiral out of control, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be just what the person needs to get back in control of his or her finances.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidates some of a person's assets in order to repay creditors. This allows people to reset their finances. However, certain exceptions do exist: student loans, alimony, child support, as well as federal tax bills that are less than three years old cannot be discharged. Moreover, dealing with bankruptcy's stigma often prevents people from filing soon enough. This can hurt people in the long run, especially seniors -- as they continue to spend their retirement assets, they initiate a downward financial spiral that could be more difficult to recover from than a younger person in the same precarious financial situation.

ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE AND LEGAL CAPACITY

You notice Mom is experiencing memory problems or confusion or has actually been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. She does not have a will, a financial power of attorney, or any advance directive for medical decisions. Is it too late? Not necessarily.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be the best choice for Iowa residents

There are many reasons that people end up in debt. Between losing a job, medical bills and the rising cost of living, there are a multitude of ways that some Iowa residents can, all of a sudden, find themselves in over their head financially, wondering how they'll ever repay their debt. Fortunately, there are a number of methods to either systematically pay debt down or get rid of it once and for all, including Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Some view Chapter 7 bankruptcy as a last resort, so many people try other means of paying down their debts, especially credit card debt. Some try to spend less as well as save and earn more. Others focus on paying off their credit cards one at a time, beginning with the one with the highest interest rate and, once that is paid off, taking that money and putting it toward their next credit card. Still others decide that consolidating their credit debt into one payment is the best method. However, many people fail to see the long-term cost of such a decision and that, sometimes, Chapter 7 bankruptcy actually makes more sense for them in the long run.

Credit Card debt might cause depression in Iowa residents

Many Iowa residents worry about their financial health, which often includes their level of credit card debt. The high interest rates that credit cards often carry these days are not the only damaging thing about carrying this type of debt. According to recent findings, credit card debt might actually increase a person's chances of depression.

Carrying high levels of debt places an undue and often enormous amount of stress on a person. Recently, researchers discovered a statistically significant connection between short-term debt, which includes credit card debt and overdue bills, and increased symptoms of depression. Unmarried and less-educated people, as well as those nearing retirement, showed the strongest link between debt and depression.

Premarital Student Loan Debt: Is Reduction During the Marriage a Marital Asset?

A hot topic in the family law arena is whether reduction of premarital student loan debt during the course of a marriage should be included as marital asset subject to division in the divorce proceeding. This Iowa Court of Appeals recently found that student loan debt incurred prior to the marriage is "a nonmarital obligation." In re Marriage of Campbell, No. 13-1383, 2014 WL 1999231, at *5 (Iowa Ct. App. May 14, 2014). In Campbell, the Court went even further to cite that:

Managing credit card debt in Iowa

Living with some amount of debt seems like a way of life for those in Iowa, as well as for most Americans these days. Whether it's credit card debt or for something deemed essential like their children's college costs or to pay for their homes, almost everyone has some form of it. Some types of debt aren't really a bad thing. For instance, a mortgage can help provide some tax advantages while replacing the cost of rent a person would otherwise be paying.

However, sometimes those already saddled with these sorts of debts take on additional debt for things that are, arguably, not essential, such as new clothes, vacations or a sports car, to name a few. Often, since there isn't the ready cash available to pay for these luxuries, people resort to using plastic. As a result, their credit card debt quickly increases.

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