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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Why is this so hard?
In 2005, Congress made the biggest change since 1898 in the bankruptcy law. The banks persuaded Congress that lots of people were abusing the bankruptcy system. The purpose of the 2005 bankruptcy law was to force more people into five year repayment plans through Chapter 13. The provisions forcing people into Chapter 13 were considered one of the banks’ greatest lobbying victories of all time.
For most people, Chapter 7 is a better way to go. (I explain the reasons to avoid Chapter 13 here.) In A Chapter 7 bankruptcy, instead of being trapped in a payment plan for five years, you are in and out in less than four months.
So, when you file bankruptcy, with me as your lawyer, we are tackling a system designed to force you to make payments for five years–and we’re trying to get you in and out in four months.
The paperwork is hard. Under the old law there was a presumption–a legal assumption–that you were eligible to file a Chapter 7 get-out-of-debt bankruptcy. Now you have to prove it.
There are new rinky-dink requirements–hoops you have to jump through: taking two classes on the internet, saving your pay stubs for six months, showing the court your social security card, tax forms and bank statements.
The people behind the new bankruptcy law sold Congress on the idea that all these requirements and paperwork would make the system more honest. The result–which is what the bank lobbyists really wanted–is that people who are distracted and worried sick–like you, right now–have all this additional burden to face. They want you to break down, give up, and make mistakes they can use against you to beat you with.
Another thing: Investigators from the Justice Department now check behind you, running a computer search, looking at your bank statements and tax forms, trying to catch you.
The lobbyists wrote the 2005 bankruptcy law with a goal of making it so complicated that you are bound to fail. My job is to work with you so closely that you have to succeed.
Each case is different. But I can point to hard numbers that show we are successful. I’m the second busiest bankruptcy lawyer and office in Northern Virginia. But my rate of bankruptcy dismissals is way, way below the average. Nearly all my cases get approved.
Why do we have such a high success rate?
Documents, details, and discipline.
To get through all this, you need documents, details and discipline. They can be in short supply when you are panicked about money. We’ll do our best to help you with clear explanations of what you need to do and how we are working together.
One last thing. The 2005 bankruptcy law is especially tough on people in Northern Virginia with big families; the government is likely to claim that people with three or four children are spending too much on food and clothes and rent, when all they are trying to do is take care of the kids. That’s especially true here in Northern Virginia where nothing is cheap. This is one of the things that makes me the maddest about the new law.
What you want to know is, will it work for me?
I’ve talked to more than twenty thousand people in Northern Virginia about bankruptcy law and their financial situation. No two have been alike. That applies to you, too. If you think we need to talk, I can probably help you. But I need to know a whole lot about you and your situation to be sure that the help I give you is the best you can get. And is the right help for you.
We spend more than twenty four hours of work on each bankruptcy we handle. That intensive work on our part shows up in our statistics. And the result is the relief people feel when they know their cases is being handled properly, and that they will get their new start. (You can read a small sample of their comments here.)
When can we talk?
Under the old law, I offered a free consultation to anybody who wanted to talk to me. I still offer a free consultation to everybody, but not the same way. The new law is is just too tricky.
There are too many different strategies to get where we need to go; and when you ask me a question, you probably want some answer other than “maybe.”
So, now I still offer you an hour free consultation but first we have to do our homework. You have to come in with the information I need to be able to really answer your questions.
Only then can we work up our best plan to get you from where you are to where you need to go.
I need a lot of information to give you the right answers for you. (I talk to one or two people a month who got shockingly bad information in a ten minute “free phone consultation” with another lawyer. Many of those people are told there was no way people of above average income can qualify for Chapter 7. One busy, heavily advertised, low price law firm here posts the same bad advice in a booklet on their website.)
Before you see me, we’ll get you forms to fill out and bring in, so we have all the information we need to help you. (You can learn all about those forms by clicking on the Consultation tab in the navigation menu above. You can also just download them here. If you’d like, your bankruptcy paralegal can go over the forms by phone.)
Based on our experience of twelve thousand bankruptcies, our forms are designed to organize the information we need to get you your new opportunity in life.
Once all your forms are in order you have an hour long (free) paralegal-consultation with one of my experienced bankruptcy paralegals. We want to make sure you have complete information to point you in the right direction.
After you meet with my paralegal, we do about an hour’s worth of our work. We type your income and budget into our computer and run a computer analysis of your information. Do we have what we need? Can we get you the new start you need?
Now we’ll set up our hour-long bankruptcy lawyer consultation. We’ll take the time to fully understand what’s going on in your life, and the best way to use bankruptcy law in Virginia to help you.
If you bring everything I need, then at that free consultation, We will:
▪ Answer all your questions
▪ Decide if bankruptcy is right for you
▪ Determine your Chapter 7 bankruptcy eligibility
▪ Work out our best strategy to prove your eligibility
▪ Plan your bankruptcy in a way that best fits your situation and goals
▪ Work out a fee and payment schedule
▪ Get started, together, on getting you that new start.
At the end of our hour consultation, most people leave with a plan to get a new start in life and a clear field for the future. I can see smiles in place of tension on people’s faces, and people say things like, “you’ve already given me hope.”
There’s lots of information here. Use the navigation menu above and take a look at my FAQs, my Virginia Bankruptcy Videos and my Blog. (I’m writing the blog for Northern Virginia, but hundreds of people across the country have written to thank me for explaining things clearly.)
There’s helpful information on the Bankruptcy Process. Under our Client Reviews, you can see the 97.8% approval in our Relief and Happiness Survey.
Worried about protecting your assets? Bankruptcy exemptions are a mix of federal bankruptcy law and Virginia state law. I have a separate website on Virginia Bankruptcy Exemptions.
Ready to Get Started?
Please check the Consultation Section on the navigation menu for the information you will need to gather and to learn more about the bankruptcy process. Then call for an appointment at one of my Northern Virginia bankruptcy law offices.
▪ Annandale VA 703-518-8811
▪ Stafford VA 540-771-5582
▪ Sterling VA 703-421-7111
▪ Woodbridge VA 703-680-5688
The bankruptcy law also requires me to tell you that I am a “debt relief agency.” I help people file bankruptcy in Virginia.
PS For most people, bankruptcy works. When you read people’s comments in this survey, you can see the smiles.