phone_ctc2

Hello world! Please change me in Site Preferences -> This Category/Section -> Lower Description Bar

07

Sep 2019

Announcement: What to Expect at Your Bankruptcy Hearing

Posted by / in Blog, Virginia Bankruptcy, Weekly Posts /

What to Expect at Your Bankruptcy Hearing

For most people, your only bankruptcy hearing is what’s called the “meeting of creditors.”  (We almost never actually have creditors show up. We can also call it your “trustee hearing.”)

Here’s a video that explains where to go, best places to park, what to bring and what questions you’ll be asked.

I’ll be there as your lawyer, but you can review this video to know what to expect.

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:

14

Dec 2019

Credit Card Offers Come Faster Than You Expect

Posted by / in Weekly Posts /

After bankruptcy credit card offers come faster than you think

Have you heard the lie? The lie that filing filing bankruptcy means seven years with bad credit. You after bankruptcy credit will be better than most people expect.

After bankruptcy credit card

                                                 Here’s the after bankruptcy credit card offer “Eddie” got two months after his bankruptcy was approved.

 

The truth about after bankruptcy credit

The truth is the opposite of that bad credit lie.  Two months after bankruptcy, you start getting pre-approved credit card offers. (I know that’s true,because a lot of the offers, by mistake, come to my address.)  After thee years, most people have the best credit of their lives.

Are you putting off filing bankruptcy in order to “protect your credit?”  Then we need to talk.

Eddie, not his real name, got his pre-approved $700 credit card offer, ten weeks after his bankruptcy was over.  I tell people, the best way to rebuild is to have three or four credit cards, use and pay them, stay way below your credit limits.

Better Credit is one of the 5 Ways Bankruptcy gives you a fresh start.

A study by the New York Federal Reserve Bank show that people enjoy a sharp boost in their credit score after bankruptcy. The Philadelphia Federal Reserve found that people with a 540 credit score before bankruptcy usually were are 620 right after. For most people, bankruptcy works.

 

 

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:

02

Sep 2019

Bankruptcy Towing and Storage Scam

Posted by / in Blog, Weekly Posts /

New Bankruptcy Towing and Storage Scam

Don sent me today a letter offering him a $1000 for the car he’s giving up as part of his bankruptcy. (He owes way more than the car is worth.)

An outfit calling itself Towing and Storage offers to give him $1000 to avoid “the hassle” of dealing with his car after he filed bankruptcy. Wow!  What a deal!

Don thinks this might be too good to be true.  (Here’s a copy of that letter.)

I don’t know about the specific company that contacted Don. But I do know how a towing and storage scam could, legally, “steal” the car.  Saying yes to a scam offer, could get Don’s entire bankruptcy disapproved. If what Towing and Store is suggesting is legal for them, it may not be NOT legal for Don, or for you.

A towing and storage scam might use what’s called a garageman’s lien.  Any company that works on a car, or just tows and stores it, has the right to be paid.  And if they are not paid on time, they can sell the car.  Sell the car WITHOUT having to pay off the debt to the car finance people.  Using the garageman’s lien, a towing and storage scam can transform your upside down financed car into a valuable paid for car! And keep all the money for themselves.

Towing company offers bankruptcy scam

Don got a letter offering to avoid  “the hassle” of after bankruptcy car repossession. Saying yes, could get his bankruptcy disapproved.

Meanwhile, the car finance people are waiting to get permission from the bankruptcy court to pick up your car–and of course they expect to pick it up from you. By the time everyone has figured out what’s going on, the towing and storage scam has legally sold the car. That would be one way a towing and storage scam can afford to give Don the $1000.

Do you care? 

The bankruptcy code requires you “surrender” property to the bankruptcy trustee. That does NOT mean you want to ship your furniture to the bankruptcy court, or drop off the car in the courthouse parking lot. If there’s still a payment on the car, the bankruptcy trustee does not want it. But you are required to keep the property safe until told otherwise. (Usually, at your hearing, your meeting of creditors, the bankruptcy trustee “abandons” your car, meaning gives it back to you.)

But your discharge can still be denied, meaning you still have to pay everybody, if you “transferred, removed, destroyed…” property you are supposed to keep safe. In other words, letting a towing and storage scam pick up your car could make your whole bankruptcy pointless.  That might not come up at your bankruptcy meeting of creditors hearing. But when the car finance people look for the car, and don’t find it, they can raise a stink. 

Maybe it’s not a scam

Let’s look again at the letter Don got. It says “We will contact your lien holder immediately and arrange for the return of your vehicle.” Maybe they do arrange for the return of the vehicle. Then Don’s ahead by $1000.  And I guess everybody is happy. But if it’s a towing and storage scam, the car finance people have been cheated out of their rights to the car. And they could make Don’s bankruptcy end badly.

 

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:

24

Aug 2019

New Law Helps Disabled Veterans in Chapter 13 Plans

Posted by / in Chapter 13, Weekly Posts /

New Law Helps Disabled Veterans in Chapter 13 Plans

Disabled veterans facing bankruptcy, got a big boost yesterday when the HAVEN Act became law.

Disabled veterans get a break under Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy law

Disabled veterans get a break under Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy law

From now on, disabled veterans can’t be forced to use their veterans disability payment to fund debt repayment plans.  Here in Northern Virginia, there are many disabled veterans, who are also working. Those veteran families had been considered high income and forced into very high payment plans under bankruptcy Chapter 13. 

Now the bankruptcy court is not allowed to consider the disability pay, in calculating what these veterans can “afford” to pay their creditors.

Senator Tammy Baldwin was the chief sponsor of this bill in the US Senate.   

(I was one of the members of NACBA who lobbied for this bill on Capitol Hill earlier this year.)

I participated in a class on this new law, September 5, 2019, and kept some notes.

Here’s some detail that shows exactly what benefits are covered. 5 HAVEN Act TPM Addendum 6 Haven_Act_Faqs From USTP   And where to go to find out what benefits exactly are being HAVEN Ebenefits Mypay.

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:

03

Aug 2019

“Just Don’t Pay” as an Alternative to Bankruptcy

Posted by / in Weekly Posts /

Bankruptcy Alternative: Just Don’t Pay

Some people want or need an alternative to Chapter 7 bankruptcy. 

Meet Henry Hudson and his wife Beth. They came to see me several years ago. Their alternative to bankruptcy was a two part plan: just don’t pay, and “call my lawyer.” Here’s why.

Henry and Beth were elderly, he was retired, she was working a little. They had credit cards they couldn’t pay, about $40,000.

They could file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and clear those debts. But they didn’t want to. They owned an investment that had lots of sentimental value, and if they filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court would sell it. The creditors would only get 10 cents on the dollar or less, if it was sold, but the emotional loss to the Hudsons was more than they were willing.

“Call my lawyer!”

Consumer tells debt collectors to call my lawyer.

When the bill collectors call, tell them to “call my lawyer.”

So I told them, just don’t pay. (They were already about five months behind when they came to see me.)  And start taking the calls!  When they call, tell them “call my lawyer!” We’ll see if that get’s them to leave you alone.

Henry and Beth paid me $700 to rent my fierce reputation, plus $100 a month. We met in person every three or four months. Years went by. I told them, if the bill collectors leave you alone too long, they are too late.  That’s called the statute of limitations.

How Long is the Statute of Limitations?

Original creditors, like the credit card companies, have five years to take you to court. If they wait longer than that, they are too late. (That’s in Virginia; other states can be more or less.) For debt buyers, people like LVNV, Midland, Portfolio, it’s probably only three years, arguably two.  (The three years was based on Opinion of the Attorney General 10-028.  The current Virginia Attorney General appears to have deleted it.)

Finally, years later…

Finally, years later, Henry got court papers from one the biggest credit cards, around $8,000.  We had met just two months before and I told them I thought time had run out and everybody was SOL (Statute of Limitations.) Now there’s court papers.

We File Chapter 13

Chapter 13 is a payment plan through the bankruptcy court.  In Chapter 13, you don’t put your property at risk (unless you want to sell it) because you are paying your debts. Henry and Beth file a plan to pay their debts in full.

Pay in full? Yes, but not $40,000 that would have been payment in full when we first talked. Pay in full all the debts that were not SOL.  Turned out only one $700 recent credit card was not too old under the Statute of Limitations.  Including the one that had filed the warrant in debt. 

So that $700 card got paid in full; and the other debts were just gone.

This Doesn’t Always Work

We were helped that Henry and Beth did NOT owe money to Discover. Discover is very quick to sue. Their cars were paid for. And they were renters, not home owners. That means their credit report did NOT show any debts actually getting paid.

It’s My Job to Suggest the Best Plan for You

As a lawyer, I’m a fiduciary. I’m required by law and legal ethics to give you the best advice I have. Even though I’m a bankruptcy lawyer, sometimes a non-bankruptcy solution works best. And when it does, I tell you.

For most people, bankruptcy works.

But when “just don’t pay” will work better, I’ll tell you so.

PS  More on the statute of limitations

The Washington Post just had this interesting article, about how debt collectors can try to get around the statute of limitaitons.

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:

16

Jul 2019

Reaffirmation: It’s like an episode of Law and Order.

Posted by / in Chapter 7, Weekly Posts /

“What was that? Law and Order?”

Today I was at the bankruptcy court asking the Judge to approve two credit card reaffirmations. One for a little more than $500; one for a little less.

Both because my clients had a good relationship going back years with their credit union. So they wanted to keep them.  (Reaffirmations require approval by the judge; and the judge is supposed to go easier on credit union reaffirmations. See 11 USC §524(m)(2))

Since the judge is supposed to go easy on credit unions, I thought we had a good chance of getting them both approved.

The Judge approved the one for less than $500; but she turned the other one down.

Bankruptcy Judge will turn down your reaffirmation

If the bankruptcy Judge thinks there’s any question about your ability to pay, she will turn down your reaffirmation.

“What was that?” said the wife of the consumer whose reaffirmation was approved. “Was that like, Law and Order?”

Our Judge does NOT like reaffirmations. So, if you want your reaffirmation approved here, the judge will go line by line through your budget. “What’s this dental insurance?” “How much is your car payment?”

The consumer whose reaffirmation was turned down is divorced, and said she often doesn’t get her support paid on time. That was enough to get her turned down.

The one that was approved was a married couple, both with steady work, and no kids.

If the judge thinks there’s any question at all that you can’t afford to pay–even on a bill that’s only $17.00 a month–she’ll turn it down.

In a simple Chapter 7 case here in Alexandria Virginia, your bankruptcy is approved in a three minute trustee hearing.

Getting a reaffirmation approved is seven minutes of tough cross examination by the Judge.

 

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:

NORTHERN VIRGINIA BANKRUPTCY LAW OFFICES