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9 months 3 weeks ago

Portland student loan debt lawyerA generation ago, many post-secondary students spent more money on books and other ancillary costs than on school tuition, but those days are long gone now. Today, thanks to skyrocketing tuition costs and financial institutions that are all too willing to extend credit, former post-secondary students owe more than $1 trillion in education loans. Any way you slice it, that is a lot of money, especially since these borrowers are just starting their careers and consequently usually have a limited earning capacity. Former students are not the only ones feeling the pinch. Because of high debt servicing payments, many borrowers must put off buying houses and making other large purchases. As a result, if you are buried by student loans, you need a Portland student loan debt lawyer more than ever. That’s because an attorney can both negotiate with the lender to reduce the amount due or obtain a more favorable repayment arrangement, and be an effective advocate in court.
In most cases like these, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is about the only way to get rid of excess debt. But student loan cases work a little differently, and it takes an experienced Portland student loan debt lawyer to both evaluate your case and chart a way out of crippling debt.
How Student Loan Debt Settlement Works
Although education loans are unsecured debts, these loans are not automatically discharged like credit cards or medical bills. Instead, a Portland student loan debt lawyer must usually file a motion for discharge. Then, like almost any other adversarial action, the Portland student loan debt lawyer usually negotiates with the lender to reduce or eliminate the student debt. Some judges in Washington and Oregon refer these disputes to mediation, to expedite settlement.
If the parties cannot settle the dispute and it proceeds to a hearing, the court must determine if the debtor has met the “undue hardship” test in the Bankruptcy Code. When lawmakers changed the Bankruptcy Code in 1978, they deliberately left this phrase undefined. Much to the chagrin of many a Portland student loan debt lawyer, the courts stepped in where lawmakers failed to act. One of the first student loan cases under the new Bankruptcy Code was Brunner v. New York State Higher Education Services Corporation, an opinion from the Second Circuit in New York in 1987. Five years earlier, Marie Brunner received an MS in Social Work. She graduated with $9,000 in student loans, or about $20,000 in today’s dollars, which is far less than the average amount of student debt today. The court took note of the following facts: Ms. Brunner had apparently made no payments on her debt, was working in her field, and had not asked for a deferral or any other lesser relief prior to her discharge request.
Your Portland student loan debt lawyer will probably be familiar with the saying “bad facts make bad law,” and that may have been the case here. Probably to prevent future Marie Brunners from obtaining a bankruptcy discharge, the court interpreted the “undue hardship” provision in the Bankruptcy Code as a three-part test.

  • Financial Hardship: Debtors must be unable to maintain a minimal standard of living (e. stay above the poverty line) if they must repay their student loans.
  • Good-Faith Effort: Debtors must prove that they made good-faith efforts to repay their loans, and that usually means they must have a relatively solid, although not necessarily perfect, payment history.
  • Extent of Disability: The hardship must either be permanent or at least be expected to last throughout the entire repayment period.

Portland student loan debt lawyers immediately criticized the so-called Brunner Rule for several reasons. First, the prongs are inconsistent, because it is difficult or impossible to show both a good-faith effort to repay the loans and a crippling financial hardship. Second, the rule gives no consideration to any other circumstances, such as the amount of the loans. Essentially, under a strict interpretation, bankruptcy debtors are only entitled to discharge if they are physically or mentally disabled, the disability prevents them from working in almost any capacity, and that disability occurred after they received their post-secondary degrees.
How Does Portland Student Loan Debt Law Work Now?
Over time, these objections and the mounting student loan crisis caused some federal appeals courts to toss out the harsh Brunner Rule in favor of a totality-of-the-circumstances approach. Walker v. Sallie Mae, a recent case from the neighboring Eighth Circuit, involved a former medical school student who had $300,000 in student loans and was a stay-at-home mom to disabled children.
However, in the Ninth Circuit, your Portland student loan debt lawyer must still contend with the Brunner Rule. However, at least the local federal appeals court has embraced a kinder, gentler Brunner Rule that makes it a little easier to discharge student loans in bankruptcy, thanks to Hedlund v. Educational Resources Institute, Inc.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon, Michael Hedlund graduated from law school in 1997 with about $85,000 in loans. He failed the bar exam twice and missed a third sitting because he locked his keys in his car. When his loans entered repayment in 1999, Mr. Hedlund was earning $10 an hour as a Klamath County juvenile counsellor. He was unable to consolidate his loans because of a clerical error, and after struggling to make payments here and there, he partnered with a Portland student loan debt lawyer to file bankruptcy in 2003. The bankruptcy judge granted a partial discharge, but the moneylender appealed, arguing that Mr. Hedlund didn’t make a good-faith effort to repay the loans.
On appeal, largely thanks to the work of Mr. Hedlund’s lawyer, the Ninth Circuit took a rather generous view of the Brunner Rule. For example, instead of requiring that the student loan payments drive him below the poverty line, the judges were satisfied that the Hedlunds (he was married with a small child) had lived “frugally.” Furthermore, although some courts require student loan debtors to obtain different jobs in different cities to maximize their income, the court imposed no such requirement on Mr. Hedlund. Finally, although he suffered from no disability, the court concluded that Mr. Hedlund’s hardship was not “self-inflicted.”
The bottom line is that student loan bankruptcy discharge is not as certain in Oregon as it is in other parts of the country, but an experienced Portland student loan debt lawyer can often convince the bankruptcy judge to at least grant a partial discharge and give some relief to the debtor. Furthermore, your lawyer can negotiate with the moneylender to obtain more favorable repayment terms.
Contact a Portland Student Loan Debt Lawyer Today
At the Northwest Debt Relief Law Firm, we help people like you manage or eliminate their student debt. Call us today for a free consultation.
 The original post is titled A Portland Student Loan Debt Lawyer Explains Student Loan Law , and it came from Portland Bankruptcy Attorney | Northwest Debt Relief .


9 months 3 weeks ago

how much it costs to file bankruptcyEconomists like to say that people with few assets are “cost-sensitive,” because a few extra dollars on a co-pay may be the difference between going to the doctor and ignoring a health problem. Since cash is often scarce among bankruptcy debtors, they nearly always want to know how much it costs to file bankruptcy at their first appointment. Court filing fees are almost completely non-negotiable, although the court will consider a payment plan, in some circumstances.
The pre-filing window is also a good time to consider some other technical bankruptcy aspects, such as taking a required class and gathering required documents, so the process will run more smoothly once the voluntary petition is on file and you won’t have to scramble around to find financial paperwork.
How Much It Costs to File Bankruptcy at the Start
Bankruptcy filing fees are usually the same in both Washington and Oregon, since bankruptcy is a federal court procedure. As of December 1, 2016, the initial filing fees are:

  • $335 for a Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy
  • $310 for a Chapter 13 repayment bankruptcy

Because the filing volume has dipped in the last few years, filing fees sometimes increase more often than they used to, so courts can keep up with costs without siphoning tax dollars away from other areas.
How Much It Costs to File Bankruptcy in Payment Plans
If money is an issue, and it often is, most courts in both Oregon and Washington will allow you to pay the initial filing fee in installments, provided that you complete an affidavit that shows a financial need. In Chapter 7 bankruptcies, the court will normally accept three monthly payments of $111, $111, and $112; in Chapter 13 bankruptcies, most debtors can make two payments of $125 and $165. The first payment is always due with the initial paperwork.
When thinking about how much it costs to file bankruptcy and payment plans, there are a few things to remember. First, many courts do not accept credit or debit cards over the phone or online, and they definitely never set up automatic bank drafts. That usually means you must put a check or money order in the mail, and even if it gets lost in the mail or gets delivered to the wrong place, the court usually never accepts any excuses. Second, since many courts do not particularly like to keep up with payment plans, they usually dismiss cases for nonpayment a day or two after the deadline passes, and there is usually no mercy.
Shortly after filing, the court always sends a payment schedule through the mail, but since it comes in a very thin envelope, it is easy to misplace. So, it is best to satisfy the installment arrangement as soon as possible, because there is no penalty for early payment.
Ancillary Filing Fees
The final amount of how much it costs to file bankruptcy sometimes changes over time, because the court may assess additional fees after the case is filed. Some of them include:

  • Conversion: As of December 1, 2016, clerks charge $25 to convert a Chapter 13 to a Chapter 7.
  • Reopening: If a bankruptcy is dismissed, the clerks charge $260 to reopen a Chapter 7 and $235 to reopen a Chapter 13, and no payment plan is available, in most cases. Moreover, if there is any unpaid balance from the initial filing fee, the clerk will want that money in addition to the reopening fee.
  • Schedule Amendments: It is very important that the petition and schedules be accurate when they are filed, because the clerks normally charge $31 per change to amend them later.

The clerks also charge for some hearing transcripts, photocopies, returned checks, and almost any other service.
Other Pre-Filing Activities
When considering how much it costs to file bankruptcy, you must think about the time costs as well. All debtors must complete a debt counselling course before filing. Fortunately, the class is available online and only takes a few minutes. Your attorney can give you a list of approved courses to choose from.
Before the 341 creditors’ meeting, the trustee (person who oversees the bankruptcy on behalf of the judge) will probably want copies of various documents, such as:

  • Last year’s income tax return
  • Drivers’ license
  • Social Security card
  • Bank statements
  • Insurance policy declaration pages
  • Domestic support orders
  • Deed and title documents
  • Leases
  • Profit/loss sheets

The first three items in this list are mandatory, and the trustee has the discretion to ask for any of the remaining documents. As the bankruptcy debtor, you have a duty to cooperate with the trustee in this area, and failure to turn over requested documents is grounds for a with-prejudice dismissal.
Talk to a Debt Lawyer About How Much It Costs to File Bankruptcy
If you are overwhelmed by debt and want to get a fresh start, learn more about how much it costs to file bankruptcy by calling the Northwest Debt Relief Law Firm today.
 The original post is titled How Much It Costs to File Bankruptcy , and it came from Portland Bankruptcy Attorney | Northwest Debt Relief .


8 months 1 week ago

how much it costs to file bankruptcyEconomists like to say that people with few assets are “cost-sensitive,” because a few extra dollars on a co-pay may be the difference between going to the doctor and ignoring a health problem. Since cash is often scarce among bankruptcy debtors, they nearly always want to know how much it costs to file bankruptcy at their first appointment. Court filing fees are almost completely non-negotiable, although the court will consider a payment plan, in some circumstances.
The pre-filing window is also a good time to consider some other technical bankruptcy aspects, such as taking a required class and gathering required documents, so the process will run more smoothly once the voluntary petition is on file and you won’t have to scramble around to find financial paperwork.
How Much It Costs to File Bankruptcy at the Start
Bankruptcy filing fees are usually the same in both Washington and Oregon, since bankruptcy is a federal court procedure. As of December 1, 2016, the initial filing fees are:

Because the filing volume has dipped in the last few years, filing fees sometimes increase more often than they used to, so courts can keep up with costs without siphoning tax dollars away from other areas.
How Much It Costs to File Bankruptcy in Payment Plans
If money is an issue, and it often is, most courts in both Oregon and Washington will allow you to pay the initial filing fee in installments, provided that you complete an affidavit that shows a financial need. In Chapter 7 bankruptcies, the court will normally accept three monthly payments of $111, $111, and $112; in Chapter 13 bankruptcies, most debtors can make two payments of $125 and $165. The first payment is always due with the initial paperwork.
When thinking about how much it costs to file bankruptcy and payment plans, there are a few things to remember. First, many courts do not accept credit or debit cards over the phone or online, and they definitely never set up automatic bank drafts. That usually means you must put a check or money order in the mail, and even if it gets lost in the mail or gets delivered to the wrong place, the court usually never accepts any excuses. Second, since many courts do not particularly like to keep up with payment plans, they usually dismiss cases for nonpayment a day or two after the deadline passes, and there is usually no mercy.
Shortly after filing, the court always sends a payment schedule through the mail, but since it comes in a very thin envelope, it is easy to misplace. So, it is best to satisfy the installment arrangement as soon as possible, because there is no penalty for early payment.
Ancillary Filing Fees
The final amount of how much it costs to file bankruptcy sometimes changes over time, because the court may assess additional fees after the case is filed. Some of them include:

  • Conversion: As of December 1, 2016, clerks charge $25 to convert a Chapter 13 to a Chapter 7.
  • Reopening: If a bankruptcy is dismissed, the clerks charge $260 to reopen a Chapter 7 and $235 to reopen a Chapter 13. No payment plan is available, in most cases. Moreover, if there is any unpaid balance from the initial filing fee, the clerk will want that money in addition to the reopening fee.
  • Schedule Amendments: It is very important that the petition and schedules be accurate when they are filed. This is because the clerks normally charge $31 per change to amend them later.

The clerks also charge for some hearing transcripts, photocopies, returned checks, and almost any other service.
Other Pre-Filing Activities
When considering how much it costs to file bankruptcy, you must think about the time costs as well. All debtors must complete a debt counselling course before filing. Fortunately, the class is available online and only takes a few minutes. Your attorney can give you a list of approved courses to choose from.
Before the 341 creditors’ meeting, the trustee (person who oversees the bankruptcy on behalf of the judge) will probably want copies of various documents, such as:

  • Last year’s income tax return
  • Drivers’ license
  • Social Security card
  • Bank statements
  • Insurance policy declaration pages
  • Domestic support orders
  • Deed and title documents
  • Leases
  • Profit/loss sheets

The first three items in this list are mandatory. Moreover, the trustee has the discretion to ask for any of the remaining documents. As the bankruptcy debtor, you have a duty to cooperate with the trustee in this area. Failure to turn over requested documents is grounds for a with-prejudice dismissal.
Talk to a Debt Lawyer About How Much It Costs to File Bankruptcy
If you are overwhelmed by debt and want to get a fresh start, learn more about how much it costs to file bankruptcy by calling the Northwest Debt Relief Law Firm today.
 The original post is titled How Much It Costs to File Bankruptcy , and it came from Portland Bankruptcy Attorney | Northwest Debt Relief .


9 months 3 weeks ago

Looking Back on HAMP and Forward on Student Loan Relief Congress should soon take a look at fastest growing category of consumer debt—student loans. During the 2016 Presidential election, Donald Trump added his voice to the chorus of Democratic law makers, led by Senator Elizabeth Warren, to provide student loan relief. President Trump was elected on […]The post Trump Republicans and Student Loans: Don’t Follow Obama’s HAMP by Robert Weed appeared first on Robert Weed.


9 months 3 weeks ago

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The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) expired December 31st.  After eight years of assisting underwater homeowners save their homes from foreclosure, the program has now ended.
Approximately 10 million homes were lost to foreclosure in the past decade.  HAMP helped lessen the mortgage meltdown, but its job is now complete.  Foreclosure sales have diminished and home prices are now almost equal to the market prices just prior to the housing market bubble bursting in 2008.
So now what?
According to the folks I chat to in the foreclosure industry, expect mortgage service companies to tighten standards and foreclosures to gradually increase during 2017.

Without HAMP, homeowners seeking loan modification will be left at the mercy of lenders.”  Dillon Graham, Florida foreclosure defense attorney.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued lending guidelines to help reduce the number of foreclosures in the future, including an emphasis on loan affordability, but those guidelines will do little to help current homeowners who fall behind on their mortgage payment.
I expect to see a new foreclosure trend emerging in 2017:

  • Banks will be quicker to initiate foreclosure actions when a homeowner falls 2 to 3 payments behind.
  • Foreclosure Forbearance Agreements will emerge from an 8-year hibernation and be the primary loss mitigation tool offered by mortgage lenders.
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy case filings will increase as it provides the the best option to give homeowners 3 to 5 years to cure delinquent mortgage payments.
  • Foreclosures on long-forgotten 2nd mortgage debts will pick up as surging home prices enable banks to recoup some recovery for loans previously underwater.

This cat is now away.  Time for the mice to play again?
 
Image courtesy of Flickr and frankieleon.


9 months 3 weeks ago

Tax Lien
The existence of a Federal Tax Lien in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case is a dangerous thing. Especially in cases where a debtor has substantial equity in a home or other assets.
Why are tax liens so dangerous?  Because property exemption laws, such as the Homestead Exemption, do not apply to federal tax liens.
Exemption laws protect a debtor’s property when they file bankruptcy. For example, the Nebraska Homestead Exemption protects up to $60,000 of home equity (the difference between the home’s value and the balance of the mortgage).  So, if a debtor owns a home worth $100,000 and the home is subject to a mortgage loan of $40,000, the home is generally protected in chapter 7, unless a federal tax lien is present.
What is alarming is that most bankruptcy attorneys seem to be oblivious to the fact that federal tax liens are not subject to state exemption laws.  In fact, I have spoken to attorneys who falsely believe a federal tax lien actually protects a home since the lien takes away the home equity.  Yes, the lien takes away equity, but it also puts a mighty power in the hands of the Chapter 7 Trustee.
What drives this dangerously false idea of a tax lien protecting property is that few attorneys have witnessed a bankruptcy trustee use the power of bankruptcy code Section 724(b).  I’ve never seen a Nebraska trustee tap the power of 724(b), nor is there any case I’ve seen in Nebraska where a trustee took away a home with this power. Yet, cases exist in other jurisdictions where debtors have lost homes due to the trustee’s use of 724(b).
Martin and Elvira Laredo owned a home in Illinois valued at $320,235 that was subject to a mortgage loans of $245,000.  They owed the IRS $282,268 and reported that a federal tax lien was filed against their home.  The debtors claimed a $15,000 homestead exemption.  In re Laredo, 334 B.R. 401 (2005).  The Chapter 7 Trustee motioned the court for a ruling to determine that the homestead exemption was subordinate to the federal tax lien and the administrative expenses the trustee would incur in selling the home.  The court agreed with the trustee and ordered the home sold even though the only parties who benefited were the IRS and the Trustee.
This result should not surprise bankruptcy attorneys.  Those who represent debtors in Chapter 13 cases should be aware that the IRS will file a secured claim on exempt property when federal tax liens are present.  So, why would the result  in a Chapter 7 be any different?  In theory, the payments to creditors in Chapter 13 should be no less than payments made in Chapter 7 under what is known as the “best interest of creditors test“, so this result should  not be surprising.
At least one Nebraska case has spoken to the power of 724(b), In re Netal, Inc., Case #09-82992.
I suspect the reason we do not see Chapter 7 Trustee’s use the power of 724(b) more is that although the bankruptcy schedules may report that federal tax debts are present, they debtor may not be reporting that a federal tax lien has been filed prior to the bankruptcy.  The debtor’s attorney may also be unaware of the presence of the tax lien unless they perform a public records search.  However, given the duty of a bankruptcy attorney to perform a “due diligence” investigation of the debtor’s assets, income and debts, there is probably a duty to search for and report the existence of such liens.  Also, unless the Trustee seeks out independent confirmation of the existence of the lien, he or she may be ignorant of its presence.  A smart trustee should assume the presence of a tax lien when substantial tax debt is reported even if the lien itself is not disclosed.
A second reason for the lack of 724(b) seizures in Nebraska is the lack of prior history of using this tool.  There is no tradition of 724(b) property seizures in Nebraska, but I suspect that tradition will change over time, especially in a rising housing market.
In conclusion, when substantial tax debts exist, be careful when filing Chapter 7.  Choose your Nebraska bankruptcy attorney carefully.
 
 
 
 
 


9 months 3 weeks ago

Can I file? For the most part, when people seek out bankruptcy relief they are seeking the type of relief offered through chapter 7. To file, you must:
• Reside, be domiciled, or have property or a place of business in the United States (U.S.). A person does not have to be a U.S. citizen to file, nor live in the U.S., as long as they have assets in the U.S.
• You are able to file if you do not have a prior Chapter 7 discharge or it has been more than 8 years, or 6 years since a Chapter 13 discharge.
• Within 180 days before filing the bankruptcy petition, you must receive credit counseling briefing from one of the approved nonprofit agency that focuses on budget and counseling.
• Be subject to a means test to determine how your income compares to Arizona’s median income and whether or not you qualify to file under Chapter 7.
The post Pursuing Bankruptcy under Chapter 7 appeared first on Tucson Bankruptcy Attorney.


9 months 2 weeks ago

Can I file? For the most part, when people seek out bankruptcy relief they are seeking the type of relief offered through chapter 7. To file, you must:
• Reside, be domiciled, or have property or a place of business in the United States (U.S.). A person does not have to be a U.S. citizen to file, nor live in the U.S., as long as they have assets in the U.S.
• You are able to file if you do not have a prior Chapter 7 discharge or it has been more than 8 years, or 6 years since a Chapter 13 discharge.
• Within 180 days before filing the bankruptcy petition, you must receive credit counseling briefing from one of the approved nonprofit agency that focuses on budget and counseling.
• Be subject to a means test to determine how your income compares to Arizona’s median income and whether or not you qualify to file under Chapter 7.
The post Pursuing Bankruptcy under Chapter 7 appeared first on Tucson Bankruptcy Attorney.


9 months 3 weeks ago

I love the people at NW Debt Relief! Bankruptcy is a really stressful situation and to have knowledgeable and friendly people to help you is fantastic! I really want to give a big shout out to Alyssa and Shane for being there through out the whole process! Meagan is also very helpful. Tom and Aaron are great attorneys. I definitely recommend using this firm. They will help you get your life back. Thank you you guys are an amazing team!
 The original post is titled Jessie , and it came from Portland Bankruptcy Attorney | Northwest Debt Relief .


5 months 4 weeks ago

I love the people at NW Debt Relief! Bankruptcy is a really stressful situation and to have knowledgeable and friendly people to help you is fantastic! I really want to give a big shout out to Alyssa and Shane for being there through out the whole process! Meagan is also very helpful. Tom and Aaron are great attorneys. I definitely recommend using this firm. They will help you get your life back. Thank you you guys are an amazing team!
 The original post is titled Jessie , and it came from Portland Bankruptcy Attorney | Northwest Debt Relief .


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