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07

Feb 2021

The three toughest questions at your bankruptcy hearing

Posted by / in Blog, Weekly Posts /

The three toughest questions at your bankruptcy hearing.

The three toughest bankruptcy hearing questions are NOT what most people expect.  The bankruptcy trustee does NOT ask you to explain how you got into this mess. They are not asking about your plans for the future.  And the creditors are NOT there demanding their money.

Have You Sent the Bank Statements?

So what are the hard questions? For most people the toughest bankruptcy hearing question is: Have you sent us all your bank statements, showing the balance on the day you filed your case? Especially if you have old accounts you don’t think about because you never use them–getting those bank statements in can be a tough challenge.

Can You Find The Mute Button?

One bankruptcy trustee question: Can you mute your phone?

Finding the mute button can be a challenge for your bankruptcy hearing. Progressive uses it as a joke in one of their TV ads.

The next bankruptcy trustee question is, can you find the mute button on your phone?  People who do conference calls at work figured out the mute button long ago.  For other people it’s a challenge.  (Progressive Insurance uses a mute button as a joke on one of their TV ads.)  

The bankruptcy court in Alabama has mute button instructions on their webpage. 

Why is the mute button important?

When you call into your bankruptcy trustee, there will be almost thirty people on the line.   About twenty people filing bankruptcy, maybe eight lawyers, plus the trustee and helper.  

Everybody needs to be on mute when it’s not their turn. Otherwise the background noise–fans, computer noise, barking dogs, children–the background noise makes it impossible to hear.  So, be sure you can find and use the mute button.

Can I Whisper to My Lawyer?

The third toughest bankruptcy hearing question is your question, not a bankruptcy trustee question. Your question is, how do I talk to my lawyer?

When you dial in to the trustee phone number, you don’t know that whether I’m there.  (And I don’t know if you’re there, either.) That’s the biggest disadvantage to doing these on the phone. 

You for sure want to know I’m on the call and you might have a last minute question, too. You can’t ask me a question out in the hall because there is no hall.

We can’t whisper–because we are broadcasting to the whole room. That why we need to email each other ten minutes before the hearing starts.

I’ll shoot you and email letting you now I’m on. Please reply. And email any last minute questions. Use robertrossweed@gmail.com. That goes straight to me.

(We’ve been doing these bankruptcy trustee hearings by phone for ten months now. And I overhear a lawyer whispering with their client almost every hour. And of course the whole room hears it.  So far I haven’t overheard anything really bad–like, I’m sure glad they didn’t ask about that farm in Kentucky. Anyway, you and I won’t do that. We know to whisper by email.)

 

 

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31

Jan 2021

File Bankruptcy and Sleep Better

Posted by / in Blog, Weekly Posts /

People who file bankruptcy sleep better.

Ninety four percent of people surveyed said they slept better after filing bankruptcy.

That’s the result of a 2019-2020 study taken through SurveyMonkey.com of former clients who filed bankruptcy with us three or four years before.  One hundred four people participated in the survey.     

Ninety four percent sleep better after filing bankruptcy

Ninety-four percent of people report sleeping better after filing bankruptcy.

Getting good sleep is very important for good health. 

People who get enough sleep are less stressed.  And less stress helps people sleep. It works both ways.

While people discuss the financial benefits of filing bankruptcy, the enormous health benefits can be overlooked.  

We did similar survey in 2011 and got almost the same answer.

In 2011 88% said they slept better after filing bankruptcy.

Lack of sleep increases your risk of cancer and heat disease and affects your mental and physical abilities.  

Rosalind, from Leesburg, said this:  I was depressed and very stressed when I came to Mr. Weed due to my illness and with mounting medical debts. I now sleep better, my stress level is down and I feel so much better.

Here’s Contrell, of WoodbridgeMr Weed is hands down the best bankruptcy lawyer in the DMV. I sleep well at night. I thought with my income it was impossible to achieve a debt free life style again within 6 months my credit score was in the 700’s.

Next is Betsy, from Sterling: Thanks for everything.  I can sleep better now.

 

 

 

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31

Jan 2021

Forbearance Might Not Mean Deferment

Posted by / in Weekly Posts /

A Mortgage Forbearance Might Not Get You a Mortgage Deferment

A mortgage forbearance under the CARES Act is NOT the same as a deferment.

At the end of a mortgage forbearance, you are behind by the exact number of payments they allowed you to skip.  A deferment means you are not behind.

Mortgage companies are handing out forbearance agreements left and right, to allow people to skip some house payments because of the covid crisis. The mortgage company agrees in November 2020 (for example) that you don’t need to make a payment until May 2021. So far that’s a forbearance.

When May 2021 comes, they can say, ok now you are six months behind!  What?

Forbearance is not a deferment

After a six month forbearance, you are six months behind. You are behind for the payments they said you could skip.

When the mortgage company gives you a forbearance they agree they won’t pester you for a payment.  But you still owe those payments!

They Are Supposed to Work With You to Change the Forbearance into a Deferment

Back to the CARES Act.  The mortgage company cannot demand the whole six months all at once.

But the burden is on you to “make arrangements” to pay.

What kind of arrangements?

If you are still struggling financial, you can ask for a loan modification.  You can ask for lower payments, based on lower interest rate, or stretching the loan out longer. They don’t have to give you a modification, but you can ask.

A deferment means they take those six months you skipped and put them on the end of the loan.

A repayment plan might be something like this: since you skipped six months, we want double payment for the next six months.

This is all new

Since this is all new, nobody knows whether the mortgage companies will be reasonable when these mortgage forbearances run out.  Congress, when they passed the CARES Act, expected them to be reasonable. And the mortgage companies learned something from the housing crisis.   Looking back to 2007 and 2008, the mortgage companies probably hurt themselves by forcing foreclosures instead of working with people.  (Obviously, they hurt the homeowners way more than they hurt themselves.) They started to figure that out in about 2010.  So we can hope they will work with you, but there’s no guarantee.

How the Problem Pops Up in Bankruptcy

The reason that people ask for a forbearance can be the same reason they need to file bankruptcy: not enough money.

And when people file bankruptcy in the middle of a forbearance they think they are current on their mortgage–and shocked to find out they are NOT. Unless the forbearance has been turned into a deferment, those months you skipped under the forbearance are now months you are behind. So, you’re behind on the mortgage and now filing bankruptcy? The mortgage company can start to panic.

Bankruptcy Strategies

If people can wait, I suggest we hold off filing bankruptcy until the forbearance has definitely been turned into a deferment.  Or a loan mod.

If we can’t wait, you need to plan a full court press on the mortgage company as soon as the bankruptcy is filed. It’s vital to let them know you are NOT giving up the house (unless you are) that you want a deferment or a loan mod, and that you’re glad to send them whatever papers they need to approve you.

It is vitally important to stay in touch.

 

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24

Jan 2021

Chapter 7 Trustee Donald F King

Posted by / in Blog, Virginia Bankruptcy /

Chapter 7 Trustee Donald F King

Donald F King is one of the four Chapter 7 trustees in the Alexandria Virginia Bankruptcy court. When you file a bankruptcy case in Alexandria, the computer assigns you to one of the four trustees.

Lawyers are appointed Chapter 7 trustees as a part-time assignment.  He’s a partner in the law firm of Odin Feldman & Pittleman PC, located in Reston. King and is head of that firm’s bankruptcy and creditors rights practice.

When he was younger, he was a NCAA Football official.  During the 2012 NFL referee strike/lockout, he was a replacement referee in one game and umpire in three.

As a Chapter 7 Trustee, he has two sets of bosses.  The US Justice Department, through the Office of the United States Trustee.  And the two Bankruptcy Judges here, Judge Brian F. Kenney and Judge Klinette H. Kindred.

We paid a $338.00 filing fee when we filed your bankruptcy case. Sixty dollars of that went to Trustee King. For each case, including yours, he is paid an additional $60.00 that is indirectly collected from Chapter 11 bankruptcies. (Congress thinks the bankruptcy courts to raise enough in fees to pay for themselves.  No other part of the federal court system does that.)

bankruptcy trustee Donald King

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee Donald F. King

As your Chapter 7 Trustee, Donald King is in charge of your bankruptcy hearing, which is called the “meeting of creditors.” There are very, very rarely any creditors at the meeting of creditors.  So the Chapter 7 Trustee asks the questions. (Because the trustee is not a judge, he should be called “sir” not “your honor.”)

The bankruptcy court computer schedules fourteen hearings an hour.  That’s just over four minutes per case.

For now, bankruptcy hearings in Alexandria are by telephone. For the Donald King hearings, you should call (877) 953-3011 using the code 1445548.

Donald King is a stickler on paperwork and deadlines.  We are required to send in bank statements for each of your accounts one week before your hearing is scheduled.  If we are a couple days late on that one week requirement, Trustee Donald King will most likely make you, and me, come back two weeks later.

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24

Jan 2021

We’re Zooming Virtual Bankruptcy Consultations

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

We’re Zooming Virtual Bankruptcy Consultations

We’ve been Zooming–doing virtual bankruptcy consultations–since April 2020. We’ll continue through 2021.

We stopped in-office consultations with the March 2020 pandemic lock down.  (I first heard of Zoom when my church started using it. We’re a small congregation and can see everybody on screen.) 

Since April 2020 I’ve Zoomed bankruptcy consultations probably five hundred times.

There are three advantages I’ve seen in doing virtual bankruptcy consultations.

First, it saves travel time.  The pandemic is still raging.  But the traffic in Northern Virginia is as bad as it’s ever been. It takes too long to get anywhere.

Second, people are more comfortable.  Especially on the initial contact–what I call the Quick Call–it works out well. I’m at my own computer, where I can access all my info. And you are at home–or wherever–more comfortable and maybe more open than you’d be in an unfamiliar office.

I didn’t expect that. But I often feel we cover more ground and clear up more concerns with a virtual consultation.

Bankruptcy consultation on Zoom

I’m at my own computer, where I can access my info. And you are at home more relaxed than you’d be at a meeting in an unfamiliar office.

Third, safety is most important. Sitting across the desk with the same person for an hour, passing papers back and forth, that’s a risk we don’t need to take.

Alexandria Bankruptcy hearings are telephonic.

Hearings at the bankruptcy courts are virtual, zoom and telephonic–until 60 days after the President declares an end to the emergency.  We’ll keep Zooming at least through the end of 2021.

Documents can be a problem.

After our quick call, I invite you to fill in my Be Happy form.  That’s here on my website.  Then we’ll send you a password and links to upload the required documents. Transferring documents can be the hardest part of the virtual consultation.

You likely already have some of the documents in pdf.  You can take a photo on your phone for the required ID.  Having access to a scanner can be helpful.  Usually we can find a convenient solution.

 

 

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18

Dec 2020

“Have You Sent Us a Bank Statement for Every Account?”

Posted by / in Weekly Posts /

The Hardest Question You’ll Get Asked at Your Bankruptcy Hearing

Like most people, you will be stressed when you get ready for your bankruptcy hearing. People are worried they’ll be asked “How did you get into this mess?” Actually, that almost never comes  up.

The hardest question that always comes up is this one: “Have you sent us a bank statement for every account.” 

This is a hard question because many people have far more open bank accounts than they actually are using.  So, what’s the single best thing you can do to make your bankruptcy hearing go smoothly? Close those bank accounts you are not using.

Close those unnecessary accounts.

home town bank

Do you have a six dollar savings account at your home town bank? Close it!

Do you still have $5.00 in the credit union at your old job? Close it. Do you have $11.00 in a Paypal account?  Close it. Do you have $31.00 in Bitcoins?  Close it.  Have a six dollar savings account from your hometown bank where you went to high school? Close it!

Close those unnecessary bank account. When it’s time for your bankruptcy hearing, you’ll be glad you did.

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NORTHERN VIRGINIA BANKRUPTCY LAW OFFICES