Month: February 2020

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What Happens Next: Tips for a Stress Free Bankruptcy

Your bankruptcy case is filed. Whew… 

But what happens next?

After you’ve gone and collected all the documents, answered my questions, answered more questions, after I’ve filled out your petition and submitted it to the court and paid your filing fee, what next?

If you really want to know the truth, the tough stuff is done now.  The heavy lifting is over and now it should just be smooth sailing, automatic even. In order to guarantee that smooth sailing though, we do need you to take some simple steps.

This is what we need from you, a member of your bankruptcy team.

1.  Read your mail

You’ll get mail from the court and our office.  We will send you copies so you can see what’s going on and what we have done on your behalf.  The overwhelming majority of things going on in your case will play out via paperwork generated by our office, so please, read your mail.  It will keep you up to date. Additionally, this mail will tell you when your Meeting of Creditors or 341 hearing will be scheduled.  

2.  Look over what you have signed

A bankruptcy is a paperwork nightmare.  Trust us, we go through approximately 100 sheets of paper per client.  Because we go through so much paper, you have certainly signed your name to several sheets of paper.  Go back and take a look at everything you’ve signed. Read the questions and your answer. Make sure it’s complete and true to the best of your knowledge.  If you find anything that’s wrong or happen upon an omission, point it out quickly. Innocent mistakes that you identify and correct rarely a problem in a case. Mistakes are common and harmless if fixed.

3.  Keep in touch

If something major happens in your life like a move, job change, sudden inheritance or you’re seriously ill, I need to know.  Each of these situations can have an impact on your case. 

4.  Ask questions

If you don’t understand something, let me know.  If I don’t know you’re not fully understanding something then I can’t do anything about it.  You aren’t expected to understand bankruptcy the first or even the second time through. I’ve been doing this every single day for over a decade and have filed thousands of cases and there are subtleties about the law that I often learn as we go through this.  If you’re lost, let me know so I can explain it to you. 

5.  Respond quickly

When I ask for documents or call for information, please, get it to me quickly. Bankruptcy cases happen fast.  You need to get information to the right people quickly and delays can be quite harmful.

6.  Don’t freak out.

Bankruptcy may seem like a lot, and it is but what happens next depends on you.  It’s a new and strange situation in your life.  However, you made a good choice in hiring an experienced bankruptcy attorney to guide you through the process.  My team has decades of experience. If something comes up that we haven’t seen chances are, we can easily figure the situation out.  Most bankruptcies are very routine. There is no reason to lay awake nights terrified of some horror you’ve dreamed up. If it worries you, ask me about it.

In the end, we can work together to get your finances back on track and relieve some of the stress you’re dealing with in life.  If you find yourself in need of a bankruptcy attorney to help you navigate the complicated world of federal bankruptcy law, contact us today for a free consultation to find out how bankruptcy can help you.  

 

Do I even need a Divorce Lawyer?

Everyone asks themselves all the time, “Do I really need this?”  The questions obviously pops up more often the more something costs.  Asking yourself that about an attorney is something you’ve probably done and countless others have done as well.  You may be able to avoid hiring a divorce lawyer if you’re willing to commit to doing your research and if you meet some of these basic assumptions: 

 You and your spouse don’t own a home or have any major assets

There are NO children

You’ve maintained COMPLETELY separate bank accounts and credit accounts.

There are no taxes owed and you’re  very unlikely to have your taxes audited from the years you were married. 

You’re not looking for Alimony or Child support

The spouses are extremely detail oriented and committed to doing the research 

If you satisfy all of the above criteria, you may be able to avoid hiring a divorce lawyer.  Just keep in mind that Judges are not going to teach you how to file your own divorce case.  When you walk into court, you are expected to know what to do and are not given an opportunity to learn how to file for divorce. That’s something you need to teach yourself in advance.

Let’s be honest, you probably need to hire an attorney.  The legal system is so intricate and so many things can go wrong during a divorce that paying an expert shouldn’t be viewed as an expense as much as it is an investment in your future.  You hire an experienced lawyer for the advice and expertise in making sure that your case is handled right, the first time.  You even need an attorney in an uncontested divorce.

Because so many things can go wrong, even in an uncontested divorce, the experience your attorney brings is invaluable to making sure that you’re able to maintain a cordial relationship with your ex, especially if there’s kids involved.  Don’t make the mistake that so many do when they think they can just do it on their own.  Divorce, as with many aspects of the law, isn’t a DIY project.  Even we hire lawyers when we need to do something that’s out of our wheelhouse.

You should think very carefully before you move forward without a lawyer.   Any agreements you reach with your spouse and file with the court will be binding. Those binding agreements are often very costly to try to reverse. 

Before you go it alone, remember that a divorce is one of the most significant legal proceedings that many people will ever go through.  Do you really want to head into uncharted waters all by yourself? 

If you and your spouse feel that your marriage is broken and you’re in need of the advice of a skilled and experienced uncontested divorce lawyer, contact the attorneys at Harmon and Gorove. Our firm has more than 35 years of experience helping people navigate the difficult path to divorce.  

Who files bankruptcy anyways?

Almost every day I hear a client say the words, “You know, this is the last place I ever thought I’d be.” The client often tries to explain to me that they aren’t the kind of person who doesn’t pay their bills or skip out on a debt.  People have been conditioned to think that people who can’t pay their bills are somehow defective.  

After saying all this, you may ask, “Well, Amanda, who exactly is the kind of person who files bankruptcy?”  To answer that, I have looked at numerous studies about the types of people who file bankruptcy and I explain below what the average bankruptcy filer looks like. 

The typical person seeking protection

Married, white, educated, mid 40s to early 50s.  Both have steady employment. You may say to yourself, What?!? That sounds like me, or my neighbor, or my parents or half the people I work with and you would be right.  It could be anyone. Not very distinctive, is it? That’s the average person who files bankruptcy. Most of them find themselves seeking bankruptcy protection for some reason or another, a loss of income, an extended illness, a failed business opportunity. In today’s world, it doesn’t take long to find yourself in financial trouble. 

Trends

Over the last few years, the age of those seeking bankruptcy protection has risen dramatically.  A lot of that is due to seniors carrying large mortgage payments and consumer debts into retirement.  Only once the income they’ve depended on has gone away do they realize that they just can’t make it anymore.  Even here in Metro Atlanta, where my practice is based, I’m seeing more and more people come in who had a salary in excess of $100,000 at their last job.  For one reason or another, they are now unemployed, underemployed or investments they made aren’t producing the expected amount of income. People who could make things work with their former salary suddenly can’t find a way to make ends meet now and can’t easily lower expenses.  

The faces of bankruptcy clients

In the past month, my newest clients have included people such as:

  • A woman in her 60s with a Ph.D who had to take a leave of absence to care for an elderly parent. 
  • A young woman in her mid 20s struggling because she cosigned a loan with her sister. 
  • A couple in their early 60s struggling with debt but looking squarely into the face of uncertainty in retirement. 
  • A high income professional in her mid 30s who is facing a divorce. 
  • A small business owner in his 40s who has seen his sales drop because of unexpected competition in his field. 

 

The kind of person who files bankruptcy, you ask?  Well, as you can see, people from all backgrounds, places in life and income levels. One thing all these people had in common though? They were smart enough to see that bankruptcy offers a way out of a difficult situation and opens the door to financial freedom and a brighter future. 


If you’re a person who is staring at your finances and wondering how you’re going to make it, don’t wait and don’t stress it anymore.  You NEED to come speak with an attorney TODAY.  Our attorneys have decades of experience helping people from every walk of life get their finances back on track.