Bankruptcy and Waiting Until It’s Too Late

filing bankruptcy-myrtle beach bankruptcy lawyerWritten by Myrtle Beach Bankruptcy Lawyer, Allen Jeffcoat

In my Myrtle Beach bankruptcy practice I often talk to clients who have been struggling with their finances for months or years.  Eventually, they decide to file bankruptcy as a last resort. Although this is likely the answer for them, they have waited so long to plan for bankruptcy that they will miss many opportunities to save valuable assets for their future use and support.

For example, one Conway client struggled for many months to keep her credit card payments current, by drawing down and ultimately cashing in her retirement plan that she had spent years accumulating. She was dismayed to find out that, although her credit card debt would be wiped out in bankruptcy, she could have kept her entire retirement plan had she acted sooner.

Another Murrells Inlet client that was in the early stages of planning for bankruptcy was  pleased to learn that his large retirement plans are safe from creditors, even as they make plans to give up many of their real estate investments gone bad and get ready to be free of millions of dollars of real estate debt.

Many Myrtle Beach area residents don’t know that funds in retirement plans (IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, pension plans and many others) are exempt from creditor claims and thus can be kept even in bankruptcy.

The second biggest mistake that I see my clients make is using equity lines on their homes to keep making payments on credit cards and other unsecured debt. Many folks don’t know that they can keep more than $50,000 in equity in their homes (more than $100,000 if married) protected from creditors, so using up exempt equity in their homes to pay debts that will be wiped out anyway–if they had only known.

If you have financial problems, don’t wait to see a bankruptcy lawyer.  Get help immediately to learn about all your options.

Otis Allen Jeffcoat, III is a bankruptcy lawyer practicing in Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach/Little River, and Pawleys Island/Litchfield. He has been practicing law in South Carolina since 1973 and along the Grand Strand since 1977. Most of Allen’s bankruptcy and workout work is for individual and small business debtors, although occasionally he helps small landowners deal with defaults by their bankrupt commercial tenants. “I get to meet and help clients at a time of high stress and some despair for many of them, when they are under a level of financial pressure that they haven’t felt in their lifetimes,” says Allen. “When they tell me that they feel better about their future, that they have some hope, that they understand how they can move forward in a responsible way--that’s the best ‘thank you’ that a lawyer can have, and it makes my day.” “I wish sometimes that my clients and I had talked sooner, when they had more options,” Allen continues, “But in almost all cases I feel that I have helped them through some difficult restructuring in their finances, with positive results for their emotional and physical health.” In addition to his bankruptcy practice, Allen handles a variety of matters for clients, including residential real estate, commercial real estate, environmental law, corporate work, foreclosures, receiverships and loan workouts of all sizes. He is experienced in resort development, from timesharing to large planned unit developments and condominiums, and the homeowner association litigation that such developments spawn from time to time. He also helps clients with their needs in estate planning, probate administration, litigation, and elder law. Allen grew up in Columbia and attended public schools there before heading north to Princeton University for college. He graduated from Princeton magna cum laude with a degree in Politics. He returned to Columbia for law school at the University of South Carolina, where he served on the Law Review. He was in private practice in Columbia for a few years, then got married and moved to Myrtle Beach in 1977, where he has remained ever since. Giving back to his community and state is important to Allen. He is a founder of the Grand Strand Family YMCA, was its first President, and now serves as a Director of the YMCA of Coastal Carolina. He is a Director of the Waccamaw Community Foundation, and is a past Trustee of United Way of Horry County, Inc. He has served as a Trustee of The South Carolina Nature Conservancy and as its Chairman. He is a member of the City of Myrtle Beach Election Commission; a graduate of Leadership Grand Strand, and past President of the Rotary Club of North Myrtle Beach. He is active in the Princeton University Schools Committee and in fund-raising for Princeton University. Allen is married and has the smartest, most beautiful granddaughter in the country. He also has two daughters and one son-in-law. He lives with his firm administrator, who also happens to be his wife, Mary.

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