Saving grace - Attorney offers tips on digging out of debt

By Paul Janczewski

Legal News

Now that the holidays are over, a new tax season looms and people are fretting over bills they've incurred over the past year. Maybe they've spent too much on Christmas-related purchases. Maybe their financial health was already in shambles.

Bingham Farms attorney Kenneth Gross knows their pain. And he wants to help. After all, his motto is helping people dump their debt, so income goes in the bank, and not to the bank and other creditors.

In fact, Gross, 58, has penned a book called "Dump Your Debt." It's a guide written in layman's terms for tools people can use to obtain future financial security while avoiding emptying your retirement nest eggs.

Gross' path from there to here began as he earned an undergraduate degree from Wayne State University in accounting and business administration. But he always, for some reason, wanted to become an attorney. He watched television shows that featured lawyers, such as "Perry Mason" and "Judd for the Defense," and was active in school student council and activities that led toward law.

He received his law degree from Wayne State University in 1982 and started a law firm with Charles Thav, whom he clerked for while at WSU. The two agreed to start the firm once Gross got his law license.

"And we just grew from there," Gross said.

He began practicing in the areas of business law and commercial litigation, but the firm has always catered to clients who were dealing with financial problems as part of its regular practice, and 15 years ago, started a bankruptcy division. But in 2008, when the economy hit the skids, Gross began specializing in financial crisis management "because that was the only business in town."

"And we've expanded that role from the standpoint of taking a look at the financial crisis problems and trying to approach it from a business lawyers perspective," Gross said.

Bankruptcy attorneys or real estate professionals may look at only one factor of the problems, such as loan modifications.

"Instead, we take a business-solving approach."

Gross said the idea for his radio show began in November of 2008 when auto company executives jumped on planes and flew to Washington, D.C. for help in bailing out the industry. He said the entire country went "crazy against the auto industry," but he became upset by the backlash.

"I felt Michigan was getting a sour deal, and the rest of the country was in favor of the auto industry going out of business," Gross said.

Soon after, the show, called "The Financial Crisis Talk Center," was born, running, as it still does today, on Saturday mornings from 9-10 (8:30-10 a.m. from September-March) on 1130 AM WDFN.

Originally, Gross said the plan was to do the show for a year, presuming the financial crisis would be over.

"And if we're still having fun, we'll re-name it and we'll go on," he said. The rest is history. "And here we are in year five, and I still haven't gotten to the point of changing the name because the financial crisis, whether it's the city's, an individual's, or a business's, is still going on."

The show's format consists of talk about current events and financial issues, and has guests. Just recently, the show's focus was on the Right to Work issue

The show also takes that approach when dealing with financial issues, be it short sales or loan modifications.

"We try to make the show so it's not all about Thav Gross. People call in, and we have fun, and we really enjoy doing the show," Gross said, noting that the idea of the book grew from the radio show. "It was really a question of writing what we had learned to do with the financial crisis."

As clients came in 2008 and 2009, Gross said some met with the firm's banking department, some filed Chapter 13's or Chapter 7's "but we always had this list of people we couldn't help, because they didn't fit within the parameters of a bankruptcy. And that's crazy. If someone comes to you with a financial problem, as a lawyer you have to help them. Otherwise you're not doing your job as a lawyer. So we expanded the scope of how to analyze a problem, and how to address it," Gross said.

Gross said he took a page out of the auto industry's solution--separating good and bad assets and moving forward with some type of structured bankruptcy, with help from the government.

"And we do the same thing from whatever resources we can analyze as the best possible way of doing the same thing, that the money coming in next week is going to current expense as opposed to paying past debt," he said.

Hence, "Dump Your Debt" was born.

As a lawyer and financial analyst, Gross has taken a dim view of the credit card industry and tries to offer clients the tools to fight back.

"The only thing that brushes them back is the force of the law, or the force of the public," he said.

When companies tried to pass on additional fees, social media outlets can create a huge uproar and companies back off, fearing a loss of business, according to Gross.

The book, published by OPT Publishing Inc., came out in July. It offers 176 pages of insights and case scenarios on legal, tried and true ways to dump your debt and have money left over for retirement. It costs $9.99, and is available through, or through the firm's website,

Gross gives detailed steps in the book on how to use certain tools, and the right mix of several of those, on shedding debt quickly and cheaply. He offers insights on gaining approvals of short sales, settling credit card debt and obtaining second mortgages. He said the rules of the game changed, and he provides ways for people to dump debt while not taking huge hits on property values and IRAs.

Gross said he begins the book with four common scenarios people find themselves in, then explains the tools available for financial crisis management. He explains forms of bankruptcy, how to deal with tax problems, and also how he would analyze those problems to determine the right mix of tools to use.

"It's written for the lay person," Gross said, adding that even attorneys can benefit from the information contained in the book. "It can open their eyes to a new way to approach financial problems."

And Gross should know. He's spent years looking at the problem as a business attorney with an accounting background and as a real estate specialist. He's also received numerous legal awards, has been recognized as a leader in law by publications and attorney groups, and has appeared on national network programs speaking about financial crisis management.

"You can't just pay your debts and take the hit on your property values when the banking industry gets bailed out at taxpayer expense," Gross said. "You need to preserve your future income for you and your family. I wrote this book to help people see there is an opportunity."

Published: Mon, Jan 21, 2013

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