Can bankruptcy help you save your home?

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:49:10 AM

If you are a homeowner in distress and you are being made offers to file bankruptcy, find out what bankruptcy really will (and won’t) do for you if you file.

Bankruptcy can offer you many powerful options in your fight to keep your home.  There is a virtual soup of misinformation out there on different ways to save your home.  Time and again clients have come to us having fallen viction to one form of scam or another.  It’s time to sort out the good from the bad and learn once and for all if bankruptcy is going to offer you a way out.

To do so, I prepared a 4 part short video tutorial for you.  The videos are short and as ‘to the point’ informative as I could make them.  I couldn’t cover everything, but I think I got the basics down for you.

You can view the videos by enrolling at

If you still have questions, feel free to call us.  Please keep in mind that we are a Los Angeles, California based practice.  If you are located outside of the Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino or Ventura County areas, you are best to contact a local bankruptcy attorney as bankruptcy laws can be very location-specific and must be filed close to home.

Tagged , , ,

Why Filing Bankruptcy is Better Than Debt Settlement.

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:47:25 AM

If you have considered filing for bankruptcy, debt settlement may also be on your radar.  Here is how the two size up in my eyes.  The ads are everywhere, the straight talk is right here.

You may not qualify for bankruptcy, in which case debt settlement may by your only option.   However, if you do qualify for bankruptcy, here are some good reasons why it’s your better choice.

1. Cost:    When you work with a debt settlement company, you will be asked to send them a fixed sum of money on a monthly basis.  The money is pooled into a sizeable sum in the hope that they will be able to negotiate a lump sum payoff of your creditors; one by one.  The premise of the approach is fine; most creditors are more willing to cooperate if you can offer a lump sum settlement.  In practice however, it can get costly.  It could take you months to gather enough money to make any sort of reasonable cash offer that your creditors might accept.  Second, debt settlement companies take a hefty cut of each monthly payment, making it doubly difficult to accumulate enough money to entice a settlement.  If you are able to afford such payments, you can open a separate account for yourself and make the deposits every month without paying a cut to someone else.  Once a deal is made, you will have accumulated enough money to close the deal.

2. Debt Settlement Does Not Stop Collections!  When you are inbankruptcy, creditors cannot continue with ANY collection efforts (no nasty calls, no direct communication with you, no garnishments, levies, repos, foreclosures).  Debt settlement affords no such protection.  I have heard one horror story after the other of debtors hiring debt settlement negotiators only to be served with collections lawsuits in the meantime.  Most debtors are shocked to learn this, so consider yourself warned.  Creditors don’t have to (and usually won’t) stop collection against you just because you are trying to negotiate a settlement.  As long as you are behind on your payments and have not filed for bankruptcy, creditors are free to proceed with collection.

3. Debt settlement does not provide finality:  A bankruptcy can eliminate many debts (especially unsecured debt like credit card debt) once and for all within a matter of months.  Debt settlement plans can take years to complete, oftentimes without a guarantee that the creditor won’t come after you for the full balance.  In fact, most debt settlement plans are set for monthly payments over 2-5 years.  Most plans clearly state that if one payment is late, the creditor has the right to demand  the full original balance.  No such thing takes place in bankruptcy.  Once your bankruptcy is complete, the debt is dealt with and is final.

4. Tax Implications of debt settlement:  As a general rule, debt forgiven is considered taxable income.  If a creditor forgives some of your debt, they are going to issue you a 1099 for the forgiven amount.  You will likely owe taxes on the forgiven debt.  In bankruptcy, you will not be required to pay taxes on debt that is discharged.

5.  Credit Implications:  Let’s face it; if you fall behind on several payments to your creditors, your credit profile is already shot.  At such a point, you have to ask yourself whether worrying about a bankruptcy on your record is worth it.  Compared to the clean, fresh start that bankruptcy can offer you; it usually isn’t worth worrying about.  Which is easier, getting a fresh start and rebuilding your credit, or saddling yourself with settlement arrangements you may not be able to honor?

Tagged , , , , , , ,

I filed for bankruptcy. When can I buy property again?

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:46:58 AM

I filed bankruptcy.  When can I buy property again?


This question comes up often in my bankruptcy consultations, so I decided that it would be interesting reading for some of you.

The subtitle to this blog post should probably be the related question, “When can I start re-building my credit?  I hear that bankruptcies stay on your record for 10 years.”

The truth of the matter is that EVERYTHING stays on your credit report forever.  I have seen credit reports with information (both good and derogatory) going back thirty years.  I see 30 day late reports from the 1980’s or earlier on credit reports.

However, something magical seems to happen around the 7-8 year mark; it stops mattering to many creditors.  That includes The Fair Isaac Company, the owners of the FICO score (which is independent of your credit report).  Understand that Fair Isaac compiles a credit score based on the information in your credit report.  The credit bureaus and Fair Isaac guard the secret ingredients to their formulas very jealously; they are after all in the business of selling their information.  What we do know is that many debtors notice a jump in their FICO scores coinciding with derogatory information passing the 7-8 year mark.

Many creditors these days are even more forgiving than that.  I have seen bankrupt debtors begin to rebuild their credit 6 months after receiving their discharge.  You may pay in the form of higher interest rates, but the offers are out there.

What does this mean in terms of buying property again?  As long as a creditor sees a steady rebuilding of your credit, you may be surprised what they are willing to offer you.  Times are bad, and lenders need to lend money to stay in business.  If they don’t find enough borrowers at the levels that they want to lend to, they are going to drop those standards (even if it means having to charge a little more).

The ultimate question to ask yourself is, “Do I continue to carry all this debt and damage my credit further with no end in sight, or do I opt for a fresh start and move forward with my life?”

Bankruptcy is a serious decision, but it’s not a credit death sentence.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Bankruptcy and tax debt: Can I discharge my tax debt in Bankruptcy?

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:46:25 AM

I am often asked this question by clients.  The short answer that most clients will get from their attorney is “No.”  However, this is oversimplifying it.  You CAN get a discharge of tax debt under the right circumstances.

I recently read an expertly written article on this topic.  Here is the link:

Bankruptcy: Can I discharge my tax debt if I file bankruptcy?

Thank You Attorney Coats for your very informative and well written article on the topic.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

I owe taxes. Can I discharge my tax debt in Bankruptcy?

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:45:57 AM

This question comes up often, and typically the answer is “No.”  However, there is hope.  I just read an excellent article which spells out how and when you can get a tax debt discharged.  Highly recommended reading; I simply couldn’t explain it any better, except to say that it distills down to a few points made by the author:

1. The due date for filing a tax return is at least three years ago.

2. The tax return was filed at least two years ago.

3. The tax assessment is at least 240 days old.

4. The tax return was not fraudulent.

5. The taxpayer is not guilty of tax evasion.

Here is the full article:


Bankruptcy: Can I discharge my tax debt if I file bankruptcy?

Whitney G. Coats, Esq., Dana Law Firm.


Thank You Attorney Coats for writing this informative article.  I’ll be sharing with my readers and clients.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Can I keep my car if I file for Bankruptcy?

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:45:15 AM

If you are filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy, or considering it, you may be asking yourself, “Can I keep my car in ch.7 bankruptcy?”. Being able to keep your car is important, as you want to be able to get to work and be generally mobile. Finding out whether you can keep your car really depends on your situation. You may have a loan payment, you may own your vehicle, or you may be leasing a vehicle. Let’s start with the last situation first.

If you are leasing a vehicle, the relevant question to ask yourself is, can I keep up with the lease payments, or do I need to turn the vehicle in for a situation I can afford? You have to be able to keep up with payments, so you don’t get yourself in trouble.

If you own your vehicle, in case of chapter 7 bankruptcy, your vehicle may or may not be taken in. It does depend on the state you live in and what your specific case is, but in most cases you can file for exemption and keep a vehicle that is valued under a certain amount. If there is a $7500 exemption for vehicles, and your vehicle is valued under that amount, you can keep it. If it is valued at above $7500, you have to be able to pay the difference or they will take your vehicle and give you the exemption fee to look for another one.


Glendale California Bankruptcy attorney Raffy Boulgourjian

Tagged , , ,

Can I keep my home in Chapter 13 bankruptcy

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:43:48 AM

It is no secret that the economy has been bad for several years. There have been many job cuts. Raises are not coming, bonuses are smaller or gone entirely. Jobs that are offered pay less than they used to.

Many adults are finding themselves in a financial bind. Often they wonder, “Is Chapter 13 bankruptcy for me? Will I qualify for Chapter 13? Can I keep my home if I’m in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?  Is that the right choice for me? Can I work out a deal with the lender? ”

Have you already gotten so far behind that they won’t help you? Should you sell your home and downsize to a small payment? Do you need to take on a second job?  Do you make too much money to qualify for a Chapter 7?

All of these questions deserve answers.  For some, the answer is a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

You can keep your home if you are in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  In fact, Chapter 13 is commonly referred to as the homeowner’s bankruptcy.  One of Chapter 13′s principle goals is to help homeowners stay in their homes.

There are rules you must follow and it won’t be cheap.  You must know that you will be expected to pay your mortgage as it is currently moving forward, month after month.  You willalso need to pay something toward any arrears (if you have arrears on your mortgage) spread out over 5 years.

However, like a chapter 7, you can, at the same time, seek a discharge of your unsecured (usually credit card) debt.  This one-two punch is an invaluable feature of a chapter 13.  Remember, if you can eliminate your credit card debt, perhaps now you can afford to make your mortgage payments.  You may even be able to eliminate a second mortgage on your home (more on this later).  If you could eliminate your second and your credit card debts, perhaps now you could afford to keep your home?

When you file Chapter 13 bankruptcy you will be in the plan for a 3-5 year period to pay off the arrears. Can you follow through? In some states they take the payment directly out of your paycheck to ensure successful completion of the plan.  Missing a payment is not an option.  Your entire bankruptcy plan may fail.  However, if your income changes over the course of the 5 year repayment plan, adjustments can be requested based on how much you can afford.

While in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you cannot take on any more debt without permission from the court until you have completed the plan.

If you fall behind again, you may be able to amend your plan to include new debt, but beware of that it could jeapordize your plan and will cost you more attorney fees and court costs. You may be able to work out a deal with the lender to pay extra payments, but you still have to make the Chapter 13 bankruptcy payments. Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy isn’t the right path for everyone, consult with an attorney before you make a decision.  Not all bankruptcy attorneys do chapter 13′s; they can be complicated and have a lot of moving parts.  Make sure that your attorney has filed several 13′s before you make a decision.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Can Bankruptcy Stop an Eviction?

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:39:30 AM

Many tenants (or former homeowners after foreclosure) ask me this question. First, it is important to understand that no landlord in California can help themselves to possession of the property. That is, they cannot change the locks and throw you out. Landlords must go through with an eviction action, known as an action for Unlawful Detainer. Unlawful Detainers are a court process which begins with the posting of a notice (3 day, 30 day, 60 day or 90 day, depending on the situation). Once the notice period expires, the landlord must file their eviction action, serve it upon you and get a judgment against you before the Sheriff can physically remove you and your possessions from the property. The process can take anywhere from 20-75 days. If your landlord locks you out without doing any of the above, you have a great case for wrongful eviction against them. Consult an attorney.

Moving on to the Eviction itself. Once the process has begun, filing a bankruptcy may stay the proceeding…. temporarily. A landlord has grounds to ask the Bankruptcy Court for permission to proceed with your eviction. In almost every instance that permission will be granted and the landlord is free to proceed. How quickly a landlord moves to obtain this permission, called relief from the automatic stay, is what will determine how much extra time you gain.

It is entirely possible that your landlord will just wait for your bankruptcy to be over because they don’t want to spend the extra money to seek relief from the stay.

If your landlord sees the eviction process through and has now applied to the Sheriff for a lockout date, is it too late to file? There is a technical legal answer and a real life answer. Technically, once judgment has been entered against you, you no longer have a right to stay. This means that filing the bankruptcy does not have to stop a sheriff’s lockout. What happens in real life, may, MAY, be a little different. Sometimes, sheriffs are very reluctant to proceed with a lockout if the tenant is in bankruptcy. The Sheriff’s office may postpone the lockout until the bankruptcy is over or the landlord has formally sought relief from the stay. I can tell you Sheriff’s responses have gone either way in many bankruptcy and eviction cases that our office has handled.

If you are being evicted, then your time to file bankruptcy may be very short. Consult an attorney as soon as possible.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Do I Need an Attorney to file for Bankruptcy?

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:38:55 AM

Us Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys are fully aware that there is a long list of non attorneys willing to help you file bankruptcy for less than what an attorney would charge.

No doubt, it sounds completely self serving for me to tell you that I would never recommend anyone filing for bankruptcy without an attorney.

I am sure that there are many capable people doing good work to help debtors file chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy in Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena. I understand that debtors in financial trouble don’t have a lot of available cash. I tell you that this is not the time to skimp on costs.

Our Court system is complicated and difficult. It just is. Unless you have knowledge, training or familiarity with the bankruptcy court system, going it alone would be like to trying to perform surgery on yourself.

My other concern for you is getting legal advice. Paralegals, form preparers, or other non attorneys cannot give you legal advice. Non attorneys cannot advise you on whether you should keep a debt or not, oppose a motion or not, file papers on time, claim exemptions for assets you may keep, know which assets you stand to lose for payment to creditors, understand the long term implications of decisions you make in bankruptcy. There are so many considerations that could cause your bankruptcy to fail. If your bankruptcy fails, you do not get your debts discharged (forgiven
I receive several bankruptcy cases a week that were screwed up by debtors trying to go it alone or with non attorney assistance. It is oftentimes much harder and more expensive for the debtor to put these bankruptcy cases straight than it would have cost for me to do it right in the first place. It simply isn’t worth the risk in my opinion.). What’s worse, you could be barred from filing again.

Our consultations are free. Our offices serve the entire Greater Los Angeles area. We are local to anyone in the Glendale, Burbank or Pasadena area. You may reach us at our toll free number (888) 607-7460, which doesn’t cost you anything but your time. Find out where you stand.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Do I Really Need to File For Bankruptcy?

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:35:31 AM

No, I really mean it.  Please check with a bankruptcy attorney before deciding to file.  If you read my last blog post you will know that I freely make comments that may sound self serving.  But
Almost every bankruptcy attorney I know, including myself, offers a free consultation.  I also volunteer my time at a free bankruptcy walk-in clinic organized by the Bankruptcy Court.  You could be committing a terrible mistake just by filing alone. I do mean it.  I have seen dozens of disastrous bankruptcy petitions filed by people representing themselves.  Listen, it’s not easy, I know attorneys cost money and many people facing financial difficulty cannot afford one.

What could go wrong?  What could not go wrong?

I received a call recently from someone who is of questionable legal status (perhaps even illegal) who filed their bankruptcy themselves only to be staring at two United States Marshalls waiting for them at their 341a meeting of creditors.   There are ways to deal with such problems and they don’t have to end this way.

If you are filing to avoid the heavy hand of a collection agency, they may not even have legal standing to harass you that way (they may have  blown the statute of limitations on collecting the debt).  If the law is on your side, you may avoid filing for bankruptcy altogether.

Are you completely ready to walk away from your home?  If so, perhaps you could just hand it back to the bank (a deed in lieu of foreclosure) and not have to file bankruptcy.  If you hand it back, you may or may not be on the hook for the rest of the loan.  You must check with an attorney.  If you are not on the hook for the remainder of the debt, you certainly don’t need to file bankruptcy for your mortgage alone.

These are just a few of the scenarios I’ve seen; there are many, many more.  Don’t file bankruptcy unless you understand what it can (and cannot) do to help you.  The cost to find out?  Zero.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

website by vnacolors