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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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14

Dec 2020

Chapter 7 Trustee Janet Meiburger

Posted by / in Weekly Posts /

Chapter 7 Trustee Janet Meiburger

Janet Meiburger 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.  Janet Meiburger has her own law firm in McLean, VA where she handles her own bankruptcy clients, plus business law, commercial law and civil litigation. She is the newest of the trustees here.

Chapter 7 Trustee, Janet Meiburger

Chapter 7 Trustee, Janet Meiburger

As a Chapter 7 Trustee, she 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 $335.00 filing fee when we filed your bankruptcy case. Sixty dollars of that went to Trustee Meiburger.  Since her hourly rate is $450.00 an hour, that $60.00 would be her fee for eight minutes.  (A recent study suggested $120.00 for Chapter 7 trustees would be better.)

As your Chapter 7 Trustee, Janet Meiburger 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, she should be called “ma’am” not “your honor.”)

For now, bankruptcy hearings in Alexandria are by telephone. For the Janet Meiburger hearings, you should call (866) 652-2725 using the code 5661649.

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

Since she’s only been paid to spend a total of eight minutes on you, you might guess Janet Meiburger would rush through her cases.  But she doesn’t.  She is very thorough in her questions.

Every trustee is supposed to ask, “Did you sign the papers your lawyer sent to the court?” And “Did you read them or have them explained before you signed them?”  Trustee Meiburger goes two steps further, asking “Did your lawyer give you a copy? And did you review that copy before the hearing today?”

So be sure to look at your papers again before your court date. If there’s a mistake, we want to correct it.

 

UPDATE  The Bankruptcy trustees get their raise.

The Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustees did get their fee increase from $60.00 to $120.00 per case.  Congress passed it in December and the President signed January 12, 2021.  

It was the first raise for Bankruptcy Trustees in nearly 30 years.

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NORTHERN VIRGINIA BANKRUPTCY LAW OFFICES