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4 years 4 weeks ago

There is one call every bankruptcy lawyer dreads getting from a client after their case has been closed.  The call  regarding a missing creditor - a creditor not listed on their bankruptcy schedules and now the creditor is making demands for payment or a lawsuit has been filed against the client by this creditor.  It's a common mistake and one that unfortunately happens all too frequently.  The Bankruptcy Courts are divided on whether or not a no-asset chapter 7 case can be reopened to add a new creditor.  In the Western District of Texas where I practice, the current state of the law is you cannot discharge the claim of the creditorIf there was a distribution made to the creditors by the Chapter 7 Trustee then the law is uniform that the debtor is flat out of luck.missing creditors
By the time potential clients contact a Bankruptcy Lawyer they are under a great deal of stress.  Often they've stopped answering all creditor calls and trash all their mail. Obtaining a Credit Report helps a great deal, especially if it's one of the specialized reports designed for the purpose of preparing bankruptcy documents.  A Credit Report is not a cure all.  Not every creditor reports to one or more of the Credit Bureaus.  A Credit Report lists: mortgage lender, car purchases and most but not all credit cards.  Certain creditors are automatically listed on bankruptcy schedules such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  The foregoing types of creditors are listed because of requirements established by the local rules of a Bankruptcy Court.
There are many types of creditors and other potential claimants that do not show up on Credit Reports: small retailers; medical bills; ambulance bills; utilities; payday loans; pawned items; loans guaranteed for a family member or friend; money borrowed from a family member or friend; rent from an apartment complex or to the homeowner of  the house you rented are examples of creditors not listed on a Credit Report.  There are potential claimants such as those arising from of an accident which is not covered by insurance, a dispute with a neighbor over a variety of issues,  unpaid tuition, are types of claims not listed in a Credit Report.  If a client fails to disclose a creditor to their lawyer, this debt would not be listed in their bankruptcy.  Another example of a missed creditor:  I didn't think I owed the claimant anything and in fact, I think the claimant owes me. 
On the business side of bankruptcy, there are potential claims by customers for warranty issues, business creditors the client guaranteed for their corporation or limited liability company.  It's important to include every possible liability to your bankruptcy schedules.
The prime rule in real estate is location, location and location and in the same vein the prime rule in bankruptcy is notice, notice and notice (review, review and review).    When filling out the bankruptcy questionnaire take time to reflect and think about every potential person or business who might claim you owe them money.  There are two important things a client should do: first, not to rely on a Credit Report exclusively; second, take your time to reflect on who might be out there with a claim or potential claim.  Remember, whether you really owe the claimant something is not the issue.  The issue is giving notice to the claimant so that any potential claim is disposed in your bankruptcy.  Even if you don't owe the claimant anything, you still may be faced with having to defend a lawsuit, which is expensive. This type of lawsuit can be avoided by simply providing a name, address, and some basic information.


4 years 4 weeks ago

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy gives you an opportunity to pay arrearages for your home, car, furniture or other secured debts and it allows you to have a repayment plan for your unsecured creditors.  If you are currently in a Chapter 13, it is important for you to know that your attorney's realize 'life happens' which can upset your financial obligations. People can lose their jobs, get divorced, have major car trouble, damage to their home, illness and so on.  In order for your Chapter 13 case to be successful it is necessary for you to keep in touch with your attorney when the going gets tough. There are different kinds of remedies that may be available for you to keep your Chapter 13 case afloat.successful bankruptcy, bankruptcy, debt relief  It is important that you follow your attorney’s instructions closely and make sure that your payments to the Chapter 13 Trustee are made timely and consistently. If this is going to be a problem then you should address it with your bankruptcy attorney in order to find a solution before your case spirals downward. If you fail to make your Chapter 13 payments your case could get dismissed and this could put your assets in jeopardy. During the three (3) to five (5) years of your bankruptcy, you must keep your attorney informed.  Having a positive attitude helps when dealing with bumps in road that come your way.  Falling behind on your Chapter 13 payment or being in a tight situation doesn’t mean you should give up on your bankruptcy. There can be setbacks but if you reach out for help there may be a solution for you.


4 years 4 weeks ago

Myths and Truths About Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Part III
Myth:  If a debtor wishes to retain personal property or real property, the property can be excluded from the bankruptcy and does not need to be listed in the petition.
Truth:  All property, real and personal, a debtor owns at the time of the bankruptcy must be listed in the bankruptcy schedules, even if the debtor intends to retain the property and maintain the payments.  Many debtors believe that if they are current on their payments and are going to continue paying for the real or personal property, such as a vehicle or home, they can leave the debt off the bankruptcy petition entirely.  This is not true.  The trustee and bankruptcy court want to know the assets debtors have at the time of filing.  They want to know what property the debtors have, the value of the property, and the amount still owed on the property.  The lien holder for the property must be listed with their address so they get notice of the bankruptcy.  If the debtor wishes to retain the property and maintain the payments, the debtor will indicate that in the petition so the creditor knows they intend to retain and reaffirm.  It is important for debtors to list all their property, even if they wish to retain it, so the trustee may determine whether there is unexempt equity and proceed accordingly.
Myth:  A debtor is not required to list cash they have on hand.
Truth:  A debtor must list any cash they have on hand at the time of filing the bankruptcy.  Schedule B specifically asks about cash on hand.  If the debtor leaves that question blank, they are stating to the trustee that they do not have cash on hand.  The debtor has an obligation to list any money they have in their possession, in their house, or anywhere else, such as a safe deposit box at the bank.  This rule also applies to un-cashed checks the debtor possesses.  Many debtors may believe it is acceptable to take money out of the bank or cash a check and keep it in cash so the trustee does not know about it and potentially require the debtor to turn that money over to pay some of their unsecured creditors.  This is false.  Any property a debtor has must be listed, including cash.  If not reported, the debtor can be investigated.  It is essential for a debtor to list all property and value that property honestly and fairly. 
If you have any questions, please contact a St. Louis or St. Charles bankruptcy attorney.


4 years 4 weeks ago

Myths and Truths About Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Part III
Myth:  A debtor can only file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy if they are trying to save a house from foreclosure or a car from repossession.
Truth:  There are several reasons why a person may file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  One reason is the debtor is over median.  There is a median income that is determined for each state depending on the household size.  If a debtor's income is more than the median income, the debtor may be required to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead of Chapter 7.  The debtor would then pay back a certain amount to their unsecured creditors based on the disposable monthly income in the means test. 
A debtor may also need to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy if they have equity in their property.  This is referred to as the liquidation analysis.  If a debtor has unexempt equity, they may want to file a Chapter 13 and pay back their unsecured creditors an amount equal to their unexempt equity.  For example, if a debtor has a vehicle worth $10,000 without a loan against it and $3,000 is exempt under the vehicle exemption and $500 under the wildcard exemption in Missouri, there is $6,500 in unexempt equity.  In a Chapter 7, the trustee would be able to take the car and sell it to pay $6,500 to unsecured creditors.  The other option through a Chapter 13 is to pay the $6,500 to unsecured creditors.  In return, the trustee will allow the debtor to retain their property and keep the equity.  If the debtor is under median, they would pay back $6,500 to unsecured creditors, and the rest would be discharged.
Another reason to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy would be if the debtor is not eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  A person can only file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy every eight years, but they can file a Chapter 13 six years after filing a Chapter 7.  If they are being pursued by creditors, the Chapter 13 may be their best option if a Chapter 7 may not be completed at that time.
As you can see, there are many reasons for debtors to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  If you would like more information about this, please contact a St. Louis or St. Charles bankruptcy attorney.


4 years 4 weeks ago

There is a common misperception that debtors cannot purchase or sell any property while in a chapter 13 bankruptcy.  That simply is not the case.  However, you will need permission from the court to complete any purchase or sale. 
Should you find that you would like to sell or purchase an item, for example a house or vehicle, you should contact your attorney right away.  Your attorney will need some information from you.  This information will include the selling price, financing terms, the length of the agreement and so forth.  Basically, you should provide the proposed contract terms to your attorney. 
Your attorney will then prepare a motion to either sell or purchase, whatever is appropriate, and file the motion with the court.  That motion will have to be set for a hearing a minimum of 21 days from the day of filing.  That 21 day period allows all of your creditors and the trustee to receive notice and allows time for any objections.  If there is an objection all may not be lost.  It may be an objection that you and your attorney can cure.  If the objection holds you may not be able to buy or sell the property. 
If there is no objection within the 21 day time frame, a judge will likely grant your motion.  At that point, your attorney can submit an order to the judge.  The judge will need to sign this, and only after there is a signed order can you sell or purchase the property.
If you intend to purchase something, like a car, the motion can be written to cover any comparable vehicle up to a an established debt limit in the event that a particular car you were in interested in is no longer available after this process has been completed.  It is also important to know that must be able to demonstrate that you can actually afford the purchase. 
As you can see, this can take some time to complete so you should speak to your attorney about the process as soon as possible if you are interesting in making a purchase or selling an item while in a chapter 13 bankruptcy. 
If you have questions about this, or would like to schedule a free consultation, contact a St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today.


4 years 4 weeks ago

I'll be 60 years old this year - a true flower child at heart.  Love, Peace, Equal Rights.  And as my generation grew up we lived those values and life slowly changed.  Something's happened - there's been a shift and in my opinion an ugly shift.  It's like all the small-minded Americans banded together with the goal of homogenizing America.   When did the right to personal freedom end and when did religion (your religion) have the right to rule this country -me?  When did it become OK for personal relationships to be judged as good or bad - appropriate or inappropriate?
America - Home of the Free.  Home of Choicespersonal freedom
Politicians, stop trying to cram down our throats what your American Dream of life looks like.  It's certainly OK to have that dream - what's not OK is to expect my dream to look like your dream.  No 'dream' is better or worse, it's simply different.  Isn't that the essence of America, a country that began with people who were not allowed to live a life they honored?  
Be careful America.  Remember Hitler - one crazy man's hatred made history.  Can't happen again - really??  Isn't it already happening?  What's the difference between Jews and Gays - Germany and America?  It's just the 'flavor of the times' and geography.  Why can madness take over?  Because we - my generation - the majority of which just pass the buck, knowing someone else will do it.  Making doing nothing OK. It's not.  History cannot repeat itself and  for that to happen - we must use the system - the same system that's removing our Rights now.  Where are all the lawyers and judges?  History credits the breakdown in German Courts of lawyers & judges that allowed Hitler his power. Lawyers and Judges please stand up and honor the law!  Not as a democrat or a republican, moderate or conservative, but as scholars of America.  My husband used the bankruptcy laws in a Federal Bankruptcy Court to allow a gay couple to file jointly.  That was a challenge - but he found a way.  He made a difference for one gay  couple.  My husband can't be the only brave attorney in America that worked  hard to make a difference for a couple who's choices were different than his. 
It's time for all of us to come out of the closet and voice an opinion that allows everyone their personal lifestyle and choice.  If not, where do you draw the line?  Personally, I think we should outlaw mohawk haircuts.  Yuk!!


4 years 4 weeks ago

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy and meet with an attorney he/she will likely determine whether you are under or over median income  Individuals at or below median income for their family size can file a Chapter 7.  If you are over median income you must file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.
If you are married both your income and the income of your spouse must be included in the means test.  This is true even if you are not filing with your spouse because his/her income contributes to the household income. If you are separated and living in separate households then you do not need to include your spouse's income in the means test.  While you do have to account for your spouse's income, you also account for his/her expenses.
Median income is the average family income.  You family size is considered. For a one person household median is $39,563. For a two person household median is $51,562. For a three person household median is $58,473. For a four person household median is $70,363. You can add $6,900 for each person over four in your household.
So, who can you count?  You count yourself, your spouse if applicable, and your minor children that live with you.  If you have a child that is over 18 and is financially dependent upon you, especially because he/she is in college or is disabled in some way, you may count them.  If you have a parent or relative living with you that is financially dependent you may count that person.  As a general rule, if you can claim an individual as a dependent on your taxes you can probably count them.  The big exception to this is custody arrangements that relate to taxes.  If you can claim your child on taxes, but he/she does not live with you, you cannot claim him/her as part of your household for purposes of evaluating your qualification to file a Chapter 7.
If it does appear that your gross income is over median you should still speak with an attorney.  It is very possible that some of your qualified expenses will actually put you under median, meaning that you can file for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. 
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment for a free consultation, contact a St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today.


4 years 4 weeks ago

Debt Buyer LawsuitsIf you have run into financial problems and are unable to pay credit card payments you probably expect to hear from the bank. What you don’t expect is to be sued by a company that you never heard of.  It is probably a debt buyer.  This is becoming  common.
Companies known as debt buyers routinely purchased accounts from major lenders and credit card companies. They buy these accounts at significant discounts and make substantial profits attempting to collect the full amount.
When they are unable to successfully collect through the use of collection agents they file lawsuits. Most of these lawsuits are not defended and a  default judgment is signed by the court.
This is where the real trouble starts. Once a judgment is entered creditors can garnish your paycheck.  Arizona law allows a creditor to garnish 25% of your take-home pay.
A recent article appearing on Credit Slips highlighted a common problem with these debt collection lawsuits. The credit industry has taken many shortcuts when they have sold or assigned these accounts. A major debt-buyer called LVNV Funding is a good example. In the case discussed on Credit Slips the account was originally owed to Sears. However, Sears had sold the account Citibank. Citibank turned around and sold the account to Sherman Financial Group.  But, the lawsuit was filed listing LVNV Funding as the plaintiff, the company attempting to collect.
The only evidence that LVNV Funding was able to produce was its own business records. They were unable to produce any evidence or testimony that the person they were suing ever owed any money to Sears or that the account had been properly transferred to LVNV Funding.  The Court ruled that LVNV Funding failed to prove that it had a right to collect and entered judgment in favor of the defendant.
The problem with the lack of proof shown in the LVNV Funding case is not unique. A recent decision by a New York state court commented that the practice of the debt-buyer industry unfairly affects consumers. It’s common for an account to be sold and then nothing to be done for several years. The interest rate on the credit card accounts is much higher than the creditor would be able to collect on a judgment. Also, the typical credit card agreement also allows late fees and penalties to be added. The judge in that case has set a deadline for the debt buyer to prove it has the legal right to collect in the Court’s pending cases. If it fails to do so, the judge has threatened to dismiss all 930 of its pending cases.
The debt-buyer industry is counting on the fact that most consumers do not know what to do if they are sued. Most of the collection lawsuits are not defended. When they are not defended the debt buyer is awarded a judgment by default. They are then allowed to use the legal process to garnish wages, freeze bank accounts, and seize personal property.
This isn’t a problem that just taking place in other states. Our office has successfully help several people faced with these debt buyer lawsuits. When you’re faced with financial problems bankruptcy is only one of the options. If your problems are being caused by an account that is now held by someone you never did business with, you probably have a valid defense.
We understand that most people have been through a tough few years. There is no shame in having financial problems that have gotten out of control. If you’re faced with problems such as these, please feel free to give us a call.  We can help.
Original article: Debt Buyer Lawsuits: Are you being sued by someone you never heard of?©2013 Arizona Bankruptcy Lawyer. All Rights Reserved.The post Debt Buyer Lawsuits: Are you being sued by someone you never heard of? appeared first on Arizona Bankruptcy Lawyer.


2 years 4 months ago

The emerging trend, according to a recent CNN Money article, is that the economy has tanked to the point people can't even afford to file for bankruptcy.

Probably true, based on the experience of this law firm. When the crash hit in 2007, the biggest problem was the wave of toxic mortgages re-setting to interest rates, and consequently payments, that shot to absurd amounts. Home owners couldn't make the payments, so bankruptcy was one way to eliminate the debt and stop the foreclosure long enough to get out of the house and not have to abandon your toothbrush and Fido. This event, in turn, triggered the economic down-turn, the lay-offs and decline in income that bring us to where we are today.

The 2005 "reform" of bankruptcy law has compounded the problem for debtors by requiring more paperwork and thereby increasing costs. Among the most ludicrous requirements is pre-filing debt counseling. Bankruptcy is the last thing debtors want to do. If debt management re-payment plans were a solution, they would be doing them.

The average attorney fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $1,500 (and that is more or less what bankruptcy lawyers charge in DC, MD and VA.) But, says the article, it is expected that between 200,000 and one million consumers will not be able to afford even that.

Our bankruptcy and tax law firm has recognized this reality. That is why we have set up a new program to make legal representation in bankruptcy more affordable to debtors in DC, MD and VA. The initial cost to start is minimal and the monthly payments within reach. In the meantime, you have legal representation, an advisor, and someone to "run interference" (if I may borrow a sports term) with creditors. Take a look: FINANCED BANKRUPTCY℠.

Call us, and we'll discuss your situation.


4 years 4 weeks ago

The emerging trend, according to a recent CNN Money article, is that the economy has tanked to the point people can't even afford to file for bankruptcy.

Probably true, based on the experience of this law firm. When the crash hit in 2007, the biggest problem was the wave of toxic mortgages re-setting to interest rates, and consequently payments, that shot to absurd amounts. Home owners couldn't make the payments, so bankruptcy was one way to eliminate the debt and stop the foreclosure long enough to get out of the house and not have to abandon your toothbrush and Fido. This event, in turn, triggered the economic down-turn, the lay-offs and decline in income that bring us to where we are today.

The 2005 "reform" of bankruptcy law has compounded the problem for debtors by requiring more paperwork and thereby increasing costs. Among the most ludicrous requirements is pre-filing debt counseling. Bankruptcy is the last thing debtors want to do. If debt management re-payment plans were a solution, they would be doing them.

The average attorney fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $1,500 (and that is more or less what bankruptcy lawyers charge in DC, MD and VA.) But, says the article, it is expected that between 200,000 and one million consumers will not be able to afford even that.

Our bankruptcy and tax law firm has recognized this reality. That is why we have set up a new program to make legal representation in bankruptcy more affordable to debtors in DC, MD and VA. The initial cost to start is minimal and the monthly payments within reach. In the meantime, you have legal representation, an advisor, and someone to "run interference" (if I may borrow a sports term) with creditors. Take a look: FINANCED BANKRUPTCY℠.

Call us, and we'll discuss your situation.


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