Other options for dealing with your debts

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1 Other options for dealing with your debts This information is an extract from the booklet Managing your debt, which is part of our financial guidance series. You may find the full booklet helpful. We can send you a free copy see page 8. Contents Seek professional advice Bankruptcy (sequestration in Scotland) Debt Relief Order (DRO) Minimal Asset Process (MAP) bankruptcy Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) Protected Trust Deed Equity release Consolidation loan Credit cards Effect on credit rating Seek professional advice If you re unable to repay your non-priority debts in a reasonable amount of time, a repayment programme may not be the best option for you. If this is the case, you should seek specialist advice from a free debt advice agency such as StepChange Debt Charity (visit stepchange.org or call ), Citizens Advice Bureau, Payplan (visit payplan.com or call ) or National Debtline visit nationaldebtline.org or call ). Citizens Advice Bureau also offer face-to-face debt advice. Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 1 of 8

2 Bankruptcy (sequestration in Scotland) If you go bankrupt, your creditors write off your unsecured debts. This gives you a fresh start. Bankruptcy is available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, the process is called sequestration. This is similar to bankruptcy, but the fees and processes are slightly different. Bankruptcy is normally only suitable if you can t pay back your debts in a reasonable time. Any assets you own, such as your house or car, will usually be sold to pay off your debts. Bankruptcy is unlikely to be the best option for you if: your property and belongings are worth more than your debts, or all of your payments are up-to-date and you can afford to keep paying them. Debt Relief Order (DRO) A debt relief order (DRO) is only available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If you live in Scotland, you might be able to apply for a MAP bankruptcy (see pages 3 4). Page 2 of 8 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

3 A DRO can help you to write off debt that you re unable to repay in a reasonable amount of time. If your DRO is approved, your debts are put on hold for 12 months. Your creditors cannot pursue you for the outstanding debt during this time. If your financial situation hasn t changed after the 12 months are over, all of your debts are written off. To apply, you must: owe less than 15,000 in unsecured debts not own your home have no more than 300 in assets have less than 50 a month left over after you ve paid all of your living costs. DROs must be applied for by an approved DRO advisor such as StepChange Debt Charity (visit stepchange.org or call ) or Citizens Advice Bureau. JARGON BUSTER Unsecured loans These loans are not backed by property such as your home or car, so your property can t be repossessed for non payment. Minimal Asset Process (MAP) bankruptcy Only available in Scotland. See debt relief order (DRO) if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland (see above). MAP bankruptcy can help you to write off debt that you re unable to repay in a reasonable amount of time. Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 3 of 8

4 To apply you must: live in Scotland be on a low income (either made up solely of income-related benefits or you have nothing left over after paying essential living costs) have debts more than 1,500 but less than 17,000 have a car worth 3,000 or less have other assets worth less than 2,000 in total, with no single item worth more than 1,000 not own your home not have been bankrupt in the last five years. Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) A Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) is only available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If you live in Scotland, you may be able to apply for a protected trust deed (see page 5). This is a legal arrangement where you make reduced payments over five or six years. At the end of this time, your debts are written off. These must be set up by an authorised debt specialist and there are costs involved. An IVA should be carefully considered as there may be restrictions made to your spending and employment. It will also affect your credit rating (see page 7). You can get advice about IVAs from StepChange Debt Charity or your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau. Page 4 of 8 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

5 Protected Trust Deed Only available in Scotland. See Individual Voluntary Arrangement if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland (page 4). A trust deed is a legal arrangement where you make reduced payments over four years. At the end of this time, your unsecured debts are usually written off. These must be set up by an authorised debt specialist and there are costs involved. A Protected Trust Deed should be carefully considered as there may be restrictions made to your spending and employment. It will also affect your credit rating (see page 7). You can get advice about Protected Trust Deeds from StepChange Debt Charity or your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau. Equity release If you re in or near retirement, you could consider using equity release to access some of the money that your home is worth. This is without needing to move. You may be able to release a tax-free cash lump sum or set up access to a flexible borrowing facility. How much you can release varies between providers but usually depends on how old you are, the value of your home and sometimes your health. There are different types of equity release available. They normally involve you borrowing against the value of your home while you still live there. You may make some payments for this or you may chose to have the mortgage and interest paid off when your home is sold after your death. Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 5 of 8

6 Equity release can affect your tax position and entitlement to means-tested benefits. It can also reduce the value of your estate which will mean less left to your beneficiaries after you die. It is very important to speak to an advisor before deciding to release equity from your home. You can search the Financial Services Register for companies and individuals authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to lend money. Visit fsa.gov.uk/register JARGON BUSTER Beneficiary A person who receives your funds after you die, for example from your will or pension scheme. Estate What you leave when you die, including everything you own, your share of things you own jointly, minus everything you owe. It may include money, property and belongings. Consolidation loan If you have a good credit rating, you may be able to take out a debt consolidation loan. This is a loan that you use to pay off your existing debts. You then end up with one monthly payment instead of lots of smaller ones. There are illegal moneylenders who often charge very high interest rates. They are called loan sharks. Call the following numbers to report loan sharks: England , Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland Page 6 of 8 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

7 Advantages of a consolidation loan: You make one monthly payment, meaning it s easier to budget each month. You may find it easier to keep track of how much you owe with only one creditor. It can keep your credit rating healthy as long as you keep up payments. Disadvantages of a consolidation loan: It can be a risky option if you are unsure you can meet the payments. The lender may ask for it to be secured against your home you could lose your home if you can t keep up payments. It could make your debt problem worse if you get into any further debt. Credit cards If you don t pay off your credit card in full every month, you may be paying interest. You could transfer your balance to another card, some of which offer 0% interest deals for a limited period. If you do this, you ll need to weigh up the savings against any balance transfer fee. To find the best credit card deals, look at the tables published in the personal finance pages of newspapers, or use an online price comparison website. A balance transfer may work in the short-term, but it isn t a long term fix for an underlying debt or budgeting problem. Effect on credit rating If you pay less than your contractual monthly payment, your creditors will record a default on your credit file. This can stay on your file for up to six years, which means you may find it much harder to get further credit. If you re struggling to make payments to your creditors, borrowing more money may make your situation worse. Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 7 of 8

8 NEXT STEPS If you re unable to repay your non-priority debts in a reasonable amount of time, seek specialist advice from a free debt advice agency such as StepChange Debt Charity, (visit stepchange.org or call ), Citizens Advice Bureau, Payplan (visit payplan. com or call ) or National Debtline visit nationaldebtline.org or call ). More information and support More than one in three of us will get cancer. For most of us it will be the toughest fight we ever face. And the feelings of isolation and loneliness that so many people experience make it even harder. But you don t have to go through it alone. The Macmillan team is with you every step of the way. To order a copy of Managing your money day to day or any other information from our financial guidance series, visit be.macmillan.org.uk or call We make every effort to ensure that the information we provide is accurate and up to date but it should not be relied upon as a substitute for specialist professional advice tailored to your situation. So far as is permitted by law, Macmillan does not accept liability in relation to the use of any information contained in this publication, or thirdparty information or websites included or referred to in it. Macmillan Cancer Support Registered charity in England and Wales (261017), Scotland (SC039907) and the Isle of Man (604). Registered office 89 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7UQ REVISED IN JUNE 2015 Planned review in 2016 Page 8 of 8 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

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