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The Bankruptcy Alphabet – U is for Upside-Down Vehicles

Posted by on Apr 26, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

So you’ve got an upside-down car. How can you deal with it in bankruptcy?

First, a little terminology. An upside-down vehicle simply means that the vehicle is worth less than is owed against it. A $5,000 vehicle with a loan balance of $7,000, that sort of thing. Saying the car is “underwater” is the same thing.

If you have an upside-down car or truck, bankruptcy may be able to help. I’ll take you through the options using this scenario: Debtor owns a 2001 car with a fair market value of $3,000. Debtor also has a loan with Big Bank, with a current balance of $15,000. Big Bank has a lien on the car, securing its loan. If Debtor files bankruptcy, how can he deal with this debt? (That sounds a lot like a law school question…)

– If he files a Chapter 7, Debtor could reaffirm the debt. He would keep the vehicle and keep making his payments. I wouldn’t recommend this option, as Debtor would eventually pay $15,000 for a $3,000 car. If he’s going to spend $15,000, he might as well get a vehicle worth $15,000.

– Debtor could surrender the car in his bankruptcy. Big Bank would get the car, but nothing else. If Debtor surrendered the car outside of bankruptcy, Big Bank would sell it at an auction for around $20 and then sue Debtor for the deficiency (the difference between the value of the collateral and the loan balance). In bankruptcy, Big Bank couldn’t sue for the deficiency. Unless this car has sentimental value to Debtor, this isn’t a bad option.

– Debtor could redeem the vehicle in a Chapter 7. By redeeming, Debtor would pay Big Bank a lump sum of $3,000 and Big Bank would release its lien. There are places that will give loans for this type of transaction, but their interest rates are quite high. It’s usually best if a friend or family member can lend the money to redeem. If Debtor can come up with the necessary funds, redemption is a great way to keep the upside-down car without overpaying for it.

– In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, Debtor might be able to cram down the loan. In a cram down, Debtor would pay the value of the vehicle over the life of the Chapter 13 plan. It’s similar to redemption, but a lump sum payment isn’t required. Debtor cannot cram down the loan if the car was purchased less than 910 days before the bankruptcy was filed AND the loan was made to purchase the car, i.e. it wasn’t a refinance.

– Whether or not he can cram down the loan, Debtor can modify the interest rate in a Chapter 13. Instead of paying the 8% – 13% contract rate, he can pay the Till rate (long story short, it’s around 4.5%). Depending on the contract rate, this could save Debtor quite a bit of money.

As you can see, there are quite a few options for dealing with an upside-down vehicle in bankruptcy. Which one is best for you will be determined by your individual circumstances. Your bankruptcy attorney can give you advice specific to your situation.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “U.”

U.S. Trustee – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Unauthorized Practice of Law – by Cleveland Bankruptcy Attorney Bill Balena
Understanding How Bankruptcy Works – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark Markus
Underwater – by Jay Fleischman, bankruptcy attorney in New York City
Underwater – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Undue Hardship – by St. Clair Shores MI bankruptcy attorney Kurt O’Keefe
United States Trustee – by Maui Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart Ing
Unlisted assets – by Allen Park, Michigan bankruptcy lawyer, Christopher McAvoy
Unlisted Creditors – by Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr
Unsecured – by Cathy Moran, Bay Area Bankruptcy Lawyer
Unsecured Creditors – by Livonia Bankruptcy Attorney, Peter Behrmann

Image Credit: dumbledad/flickr

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – T is for Timeshares

Posted by on Apr 21, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Many bankruptcy clients have vacation timeshares that they would like to keep. While it’s usually possible to keep timeshares, it’s not always advisable.

The ownership of the timeshare itself is an asset. Despite what the salesman told you, your timeshare is probably not worth the $5,000 you agreed to pay. Regardless of how much it means to you, that timeshare is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Given that timeshares are often sold on eBay for under $1.00, it’s doubtful that you will find someone willing to pay $5,000 for the right to stay at Fantastic Resort.

The value of a timeshare may not be great, but it is an asset that must be disclosed in your bankruptcy. Given the low value of most timeshares, exempting them is usually not a problem. Bigger problem with timeshares are the maintenance fees and initial purchase prices. Maintenance fees, often $100/month or more, are charged whether you use the timeshare or not. And the high initial purchase prices are usually financed. My clients with timeshares usually owe a few thousand dollars on the original purchase and accrued maintenance fees. In most of those cases, I advise them to let the timeshare go, discharge that debt, and pay for vacations as they go.

A timeshare isn’t necessarily a bad purchase. But if you’re having trouble paying your other bills, the timeshare should be one of the first things you consider eliminating from your budget.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “T.”

Taking Social Security to Pay Student Loans – by St. Clair Shores MI Bankruptcy Attorney Kurt O’Keefe
Tax Discharge
– by Allen Park, Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyer, Christopher McAvoy
Tax Dischargeability – by Northern California Bankruptcy Attorney, Cate Eranthe
Tax Refund – by Cleveland Bankruptcy Attorney Bill Balena
Tax Refunds – by Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr
Taxes – by Kauai Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart T. Ing
Tension – by San Mateo County Bankruptcy Lawyer Cathy Moran
Thankful for Bankruptcy Laws – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Lawyer, Mark Markus
Thirteen – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Tools of the Trade – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Lawyer Bob Doig
Transfers – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Trustee – by Bankruptcy Lawyer Jay S. Fleischman
Trustee – by Livonia Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Peter Behrmann
Trustee Duties – by Lakewood, CA Bankruptcy Attorney, Christine A. Wilton

Image Credit: TooFarNorth/flickr

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – S is for Small Claims

Posted by on Apr 13, 2012 in Blog | 7 comments

I frequently get calls and emails asking, “what happens if I get sued?” In most cases, these people have been sued in small claims for a credit card or other debt that has gone into default. Keep in mind that small claims suits are not criminal cases that will result in jail time for the debtor. The worst that will happen is that the creditor will get a judgment and then try to collect on that judgment via a bank account levy or wage garnishment.

The next question usually is, “does it matter if I file my bankruptcy before or after the creditor gets its small claims judgment?” The answer depends on your individual situation. If you’re unemployed and have no non-exempt assets, probably not. If you’re employed and your wages are not exempt from garnishment, it’s usually better to file the bankruptcy before the judgment is entered and the creditor begins collecting on that judgment.

Small claims judgments are typically dischargeable in bankruptcy. So the obligation to pay on that judgment will probably be eliminated whether you file your bankruptcy before or after the small claims suit is completed. If you file before the judgment, the judgment will not be entered. If you file after the judgment, the creditor may be able to collect on the judgment from the time of the judgment until you actually file the bankruptcy, but won’t be able to collect once you file. In short, the timing of the bankruptcy filing doesn’t usually make a big difference, but you should talk to your attorney to learn if the specifics of your situation require an earlier or later filing.

Many consumers are afraid of getting sued in small claims, largely because they don’t know what will happen. Information can relieve that stress and allow you to make good decisions. If you have questions about small claims suits, feel free to ask in the comments below or on my Facebook page. While I can’t give legal advice without meeting you face-to-face, I can answer general questions.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “S.”

Scared – by Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney, J. Dinkins G. Grange
Schedules and Statements – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Section 341 Meeting – by Allen Park, Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Christopher McAvoy
Security Interest – by Jay S. Fleischman
Signs You Should Consider Filing for Bankruptcy – by Livonia, Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Peter Behrmann
SOFA – by Northern Bay Area Bankruptcy Lawyer Cate Eranthe
Spouse – by Cleveland Bankruptcy Attorney Bill Balena
Statement of Intention – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Statutory Lien – by Dorota Trzeciecka Bankruptcy Blog
Step Plan – by Kurt O’Keefe Michigan bankruptcy lawyer
Strip – by Bay Area bankruptcy lawyer Cathy Moran
Stripping – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus
Student Loans – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Lawyer Bob Doig
Student Loans – by Hawaii Bankruptcy Lawyer, Stuart T. Ing
Student Loans – by Lakewood, Ca Bankruptcy Attorney Christine A. Wilton
Stuff – by WilksLaw, DC Metro
Surrender – by Metro Richmond Consumer and Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein

Image Credit: TooFarNorth/flickr

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – R is for Reaffirm, Redeem, or Retain and Pay

Posted by on Apr 7, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

As a debtor in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have three official ways to deal with vehicle loans. You can:

Surrender the collateral. Outside of bankruptcy, if your vehicle is repossessed, the lender will sell it at an auction, get about twenty bucks for it, and sue you for the difference between that $20 and the last balance on your loan. This difference is called a deficiency. In bankruptcy, if you surrender the vehicle, the lender cannot pursue you for the deficiency. The lender will get its collateral and nothing more. This option makes sense if your car is worth considerably less than what you owe and you’re willing to let it go.

Reaffirm the debt. If you want to keep the vehicle and continue making your payments, you can reaffirm the debt. By signing a reaffirmation agreement, you agree to assume the personal liability that your bankruptcy would otherwise discharge. With respect to this particular debt, it will be as if your bankruptcy had never happened. If you default in the future, the lender will repossess the vehicle and sue you for a deficiency. This option is preferred by many of my clients when the vehicle is worth more than is owed. Check out THIS POST for a more detailed explanation of reaffirmation agreements.

Redeem the collateral. Redemption allows you to pay a lump sum to your lender for the fair market value of the vehicle in exchange for a lien release. Say you have a car worth $2,000 but you owe $15,000 against it. To redeem the vehicle, you would pay the lender $2,000 and the lender would release its lien. You would emerge from bankruptcy without the debt and a $2,000 vehicle that you own free and clear of all liens. (That’s a simplified version; redemption involves a motion and possible hearing on the value of the collateral.) Redemption is a great option if your vehicle is worth significantly less than what you owe, you want to keep the vehicle, and you can come up with the necessary funds to pay the fair market value within a few weeks of your bankruptcy filing.

There’s also an unofficial fourth option called “Retain and Pay,” where the debtor proposes to retain the collateral and continue making payments. It’s similar to reaffirmation, but without the threat of being sued for a deficiency in the future. However, the Bankruptcy Code doesn’t provide for this option. If you don’t choose to either surrender, reaffirm, or redeem, the Automatic Stay will be lifted and the lender may proceed under state law. Given that lenders will usually get more money by continuing to accept payments than by repossessing, your smarter lenders will typically allow Retain & Pay. But not all lenders make good financial decisions and will try to repossess if the debtor does not either reaffirm or redeem. In Wisconsin, the lender cannot repossess without a default in payments if the loan falls under the Wisconsin Consumer Act. In states without such consumer protections, the lender may repossess if you don’t reaffirm or redeem, even if you’re current on your payments. But see THIS POST for a warning on trying retain in pay in Wisconsin.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “R.”

Reaffirmation – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Reaffirmation Agreement – by Cleveland Bankruptcy Attorney, Bill Balena
Reaffirmation Agreements – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Reaffirming Your Mortgage – by Allen Park, Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Christopher McAvoy
Real Estate – by Livonia, Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Peter Behrmann
Real Party in Interest – by Lakewood, CA Bankruptcy Attorney, Christine A. Wilton
Redemption – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman
Redemption – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Rental vs. Continued Home Ownership – by Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr
Renting After Bankruptcy – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus
Reorganization – by Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Catherine Eranthe
Repossession – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Lawyer Bob Doig
Repossession – by Kona Bankruptcy Lawyer, Stuart T. Ing
Retirement – by Bay Area Bankruptcy Lawyer Cathy Moran

Image Credit: bixentro/flickr

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – Q is for Quit Living on Credit

Posted by on Mar 30, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Once you’ve decided to file for bankruptcy protection, you need to make some serious changes to your financial life. The number one change for many of my clients is to quit relying on credit. Start paying by cash, check, or debit card. Quit using the credit cards (using credit that you don’t intend to repay is fraudulent) and quit making payments on them (once you’ve decided to file bankruptcy, making payments on credit cards is just throwing good money after bad).

I tend to use my credit cards for nearly everything, so it may seem hypocritical for me to tell others to stop. But my advice isn’t meant for everyone. If you pay your credit card bill in full and on time every month so you don’t pay any finance charges, credit cards can be a convenient way to pay. But there’s a reason banks make good money on credit cards. Miss your payment deadline by one day, and say goodbye to that 5% introductory interest rate and hello to a $25 late fee.

I see people every day who had the best of intentions when they started using their credit cards. The card was only going to be used to cover some necessary expenses one month and be paid back in full the next month. But something else came up next month and that credit card payment got pushed back again. Suddenly, $500 worth of charges ballooned to a $3,000 debt that will take years to pay off.

Credit cards can be convenient, but they can also be financial traps for the unwary.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “Q.”

Qualified Retirement Accounts – by Livonia Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Peter Behrmann
Qualified Retirements
– by Kauai Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart T. Ing
Qualified Witness – by Lakewood, CA Bankruptcy Attorney, Christine A. Wilton
Qualified Written Request – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Qualified Written Request – by Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Catherine Eranthe
Qualifying – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Lawyer Bob Doig
Quality Bankruptcy Attorney – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Questions – by Bay Area Bankruptcy Attorney Cathy Moran
Questions About Bankruptcy – Allen Park, MI Bankruptcy Attorney, Christopher McAvoy
Quick – by Jacksonville, Florida Bankruptcy Attorney, J. Dinkins G. Grange
Quicksand – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Lawyer, Mark J. Markus
Quiet – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman
Quitclaim – by Cleveland Bankruptcy Attorney, Bill Balena

Image Credit: takomabibelot/flickr

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – P is for Property of the Estate

Posted by on Mar 15, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Upon filing of the bankruptcy petition, a bankruptcy estate is created. This estate consists of the majority of the debtor’s assets and is the starting point when determining which assets may be liquidated to pay creditors.

Property of the estate is defined in Section 541 of the Bankruptcy Code. Why does it matter? Because this property doesn’t belong to the debtor, it belongs to the bankruptcy estate and the trustee will either administer it (sell it and distribute the proceeds to creditors) or abandon it (let the debtor keep it). Property of the estate ties in with exemptions, which have been discussed HERE. If property of the estate has been properly exempted, the trustee will abandon it and the debtor will retain it. If it can’t be exempted, the debtor has two options: (1) surrender the asset to the trustee for liquidation, or (2) file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and pay the nonexempt value into the plan over 3-5 years. For example, let’s say the debtor has a vehicle worth $5,000, no liens against it, and no exemption available to protect it. If the debtor wanted to keep the vehicle, he could pay that $5,000 into the Chapter 13 plan over 3-5 years and essentially “buy back” the vehicle from the bankruptcy estate.

While most of a debtor’s assets are property of the bankruptcy estate, some property is excluded from the estate by statute. These exclusions are in § 541(b) of the Bankruptcy Code. The list is pretty long, but it includes certain Education IRA’s, most retirement plans, and trusts that include valid spendthrift provisions. As you can see, there are two categories of property that a debtor can keep in a bankruptcy case. Property that goes into the bankruptcy estate and is then taken out using exemptions, and property that never goes into the bankruptcy estate at all.

Most of my clients never have to worry about losing assets. The exemptions available in Wisconsin are reasonably fair, and I can usually exempt 100% of my clients’ property. If you have an asset that you can’t risk losing, be sure to discuss it with your bankruptcy attorney before filing.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “P.”

Pay Advice – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman
Payment – by Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney, J. Dinkins G. Grange
Personal Bankruptcy – by Livonia, Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Peter Behrmann
Phone Call – by Cleveland Bankruptcy Attorney, Bill Balena
Plan – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Planning – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus
Power – by Lakewood, CA Bankruptcy Attorney, Christine A. Wilton
Preference – by Maui Bankruptcy Attorney, BankruptcyHI.com
Preference – by Marin County Bankruptcy Attorney, Catherine Eranthe
Preferences – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig
Pride – by Southgate, Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyer, Christopher McAvoy
Property of the Estate – by Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr

Image Credit: TooFarNorth/flickr

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – O is for Orders

Posted by on Mar 8, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

In a typical bankruptcy case, the judge will issue a number of orders. In the Western District of Wisconsin, most of these orders are drafted by the creditor’s or debtor’s attorney and submitted to the judge for signature. In other jurisdictions, the Court drafts its own orders.

Most bankruptcy orders are routine and most debtors don’t need to read them. However, attorneys disregard orders that are issued in their cases at their peril. (I was recently told of a hearing in which one attorney failed to comply with one of the terms of a pre-trial order. When asked why he didn’t comply, the attorney said that the term was on the back page of a two-page order and he had only read the first page. The judge politely informed the attorney that he expected attorneys to read all pages of his orders.)

An order can be thought of as a statement from a judge telling the parties how an issue has been decided. They are typically 1 to 2 pages long, much shorter than decisions, which can be anywhere from 10 to 100 pages long and explain the legal reasoning relied upon by the judge. Failure to obey a Court order can result in sanctions for the violator. Here is a list of some of the more common orders you might see in your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case:

Order granting discharge – Issued at the end of the case. Tells all interested parties that the debtor has fulfilled his/her obligations and has earned a discharge of indebtedness.

Order confirming plan – Issued after a Chapter 13 confirmation hearing or recommendation from the trustee. Says that the plan conforms with all applicable provisions of the Bankruptcy Code and that the plan will now control the debtor’s financial matters for the next 3-5 years.

Order granting relief from the automatic stay – Issued after a hearing (if contested) or after the default deadline has passed without objection. Allows a secured creditor to proceed against its collateral. If the debtor intends to surrender the collateral, we usually let these go unopposed.

Order granting motion – Issued after a hearing or after the default deadline has passed without objection. Many motions are filed in Bankruptcy Court, essentially asking the judge for permission to do something. The old adage “it’s easier to beg forgiveness than to seek permission” doesn’t usually hold true in court. Think of the order granting the motion as the judge giving permission to the movant to proceed.

This is just a small sample of orders that are issued in bankruptcy cases. Virtually every contested matter will conclude with an order signed by the judge. If you receive an order in your bankruptcy case and are unsure what it means to you, contact your attorney for an explanation.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “O.”

Objection – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Objection – by Lakewood, CA Bankruptcy Lawyer, Christine A. Wilton
Objection to Confirmation – by Livonia Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Peter Behrmann
Objection to Discharge – by Hilo Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart T. Ing
Objections by Creditor – by Taylor, Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Chris McAvoy
Obligations – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig
Offer in Compromise – by San Mateo Bankruptcy Attorney, Jeff Curl
Old – by Cleveland Bankruptcy Attorney Bill Balena
Omitted – by Bay Area Bankruptcy Lawyer Cathy Moran
Omitted creditor – by St. Clair Shores MI bankruptcy attorney Kurt O’Keefe
Oops! – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Organize – by Marin County Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cate Eranthe
Being Organized – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus
Options to Bankruptcy – by Suburban Philly Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr
Own – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman

Image Credit: swanksalot/flickr

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – N is for NACBA

Posted by on Feb 28, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

I’m going to use this blog post to give a little free publicity to a deserving organization. In my Bankruptcy Alphabet, N is for NACBA.

I am proud to be a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. NACBA was founded in 1992 and currently has over 5,000 attorney members from all 50 states. It offers services to attorneys, advocates in Washington D.C. for debtor-friendly legislation, and provides bankruptcy information to consumers. One of the most useful tools for consumers is the NACBA Attorney Finder. Simply enter your Zip Code and the distance you are willing to travel, and you’ll get a list of NACBA members who can help you with your financial problems.

NACBA members have access to various Listservs and sample pleadings. The Listserv members offer advice and opinions to each other on a wide range of bankruptcy topics. Even the most experienced attorney can benefit from bouncing ideas off of colleagues from around the country. And the Document Exchange allows attorneys to see the pleadings others have filed in various situations. Why reinvent the wheel? If something unexpected crops up in your bankruptcy case, who do you want on your side? The NACBA member who has thousands of fellow members willing to help solve the problem, or the general practice attorney who files a few bankruptcies each year and may not know where to turn for help?

If you’re looking for a bankruptcy attorney, I recommend you begin your search with the NACBA Attorney Finder. No matter where you live, you should be able to find a NACBA member serving your area. Bankruptcy is a specialized field of law. When your financial issues lead you to consult with an attorney about bankruptcy, it just makes sense to work with someone who is familiar with the field and committed to representing debtors. And that describes the typical NACBA member perfectly.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “N.”

Naked – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman
National Mortgage Settlement – by Lakewood, CA Bankruptcy Attorney, Christine Wilton
Negative Notice – by Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney J. Dinkins G. Grange
Negative Impact of Bankruptcy – by Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr
Never – by Cleveland Bankruptcy Attorney William Balena
No Asset – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
No Asset Case – by Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Attorney, Shawn N. Wright
No Asset Report – by Honolulu Bankruptcy Lawyer, Stuart T. Ing
Non-Attorney Bankruptcy – by Livonia Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Peter Behrmann
Non-exempt Property – by Miami Bankruptcy Attorney, Dorota Trzeciecka
Nondischargeable – by Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran
Nondischargeable – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Nondischargeable Debt – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Northern District of California – by Marin County Bankrupttcy Lawyer, Cate Eranthe
Notice – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig
Notice – by Taylor, Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Chris McAvoy
Numbers & New Bankruptcy Laws – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus

Image Credit: takomabibelot/flickr

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – M is for Members of the Household

Posted by on Feb 19, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

If you asked ten bankruptcy attorneys what “M” should represent in the bankruptcy alphabet, eight of them would probably answer, “Means Test.” Because I’ve already written about the means test in both the Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 contexts, I wanted to come up with something new for this series. Therefore, in my Bankruptcy Alphabet, M is for Members of the Household. (Granted, this was a bit of a stretch. “Household Members” would have been better, but I already had an H.)

“Members of the household” and “Dependents” are frequently used interchangeably, but there’s a significant difference between them in the bankruptcy world. “Dependents” are people who are dependent on you for support, usually your minor children. “Household members” are the people who live under your roof, whether or not they are dependents. The distinction is especially important at two points in a bankruptcy case: (1) when determining if your income is above or below the median for your state, and (2) when determining what expenses are reasonably necessary for your household.

The first step when determining if your bankruptcy case is presumed to be an abuse of the system is to compare your annual income to the median annual income for a similarly sized household in your state. For example, the median income for a household of four in Wisconsin is a little over $76,000 as of today. The median for a household of three is a little under $65,000. Let’s say your wages are the only income for the household, and you make $70,000/year. You’re married with two kids living at home, ages 15 and 25. You would claim one dependent for tax purposes (unless there’s a legitimate reason the 25 year old can also be claimed), but what is your household size? If it’s three, you’re above median and subject to the means test. If it’s four, you’re below median and not subject to the means test.

In my opinion, you have a household of four. I use the “heads on beds” test combined with an “economic unit” test when determining household size. If someone regularly sleeps at your house, he/she is likely a household member. Keep in mind, any income contributed to the household by any household member (paying rent, chipping in for groceries, etc.) must be disclosed as household income. Compare this situation with the single person living in a house with three roommates. This person probably has a household size of 1. If they all pool their money and share expenses, it could be a household of four. However, this is an uncommon arrangement.

Once we know the household size, we turn to your expenses on Schedule J. Even if your case is not presumed to be abusive under the means test, the U.S. Trustee’s Office may move to dismiss or convert your case under the “totality of the circumstances” test. Short version: Even though the debtor passed the means test, he has plenty of money left over each month to fund a Chapter 13 plan after he pays his reasonable expenses. Household size comes into play when analyzing the reasonableness of your expenses. A household of two people probably doesn’t need to spend $1,000 per month on food, while that may be completely reasonable for a household of eight.

As you can see, household size is important in a bankruptcy case. Although the numbers may be identical in many cases, don’t confuse the number of household members with the number of dependents you have. Your 30 year old son who just moved back home probably isn’t a dependent, but he could be a household member.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “M.”

Marriage – by San Francisco Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jeff Curl
Means Test – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Means Test – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman
Means Test – by Marin County Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cate Eranthe
Median Income – by Livonia Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Peter Behrmann
Median Income: Above or Below, Does it matter?
 – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus
Meeting of Creditors – by Colorado Springs bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig
Mistakes – by Cleveland Bankruptcy Attorney, William (Bill) Balena
Modify – by Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran
Monthly Income – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Mortgage Arrears – by Hawaii Bankruptcy Lawyer, Stuart T. Ing
Mortgage Arrears – by Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Attroney Shawn N. Wright
Mortgages & Bankruptcy – by Taylor, Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Chris McAvoy
Municipal Bankruptcies – by Lakewood, CA Bankruptcy Attorney, Christine Wilton
Myth: College Degree Value – by Detroit Bankruptcy Attorney Kurt O’Keefe

Image Credit: pdugmore2001/flickr

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – L is for Lawyer

Posted by on Feb 15, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Although anyone is permitted to file bankruptcy pro se, it’s usually a better idea to hire a lawyer experienced in bankruptcy issues to guide you through the process. Sure, that’s just my opinion and I’m not exactly unbiased. However, bankruptcy is a complicated area of law and there are a lot of traps for the unwary pro se debtor. Why should you hire a lawyer rather than try filing yourself? Here are my top five reasons:

1 – A bankruptcy lawyer can help protect your assets. Unless you are familiar with the exemption laws in your jurisdiction (Wisconsin allows debtors to choose between the federal exemptions and the Wisconsin state exemptions), you could put your assets at risk. If you fail to properly exempt your assets, the bankruptcy trustee could liquidate those unprotected assets to pay your creditors.

2 – A bankruptcy lawyer can help you determine which Chapter to file. For example, if your income is above median and you can’t pass through the means test, would it be better to try and rebut the presumption of abuse in a Chapter 7 or file a Chapter 13? If you have more equity in your home than you can exempt, would it be better to file a Chapter 7 and try to make a deal with the trustee to keep your home, or to file a Chapter 13 and pay that excess equity into the plan for 3-5 years? What kind of debts do you have? There are a lot of variables that go into making the 7 vs. 13 decision, and that decision is too important to make without competent counsel.

3 – Bankruptcy lawyers are extraordinarily good-looking, friendly, and fun people to be around. I don’t have a cite to back that up, but I think it’s probably true.

4 – A bankruptcy lawyer can help you decide when to file. If you have previously filed a bankruptcy, you may not be able to file again for a few months. If you’re not familiar with §727 and §1328 of the Bankruptcy Code, you may file your case even though you’re not eligible for a discharge. Timing issues are especially important if you are hoping to discharge tax debt. If you don’t know the rules and file just one week too soon, your tax debt may be nondischargeable.

5 – If anything goes wrong in your case and you need to hire a lawyer to fix things, it will likely cost you much more in legal fees. This is the same theory I use when explaining to my wife why I don’t do plumbing or electrical home repairs myself. It will cost more to have the professionals come in to fix my mistakes and then do it correctly than to just hire them in the first place.

Yes, you can file bankruptcy without a lawyer. You can also defend yourself against a murder charge without a lawyer, take out your own appendix without a doctor, or pull your own tooth without a dentist. No one will stop you from doing it, but you may not get the results you were hoping for.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “L.”

Levy – by Lakewood, Ca Bankruptcy Lawyer, Christine A. Wilton
Lie, the Big Mortgage Industry – by St. Clair Shores MI bankruptcy attorney, Kurt O’Keefe
Lien – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman
Lien Avoidance – by Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Attorney Shawn N. Wright
Lien Stripping – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Lien Stripping – by Honolulu Bankruptcy Attorney Stuart T. Ing
Life After Bankruptcy – by San Francisco Bankruptcy Attorney, Jeena Cho
Life Insurance – by Cleveland Bankruptcy Lawyer, Bill Balena
Lift the Stay – by Marin County Bankruptcy Attorney, Catherine Eranthe
Limits of Bankruptcy – by Livonia Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyer, Peter Behrmann
Liquidated – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
List It Or Lose It – by Allen Park, Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyer, Christopher McAvoy
Listing Assets and Debts – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus
Long Term Payments – by Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr
Luxuries – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig

Image Credit: Mr. Mystery/flickr

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – K is for Keeping Debt Collectors at Bay

Posted by on Feb 12, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Many of my clients make their first appointment with me because they are tired of the constant phone calls, letters, and threats from debt collectors. One of the things I do as a bankruptcy attorney is keep these debt collectors and other creditors from bothering you.

Many times, I am able to stop the harassment by filing a bankruptcy case for my client. Upon filing, an automatic stay is put in place, which basically puts a stop to all collection activity. Debtors benefit because they get a break from the 10-20 collection calls per day. Creditors benefit because no one creditor is allowed to rush in and grab up all of the debtor’s assets, leaving nothing for the other creditors. Creditors who continue to contact my clients after we have filed for bankruptcy protection risk being sanctioned by the Court. Knowing this, most debt collectors respect the automatic stay and cease their collection activities as soon as they learn of the bankruptcy filing. (Just one more reason why it’s so important to disclose all of your creditors to your bankruptcy attorney.)

But bankruptcy isn’t the answer for everyone. I have helped some people who are collection-proof by simply writing to the creditors and explaining the situation. A person is collection-proof if they have no assets against which a creditor may levy, no real estate to which a judgment lien may attach, and no non-exempt wages to garnish. A creditor may sue this person, but will not be able to collect on that judgment. Once the debt collector understands that he isn’t going to get anything by suing, he’ll usually move on to the next debtor.

If debt collector calls are driving you nuts, or if the threat of a lawsuit is preventing you from sleeping at night, contact a local bankruptcy attorney today.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “K.”

401k – by Marin County Bankruptcy Attorney, Catherine Eranthe
Dangers of Borrowing Against 401K – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus
Kaput – by Lakewood, CA Bankruptcy Lawyer, Christine Wilton
Keep – by Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran
Keep – by San Francisco Bankruptcy Attorney, Jeena Cho
Keep your 401(k) – by Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Attorney Shawn N. Wright
Keep your retirement accounts – by Taylor, Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Christopher McAvoy
Keeping Secured Loans – by Hawaii Bankruptcy Lawyer, Stuart T. Ing
Keeping your business – by Miami Bankruptcy Attorney, Dorota Trzeciecka
Keys – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman
Kids – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig
Knowing What Bankruptcy Attorney to Hire – by Livonia Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyer, Peter Behrmann
Knowledge – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Knowledge – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Knowledge – by Michigan bankruptcy attorney Kurt O’Keefe
Know – by Cleveland Area Bankruptcy Lawyer, Bill Balena

Image Credit: dumbledad/flickr

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – J is for Jail

Posted by on Feb 1, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

In this installment of the “Bankruptcy Alphabet” series, I wanted to talk about a fear many of my clients have when considering bankruptcy; going to jail. These clients tend to be afraid of (1) going to jail because they can’t pay a debt, or (2) going to jail if they make a mistake in their paperwork.

The fear of being hauled off to jail for defaulting on a loan is often exacerbated by scammers calling from overseas. These callers purport to be calling from a law enforcement agency and threaten to have sheriff’s deputies (or FBI agents!) show up at your door tomorrow morning and bring you to (California, New York, or other distant state) to face criminal charges. Of course, if you send payment immediately by an electronic funds transfer, the caller will cut you a break and not send his goon squad.

As I posted HERE, this is nothing more than a scam designed to separate you from your hard-earned money. Defaulting on a payday loan (or other loan) is not a criminal offense and you cannot be sentenced to jail for doing so. If you default on a debt, the most the creditor can do is sue you in county court and attempt to collect on its judgment by garnisheeing your wages or levying on your non-exempt assets. The United States did away with debtors’ prisons long ago.

The second fear is a bit more reasonable, but it’s not something most people need to worry about. If your bankruptcy filing contains inaccuracies, you will most likely be given the opportunity to amend the schedules and statements, assuming the inaccuracies were the result of an innocent mistake. However, you can be sentenced to up to five years in federal prison if you engage in bankruptcy fraud. Bankruptcy judges can easily distinguish between innocent mistakes and intentional misstatements/fraud, so the honest but unfortunate debtor shouldn’t worry about going to jail.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “J.”

Joint Bankruptcy Filing – by Downriver, Michigan Bankrutpcy Lawyer, Christopher McAvoy
Joint Debts – by Hawaii Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart T. Ing
Joint Filing – by Marin County Bankruptcy Attorney, Catherine Eranthe
Joint Filing – by Livonia Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Peter Behrmann
Judge – by Lakewood, Ca Bankruptcy Lawyer, Christine A. Wilton
Judges – by Detroit Bankruptcy Attorney Kurt O’Keefe
Judgment – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Judgments – by Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Attorney Shawn N. Wright
Judgment Debtor – by San Francisco Bankruptcy Attorney, Jeena Cho
Judgment Liens – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig
Judgment Liens – by Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr
Judgment Proof – by Philadelphia Bankruptcy Lawyer, Kimberly Coleman
Judicial Lien – by Cleveland Area Bankruptcy Lawyer, Bill Balena
Jurisdiction – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Justice in Bankruptcy – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus
Justify – by Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran
Your Personal Finance Lawyer – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman

Image Credit: dumbledad/flickr

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – I is for Insolvency

Posted by on Jan 24, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

The words “insolvency” and “bankruptcy” are sometimes used interchangeably. While related, they are actually different concepts. Some, but not all, people who are insolvent file bankruptcy. And some, but not all, people who file bankruptcy are insolvent.

Insolvency is the situation in which one’s liabilities outweigh one’s assets. Many people who are insolvent live paycheck to paycheck and can comfortably service their debt by making payments each month. Determining insolvency is pretty easy:

1 – Determine the value of your assets. Be sure to consider everything you own, including the value of your retirement funds, pension, and other nontaxable assets.

2 – Subtract the amount you owe to all creditors, including your mortgage holder and any 401(k) loans.

3 – If the resulting dollar amount is negative, you’re insolvent. If it’s positive, you’re solvent.

Some people who are insolvent choose to file bankruptcy, many others do not. Being insolvent does not mean that you can’t afford to make payments on your debts. It is simply the end result of the above calculation.

Bankruptcy is the legal process of filing a bankruptcy petition and schedules. A bankruptcy filer may be insolvent, but insolvency is not a requirement for filing. Many of my clients have assets in excess of their liabilities (i.e. they are solvent), but do not have the cash flow necessary to make their monthly credit card payments.

In summary, insolvency is a condition and bankruptcy is a remedy to that condition.

If you are insolvent, you should consider speaking to a bankruptcy attorney to see if filing bankruptcy makes sense in your individual situation. If you’re not insolvent, but are finding it difficult to pay your bills each month, a visit with your friendly neighborhood bankruptcy attorney might also be in your best interests.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “I.”

In Forma Pauperis – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig
Income – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman
Income – by Marin County Bankruptcy Attorney, Catherine Eranthe
Income Tax Refunds – by Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyer, Christopher McAvoy
Indentured Servant – by Detroit Bankruptcy Attorney Kurt O’Keefe
Independent Contractor – by Big Island Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart T. Ing
Injunction – by Lakewood, Ca Bankruptcy Lawyer, Christine A. Wilton
Insiders – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus
Insiders – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Instant – by San Francisco Bankruptcy Attorney, Jeena Cho
Insurance – by Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Attorney, Shawn Wright
Internal Revenue Service – by Livonia Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Peter Behrmann
Investigate Your Options – by Philadelphia Bankruptcy Lawyer, Kimbery Coleman
Investment Property – by St. Louis, Missouri Bankruptcy Attorney, Nancy Martin
Involuntary Bankruptcy – by Cleveland Area Bankruptcy Lawyer, Bill Balena
Involuntary Petition – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
IRA’s, Pensions, etc. – by Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr
IRS – by Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran

Image credit: TooFarNorth/flickr

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – H is for the Honest but Unfortunate Debtor

Posted by on Jan 16, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Today’s post is sponsored by the letter H. And H stands for the Honest but Unfortunate Debtor.

The bankruptcy laws were intended to help the Honest but Unfortunate Debtor. That’s not just my opinion; the U.S. Supreme Court has said:

“. . . purpose of the act has been again and again emphasized by the courts as being of public as well as private interest, in that it gives to the honest but unfortunate debtor . . . a new opportunity in life and a clear field for future effort, unhampered by the pressure and discouragement of pre-existing debt.” Local Loan Co. v Hunt, 292 US 234 (1934)

“We have been careful to explain that the Act limits the opportunity for a completely unencumbered new beginning to the ‘honest but unfortunate debtor.'” Grogan v Garner, 498 US 279 (1991)

“The principal purpose of the Bankruptcy Code is to grant a ‘fresh start’ to the ‘honest but unfortunate debtor.'” Marrama v Citizens Bank of Massachusetts, 549 U.S. 365 (2007)

So who is this Honest but Unfortunate Debtor? It’s the guy working for minimum wage who can’t afford health insurance, suffers a heart attack, and can’t afford the medical bills. It’s the working single mom who just went through a divorce and is now struggling to make ends meet with only one income. It’s the young couple who needs to choose between making their credit card payments and making their mortgage payments because the husband was just laid off. In short, it’s an apt description of my clients.

Bankruptcy is not for the guy who buys luxury goods & takes extravagant vacations on credit and without intending to repay the debt. It’s not for the woman who makes unnecessary, large purchases on credit while knowing she can’t afford to pay her bills. And it’s not for the status-seeker who expects to keep all of his priceless paintings and collector sports cars but still walk away from his debt obligations. If these people file for bankruptcy, they may be looking at a denial of discharge or criminal charges. Bankruptcy is for the honest person who cannot afford to repay all his creditors, despite his best efforts.

If you’re struggling with debt, which camp are you in? If you’re one of the millions of Honest but Unfortunate Debtors out there, talk to a local bankruptcy attorney. You may be exactly the type of person for whom the Bankruptcy Code was written.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “H.”

Harassment by Creditors – by Downriver, Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Christopher McAvoy
Hardship Discharge – by Philadelphia Bankruptcy Lawyer, Kim Coleman
Hearing – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Hearings – by Birmingham Bankruptcy Attorney, Elizabeth Johnson
Hijacking – by Christine A. Wilton, Lakewood, Ca Bankruptcy Lawyer
Holding Property for Another – by St. Louis, Missouri Bankruptcy Attorney Nancy Stokley Martin
Home is Where the Heart Is – by San Francisco Bankruptcy Attorney, Jeena Cho
Home: Can the Trustee Take It? – by Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney J. Dinkins G. Grange
Homeowner’s Association Dues – by Marin County Bankruptcy Attorney, Catherine Eranthe
Homestead – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Lawyer Bob Doig
Honesty – by Cleveland Area Bankruptcy Lawyer, Bill Balena
Honesty – by Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr
Hope for refinancing – by Miami Bankruptcy Attorney, Dorota Trzeciecka
House – by Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran
House – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus
Household – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman
Household – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Household Median Income – by Livonia, Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyer, Peter Behrmann
Household Size – by Hilo Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart T. Ing
How Much Is Your Home Worth? – by St. Clair Shores Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney Kurt O’Keefe
How to Ensure Smooth Sailing to Your Discharge  – by Miami Bankruptcy Attorney, Dorota Trzeciecka
How to Fix the Student Loan Bubble – by St. Clair Shores Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney Kurt OKeefe

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – G is for Garbage In, Garbage Out

Posted by on Jan 13, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

My Bankruptcy Alphabet entry for the letter G is “Garbage In, Garbage Out,” based on the old phrase about computer data entry. If you feed a computer senseless data, the computer will mindlessly process the data and give you a senseless output.

The same theory works with bankruptcy filings. If a client gives an attorney “garbage” information, the resulting file produced by the attorney will likewise be “garbage.” And if the attorney files a case based on faulty information, the results of the case will be . . . let’s say, “less than optimal.”

A bankruptcy filing requires teamwork between the client and the attorney. A client can’t expect to drop a box of bills on the attorney’s desk and say, “here. Fix this for me!” And an attorney can’t expect the client to complete the bankruptcy schedules and analyze the legal implications of each entry.

Many bankruptcy attorneys ask the client to fill out a worksheet and return it. The attorney (or the legal assistant) puts the file together and reviews everything with the client before the case is filed. If the client is careless in filling out the worksheet, the file that results won’t produce a satisfactory outcome. For example:

– If the client omits assets from the worksheet, the attorney won’t be able to disclose and exempt them. The client may end up losing those assets.

– If the client omits creditors, those debts may not be discharged at the end of the case.

– If the client doesn’t tell the attorney about the $5,000 payment made to Mom & Dad last March, the bankruptcy trustee may avoid the transfer, sue Mom & Dad to recover the $5,000, and distribute the proceeds to the other creditors.

– If any of these omissions were intentional, the client could also face criminal charges of bankruptcy fraud.

A good file requires good data. You’ll be signing your bankruptcy petition and schedules under penalty of perjury, so you need to make sure everything is accurate. It can’t be accurate unless you give your attorney all the information he or she requests. If you give your bankruptcy attorney good data, you’re likely to get back a well-prepared file. And the well-prepared file is likely to result in a smooth bankruptcy case and favorable resolution.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “G.”

Garnishment – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman
Garnishment – by Maui Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart Ing
Garnishment – by Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr
Garnishment – by Daniel J. Winter, Chicago Bankruptcy Lawyer
Garnishment – by Birmingham Bankruptcy Attorney, Elizabeth Johnson
Gee!!! – by Philadelphia Bankruptcy Lawyer, Ray Kempinski
General Unsecured Creditor – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Gifts – by Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney, Mark J. Markus
Goals – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig
Gomes v. Countrywide Home Loans – by Lakewood, CA Bankruptcy Attorney, Christine A. Wilton
Good Credit After Bankruptcy – by Houston Bankruptcy Attorney, Eric Southward
Good Faith – by Taylor, Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Christopher McAvoy
Good Faith – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Good Manners – by Cleveland Area Bankruptcy Lawyer, Bill Balena
Good To Me – by San Francisco Bankruptcy Attorney, Jeena Cho
Got Ya! – by St. Louis, Missouri Bankruptcy Attorney Nancy Stokley Martin
Guaranty – by Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran
Personal Guaranty – by Livonia Michigan, Bankruptcy Attoney, Peter Behrmann
Guilt – by Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney, Monica D. Shepard
Guilty – by Detroit Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Kurt O’Keefe
Gumshoe – by Marin County Bankruptcy Attorney, Catherine Eranthe

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – F is for Free Consultation

Posted by on Jan 9, 2012 in Blog | 2 comments

I offer free initial consultations to prospective clients, but the free consult is not a universal practice. I know of many well-respected, successful lawyers who do not offer free consultations. There are benefits to each approach.

Free Consultations

No risk. Clients can learn about their debt-relief options without committing to hiring me. Many people would rather get familiar with the process and the attorney before deciding which lawyer to hire. It’s sort of like test driving a few cars for free before deciding which one you want to buy.

Attacking the problem sooner. Many of my clients have struggled with their debt problems for months or years before finally seeking my help. Free consultations make it easier for people to get the help they need sooner.

More clients. Free consultations may get more potential clients to schedule appointments while billing for initial consultations may drive away those potential clients. Some people will not consider seeing a lawyer who does not offer free consults.

Billed Consultations

Fewer no-shows. In general, people do not value items and services they get for free. When they know they will pay for my time, even if they skip the scheduled appointment, clients will make an extra effort to show up. My own (very unscientific) research indicates that attorneys who offer free consultations are much more likely to have clients skip appointments than those who bill for initial consults.

Efficiency. If a client takes advantage of a free consultation with me but doesn’t hire me, I’ve essentially worked for free. I could have scheduled a paying client for that appointment time or done some work for one of my existing clients.

Better-informed clients. If a client is willing to pay for an hour of my time to hear my opinion of their financial situation, I know that price wasn’t the sole criterion for hiring a lawyer. These people have typically done some reading about bankruptcy and researched different lawyers before deciding to call me. They know that cost is only one thing to consider when hiring someone for something as important as a bankruptcy filing.

In the end, I decided to offer free initial consultations. But I can understand the reasoning of attorneys who choose differently. Under different circumstances, I may have made a different decision. For now, I don’t get many no-shows, most of my initial consults end up hiring me, and I believe my clients appreciate the risk-free opportunity to learn about their debt-relief options.

I’d be interested to read your ideas on the free vs. billed consultation debate in the comments below.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “F.”

Bankruptcy Attorney Fees – by Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney Kurt OKeefe
Failure Begets Success – by Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr
Family Farmer/Fisherman – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Fear – by Lakewood, CA Bankruptcy Attorney, Christine A. Wilton
Fees – by Birmingham Bankruptcy Attorney, Elizabeth Johnson
Filing Requirements – by Miami Bankruptcy Attorney, Dorota Trzeciecka
Financial Fatigue – by Cleveland Area Bankruptcy Lawyer, Bill Balena
First – by Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran
Five Tips for a Successful Bankruptcy – by St. Louis, Missouri Attorney, Nancy Stokley Martin
Foreclosure – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig
Foreclosure – by Kauai Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart Ing
Foreclosure – by Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney, Monica D. Shepard
Forgiveness of Debt – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus
Form 1099-C – by Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Attorney, Shawn Wright
Forms – by Jacksonville, Florida Bankruptcy Attorney, J. Dinkins G. Grange
Fraud – by Philadelphia Bankruptcy Attorney, Kim Coleman
Fraudulent Transfer – by Downriver, Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Christopher McAvoy
Fraudulent Transfer – by San Francisco Bankruptcy Attorney, Jeena Cho
Free Consultation – by Livonia, Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Peter Behrmann
Free Credit Report – by Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney, J. Dinkins G. Grange
Fresh Start – by Marin County Bankruptcy Attorney, Catherine Eranthe
Fresh Start – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Fresh Start – by Daniel J. Winter, Chicago Bankruptcy Lawyer
Future Flow Agreement – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman
Pigs Get Fat, Hogs Get Slaughtered – by Houston Bankruptcy Attorneys, Busby & Associates

Image credit: TooFarNorth/flickr

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – E is for Exceptions to Discharge

Posted by on Jan 3, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Most debts are discharged at the conclusion of a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. I posted an explanation of dischargeable debts HERE, and today I’m focusing on Exceptions to Discharge.

Section 523 of the Bankruptcy Code lists the exceptions to a bankruptcy discharge. Assuming the debtor receives a discharge at the conclusion of the case, any debts not described in § 523 will be discharged. However, some debts that are not dischargeable in a Chapter 7 may be dischargeable in a Chapter 13.

While all of the debts listed below are nondischargeable in a Chapter 7, the debts listed in bold type may be dischargeable in a Chapter 13 (see § 1328(a)). The most common nondischargeable debts under § 523 are the following:

§ 523(a)(1) – Certain taxes (priority taxes under § 507(a)(8), taxes for which a return was never filed or filed within 2 years of the bankruptcy, taxes which the debtor attempted to willfully evade.) Many of my clients are surprised to learn that some taxes are actually dischargeable.

§ 523(a)(2) – Debts incurred fraudulently.

§ 523(a)(3) – Debts that weren’t listed in time to permit the creditor to file a proof of claim.

§ 523(a)(5) – Domestic support obligations (typically child support or maintenance/alimony)

§ 523(a)(6) – Debts incurred through willful and malicious injury to another person or another person’s property. “Willful and malicious” does not encompass negligence. If you intentionally punch a guy in the face at your local tavern and he sues you, his medical bills may be a nondischargeable debt in your bankruptcy. If he slips and falls on your sidewalk because you forgot to shovel, any judgment would probably not fall under this section.

§ 523(a)(7) – Fines owed to a governmental unit.

§ 523(a)(8) – Most student loans.

§ 523(a)(9) – For death or injury caused by the debtor’s intoxicated use of a motor vehicle.

§ 523(a)(15) – Debts owed to a former spouse pursuant to a marital separation agreement, but which do not qualify as Domestic Support Orders. This usually means debts that are in the nature of a property division rather than support.

This edited list of exceptions to discharge and my explanations are intentionally broad and general. Your bankruptcy attorney can tell you if any of your debts fall under one of the § 523 exceptions to discharge.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “E.”

Early Preparation – by Jacksonville Bankruptcy Lawyer, Monica D. Shepard
Either Loan Mod or Bankruptcy – by Houston Bankruptcy Attorneys, Busby & Associates
Eligibility – by Philadelphia Bankruptcy Attorney, Kimberly Coleman
Emergency Filing – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig
Emergency Fund – by San Francisco Bankruptcy Attorney, Jeena Cho
Equitable Distribution – by Miami Bankruptcy lawyer, Dorota Trzeciecka
Equity – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Equity – by Marin County Bankruptcy Attorney, Catherine Eranthe
Euphoria – by Cleveland Area Bankruptcy Lawyer Bill Balena
Everything – by Daniel J. Winter, Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney
Eviction – by Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr
Examination – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus
Excessive Withholding – by Westlake, OH Bankruptcy Attorney William Balena
Executory Contract – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman
Exemption Law – by St. Louis, Missouri Attorney, Nancy Stokley Martin
Exemptions – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Exemptions – by Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran
Exemptions – by Hilo Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart Ing
Exemptions – by Downriver, Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Christopher McAvoy
Exemptions – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Exemptions – by Livonia, Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyer, Peter Behrmann
Exemptions – by Birmingham Bankruptcy Attorney, Elizabeth Johnson
Expenses – by Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Attorney Shawn N. Wright

Image credit: Orin Zebest/flickr

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – D is for Declaring Bankruptcy

Posted by on Jan 2, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

How does one go about declaring bankruptcy? Declaring bankruptcy is a bit more involved than Michael Scott’s understanding of the process.

The most common consumer bankruptcy cases are filed under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. In the Western District of Wisconsin, a Chapter 7 case will usually be concluded about three months after filing. A Chapter 13 case involves repaying a portion of your debt through a 3-5 year plan. But the process of filing the case (aka “declaring bankruptcy”) is quite similar, regardless of the Chapter.

Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases require a Petition, Schedules, a Statement of Financial Affairs (SoFA), a listing of all creditors with addresses, a Statement of Current Monthly Income/Means Test, and various disclosures. Chapter 13 filers are also required to file a proposed plan showing how the debtor intends to repay certain debts.

Petition: The petition is the first part of the bankruptcy paperwork, identifying the debtor and asking the Court for its protection.

Schedules: The Schedules usually make up the largest portion of the bankruptcy paperwork. Schedules A through J disclose the debtors assets, debts, income, expenses, executory contracts, leases, and co-debtors. The Schedules also categorize the debts as secured, unsecured, or priority.

SoFA: The Statement of Financial Affairs is kind of a catch-all for information. The debtor must disclose his/her income for the past three years, payments made to creditors over the past 3 months, payments made to relatives in the last year, sales or gifts of property to a third party, and other financial information.

Creditor Matrix: Along with the list of creditors, bankruptcy filers must provide the Court with the addresses of all creditors. It is important that all creditors receive notice of the proceedings, so I will usually list a couple of different addresses for each creditor to make sure the notices get to the correct people. Internet payday lenders are notorious for hiding behind fax numbers and email addresses rather than giving a valid mailing address. But they are still entitled to notice of the bankruptcy, so we do our best to find an address.

Means test: The Statement of Current Monthly Income must be completed by all debtors. Only some debtors are required to also complete the means test. See THIS POST for more information on the Chapter 7 means test or THIS POST for info on the Chapter 13 means test.

As you can see, filing bankruptcy is not a simple undertaking. Every case is different and there is no such thing as a “standard” filing. Simply saying (or even declaring) “BANKRUPTCY!” doesn’t cut it.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “D.”

Debt Buyer – by Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Attorney Shawn N. Wright
Debt Relief Agency – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Debtor – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman
Debtor – by Taylor Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyer, Christopher McAvoy
Deciding to File Bankruptcy – by Columbus, Ohio Bankruptcy Lawyer, Athena Inembolidis
Deconsolidate – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Discharge – by Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran
Discharge – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus
Discharge – by Kona Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart Ing
Discharge – by Daniel J. Winter, Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney
Discharge – by Birmingham Bankruptcy Attorney, Elizabeth Johnson
Discharge – by St. Louis, Missouri Bankruptcy Attorney, Nancy Martin
Dischargeable Debt – by Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney, Kyle A. Lindsey
Disclose – by Marin County Bankruptcy Attorney, Catherine Eranthe
Disclosures – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig
Divorce – by Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney, Monica D. Shepard
Do’s and Don’ts – by San Francisco Bankruptcy Attorney, Jeena Cho
Do’s and Don’ts – by Livonia Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Peter Behrmann
Do Not Do This Before Filing Bankruptcy – by Houston Bankruptcy Attorney, Eric Southward
Documents – by Philadelphia Bankruptcy Lawyer, Kim Coleman
Domestic Support – by Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr
Domicile – by Miami Bankruptcy Attorney, Dorota Trzeciecka
Don’t Do This Before Filing – Houston Bankruptcy Attorneys, Busby & Associates
DUI, DWI, OVI – by Cleveland Area Bankruptcy Lawyer Bill Balena

Image credit: TooFarNorth/flickr

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – C is for Credit Card Tips

Posted by on Dec 26, 2011 in Blog | 5 comments

For most of my clients, credit card debt is the biggest unsecured debt they have. So I decided to dedicate “C” in my bankruptcy alphabet to Credit Card tips.

1 – Once you’ve realized your debt problems have gotten over your head, stop using credit cards. Using credit cards when you have no intention of repaying the debt is the very definition of fraudulent use. If you decide to file bankruptcy, your recent purchases may be scrutinized for fraudulent behavior and possible nondischargeability actions. Spending $100 on food or gasoline is going to look a lot different than spending $1000 on a new plasma screen TV. Rather than trying to justify your purchases after the fact, just stop using the cards once you see that you won’t be able to repay the debt. Start getting in the habit of using debit cards or paying cash for your living expenses.

2 – As soon as you decide to file for bankruptcy, stop making payments on all of your credit cards. Assuming you file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, any money you pay the credit card companies is just throwing good money after bad. Instead of paying $50 toward the interest and late fees from 8 months ago, use that $50 to buy groceries or pay your utility bill. Don’t fall into the trap of paying one card off so you can keep using it after the bankruptcy. The major banks subscribe to services that let them know when their customers file bankruptcy. If you have a credit card with them, most banks will cancel that card immediately, whether or not you owe anything on it. If you don’t owe anything on the card, the bank may be more willing to give you another card shortly after you receive your discharge, but they’re still going to cancel the existing card. Paying off a card prior to filing bankruptcy just to ensure you can get another card later is a poor financial decision in virtually all cases. See #4 below for the reasons why.

3 – When you file your bankruptcy case, be sure to disclose all of your credit card accounts to your attorney. Failing to list your favorite card with your other debts isn’t going to keep it out of the bankruptcy. If you owe money on that Bank of America card, federal law requires you to disclose it. Even if you don’t owe anything on it, you should let your attorney know about the card so he or she can advise you on the proper way to handle the card in your particular situation.

4 – You’ll likely get credit card offers within 6 months of filing bankruptcy. After all, the banks know that you won’t be eligible for another bankruptcy discharge for 4-8 years, so they see you as a pretty low-risk customer. Taking one of these offers isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you follow two simple rules: Only take a card with no annual fees, and always pay your bill in full and on time. This will help you rebuild your credit without causing you to pay interest or late fees on your purchases. Keep in mind that applying for credit cards shortly after your bankruptcy discharge is a risky choice. You’ve just emerged from bankruptcy debt-free. Are you sure you want to dive back into the credit card trap?

Share your own credit card tips in the comments below!

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “C.”

Cars – by San Francisco Bankruptcy Attorney, Jeena Cho
Celebrity Bankruptcy Filings – by Wisconsin Bankruptcy Lawyer, Ryan Blay
Chapter 7 – by Marin County Bankruptcy Attorney, Catherine Eranthe
Chapter Choice – by Ormond Beach, Florida Bankruptcy Attorney, Lewis Roberts
Chapter of Relief – by Taylor Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Christopher McAvoy
Cheap Bankruptcy – by Houston Bankruptcy Attorneys, Busby & Associates
Check your Bills – by Columbus, Ohio Bankruptcy Lawyer, Athena Inembolidis
Claims – by St. Louis, Missouri Bankruptcy Attorney, Nancy Martin
Collection Agencies – by Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney, Monica D. Shepard
Competence and Compassion – by Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr
Conduit Mortgage Payment – by Westlake Ohio Bankruptcy Attorney William Balena
Conversion – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Cosigner – by Cleveland Area Bankruptcy lawyer Bill Balena
Costs – by Miami bankruptcy Attorney, Dorota Trzeciecka
Counseling – by Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran
Cramdown – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig
Cramdown – by Oahu Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart Ing
Cramdown – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Credit Card Creep – by Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Attorney, Shawn Wright
Credit counseling – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Lawyer, Mark J. Markus
Credit counseling – by Daniel J. Winter, Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney
Credit counseling – by Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney, Kyle A. Lindsey
Credit counseling – by Birmingham Bankruptcy Attorney, Elizabeth Johnson
Credit Unions & Cross Collateralization – by Milwaukee Area Bankruptcy Attorney Ryan Blay
Creditor – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman
Creditor – by St. Clair Shores MI Bankruptcy Attorney, Kurt O’Keefe
Creditors – by Livonia Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Peter Behrmann
Creditors Meeting – by Philadelphia Bankruptcy Lawyer, Raymond Kempinski

Image credit: TooFarNorth/flickr

The Bankruptcy Alphabet – B is for Bank Tips

Posted by on Dec 23, 2011 in Blog | 2 comments

In this installment of my Bankruptcy Alphabet, I had a difficult time deciding what “B” could stand for. I thought about “B is for Bret” and writing a glowing review of my services and abilities. But I thought most people would see through the self-promotion attempt. I also considered writing about “Bears, Beets, and Battlestar Galactica,” but I wasn’t sure how to connect it to bankruptcy. So I decided to give some tips on dealing with banks.

– Use different banks for your loan and deposit accounts. As I mentioned in THIS post, it may be difficult to get your money back from a bank or credit union that decides to exercise its right of setoff. Letting a bank to which you owe money hold all of your deposit accounts is akin to letting your loan shark hold onto your wallet. He’s going to pay himself from those funds before returning anything to you. Don’t fool yourself; the bank isn’t going to treat you any better than the loan shark.

– Don’t agree to repay a personal loan or credit card debt just because “the bank has been SOOOOO good to me!” The bank doesn’t care about you. Banks are business institutions, incapable of emotion. Some employees may be friendly when dealing with you, but when your interests conflict with the bank’s interests, which side do you think those employees are going to take? Keep this in mind: the bank is not your friend. It is simply an institution with which you are doing business.

– Consider doing business with a local bank or credit union. When you have a problem with your lender, it’s much easier for you (or your lawyer) to deal with someone locally than to try and work things out with a customer service representative located overseas. I rarely have any problems working out agreements with the local banks here in southwest Wisconsin. I’m lucky if I can even get a person to talk to me when dealing with some of the national banks.

– Be honest when applying for credit. If you exaggerate your income when applying for credit, the debt could be deemed nondischargeable in a future bankruptcy. See §523(a)(2)(B) of the Bankruptcy Code for more information.

If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy, be sure to talk to your attorney to see if your bank or credit union has a history of making things difficult for their bankrupt customers.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “B.”

Bad Credit – by Houston Bankruptcy Attorneys, Busby & Associates
Bad Faith Filing
 – by Miami Bankruptcy Attorney, Dorota Trzeciecka
Bailout – by Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney, Monica D. Shepard
Bank Account – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman
Bank Account – by Daniel J. Winter, Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney
Bank Account Levy – by Philadelphia Bankruptcy Lawyer, Raymond Kempinski
Bank Statement – by Westlake OH bankruptcy Attorney William Balena
Bankruptcy – by Taylor Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyer, Christopher McAvoy
BAPCPA – by Livonia Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Peter Behrmann
Bankruptcy Budget – by Columbus, Ohio Bankruptcy Attorney, Athena Inemboildis
Bankruptcy Estate – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Bankruptcy Mill – by Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney, Kyle A. Lindsey
Bankruptcy Petition Preparers – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig
Bankruptcy Timeline – by Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Attorney Shawn N. Wright
Bar Date – by Ormond Beach Bankruptcy Attorney, Lewis Roberts
Benefits of Chapter 13 – by Vermont/New Hampshire Bankruptcy Lawyer, Michelle Kainen
Best Efforts Test – by St. Louis, Missouri Bankruptcy Attorney, Nancy Martin
Best Interest of Creditors – by Honolulu Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart Ing
Beware of these Credit Card Offers – by Marin County Bankruptcy Attorney, Catherine Eranthe
Borrow – by San Francisco Bankruptcy Attorney, Jeena Cho
Budget – by Birmingham Bankruptcy Attorney, Elizabeth Johnson
Business – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Business – by Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran
Business & Individuals – by Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr
Business Bankruptcy – by Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus
Businesses and Business Debt – by Newnan Georgia Bankruptcy Lawyer, Rick Palmer
Buy Low and Sell High – by Cleveland Area Bankruptcy Lawyer, Bill Balena

Image credit: TooFarNorth/flickr