1) I Can Only Help Those Who Help Themselves
I can't negotiate a debt settlement or a loan modification without first reviewing all the financial disclosure that your lender will require. In many cases, clients will engage my services at the last possible moment before something really bad happens like a foreclosure or a judgment. While I understand not taking action until you absolutely need to, once the reality that something adverse is imminent, it's time to fall in line.
I've had a few clients who have engaged my services, only to dilly dally when it came to producing their pertinent information. Bankers don't have infinite patience, so in a few cases, by the time I got all the info I needed it was too late. The files were referred to legal counsel, and the opportunity to negotiate with the bank was lost.
2) The Devil Is Always In The Details
Prospective customers often give me a nutshell synopsis of their situation and follow it up with the million dollar question: "So, how much do you think I can settle for?" I usually choose not to answer this question for two main reasons:
Who's going to buy the cow if I give away the milk for free? In other words, how much I think you should offer in a settlement is the type of information that clients pay me to advise them about. Asking me how much to offer is asking me to work for free.
Even though a person's financial situation can be summarized in a few minutes, I've found that there are typically a few very relevant details that are missed. For this reason, I always review a client's personal financial statement and proof of income before I begin to formulate a settlement offer. To do it any other way could be setting a client up for disappointment, which is never good for any party involved.
3) Bankruptcy Is Not A Cure-All
I've covered the bankruptcy topic in other articles, but these points bear repeating:
Not everyone can file for personal bankruptcy - - you need to qualify. This means that not everyone will be able to avoid being personally liable for your SBA debt.
If you pledged your home as part of your SBA loan, a discharge from personal bankruptcy will not extinguish the lien. This means even if you are discharge from any further personal liability, the bank still has the right to foreclose on your home.
If you file for bankruptcy, many lenders will refuse to lend to you again. It's also worth noting that since not all SBA lenders report to the credit bureaus, settling instead of filing for bankruptcy can be the difference between preserving your credit and having it trashed for years to come.
4) Attorneys Are Not Magicians
I am always surprised when a client hires an attorney because they think the lawyer will be able to convince the bank or the court to let them out of the obligation. In most cases, unless the loan documents are defective, the lawyer will not be able to prevent a judgment against you. It's not like TV, where the hot shot lawyer can tell a moving tale of woe in order to convince the judge to release you from any personal liability. In real life, the process is pretty simple. The bank shows the note and personal guaranty that you signed, they show that you are in default (as outlined in the note and personal guaranty), and the judge grants the judgment.
The bottom line: In many cases, you need a workout expert to help you get your debt resolved, and not all attorneys are workout experts.