Make a phone call. It’s that simple. Call a Charlotte bankruptcy attorney today. Bankruptcy attorneys — good ones — are eager to answer questions. They will not pressure you into filing a bankruptcy. You won’t feel like you’re listening to a sales pitch. When you call a bankruptcy attorney and ask questions, you’re getting information and the lawyer is getting a chance to do their job, which is helping people.

I received a phone call today from a gentleman who went through a foreclosure last year. He had two mortgages on the home and the bank holding the 2nd mortgage was not satisfied as a result of the foreclosure. Currently, he is getting calls from a collection agency representing that lender. These calls are coming as a surprise to him because he felt the foreclosure process put an end to his relationship with the property and both lenders.

In this case, the collection agency is claiming the bank is owed approximately $21,000. They made a verbal offer over the phone to settle with him for $5,000. While there’s nothing preventing the collection agency from attempting to collect on this deficiency, and nothing preventing this gentleman from agreeing to settle this debt, this is tricky territory.

What’s Next?

If he refuses to settle, he may face further action from the  lender by way of a judgment and attempts to collect on that judgment. Depending upon how effectively he responds to further attempts at collection, this could threaten personal property that he owns including savings accounts and other property not exempt under law.

If he settles with the bank in an attempt to eliminate this debt from his life, he needs to be sure he understands his obligations, the bank’s obligations, and the long-term effects of the settlement. Most of those will be detailed in the agreement which of course will be drafted by the bank’s attorneys.

If he is going to spend money settling with this creditor, he should also know what results he could achieve by spending that same money (or less) on a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. All of this information, together, will help him confidently decide his next step.

When In Doubt, Make A Call

He did the right thing. He picked up the phone and called a bankruptcy attorney in his area, which is Charlotte, NC. We had a brief but informative conversation about his current rights against this bank. We talked through a few scenarios which are likely, and some which are unlikely. We assessed his overall financial situation and talked briefly about bankruptcy. And he is faxing over the latest communication from the collection agency so that I can make sure there’s nothing we missed on our phone call.

The call is free. Attorneys take pride in providing information to people in need. Don’t hesitate. Call me at 704.749.7747. Information is powerful and it’s free. Get help. Get guidance. You’ll be much better equipped to make the decision that’s best for you and your family.

Short Answer: Yes.

Income from unemployment is counted as income to the individual when determining whether you qualify for the bankruptcy. Typically, for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, unemployment income will not be enough income to cause a problem for an individual getting ready to file. For a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court wants to see that you will be able to make your monthly payment under the repayment plan. Sometimes, income from unemployment is not enough to establish this.

The Means Test

Individuals filing bankruptcy need to pass the Means test. The Means test compares your annual income to the median annual income in your geographic area. If the filing individual’s total annual income (including unemployment income) is lower than the median annual income, you should qualify for a Chapter 7 filing. This will of course enable you to eliminate credit card debt, medical bills and other debts you’re currently obligated to repay.

If your total annual income exceeds the median annual income, you may still qualify. Your attorney will run a comparison of your monthly income to the monthly service on your debts as well as other monthly living expenses. Again, most unemployment income qualifies an individual under the Means test. In the alternative, your normal monthly expenses will typically still allow you to file—you’re demonstrating to the court that with your current income, you’re unable to comfortably pay your monthly living expenses.

Unemployment Income And Chapter 13

The bankruptcy court wants to see that you’ll be able to make your monthly payment in a Chapter 13. This requires a showing that you have sufficient income. Your unemployment will count as income, together with any other monthly sources of money which are counted as income in this analysis: social security payments, rental income, etc.

What If I Get A Job During Bankruptcy?

If you find a job during bankruptcy, congratulations are in order. Beyond that, we will notify the court of your changed circumstances, because we have an obligation to do that. In most cases, finding a job can only help you, especially if you’re filing a Chapter 13.

Speak With An Attorney

The easiest way to get a quick analysis of your situation is to speak with an attorney. Call me at 704.749.7747 for a free consultation by phone, or in my office. Or, if you’re more comfortable, email me HERE. I’ll get back to you quickly and help you understand your options.

If you’d like to provide some detailed information I can use to inform our discussion, take 5 minutes to complete a short, online evaluation HERE.

Things have been tough. You’ve extended your lines of credit. When you exhausted available credit card debt, you borrowed from family members to get by. This is absolutely normal. And when you do have extra money to repay some of your creditors, it’s natural to want to put family first. Your attorney for bankruptcy will caution against this.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it’s important to recognize that there is a look-back period which will be examined by the Trustee. One of the things the Trustee is attempting to discover is whether you have treated all creditors the same. If one creditor has been treated better than another, the payment or payments giving rise to that determination may be treated by the Trustee as a Preferential Payment.

Preferential Payments

One goal of bankruptcy is to treat all creditors equally. As part of achieving this goal, if the Trustee determines that in the year prior to filing bankruptcy you’ve re-paid a family member while ignoring some or all of your other debts, it may give rise to the Trustee ‘avoiding’ the preferential payment. Essentially this means the Trustee will attempt to recover the money you paid to your family member—from your family member—and re-distribute it to creditors, equally.

Treat All Creditors Equally

Don’t be confused by this. All you have to do is make a conscious choice to treat all creditors the same. If you are going to ignore your credit card bills as you approach filing for bankruptcy, avoid all of them. Include loans from family members in this group.

After Bankruptcy

Oddly enough, per the rules of bankruptcy, after the bankruptcy is filed and you have received your discharge of debts, you can voluntarily repay any debt that was dismissed as part of the bankruptcy. While this comes as a surprise to many of my Charlotte bankruptcy clients, it’s a pleasant one. It means that as you approach your filing, you (or your lawyer) can explain to the family member(s) that they may receive a letter about the bankruptcy filing. You can also tell them during this call, that you have the right to repay them after the bankruptcy is over.

Get The Facts

Reach out today to talk to an attorney in Charlotte, NC about bankruptcy. Email me HERE or call me at 704.749.7747 to discuss your situation—including loans to family members, rights against collection agencies, or any other debt-related matter.

Recently, The New York Post reported that author Robert Kiyosaki’s company Rich Global LLC has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This seems to be a great example of setting aside feelings of embarrassment, shame or fear, in favor of making a smart business decision.

Perhaps you’ve read his books about building personal wealth. Maybe you’ve seen him speak on PBS or even in a live seminar. Regardless, most of us have heard of the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. It’s a book that uses a fictional example of two different ‘dads’ to compare how different spending habits affect our potential to build financial security and wealth.

So how can a financial guru file bankruptcy and not tarnish his reputation as a financial guru to millions? At first it sounds impossible. But when you learn that he filed the Chapter 7 bankruptcy to protect the remainder of his assets from a judgment creditor, it makes perfect sense. He is taking advantage of the rules in bankruptcy because he can. And, because he is more concerned with making a smart choice than being embarrassed. I encourage my clients to embrace this exact mentality.

Personal Bankruptcy

When a client is considering filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the question shouldn’t be will my neighbors find out (Probably not), or will this haunt me forever (No, it won’t). You certainly won’t show up in the news and in hundreds of headlines like Kiyosaki has. Instead, the question we ask ourselves should be simple and clear:

Is bankruptcy the best thing for me and my family right now?

With the help of a Charlotte Bankruptcy Attorney who understand bankruptcy, you can sort through your options. Let’s strive to be like Rich Dad, Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki. When it comes to considering bankruptcy, let’s place our important concern for our long-term financial well-being over our temporary and self-induced emotional discomfort.

Email me HERE or call me today at 704.749.7747 for a free phone consultation. I look forward to helping you protect your assets and start down the path to building them again.

First… Congratulations! You’re here because you are taking control over your finances. And you CAN take control of your finances. There are powerful options that the bankruptcy code creates for individuals like you and me, which can rescue us from a tough financial situation and with the help of an attorney, start us down the quick path to financial stability.

Bankruptcy is a process. With the help of a Charlotte bankruptcy attorney, you can utilize all the power of that process to achieve a discharge of medical bills, credit card debt, personal loans, vehicle debt and mortgages. To read more, continue with this post or click HERE to watch a 2 minute video about bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy: How To

Make a phone call. You start the bankruptcy process by reaching out to a qualified bankruptcy attorney and telling them about your situation. It’s that simple. Perhaps you are facing overwhelming credit card debt. Maybe you have lost your income, or been injured in an accident. There are numerous reasons people explore bankruptcy as an option.

Once your lawyer understands your situation, they will ask you to provide some written information about your income, your expenses, and the property you own. This is 90% of the work that you will do. When you hand that work over to the lawyer’s office, it’s their job to determine if you will qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or in the alternative a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

About Bankruptcy And The Process

Your attorney will guide you through the process, providing clarity and answering your questions about calls from creditors, whether to keep paying on credit cards, and when you’ll receive the discharge of your debts. You will feel cared for and comforted throughout the entire process. And, each step of the way, you’ll feel yourself regaining your footing—both emotionally and financially.

The message from our law office is simple: your situation is not your fault. There is nothing to feel guilty about. You are simply taking advantage of the powerful options offered by the bankruptcy code. And you’re entitled to them. You’re also not alone. I take phone calls every day from individuals who are trying to recover financially. Exploring bankruptcy as an option is a smart thing to do.

Do I Have To Go To Court?

You do have a short meeting at the courthouse, called a 341 meeting. In fact, in Charlotte, NC, that meeting takes place across the street from the courthouse in a small two story building. The room is carpeted, and you and your bankruptcy attorney sit at one table while a bankruptcy trustee sit at another table. The trustee asks you a few questions.

There shouldn’t be any surprises at this short meeting. Your only job is to listen and to be honest. The meeting typically takes a few minutes. The most common response from clients after the meeting is “That’s it?!” The answer is yes.

Take A Step Forward

The easiest way to get information is to pick up the phone. I’m here to listen to you. My goal is to understand your situation and offer solutions that work for you, whether that means filing a bankruptcy or defending against a creditor, or giving you the good news that you don’t need a lawyer. If you’d like to talk about your situation, there is no cost for that. Just call 704.749.7747.

 

 

 

When we are attempting to manage our debt, it helps to consider it in pieces. Typically, the most substantial monthly payment for each of us is our home, or the mortgage on the home. With the significant changes in the real estate market and homeowners’ inability to pay current mortgages due to financial hardship, banks are increasingly willing to modify your mortgage. You may have even received letters about loan modification in the mail.

A bank is motivated to modify your mortgage to avoid foreclosure, bankruptcy or other adverse proceedings which negatively affect the bank’s interest. By working together with your bank and your bankruptcy attorney, you can achieve the best results for future financial stability.

Modification Prior To Filing Bankruptcy

You can modify your loan prior to filing bankruptcy. The modification will not negatively affect your bankruptcy filing. When you do file your bankruptcy petition with your Charlotte bankruptcy lawyer, you’ll need to provide the most up to date information about the mortgage to the bankruptcy trustee.

Modification During Bankruptcy

Chapter 7: If you are in an active Chapter 7 bankruptcy, loan modification is typically still available. You should speak with your bankruptcy attorney before entering into the modification agreement, as the attorney may need to get the court’s permission to allow the modification. If you have received a discharge in Chapter 7, you can proceed with your loan modification without permission from the court.

Chapter 13: If you are in an active Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your attorney will need to request permission from the court to allow the modification. This will be done by filing a Motion to Incur Debt. If you have received a discharge in a Chapter 13 or even a dismissal, you do not need the court’s permission to enter into a loan modification.

Working With Your Bank

Your bank will have a standardized process for approving a loan modification. They want to know your financial picture so they can show cause or need for granting the modification. They are also attempting to determine whether you’ll be able to make your new (lower) monthly payment after the modification.

Missing Mortgage Payments

Some banks will tell you that they will not consider a loan modification until you have missed a certain number of mortgage payments. While this may be the case, it’s important to remember that in order to file a Chapter 7 and keep your home in Chapter 7, you must be up to date on all mortage payments, including property taxes. Your attorney can help you strategize and balance the tension between the two options of loan modification and bankruptcy.

Get An Attorney’s Help

You are capable of pursuing a loan modification on your own. You may find that the bank is more responsive when they are contacted by your bankruptcy attorney. The reason is that the bank understands you are close to filing a bankruptcy, which may affect their rights adversely. While there are no promises, sometimes this makes the bank move more quickly on your file, which can make all the difference.

Information is free. Call me today to ask questions and get answers. I can be reached at 704.749.7747. Or, you can send me an email HERE and I’ll reply shortly. You’re on your way to recovery. It’s closer than you think. If you want to know whether you qualify for bankruptcy, consider completing this short bankruptcy evaluation. I’ll get back to you after I’ve reviewed it.

Trying to manage overwhelming credit card debt is like driving in a storm—you can only see what is directly in front of you. This leads to decisions that address a situation with today’s aggressive bill collector, but often leaves us facing the same situation around the bend.

There are numerous approaches to tackling overwhelming credit card debt, and there are plenty of people eager to take your money in exchange for the promise of debt relief. Consumers deserve to know that while the effect on your credit score is similar, you can get very different results from a bankruptcy filing vs. a debt consolidation program.

 

In Debt Settlement: Debt settlement companies are relying on the assumption that creditors will settle with you. In order to get those creditors to settle, they instruct you to stop paying your credit cards and instead give that money to the settlement company to pay their high fees and allow them to negotiate on your behalf.

In Bankruptcy: Bankruptcy is law. The rules are clear. Your bankruptcy attorney can tell you with great certainty—before you file—what you will and will not be able to accomplish by filing a bankruptcy. Consumer bankruptcy can eliminate credit card debt, medical bills, personal loans, judgments, tax debt and 2nd mortgages. It is undeniably a much more powerful tool for consumers.

What Happens When I Stop Paying My Credit Cards?

In Debt Settlement: When you stop paying your credit cards, your creditors take notice. They tack on fees. They report your delinquent payments to credit agencies, and they pursue all legal means of collecting the debt. If your debt settlement company is unable to negotiate successfully with one or more of your creditors, you just dramatically weakened your financial well-being—the debt not only remains but it has significantly increased. And the creditor is calling for repayment NOW.

In Bankruptcy: When you decide to file a bankruptcy, your bankruptcy lawyer will advise you as to when you can stop paying your credit cards. And yes, your creditors take notice. But they are bound by the Federal bankruptcy laws, which create an Automatic Stay that freezes all attempts at collection. So long as you qualify for filing bankruptcy and your situation does not give rise to a Presumption of Abuse, your creditors have no say in the matter—your filing will succeed and the debt will be discharged.

How Long Does It Take To Get Rid Of The Debt?

In Debt Settlement: Assume you subject yourself to the risk of debt settlement or debt consolidation. In addition to the risk that your creditors may not cooperate as expected, you also run the risk that one missed payment during the lengthy repayment period (typically 36 months or more) will undo the negotiated amounts with creditors.

In Bankruptcy: A Chapter 7 bankruptcy, by comparison, goes from filing to discharge of debts in typically three to four months. During that much shorter timeframe, you are no longer making payments to credit card companies (along with medical providers and other creditors), and no longer receiving any communications from those companies, per bankruptcy law.

Make a phone call today. A bankruptcy attorney can help you sort through the options and choose one that serves you best. Fifteen minutes will give you peace of mind, clarity and relief. Email me HERE or call 704.749.7747 for a free consultation.

Many of my bankruptcy clients are small business owners, and typically operate their business as a sole proprietorship, partnership or LLC. While these clients are currently facing financial hardship, the business represents a great potential for future income and a lot of hard work went into creating it. A common question when considering bankruptcy is whether business debt will be discharged as part of the bankruptcy. Ideally, clients would like to be able to file a personal bankruptcy and save the small business.

Personal Debts Are Discharged

When you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, debts you are personally liable for are discharged. For the typical small business owner who has taken on debt to operate a business, at the time the obligation was created, that individual was required to sign both for the business AND individually. An example would be a lease for a copier, or a loan for purchasing computers. The filing of a Chapter 7 would discharge that debt as to the individual. The debt would remain an obligation of the business entity.

Continuing to Operate Your Business

You can often continue to operate your small business after filing a Chapter 7, however there are circumstances where the bankruptcy court wants to see the business closed in conjunction with the owner being personally discharged of the debt. While businesses that are service-oriented can typically remain in operation, businesses with large assets and substantial income may need to dissolve. Regardless, business owners can usually re-establish the business under a new entity after the bankruptcy.

Discharging Company Debt

If you want debt discharged as to the company, then the company needs to file its own bankruptcy. Practically speaking, a company owner who has been personally discharged of the debt by a Chapter 7 simply files articles of dissolution with the Secretary of State—a much easier and cheaper way for the business owner to move on.

Reorganizing The Debt

If you have valuable business assets, income from the business or both, you’ll most likely want to continue to operate the business. In that event, filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is typically ideal, and involves working out a repayment plan with creditors that discharges most debt over time, while creating a monthly payment plan that is significantly more favorable than the current payments you are having trouble maintaining.

If you are having trouble with your finances, finding out your options is empowering. Call me if you’d like to speak to an attorney about your situation. The call is free and it will help you clarify your next steps. You can email me HERE or call 704.749.7747 to talk to me today.

If you’ve been browsing online for a Charlotte bankruptcy attorney, you’ve probably come across the phrase “Cheap Bankruptcy Attorney” more than once. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a situation where cost matters more, than when you’re running low on money already. I encourage all of my clients to comparison shop attorney’s fees—it’s their right, and it makes sense. I also encourage them to focus on making sure they require a few things of the attorney they choose. If you want a fee quote I’m happy to provide one– here is the link for requesting Bankruptcy Fees.

Make Sure It’s A Law Firm

You can file on your own. You can file with the help of a non-attorney. These options exist. But when you’re filing bankruptcy, it’s important that you get the guidance you need and usually that requires the knowledge of a bankruptcy attorney. In exchange for paying the going rate for an attorney, you get competent legal representation, someone who has a relationship with the bankruptcy trustees, and accountability. Each of these elements helps to insure the success of your filing.

Demand The Attention You Deserve

Your attorney should be available. They may not answer their phone every time you call but calls should be returned quickly and if the bankruptcy lawyer doesn’t have the answer you need, you should get an informed response as soon as the lawyer has a chance to research the answer.

You Should Feel Respected

You’re going through a challenging time. In my opinion, you should feel that your attorney is respectful of that. This respect can manifest itself by the attorney taking extra time to explain a concept to you, or offering some alternative ways to exchange information—essentially the attorney should strive to make the process as painless as possible for you, the client.

Stay Updated

You shouldn’t have to call your attorney for updates. Ask your Charlotte bankruptcy lawyer how often you should expect to hear from them with updates on your case. Mark your calendar, so both you and your attorney follow through. If you have questions, your attorney should make you feel comfortable calling at any time to ask those.

Get a Bankruptcy Attorney Referral

Your bankruptcy lawyer should plenty of names and phone numbers they can provide you so that you can reach out to their existing or past clients and ask how the experience was. Did things go smoothly? Was the attorney able to accomplish what he promised he would accomplish? In the end, were the fees as quoted or agreed upon?

I believe that one of my primary jobs as a bankruptcy attorney is to educate. It’s why this blog exists. The information here is free and I hope it makes you feel more comfortable with your options in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. I also hope it makes you feel more comfortable in your choice as to which Charlotte bankruptcy attorney is going to assist you.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your options, please email me HERE or call 704.749.7747 today. Call today, and tomorrow will be different.

It costs a substantial amount of money to file a bankruptcy. When you don’t have money for utilities and rent, this feels like a cruel joke. And while most clients address it with a sense of humor, the fact is one of the biggest hurdles to getting out of debt is raising the money to pay the bankruptcy lawyer.

What You Shouldn’t Do

You shouldn’t use your credit card(s) to pay for bankruptcy. If you charge a credit card for more than $600 within 90 days of filing a bankruptcy, a presumption of abuse arises. Beyond this, any charge placed on a credit card– when you know the charge will be discharged in bankruptcy– is considered fraudulent. Your case may be dismissed!

You shouldn’t borrow from your 401(k). Not if you can help it, anyway. Retirement funds are protected and they represent an investment in your future. If you’re facing a foreclosure or there is no other way to pay for the bankruptcy fees, then you and your attorney can make a decision as to whether it’s a good idea to use retirement funds to pay for the bankruptcy.

What You Should Do

Consult with your attorney. Once your Charlotte bankruptcy attorney gets a feel for your overall financial picture, he or she will be able to help you creatively plan your bankruptcy payment in a way which won’t upset your filing. Together, my clients and I are usually able to figure out a way to get the necessary fees paid without too much discomfort for the client.

One option is to borrow from a family member. While family members may not be too keen on lending money to someone who continues falling behind, they tend to see the filing of a bankruptcy as a responsible choice and they are often eager to contribute to your financial recovery because they feel you have a plan. They’re proud of you for taking necessary steps to improve your situation.

Another option is to consider an upcoming tax refund. If you’re accustomed to receiving a tax refund each year, you can start working with your bankruptcy attorney on the paperwork as tax time approaches, and then instead of using the return to catch up on bills, use it to pay the attorney to help eliminate the debt…forever.

Every post ends the same way: CALL AN ATTORNEY. The reason? A phone call can change everything, and speaking with a bankruptcy attorney helps you to clearly see your options and make a choice. You can change your future, today. Email me HERE or call me at 704.749.7747.