David & Sylvia – Building Hope in the Greater Toronto Area
David and Sylvia (not their real names) immigrated to Toronto from Hong Kong over 25 years ago. They found their way to David Sklar & Associates Inc. – Bankruptcy Trustees, through a combination of health issues, economic down-turn, and business failure.
Although both David and Sylvia were well educated and experienced professionals (David has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Sylvia has an MBA from Oxford) neither were able to find employment in their fields at their levels in the Greater Toronto Area. Eventually David found permanent work as an Operations Technologist and Sylvia found work as a Sales Associate. After years of saving, they were able to buy a home and then to start up a small Wedding and Special Events consulting business run full-time by Sylvia. They used part of the equity in their home to finance the business. Their combined incomes reached $95,000 per year.
In the year leading up to their initial consultation at DSAI they experienced a number of setbacks: David suffered a minor stroke that left him unable to work for several months; Sylvia’s business took a major drop in income as people tightened their entertaining expenditures during an economic down-turn; and unable to meet her business debts Sylvia was forced to close her business. After the closure Sylvia could not find permanent work. This, combined with David’s reduced income during his convalescence, resulted in them using credit for the basics of life: food and shelter. After several months, David was able to return to work fulltime however, their now total income of $60,000 per year was still below their needs, and they found themselves spiralling further into debt.
When they looked into selling their home, they discovered that the value of their house had dropped to the point where they had less than $1,500 equity left in it. At this point they had a $350,000 mortgage, a $12,000 car lease, 5 credit cards with a total of $85,000 owing, overdrafts of $15,000, business debts of $21,000, and an outstanding line of credit at $48,000. With over $169,000 of unsecured debt, and collection agents calling – David and Sylvia were desperate.
At their initial consultation with David Sklar & Associates Inc., David and Sylvia explored their current financial plight with their Estate Administrator, Rhoda Lewis. Rhoda reviewed their options with them, after which David and Sylvia decided to file for Bankruptcy. Rhoda then worked with them to complete the required Bankruptcy forms. An essential aspect of Bankruptcy is the education of bankrupts in debt management and budgeting. Using the required Bankruptcy budget forms, David and Sylvia were able to set up an appropriate budget that they would have to follow for the nine months of their Bankruptcy.
Acting as their Bankruptcy Trustees, DSAI filed their Bankruptcy with the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy – at which point all of David and Sylvia’s unsecured creditors were required to stop collection efforts and only deal directly with DSAI. David and Sylvia qualified for a nine month Bankruptcy period because they did not have any surplus income in accordance with the guidelines established by the Superintendent of Bankruptcy.
Due to the almost non-existent equity in their home, they were able to file for Bankruptcy without having to give up their home. David and Sylvia were also able to keep their leased car. Payments on the home mortgage and the car lease had to continue being made as these are considered to be “secured” debts.
During their nine month Bankruptcy, David and Sylvia were required to follow and submit their completed budget every month for review. Because there were no assets to be disbursed to creditors, they were only required to pay the minimal flat fee for Bankruptcy ($200 per month x 9 months for a total of $1,800 per Bankruptcy).
From the moment that David and Sylvia began working with DSAI Trustees, the stress and tension in their lives began to diminish. Once they were officially in Bankruptcy and their creditors no longer were contacting them, they began to see what a ‘fresh start’ was all about, and to look forward to their life after Bankruptcy.
With the successful completion of their Bankruptcy, David and Sylvia were legally released from any obligation to pay the unsecured debts covered by the Bankruptcy. Their lives have turned back towards the hope of finding and living the Canadian dream. They have gained a true appreciation of the laws of Canada that protect its citizens – and offer the hope of a ‘fresh start’.
To protect our clients’ privacy, aspects of this case study have been altered.