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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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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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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Cities seizing foreclosure properties to help homeowners

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:17:33 AM

The cash strapped (and now formally bankrupt) City of San Bernardino was brought to its knees by, among other things, the foreclosure crisis.  One of the hardest hit counties in the country, San Bernardino County (in which the eponymous City is located) has seen entire city blocks decimated by the real estate slump and the scourge of this foreclosure epidemic.

Some have said that there are entire streets in San Bernardino owned by the same lender.  Banks are quickly becoming the largest landlords in town.  Amongst many other problems that seem to be arising as a result (lack of maintanence, HOA dues delinquencies) is failure to pay property taxes.  Local cities and counties desperately count on property tax revenue.  With a now drastically reduced property tax revenue, the already troubled San Bernardino was forced to seek bankruptcy protection.

The City Fathers have thought of a novel approach to the problem: exercising their powers of eminent domain to seize troubled properties for the public purpose.  How does this help?  Well, lenders will now have to contend with a municipal owner and all of the complications that could arise as a result.  The lender will also have to contend with the Bankruptcy Trustee appointed to the City’s bankruptcy case.

Does this exact any sort of leverage?  Does this help homeowners?  Does this merely postpone the inevitable?  Is this even constitutional?  We’ll find out soon.

Approximately 9 months ago, clients were asking me, “How could an entire city go bankrupt?  What would happen?”  We have now seen what happens, after several California cities have already sought bankruptcy protection. Will trash continue to be collected if the City doesn’t pay its contractors?  ( a recent article suggests that it may not very soon)

Will law enforcement respond to calls?  (or will the LA County Sheriff have to bear the burden?)

Soon, we will know.  One things for certain, it’s not just the homeowners who are fed up anymore.

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Adversary proceedings: Being sued in bankruptcy and what to do about it.

Friday 5th of October 2012 01:13:27 AM

Adversary proceedings.  A lot of debtors enter bankruptcy painfully unaware that they can be sued in bankruptcy.  The bigger surprise, usually for debtors who have hired legal counsel, is that the defense of such lawsuits is not covered in their retainer.

You can be sued by creditors in bankruptcy.  The grounds are numerous, but the most common are those controlled by Section 523 of the Bankruptcy Code.  The most common grounds involve preferential transfers (paying off debts to ‘insiders’ right before filing), major purchases or cash advances on credit cards right before filing for bankruptcy (the previous 90 days are the most common), or borrowing funds based on false or misleading information (overstating income when applying for a loan, for example). Lastly, such lawsuits can be brought for outright fraud.  There are more grounds, but a full discussion would be beyond the scope of this post.

Bankruptcy Trustees could also bring such actions against debtors, usually to undo transfers or to demand the return of assets sold to others, payoff of debts just before filing, and a few others.

Understand that such actions typically seek the non-dischargeability of the debt (i.e that the debt survive your bankruptcy) or that the asset be returned for purposes of paying your creditors.

If you are sued in bankruptcy, you and your attorney (if you have hired one) will be served with a summons and complaint.  Beware, failing to defend yourself against such a lawsuit will likely result in a money judgment against you.  More importantly, if you have paid your attorney a flat fee to prepare your bankruptcy petition and appear at your Meeting of Creditors, then you have very likely not hired them to defend any such actions.  In fact, the majority of bankruptcy attorneys don’t even do such work.  If you are sued in bankruptcy and your attorney cannot help you, you will have to find an attorney who does.

Our office has both prosecuted and defended adversary proceedings in bankruptcy, for both creditors and for debtors.  We represent clients in bankruptcy for only the adversary proceedings, oftentimes through referral from other bankruptcy attorneys who were only hired by the client to file the petition alone.

Whatever you do, don’t presume that your defense is covered under your retainer, because it usually is not.  Find a law firm that does, if you are in the Southern California area, we can help.

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Forgiven Debt, Taxable Income and Bankruptcy

Thursday 4th of October 2012 06:43:23 PM

Creditors can ‘write off’ debts; forgive them altogether.  Great, for you, right?  Well, not necessarily.

All of a sudden, you receive an IRS 1099 form, showing that your debt in the sum of (>>fill in your amount) was forgiven and can now be considered taxable income by Uncle Sam.

Such a scenario is very common in the case of junior mortgage holders who lose their lien on a property after the first mortgage holder forecloses.

However, there is still hope in bankruptcy.  Internal Revenue Code section 108 explicitly states that debts discharged in a bankruptcy case do NOT get included in income on the debtor taxpayer’s tax return.

The clincher:  Timing.  The Internal Revenue Code also states that such a discharge must take place before the event giving rise to the debt obligation.  This you would have to figure out with a tax professional, but there is hope, just make sure that you file your bankruptcy IN TIME.

There may be some exceptions carved out of the Tax Code if this scenario involves your home, but no such protections exist for other real property.

Tread carefully, take care of business in a timely fashion, and you may escape having to pay a bunch of extra tax on forgiven debt, an amount that could be sizeable if you are looking at a forgiven mortgage debt.

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