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.

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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.

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Bankruptcy and Foreclosure; Part 1: The straight and the narrow

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:33:29 AM

Before you throw in the towel and walk away from the fight to save your home, let us take a look at your situation and see if there is anything we can do for you.  There is no fee and no obligation.

I want to congratulate you for taking the initiative to explore bankruptcy as an option.  As a real estate and bankruptcy attorney, I know that for circumstances beyond your control, you are very likely facing a financial situation that you cannot repair.  I want you to know that you are not alone.

Bankruptcy is a powerful and effective tool to remedy a person’s dire financial state, and many times today such difficulties begin with your mortgage.  If you have spent the last several

First, Bankruptcy has the power to stop a foreclosure sale until your bankruptcy matter has been reviewed by The Court.   This is because a bankruptcy filing imposes an automatic stay against all collection, IMMEDIATELY.  The stay is a federal court order which takes effect as soon as we file your case. .  Our office files its bankruptcies electronically, so we will obtain a case number and a stay order almost instantly for you.months, or even years, trying to find a way out of the problem by applying for a loan modification or other methods, and nothing has worked, then it’s time to take a hard look at the bankruptcy option and here’s why:

A second reason why bankruptcy may be for you is because it doesn’t have to interfere with your chances of being approved for a modification.  If you have applied for a modification, the process can still continue.

Third, here’s something that I want you to keep in mind.  If your bankruptcy eliminates all of your other debt (like credit card debt), then once the debt is eliminated, perhaps you may now be able to afford the mortgage,  even if it doesn’t get modified.  This way you eliminate a lot of the debt that is weighing you down, leaving only the mortgage as the only large payment you need to worry about.  I will cover this point in greater detail in later videos.

Fourth, under the right conditions, bankruptcy can even eliminate a second loan on your home.  If you have a second, third or even fourth loan secured against your home, there is a good chance that we can get those loans eliminated.  I’ll discuss this point in more detail in further videos as well.

Like I said before, don’t walk away from the fight to save your home before you let us take a look at your situation to see if there is anything we can do for you.  There is no fee and no obligation.  You can reach us through the form on this webpage, or you can call us directly at 888 607 7460.  I look forward to helping you.

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The So Called Stigma of Bankruptcy: Let’s Set the Record Straight

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:25:20 AM

I sometimes get asked, “Mr. Boulgourjian, I feel a sense of embarrassment for filing bankruptcy.”

If you are struggling with a fear that there is a stigma associated with bankruptcy, let me give you a few numbers:

More people filed bankruptcy in the past year than the entire decade of the 1960’s.  Whether you know it or not, it’s more likely that you know someone who has filed for bankruptcy.  There is no stigma left.

Congress (and the United States Constitution) both accept that there is no social or economic good in oppressing someone who simply cannot repay their debt.  It’s that simple.  If someone is in over their head, either because of unemployment, sickness, family concerns such as divorce, or other crises, there is little good in leaving them in a spot they cannot recover from.  It doesn’t help anyone.  Give that person the opportunity to move forward and once again become a contribution to society and the economy.  It is from this construct that our bankruptcy laws are borne, and it’s your right to turn to them if you need to.

There’s good reason why many lenders will try to make you feel like you are doing something wrong by filing bankruptcy; it’s because the last thing a lender wants is for you to know that you have options.  I’ve been a real estate attorney for a while.  I’ve seen mortgage lenders act very honorably and others openly break the law.  It’s in your best interest to talk to someone who can tell you if your mortgage lender is treating you fairly under the law.

Let me tell you what doesn’t work.  Trying to frighten your lender by threatening to file for bankruptcy doesn’t work.  Lenders have heard borrowers make this threat so many times that it bounces off them like they were wearing Teflon.  The only time a lender is going to take such threats seriously is if you actually file.  If you feel like you’ve been getting the runaround from your mortgage lender, bring me your case and I will tell you where you stand.  No obligation, no fee.  You can reach us through the form on this webpage, or you can call us directly at 888 607 7460.  I look forward to helping you.

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“I Won’t Qualify for Bankruptcy; I Make Too Much Money.”

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:24:34 AM

One of the biggest misconceptions held by people with a steady income is that they won’t qualify for bankruptcy.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The short answer to this concern is that it doesn’t matter how much money you make; what matters is how much debt you are going to be able to discharge.

Let me explain this.  First, if someone has told you that you make too much money to qualify for a chapter seven bankruptcy, ask them if they have taken a look at your expenses.  True, there is a median income for your geographic area.  If you make less that median income then you will AUTOMATICALLY qualify for Chapter 7.  This does not mean that all is lost if you are over the median income, it simply means that the test goes to the second step; reviewing your expenses.  A bankruptcy attorney should review your expenses to see if you will qualify.  If someone tells you that you don’t qualify because you make more money then the median income and they have not reviewed your expenses, then run the other way because they are not qualified to assist you with a bankruptcy.

Second, if you still do not qualify for a 7, you might qualify for a 13.  There is no income limit in a 13, and there are in fact many benefits to a 13 which are only available in a 13. The only difference that your income will make in your 13 bankruptcy is in determining how much unsecured debt you will have to pay back. 

How much?  10%, 20%, 50%, 100%?  That question can only be answered once an office has thoroughly reviewed your income, debts and assets.  Our office has handled 13 plans which pay back NONE of the unsecured debt (usually credit cards) and have also handled 13 plans where clients have paid back ALL of the unsecured debt, and every scenario in between.

If you did in fact have steady income and couldn’t eliminate all of your debt, wouldn’t you want the chance to at least eliminate SOME of it?

Why would anyone want to file bankruptcy if they must pay back all of their debt?  There are several good reasons.  Keep in mind that a 100% plan is the usually the last bankruptcyoption available to a debtor.  The debtor may still find it better than not filing, because it gives them a better repayment plan than their creditors would otherwise offer them.  Example?  Debtor can keep their home and make payments toward the arrears of a mortgage loan instead of face a foreclosure.  Debtor can repay debts over the course of 5 years.  Debtors can strip junior liens from homes, making it easier to possibly sell or refinance their home should such an opportunity arise.  Debtors can reduce the principal balance on SOME auto loans.  Debtors AND THEIR SPOUSES can enjoy the protection of a stay against collection for the term of their repayment plan (up to 5 years).  All of these advantages may not have existed for the debtor prior to filing for bankruptcy.

If you are having debt concerns and want to know if bankruptcy is an option for you, finding out is free.

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Banks Falsify Documents to Defraud Our Bankruptcy Court?

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:24:08 AM

The article speaks for itself.

Our Bankruptcy Courts and our Judges have their hands full. They rely on us to sound the alarm when necessary. Here’s the latest.

Chase Accused of Brazen Bankruptcy Fraud

If these allegations are true, it’s the last thing our judges need.

Let’s see where this goes. I’ll keep you updated.

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Married couples. File Bankruptcy jointly or not?

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:22:29 AM

 

In California, a community property state, spouses in a marriage are both liable for any debt taken out by either spouse during their marriage.

This means that you are ultimately both on the hook for many of your debts.  The only bulletproof solution if you are facing dire financial straits would be to file jointly, as is your right.  Filing jointly offers several advantages.

First, filing jointly is usually less expensive;  You pay your filing fee once and your attorney once. Second, you have very likely formally co-signed debts together (this is especially true for mortgages).  In such situations, you are both liable for the mortgage, whether you were married or not.  If you don’t both file for bankruptcy, your mortgage lender will most certainly look to the signor that did not file for bankruptcy.

However, in the name of prudence, some married couples may elect to take their chances and only file bankruptcy for one spouse.  A creditor may make a business decision not to pursue a non signor spouse, even if they have legal grounds to do so.  This is sometimes the case when only one spouse is the formal debtor without the other spouse as a co-signor to the debt.  Keep in mind that the other spouse may always file individually at a later time should it become necessary, as is their right.

In the meantime, the marriage can rely on the non filing spouse’s credit profile as the one without a bankruptcy on it.

 

There are many non married co-debtors who wish they could file jointly.  Married couples have that option; use it to your best advantage.

If you are a married couple considering bankruptcy, a no fee no obligation consultation is the best thing to do.

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“I make too much money to file for bankruptcy.” The Means Test.

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:20:09 AM

How do you know?  Did you look it up online?  Did you ask your neighbor?  Did you ask a friend who has filed before?
The answer lies in a test so complicated that most attorneys cannot even answer the question without inputting almost all of your financial information into an incredibly complex formula known as the ‘means test’.

The means test has some basic major variables, but in truth, it’s so complicated that you need software to figure it out correctly.  If that is the case, how on Earth do you expect to get a reliable answer from friends, family or online?
Sure, there is one element to the test known as the ‘median income’ threshold, but that is only one element.  Yes, if you make less than the median, then the means test may not even apply to you, but you may have expenses that still disqualify you from filing, even with a ‘below median’ income.

Look, there is no reason why you should take an educated guess.  There is no reason why you shouldn’t know for sure.  Finding out is free and only takes a little bit of your time.
You can find out by calling my office and booking an appointment, or filling out some of the basic info on our online questionnaire.  There is no obligation whatsoever.

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“I Have Equity in my Home. Will I lose it in Bankruptcy?”

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:18:12 AM

Let me start by saying to those who were wondering; If you owe more on your home than it is worth, the Bankruptcy Trustee will have no interest in selling your home to pay creditors.

Now, what if you DO have some equity?  You are allowed to keep up to almost $150,000 of equity in the Central District of California.  How much you will be allowed to keep is a formula which includes your age, your spouse’s age, how many dependants you have and several other factors.

Don’t write off bankruptcy just because you are scared that you will be losing the equity in your home.  Let us figure out if you really run a risk of losing it.  There is no obligation and no fee.

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“How often can I file for bankruptcy protection?”

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:17:55 AM

The short answer; you can file for bankruptcy as often as you like.  What you may not be entitled to is

1.  The protection of a stay, and

2.  The right to discharge of your debts.

If you have filed a prior chapter 7 and received a discharge (i.e you completed the bankruptcy process), then you must wait 8 years from the date of discharge before filing a new chapter 7.

The time period is different if you are now filing under a different chapter.

An individual can file a chapter 13 4 years after filing a 7 and will be eligible for a discharge.

For the opposite order (i.e a 7 after a 13) the wait time is 6 years.

For a 13 after a 13, the wait time is only 2 years.

These distinctions are important.  It appears that most people commonly know about the 8 year wait between two chapter 7 filings.  The above details can save a debtor by allowing them to file before an 8 year wait.

What if you did not see your prior bankruptcy through to discharge?  If not, then your prior bankruptcy would have been dismissed.  Dismissal orders may or may not include a 180 day bar to re-filing.  If there was a bar, you would have to wait 180 before re-filing and file a motion to re-impose the protection of a stay.  For filings subsequent to a dismissal, you may only have the protection of a stay for 30 days or none at all.  A special motion requesting that the stay be imposed again.

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