Do I need a referal to see a Trustee to file a consumer proposal or bankruptcy in Sarnia?

by Joel Sandwith on November 2, 2010

The answer to this is no, you do not.

Dealing with debt can be stressful, and the options available can be confusing.  One of the most frustrating issues we deal with in our offices is when we learn that someone has paid a huge fee to some ‘debt consolidator’, only to have nothing accomplished.  Let me explain what I mean.

When you are struggling with large amounts of debt, you will likely need to get some help from someone, a professional who can negotiate with your creditors or assist you in relieving the debt completely.  Unfortunately, there are some people and organizations out there who are looking to take advantage of you and may not help at all.  Here are some examples of helpful options:

One option to deal with debt may be to join a Debt Management Program.  This type of program should be run by a non profit organization, such as the Financial Fitness Centre here in Sarnia.  Basically, they can help you to determine if you can afford full repayment of your debt, over time, with your interest rates being reduced or eliminated.  They do a very good job, are ethical, not for profit, and registered with CACCS, an organization that ensures they are trustworthy and professional.

Full repayment of debt can be difficult for many, and a Debt Management Program can be hard to afford.  In such a case, a conusmer proposal may be a good alternative – this option may allow you pay pay back only part of the debt, with the balance being waived.  In some cases, a personal bankruptcy is the only way to get a fresh start – certainly, filing a bankruptcy can be a tough choice, but it can also be very helpful.

If you can be helped by a consumer proposal, or a bankruptcy, you need the service of a licenced Trustee in Bankruptcy.  Only a licenced trustee can be an administrator of a consumer proposal in the province of Ontario. 

So, what other options are there?  The truth is, not many – if a bank won’t help you, and if family can’t help you, be very careful of anyone else offering help.  There are many places that have sprung up lately who will gladly take your money to ‘negotiate’ with creditors, but who may not be able to actually help you.  In some cases, they will offer advice to not pay your creditors, or suggest they can broker a deal.  You have to ask, what credentials do they have?  Are they registered with an organization that oversees their work? 

Some of these places will charge you, just for advice.  If someone asks you to pay $200, or $1000, or more for advice, you should ask them: why?  A not for profit credit counselling agency will typically only charge about $25 for a consultation.  At our firm, Hoyes Michalos, your initial consultation is free.  In many cases, these ‘debt consolidators’ will just tell you to file bankruptcy anyway – why should you have to pay for that advice, when you can see me for free, and I can help you build a real and legitimate plan to deal with your debts.

So, no, you do not need a referal to see us.  You can reach Hoyes Michalos and Associates toll free at 310-PLAN.  We look forward to hearing from you.

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