Understanding debt agreements

A debt agreement is when all interested parties agree on an amount to be regularly paid towards a specific debt. A debt agreement can also be called a Part IX debt agreement and generally must meet certain criteria.

 

What are the benefits of entering into a debt agreement?

  • Once you enter into a debt agreement, your debts will no longer accrue interest. If you complete the debt agreement, you will be released from your debts. Your creditors cannot recover the remainder of any monies you may owe.
  • You’ll be able to keep your home, your car and other unprotected assets.
  • Any property you acquire in the future will not be affected. This could include gifts, winnings or inheritances.
  • You may travel overseas, which you may not be able to do as a bankrupt.

 

What are the negative consequences?

  • Your debt agreement may require you to pay substantial upfront and ongoing fees.

  • If the agreement is not accepted or completed, you will not receive a refund of previous payments.

  • You may not be declared bankrupt, but you will still have committed an act of bankruptcy. This will have serious consequences.

  • The act of bankruptcy will be listed on the National Personal Insolvency Index for your lifetime, which may affect future borrowing applications.

  • The agreement will be on your credit report for 5 years and may affect future lending opportunities.

  • If your circumstances change and you’re unable to repay the agreed amount, you may face cancellation of the agreement and loss of funds.

 

What options exist?

  1. Ask your Financial Counsellor to explain the difference between a Debt Agreement and bankruptcy.
  2. Remember, do not sign any documents that you don’t fully understand.
  3. Make sure you always get a second opinion with Debt Agreements. The person who is advising you may benefit financially by getting you to sign. So it’s best to check!
  4. It’s always best to seek legal advice before you sign any legal document. A Financial Counsellor can give you information to help you make this decision but cannot provide you with legal advice.

Preventative measures

One
If you are worried about ongoing debts, talk to a financial counsellor.
Complete the budget template. Other budgeting tools can be found at moneysmart.gov.au including their TrackMySPEND app.
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Always be on the lookout for simple ways to save money.
Use cash rather than a card — it feels more real.

Additional information

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