When I mention to clients that they will be required to appear at a 341 First Meeting of Creditors after we file their bankruptcy, most of them cringe and become nervous immediately. They imagine a Meeting where they are interrogated and questioned about every aspect of their case. In El Paso, the these meetings are nothing to be nervous about. I explain to my clients from inception that their 341 First Meeting of Creditors is in most cases quick and painless. In a normal Chapter 7 case you will be asked the same series of questions as every other debtor. If anything else is going to come up we will almost always know ahead of time. As your attorney, it is our job, to make this experience as simple and painless as possible. I always make an effort to explain to clients that the questions asked are straightforward and simple.
In Chapter 13 Creditors Meetings, the questioning may be more extensive but again they are straightforward questions and the Chapter 13 Trustee is not trying to trick you. All in all, your 341 First Meeting of Creditors should not be a torturous experience and your bankruptcy attorney should explain to you exactly what you should expect.
One last note, do not forget your SOCIAL SECURITY CARD and DRIVERS LICENSE!! Your meeting will not be held without it!!
Once your Chapter 13 has been confirmed you have a sense of relief because your financial chaos is finally under control. Your home is secure, your vehicles are secure. You're feeling pretty good about life, as you should.
In your Chapter 13 you have between 3 years and 5 years to make your plan payments before your case is discharged. Often the stress and strain of finances puts a tremendous strain on relationships and marriages end in divorce. When a couple decides to end their marriage their Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is generally the last thing they are concerned with. It isn’t until the divorce lawyer brings up the division of assets and debts that this issue is addressed. A pending divorce unfortunately, can create a conflict of interest for your bankruptcy attorney. Your bankruptcy attorney represents you as a couple and it becomes difficult to navigate a case when the parties involved are no longer on the same page. In some situations your bankruptcy attorney will be forced to withdraw from the case in order to allow both parties involved to be properly represented. It is important when the divorce is amicable for both people to visit their bankruptcy attorney together in order to discuss options.
Often couples who find themselves on the verge of divorce will opt to remain in their Chapter 13 bankruptcy and continue to get through it together. Other times, however, they will choose to dismiss their case in order to make decisions based on their new situation. Regardless of how complicated or uncomplicated your divorce may be, it's very important that you make an appointment with your bankruptcy attorney. Divorce can create havoc in your life and you want to make sure your financial situation remains under control, regardless of the new challenges facing you.
Before some people actually make an appointment for a free consultation their lives are so stressful. Finances - especially large amounts of debt often force people to make decisions that they know instinctively are wrong, but they make them because of fear and desperation. Most people juggle their finances robbing Peter to pay Paul for as long as they can. At some point you face the inevitable, your financial life is in chaos and has become totally unmanageable.
Now you've defaulted on your credit cards one by one. Sometimes it's because of having to make tough choices; food on the table to feed your family or putting gas in the car so you can get to work or making a credit card payment. Too many tough decisions and then that awful day comes when a lawsuit arrives on your front doorstep. Panic, dread, anxiety sets in and you don’t really know what to do. Many people tend to stay in denial and ignore the lawsuit. Doing nothing allows creditors to take a judgment which could later allow them to garnish your wages. One way to stop this is, is by filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. This is an exact situation where Chapter 7 would be a really good option. Chapter 7, if you qualify, is a legal and logical way to handle a large amount of unsecured debt (i.e. credit cards, payday loans, medical bills). Many people fear this solution or even refuse to consider it because they are afraid of the damage it may cause to their credit. The reality of it is if you have a high amount of credit card debt that you have defaulted on then, your credit score is more than likely already effected. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, in some cases, will actually cause your credit score to increase anywhere from 50 to 100 points within the first year. Most clients are able to buy vehicles and even homes two years after filing if their income is sufficient. Chapter 7 bankruptcy can really give you the fresh start you dared to dream was possible.
We often have initial consultations with people who have already filed a previous Chapter 13 case. These folks are normally in a panic because they're afraid of losing their home again; the threat of foreclosure and repossession of their vehicle(s) is very real. If you filed Chapter 13 and there was a reasonable explanation as to why you were unable to fulfill your obligation of making your plan payment you do have the option of refiling your case.
Refiling does involve an extra Court Hearing (Motion to Continue the Stay) where you go along with your attorney to appear in front of the Judge. The objective of the bankruptcy attorney is to give the Judge an explanation as to why your previous case was dismissed and why this new Chapter 13 case will be different. The Judge will ask you a few simple questions and if all goes well you will be on your way to a successful second case. You will still be required to attend another First Meeting of Creditors.
When considering a second filing it is important that you really think hard as to why the first case didn't work out, why you couldn't keep up your plan payments. Remember filing for bankruptcy is supposed to alleviate your financial stress which you've been under. If making your plan payment is too hard then maybe it's time to seriously consider surrendering your home or your vehicle. Unfortunately, sometimes these gut wrenching decisions have to be made. If you should fail to succeed in a second filing a third case is exetremely difficult to get.
Filing for bankruptcy for many is the most difficult decision they will ever have to make. It is something completely foreign and new to them. Due to the fact that bankruptcy has such a stigma many people don't discuss it and don’t really understand what bankruptcy is all about. If you take the step in the direction of bankruptcy remember that if you are in a Chapter 13 you will need Court approval for certain things. This does not mean that you are not allowed to make purchases nor are you being controlled by the Chapter 13 Trustee. It is necessary, however, for the Court and your creditors to know when you are making a major purchase such a vehicle or a home. This also applies if you are opting to sell your home or vehicle. Although it is not the most ideal situation and it can be a bit of a hassle saving your home and/or getting your financial situation under control; it is completely worth the extra work that being in a Chapter 13 may require of you. When looking into bankruptcy, knowing you are going to be committed to a Chapter 13 plan for 3 to 5 years may be a bit overwhelming, however, you will be able to continue living your life. Depending on your circumstances it may just take a little extra work and communication with your attorney.
Many people are being faced with the horrible experience of receiving a foreclosure notice. It must be devastating and so your heart pounds in your chest, beads of sweat develop on your forehead and your hands start to shake. All this emotion and yet you knew it was coming. Knowing but not really understanding what to expect. Many people I've found are in denial, rejecting the possibility anything bad will happen at all. Then you see an advertisement that promises a resolution with your mortgage company, so you respond and believe this is your fix, you become hopeful. I have met several individuals in the last couple of weeks who became victims of this trap. Many of these companies are unable to resolve the arrearage issue with the mortgage company and it isn’t until the last possible second that they communicate their failure to obtain a resolution, which means they can't help you.
In several circumstances these “foreclosure specialist” have instructed individuals like you to file for bankruptcy because it is the easy solution. There was no explanation nor are these “foreclosure specialist” licensed to give legal advice. It is very important for everyone to understand that if you are falling behind on your mortgage - you have a major problem that needs to be addressed NOW and not the day before the foreclosure sale. Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy can save your house if it's done the right way. This means hiring an attorney who has the experience and knowledge to file your Chapter 13 the right way, especially when you file so close to your 'foreclosure date'. Don't fall for this trap….. if your mortgage lender was going to negotiate a deal with anyone it would be with you the borrower and not a person who represents themself as a “foreclosure specialist.”
Many couples or individuals, prior to deployment, try to get their personal matters in order. During this very stressful time and period of adjustment the last thing any service member needs is to be worried about their financial status. For many, however, this issue arises as life never goes according to plan. Considering bankruptcy - either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is a viable option for many soldiers. Often I find prospective clients unsure if they should file for bankruptcy or not because they are preparing to deploy or their spouse is preparing to deploy. It is important for you to remember that the military provides you with a power of attorney for a reason. We have had situations in our office where one spouse was about to deploy and wanted to leave knowing their financial matters were under control for his wife/husband. Using the power of attorney we were able to file the case and the spouse was able to sign the necessary documents and appear at the required 341 Meeting of Creditors on his behalf. This is not an unusual occurrence and it is one that the United States Trustee will allow. The benefit of this is that you can continue to move forward on your bankruptcy when filing a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 if you are deploying and not have to be worried about the financial strain your family may be in. Bankruptcy provides you and your family with a fresh start.
When considering bankruptcy as a solution for your unmanageable expenses, it is important that you realize bankruptcy, Chapter 13 is supposed to alleviate the financial strain you are currently in. You should leave your attorney’s office in a better position than when you walked in. When considering to file Chapter 13, it is essential that you take a step back and evaluate your financial position. Chapter 13 will not be a benefit to you and your family if you are living beyond your income. Sometimes this means having to give up a house, vehicle, and/or other assets that may be the cause of your financial strain. Your Chapter 13 payment should be feasible and something you can afford to make comfortably without having to take major hits in your already tight budget. Chapter 13 is intended to be a solution for your financial problems and not create an additional one for you. When contemplating Chapter 13, be sure that you sit back, assess your finances and the decisions you made that got you to this place. As your attorneys we can help, however, the real change must come from you. Everyone deserves a second chance and a fresh start. Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 can be that for you if you are willing to make the necessary changes.
Thursday, June 28th, 2012 the Supreme Court decided it was constitutional to mandate health insurance. This blog is not about my opinion – rather it’s what this decision can avoid. So many people have had to file bankruptcy, Chapter 7 to get rid of their unsecured debt, and/or Chapter 13 to ultimately save their home because they could not afford to pay their medical expenses. Devastating illness for many families has resulted in devastating bills. It truly is heartbreaking to see folks who have worked hard all their lives and consequently had to file bankruptcy to get out from under the stacks of bills they incurred while fighting to get well. Overwhelming debt puts a huge burden on any family and it’s especially difficult for the ‘patient’. The guilt, responsibility and fear the ‘patient’ feels as a result of his/her illness is truly painful to witness.
I’m still a flower child at heart and frankly I really hate for our government to tell me what to do. I promised this blog was not going to be about my political preferences, however, I can’t deny how long I resisted wearing my seatbelt just because it was the law. Well, I’m older and hopefully a bit wiser and I for one truly hope this new law eliminates people having to file bankruptcy because of their medical bills. Fighting to get and stay well is hard enough. Isn't that the point??
A great number of us use our bank for everything: paychecks are on direct deposit; pay credit cards, mortgage payments and utilities bills electronically. Some bills are setup for automatic payment and others are scheduled manually. We are familiar with on-line banking; an understanding of how our bank’s online software works and have mastered its applications. The thought of changing how we use our bank account or worse the thought of actually changing banks is an enormous pain. Sometimes, in preparing to file your bankruptcy it is often necessary.
Cash on hand and cash in the bank is often non-exempt (not excused). In limited circumstances when exempt it will be for a limited amount of money claimed on your bankruptcy schedules. In a Chapter 7 case, any excess cash (the difference between what's in the bank and the exemption amount) will end up in the hands of the Chapter 7 Trustee unless you can amend your bankruptcy schedules to claim the additional amount as exempt (excused), which often is not the case. In a Chapter 13 case, the amount of non-exempt cash in the bank may increase your Chapter 13 monthly payments.
The amount of cash in banks gets listed on your bankruptcy schedules at the time your bankruptcy is filed, without considering outstanding checks or incoming paychecks, social security checks or the like. Therefore, it is important all outstanding checks have cleared the bank before your Bankruptcy case is filed. It's routine to adjust the amount listed on your bankruptcy schedules before your case is filed.
Well the foregoing is tough enough to keep straight, what's worse is having to change banks. Opening a new account at a different bank and having to learn the new bank’s system, redirect your automatic deposits and set up automatic payments is without question time consuming and disruptive. The two situations that require a person about to file bankruptcy to change banks are: 1. If you owe your bank money (for example: an automobile loan, furniture loan, etc.). If that's the case, there is every reason to believe your bank will grab the money in your account and apply it to the debt leaving a person with checks bouncing and no money to pay ordinary living expenses. 2. Depends on a particular bank’s policy when one of it's customers files bankruptcy. There are banks that will freeze your account when they discover you have filed bankruptcy, which leads to checks bouncing and bank service charges for each NSF check. Assuming you are entitled to keep the cash, some banks take up to 10 working days to free up your account.