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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Apparently this Depression Keeps Getting Called a Recession

This doesn't look to me like a recession; I've seen a couple of those before.

Seriously, just follow the news. Try to find a good new job. Try to sell a car for blue book.

Times aren't simply tough; they're very, very tough.

Bankruptcy Myths in Arizona

Somewhere people got the idea that lawyers could be hired and paid by wages already garnished from the debtor.

Well, not YOUR lawyer, anyway.

Are there Non-Lawyer Alternatives to Bankruptcy in Arizona?

Sure, there are some places out there that swear they can negotiate debt, lower interest, and stop collection activity and lawsuits without bankruptcy.

Would I recommend them?

No, not yet; I have not yet found such a service that provides a positive service!

If I find one, you'll be the first to know.

So what happens at a 341 Hearing, Anyway? The First Meeting of Creditors in your Bankruptcy, Question by Question.

At your First Meeting of Creditors, or your "341 Hearing", the trustee and any creditors that decided to show up will have a small chunk of time to ask you questions under penalty of perjury.

It sounds scary, right? Here is precisely what happens at this hearing, in agonizing detail. Note that some trustees now ask where you resided for the past two years, rather than the past 180 days; that goes to the issue of which set of exemptions you are entitled to claim.

Contact an Arizona Bankruptcy Attorney 

So what happens when a creditor actually shows up for your 341 hearing?

Nothing noteworthy.

Their appearance isn't all that strange since they were quite literally invited to the event when you filed, but it makes clients nervous to have them at the hearing, and permitted to ask questions of the debtor (that's you).

Anyway, here is their very limited role at the First Meeting of Creditors:

Be Careful What You Ask For; If You Ask to be Sold, You'll Be Sold, For Heaven's Sake!

I refuse to sell a client. Period, full stop. So if a client asks me to sell him on using me as a lawyer, well, I have to beg off.

Why won't I sell a client? Because then they may have buyer's remorse, and life's too short. My life, anyway.

What do I Tell Collectors Calling all Night and Day?!

Why not start with the truth?


How long does it take to file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

We don't guarantee anything about a specific amount of time because the time is primarily dependent on you.

That's right. It's YOU. It's a matter of how long it takes you to fill out your bankruptcy lists accurately. Once you fill out the information we must have to prepare your schedules and lists, the process is fairly quick, if and only if you pass the means test, or if you are outside the means test because of the exception; if you don't pass the means test, we don't file for you until we all agree on Plan B. 

So once you have completely and accurately filled in the information, we can review the materials you've given us, and you can get in line with the clients ahead of you, and the next available barge over the River Bankruptcy could have your name on it!

"Charged Off" isn't Cause for Celebration!

So you're looking over your credit report and you come across a strange phrase, which makes you smile.

That phrase is CHARGED OFF!

Sadly, that doesn't mean you're off the hook. 

Why does a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Appeal to You?

I see a lot of people who have friends and television.

They have strange ideas about how the process works and often come in with either incorrect to very dated ideas about Bankruptcy. Chapter 13 used to have a lot of useful advantages. Then 2005 came along.

These days I have a pretty strong prejudice against a Chapter 13.

Because I tend to like my clients!

And making them suffer for five years seems a little harsh to me.

If I own a business, and I Want to File a Chapter 7, does that make a difference?

Well, yeah! A big difference.

ALL my credit cards?? Really?!

List everything, guys! I say that a lot, because you simply MUST LIST EVERYTHING.

However, with some credit cards there's a microscopic exception, for a zero-balance card.

Let's talk about that extremely minor exception to the rule; it's such a tiny exception, it's almost nonexistent.

Is this my First Rodeo? Uh, No.

You may wonder what bankruptcy attorney credentials are; they're all over my website, and a bunch of lawyer directories. And as to credentials, I have a bunch.

Some people collect stamps.

None of my credentials mean I'm smart, or that you will have an easy ride through the Bankruptcy Court; they just means I've been doing this for a while, so I know a lot of ways not to do it. Thirty years, although it feels like just yesterday, that I was working for U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Maggiore, and Chief Bankruptcy Judge Caldwell.

Discounts are cool. Sadly, the Pity Pitch Doesn't Work as Well in Bankruptcy as You Might Think!

Does all your massive debt invite a discount because you have so little money?

Well, if you're meeting with me, I'm going to factor in everything to see how much work I'll need to do on your case, and only then can I quote you a fee.  See why it's important to do your homework?

Let me explain...

Tax Refunds become Filing Woes

It's a matter of timing.

File at the wrong time and you can see the money raining down into a perfect stack... right into the palm of the Bankruptcy Trustee's hand.

Let's elaborate.

Will people know of my Bankruptcy?

Well, it is Public Record.

However, it's not written in skywriting and unless your friends live to comb court records available to the public at all times you're probably safe.

But then, is it really so bad that you filed and survived to tell the tale? Maybe you should tell the tale, inspire hope in people you didn't expect.

No, your Canadian Swampland is not safe just because it's in Canada!

This happens more often than I'd like: A client makes an assumption after we said to list ALL debt and assets that their Hawaiian beach house, French unsecured debt or Summer home in Canada are unimportant in an Arizona Bankruptcy and don't bother to list them.

That's... incorrect. To say the very least.

Debt still counts even if it doesn't get wiped off and failing to list the debt or a foreign asset will cost you big time when the Trustee comes across it. At the very least you can expect you Bankruptcy filing to be dismissed.

When is a Transfer considered Fraudulent?

It's sad that most people don't often check in with a lawyer until everything is almost literally on fire and they're so deep in panic that they can barely hear the Certified Arizona Bankruptcy Attorney that they've come to consult when he patiently tries to explain what to do in order fix their situation.

Be smart. Don't try to hide things from the Trustee. Play it safe and talk to a lawyer first.

Just be sure to check their ratings and certifications so you know you're getting the right kind of information in the first place.

Price of Freedom (from debt)

A question that comes up CONSTANTLY is how much "it" costs. Not just the retainer, but on top of the $299 filing fee controlled by the court and the credit counseling determined by whatever independent service the client chooses to make use of.

By "it" the clients usually mean the whole enchilada, but Bankruptcy is a scathingly complicated business and no client is the same so their enchiladas always differ in sauce, size and choices of filling.

Some have businesses they want to save, some have business that currently occupied by whistling wind and tumbleweeds and some are just scared folks living off of social security with sleazy collectors hanging on their door and phone like apparitions haunting their home.

So let's talk about how much it costs to break free from debt...

Top 10 mistakes in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Sometimes mistakes are made. If you're planning on filing a bankruptcy, please please PLEASE consult this list before doing so.

This is Not a Video. But It's About Life After Bankruptcy, and It Came From a Real, Live Client

Okay, this is a video blog and today's post isn't a video.

I never said I was consistent!

But the reason I wanted to put this here is to point out that while I emphasize the hard work and risks involved in bankruptcy filing, I also know that it can be a worthwhile tool for the right bankruptcy client.

The link explains how long it took one of my clients to get credit cards and new car after filing a bankruptcy.

And it was a very nice new car my bankruptcy client bought, at that!

Value of my Dog?!?

Yes, the trustee asks the value of your dog. Or any pet really.

There's a reason.

Can I protect my spouse from my Bankruptcy?

Yes. No. Kinda.

It's complicated.

Will you do everything for me in my Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Uh, no.

Watch and learn.

What if I want to Reaffirm a Debt to keep my Car?

Sometimes the house isn't the problem. Ditto for a car.

You don't need to reaffirm in Arizona to keep the house. And my discussion of reaffirmation hearings in my consumer bankruptcy blog entitled "Unexpected Compassion" explains why a reaffirmation on a car is often not a reaffirmation on a car.

And if you aren't confused, you aren't paying attention!

Be ready with Questions for your Arizona Bankruptcy Attorney

If it's your money, why wouldn't you want to be informed?

Here are some examples.

When making the decision to file, insurance is always handy

What's the harm in being ready, right?

Lawsuits Are Irritating. Pesky Creditors!

There are days when it feels like if you didn't have bad luck, you'd have no luck at all.

And then you get served with a lawsuit.

There are ways to address the problem.

And by the way, please don't let 'em take a judgment against you prior to visiting with me. It's not fatal, but your road will have a few more bumps.

Depressed attorneys amidst depression drink coffee depressingly

It's a sad sight, but one that's all too common these days.

Keep your eyes peeled when you step in for some fancy coffee, you'll notice that some guys stand out a lot in this environment. Some more than others.

You either PASS the means test or you don't file.

Seriously, it's THAT important. You either pass the means test or you don't file.


Sounds scary, right? Let's talk.

Surprisingly, there are ways to deal with the stinking means test; none are a lot of fun, except for one.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Valuing Your homestead in a Bankruptcy Case

Do you know the value of your house?

From the precise source your Arizona Bankruptcy Trustee will consult first?

Maybe you should find out.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Bible and Debt and Insolvency and Debt Forgiveness and Secured Creditors

Issues of debt, insolvency, overbearing secured creditors, and debt forgiveness all show up.

In a book that we call The Bible.

What If I Can't Pay My Bills?

Pay bills? File bankruptcy? Decisions, decisions!

Questions for a Bankruptcy Attorney

What kind of questions should you ask a bankruptcy lawyer?

So, How About this Depression? Over Yet?

What do you think? Depression or Recession? Over yet, not over yet?

Sometimes the U.S. Trustee's Office is Happy. Sometimes Not. Whatcha Gonna Do?

The U.S. Trustee's Office is an important part of the bankruptcy environment.

FREE Bankruptcy Resources!! FREE Bankruptcy Information! FREE Bankruptcy Help!

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as free bankruptcy information, free bankruptcy resources, and free bankruptcy help.

No kidding!

Non-lawyer Bankruptcy Alternative?

Bankruptcy alternatives, or alternatives to bankruptcy attorneys?

Best Bankruptcy Attorney? Cheapest Bankruptcy Attorney? The Decision Tree.

So do you want the best, or the cheapest, or's so confusing!

Some Bankruptcy Stories Make ME Reach for the Tissues!

Most of the time I enjoy talking to clients; but sometimes their stories make me sad!

Generally, I handle it pretty well because most clients will get a decent result in bankruptcy and go on to do just fine.

But some have a pretty rough row to hoe. You know?

Listing Debts, Including Credit Card Debt, in Bankruptcy Cases

The listing of credit card debt comes in for discussion far more often then you'd think!

Talking About Settlements in Bankruptcy

Most matters in bankruptcy don't get litigated, because that would be dumb. Instead, most bankruptcy conflicts are settled short of trial. If you're smart.

There Are Timing Issues in Bankruptcy Cases. Important Timing Issues!

Mind you, this is only one of the timing issues in bankruptcy cases; there's also the 90 day period, the 120 day period, the 91 day issue, the two-year and four-year periods, and a bunch more.

Lotta darn timelines to look at!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

There Are A Lot of Bankruptcy Myths; here's the Most Frequent!

Bankruptcy law has spawned a lot of myths. That's not surprising. It differs from State to State, even though it's a Federal remedy. And it changes entirely from time to time.

The way it did in October, 1979, when the "New Code" came into existence.

And it changed radically again, in 2005.

And at any given time, even Bankruptcy Judges disagree on what it means!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Is Bankruptcy a Good Option? Well, Maybe Better Than the Alternatives.

Bankruptcy is an option; sometimes it's a good option, compared to all the others. It's not that much fun, however.

Reasons to File a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy instead of a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Okay, I have opinions. One of my opinions is that it's better, in a bankruptcy context, to get a discharge without having to suffer through a three-to-five year payment plan.

You know?

And I know that there are law firms that try to force you into a Chapter 13 because the legal fees are higher, and they can hornswoggle you into thinking that you got a great deal on your fees because the initial payment to your lawyer is small; but the rest of the dough to your lawyer gets paid through the Chapter 13 Plan, Bucko!

Anyway, here I am being a smart-aleck about Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I Prefer that They Don't Get a Judgment. Really.

It can be inconvenient if a creditor gets a judgment prior to the bankruptcy; not the end of the world, but darned inconvenient, what with judgment debtor exams and liens.

What Happens at a First Meeting of Creditors?

Here's what happens at a First Meeting of Creditors, more or less! Obviously, the precise sequence of questions and the scope will differ from place to place, and from trustee to trustee.

So What Does It Mean: "Charged Off"?

Here's a video about one of the most misunderstood phrases used in insolvency matters!

Bankruptcy - Liquidation

Here's a video about the non-liquidation characteristic of a liquidation bankruptcy.

I Can't Help Liking the Phrase, "Zombie Debt Collectors"!

This is one of my favorite videos, even though it's mostly just a suggestion that you don't pay anything on debts that are time-barred, so you don't restart the relevant statute of limitations!