Sevierville Legal Blog

Survey finds people willing to go into debt for holidays

The holiday season may tempt some Tennessee consumers to use their credit cards for gifts and other spending. According to a survey by, around half of Generation X and millennials and around one-third of baby boomers said they would be willing to take on credit card debt for the holidays. People who were already in debt were more willing to take on more for the holidays than those who had none. Half of the respondents who had debt said the holidays were a good reason to take on more compared to one-quarter of those with none.

More men than women were willing to go into debt for the holidays. Half said they would compared to 41% of women. Most respondents said they planned to pay more than the minimum monthly amount, and more than one-third said they would cut back on their spending.

Keeping control of personal finances during a divorce

It's no secret that money problems are near the top of the list as to why Tennessee couples and others throughout the country divorce. Some divorced individuals blame debt and student loans on the reason for their divorce. Divorce can also leave individuals struggling to pick up the pieces in a financial sense. Here are a few things individuals can do to stay in control of their finances during the divorce process.

Financial accounts should be updated as quickly as possible in order to be sure that beneficiary designations are accurate. If a person does not want their ex-spouse to be the beneficiary on banking and investment accounts, they need to get in touch with financial professionals and designate new beneficiaries.

When can a police officer search my vehicle?

It can be alarming and confusing when a police officer asks to search your vehicle after pulling you over. They may phrase it in such a way that you feel you can’t refuse. However, you have the right to refuse a search request. A police officer must have probable cause in order to conduct a search on your car.


Determining when bankruptcy is the best option

Bankruptcy is a tool that some Tennessee residents have used to get control of their finances. However, deciding to file for bankruptcy is never an easy decision. For example, some individuals may have over $20,000 in credit card debt along with a car loan and wonder if bankruptcy is the best option for them.

In some cases, filing for bankruptcy can mean a fresh start for someone and give them the ability to get back on their feet. The best thing that they should do is have a clear understanding of how much debt they owe, how much income they receive and how much they own in assets. Once a person has a clear grasp on these numbers, they can decide if paying off their debt is doable as opposed to filing for bankruptcy. If a person has $20,000 in credit card debt, paying off the debt is likely more doable for someone who makes $70,000 a year as opposed to someone who makes $30,000 a year.

Student loans can sometimes be discharged in a bankruptcy

Most graduating college students in Tennessee and around the country enter the workplace with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. It is commonly believed that student loans cannot be discharged in a personal bankruptcy, but that is not the case. Individuals who are struggling to cope with student loans may obtain relief by filing a Chapter 7 petition if making their required monthly payments causes them undue hardship.

The problem is that 'undue hardship" is a nebulous term that has no clear legal meaning. The Department of Education has vowed to come up with a concrete definition, but the agency has yet to publish the results of its efforts. In the absence of a clear nationwide standard, courts in most jurisdictions apply what is known as the Brunner test to determine whether student loans are dischargeable in a bankruptcy. The Sixth Circuit, which oversees bankruptcy cases in Tennessee, is one of the courts that uses the Brunner test.

Tips for planning a sober ride home during the holidays

With many holiday seasons peppered in throughout the end of this year, celebration is often in order! Gatherings with family and friends spring up, bringing hugs, food, and more specifically, drinks. And while the revelry is enjoyable, you might be visiting loved ones out of state, and need to return to a hotel room after the celebration winds down.

Whether you’ve had two beers or several shots of liquor, taking the full time to sober up is crucial. If you don’t, you might put yourself and others in danger when you turn the key in the ignition. Here’s what to keep in mind when the liquor is flowing later this year.

Rise in prenups attributed to millennials

Millennials who live in Tennessee might be more likely than their parents did to want a prenuptial agreement. Nearly two-thirds of the attorneys in a survey by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers said there had been a rise in couples asking for a prenup, and of those, over half said that more millennials were requesting them.

There may be a number of reasons for this rise. Millennials are investing more and tend to be financially cautious. They are marrying later than previous generations, and this could mean they have more assets when they enter the marriage that they hope to protect. A prenup can also be used to protect future earnings or assets. For example, a person may want to protect an expected gift or inheritance. A prenup could specify that a higher-earning spouse is not responsible for paying alimony to the other spouse.

Certain veterans' benefits protected from creditors by HAVEN Act

Veterans of the U.S. military make up a disproportionately large percentage of people who file for bankruptcy. Almost 15% of those who file for protection under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code are military veterans; the group makes up only around 10% of the population overall. During the year 2017, roughly 125,000 military veterans in Tennessee and across the country filed for bankruptcy. A newly passed federal law will provide greater financial protections to veterans who file for bankruptcy.

The law is called the Honoring American Veterans in Extreme Need Act of 2019, or the HAVEN Act. Prior to its passage, disability payments received from the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Department of Defense were included when the bankruptcy filer's disposable income was calculated. These payments were reachable by creditors even after a veteran had filed for bankruptcy, that is. Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration were already excluded from these calculations.

Bankruptcy filings by seniors continue to rise

The number of bankruptcies filed in Tennessee and around the country by individuals 65 years of age or older is five times higher today that it was just 25 years ago, and one in seven petitions are now made by senior citizens. These are just two of the worrying trends identified by the team of academics behind the Consumer Bankruptcy Project.

The trend is expected to continue for several more years as the baby boom generation retires. Experts say that older Americans are running into financial problems because they are living longer and face increasingly high medical expenses not covered by Medicare. Few senior citizens have company pensions and their savings are often scant, which prompts many of them to turn to easy forms of borrowing like credit cards to make ends meet. According to a U.S. Federal Reserve survey, almost half of Americans over the age of 75 are carrying at least some debt. In 1989, that figure was about 20%.

Survey finds emotional reasons for divorce

The main reasons some people in Tennessee get a divorce might differ from reasons for divorce in previous decades. A study that appeared in the "Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy" suggests that ideas about marriage and grounds for divorce may have shifted.

The study surveyed more than 2,300 people who were straight and recently divorced. More than one-quarter said the divorce was high-conflict compared to 40% who said their divorce was low or very low in conflict. Whatever the divorce itself was like, the top reason cited for a marriage ending had to do with too little intimacy or love. Almost half of all respondents selected this as a reason. Nearly as common was communication problems, cited by 44%. The third most common was a lack of respect or trust while the fourth most common was simply growing apart.

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