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Someone Told Me I Can’t File Bankruptcy…

Today, so many people are worried that once they have decided to seek help someone might tell them they can’t file bankruptcy.  Whether it is the judge, a trustee or a creditor, They fear that someone might reject their bankruptcy petition all together or tell them they can’t file bankruptcy and put the right back at square one.  The long and short of it is that the chances of this happening are very very slim. This is why you hired an attorney to begin with. Trying to file a case “pro se” might lead you down a road full of serious legal problems, but filing with an attorney is definitely the right choice.  Your attorney’s job is to guide you through the process and make sure that your situation is fully vetted. The attorney will know your entire situation so that when your bankruptcy petition is filed with the court you will be in full and complete compliance with the bankruptcy code and the local rules set out in each judge’s courtroom. Whether it is a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your attorney will make sure that it is smooth sailing through the bankruptcy process.  

Like I stated earlier, the road is usually smooth and clear when you hire an experienced Newnan Georgia Bankruptcy Attorney. The only time you might find yourself facing problems in your bankruptcy is when you don’t disclose your entire financial history up front to your attorney and the court.  Your mother probably used to tell you that honesty is the best policy and if she did, she was right. That proverb holds true in Bankruptcy as well. You have to tell your attorney everything that’s going on in your financial life.  Whether you had a car accident and have the potential to recover money from it, you’re going through a divorce or you are being sued for something that you may be liable for, you have to disclose this to your attorney from the start.  Your attorney is best able to serve you when they have to complete and total picture of your financial situation. When that is the case, your attorney can almost always guarantee smooth sailing all the way through your bankruptcy case.  

If you are behind on your bills, being harassed by creditors or just feel like there’s no way you’re going to get ahead, make an appointment today with one of our compassionate and experienced bankruptcy attorneys at Harmon & Gorove. We will work with you to get you a fresh start in your financial life and get your credit back on track after bankruptcy.  

 

Positive Aspects of Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy has the ability to solve a bevy of financial problems but it is often associated with negative thoughts and reactions.  When the prospect of filing bankruptcy appears on the horizon, it is easy to only see the negative. If you have determined that bankruptcy is your only way out, it is important to focus on the positive impacts that bankruptcy can have on your life.  Remember, the night is always darkest just before the dawn and there are many positive aspects of bankruptcy protection.

Yes, there are negatives to Bankruptcy

Filing for Bankruptcy protection will often stay on your credit report for a minimum of 7 years and may hang around for as long as 10 years. There is also the very real possibility that bankruptcy could make it more difficult and expensive to finance a car or a home for a few years. It likely also will be difficult to get unsecured lines of credit like personal loans and credit cards for a time after your bankruptcy. Some people also feel embarrassed for having filed bankruptcy and many put it off because they feel shame by having to resort to bankruptcy.  Let me remind you though, if you find that bankruptcy is your only way out, you should not wait to file.  There are many circumstances where bankruptcy isn’t appropriate for you and your situation but until you contact a competent Newnan, Georgia Bankruptcy Attorney, you won’t have the right information to make your decision.

But there are also many positive aspects of Bankruptcy

First things first, filing for bankruptcy will allow you to discharge your debts if you follow the bankruptcy plan. In the majority of situations, you will also be able to retain most of your property if you want to keep it.  Once you have eliminated your debt you will be free to chart your new financial future in your own way. A lot of people learn significant life lessons from the bankruptcy process and it allows you to adjust your priorities in the least painful way possible.  Bankruptcy also allows you to stop collections action through the Automatic Stay. This keeps creditors from harassing you over unpaid debts and allows you to devise a plan to tackle your debts and re-organize your life around your new financial reality. There is even the possibility that you could improve your credit score by filing for bankruptcy. In the end, perhaps the most positive aspects of bankruptcy is peace of mind and knowing your finances are getting back on track and you’re able to successfully plan for your goals and your future. Filing bankruptcy puts you back in control of you life and protects you from the actions of unscrupulous creditors.

 

 

If You Die With Debt, Here’s What Happens

When you are making your plans and enjoying the present with your loved ones you build a legacy.  One of the things that people often don’t consider when building that legacy is the debt that they may leave behind in the event that they die with debt.  Unfortunately, many of your debts can and will out live you and the people you leave behind could be affected by those debts. If you have already created a will you will likely have named an executor who will be responsible for taking care of your debts and disposing of your assets when you pass.

When I Die, What Happens to My Debts?

If you die with debt, these are the most common types of debts that can have an impact on the ones you love:

Student Loans: If your student loans were obtained from the Federal Government, they will be forgiven upon your death.  If you took out private students loans, they can recover money from your estate or from a co-signer or guarantor. In the event that your estate has exhausted its resources, the private loans will also be wiped out.

Home Loans and Mortgages: If you own a home jointly with someone else or you wish to pass your home to a loved one and you die with debt on the property, they are responsible for continuing to pay your mortgage(s) after you pass. While the government protects you from having the loan called in upon your death, the note will have to continue to be paid until those you leave behind decide what to do with the property

Car, Boat, Motorcycle Loans: If the payments on these types of loans are not made then the person who lent you the money can take possession of the vehicle.  The person you leave the vehicle to will have the option of continuing to pay on the note but there are other probate concerns that often arise with transfer of title but that is something you may need to speak with a qualified probate attorney about.

Credit Card Debt and Medical Bills: While these types of debt are not secured by collateral (a car, house, etc.) if your estate has remaining funds they can be recovered by the credit card company or medical firm.  If the estate has no remaining assets then your debts are generally wiped out. In the event that that you have a JOINT credit card account, the non-deceased person will be on the hook for the debt incurred by you.  This generally doesn’t apply to an authorized user but if the primary passes away and you do not intend to continue to pay on the credit card, you shouldn’t continue to use that card.

Taxes: If you die with debt owed to the IRS or your state department of revenue it can create a headache for those you leave behind.  If you die owing back taxes and you have filed jointly with a spouse, your spouse is liable for the entire amount of the taxes.  Additionally, the IRS can try to collect any tax debts owed from your estate, even if you did not file jointly with your spouse. The IRS does allow certain exemptions but it would be advisable at that point to consult a qualified tax attorney to discuss your options.  

These situations can be avoided

If you need to file bankruptcy, get help now. Reach out to a qualified bankruptcy attorney, tax attorney or financial planner to discuss your particular situation. Ridding yourself of debt before you pass might be a good option for you.  The best thing you can do for your loved ones is to prepare your estate so they aren’t hit with unpleasant surprises in a time of profound grief. At the very least, you should have a last will and testament in place. You should also keep those you love apprised of your financial situation.  Provide them with a list of assets and liabilities, where you keep safe deposit boxes, a list of passwords and combinations to safes and lockboxes to assist your loved ones in closing out your affairs when the time comes. While your creditors are allowed to contact your heirs about collecting on debts when you retire, they must follow the guidelines set out the the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

If You Need to File Bankruptcy, Don’t Wait

If you are in financial trouble and you see no other way out, do not wait, speak to an attorney and if they recommend it, file bankruptcy immediately. The longer you put off the inevitable the more it will cost you. It will likely cost more in attorneys fees due to the increasing complexity of your case.  It will also cost you in terms of your credit score.  Yes, filing bankruptcy will have a negative impact on your credit, but it is just one factor in how they determine your overall creditworthiness. The longer you wait the lower you score will go, period. In some situations, it may be advisable to delay filing for a period of time. Most of the time though, once you know you need to file bankruptcy, don’t wait.

Matters of Importance

If you have been sent foreclosure paperwork and you have exhausted your other options, you are out of options and you must file to stave off the foreclosure. The same rings true with evictions, lawsuits, repossessions, and garnishments. Once you get the notice filing bankruptcy is the your last and best option. Filing bankruptcy immediately will mitigate the adverse actions of your creditors.

All of the aforementioned situations are matters of extreme importance. Competent bankruptcy lawyers will give you a breakdown of the bankruptcy timeline, including all the inflexible deadlines that must be met before and after you file. Your attorney is an expert in bankruptcy law; when they tell you that time is of the essence it is imperative to get them what they need so they may take action on your behalf as soon as possible.

Matters of Timing

In certain cases, it may benefit you if you wait to file until a certain date, your attorney would discuss this with you and explain why it is advantageous. An example of such a time would be, if your foreclosure is scheduled at a distant enough date, it may be financially savvy to delay your filing to include the coming months in your Chapter 13 plan.

In other instances, if you have taken on a large amount of debt recently or know that you will need to incur some debt in the coming weeks or months, it may be better to delay your filing until you can include those debts as well. You might also have recently made a significant transfer of property, which would affect the timeline of you filing for bankruptcy.

These situations are all less common issues. In the overwhelming majority of Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, the sooner you file, the better.

If you’ve run out of options, don’t delay, file bankruptcy.

The faster your case gets filed the faster your credit will be able to heal. I simply can’t tell you how important credit can be in your life in today’s world. The sooner your debts are discharged, the sooner you can get back to focusing on the things in your life that actually matter. If you know bankruptcy is your only option, don’t procrastinate. Start the process immediately by calling the knowledgeable attorneys at Harmon and Gorove. They can start the process for you immediately

 

Setting yourself up to fail: Filing “Pro Se” Bankruptcy

Yes, as with all legal matters in the United States, you are allowed to file for bankruptcy protection yourself and you can usually find the forms online or in a do it yourself workbook that you find at local bookstores or online. You are allowed to file “pro se” in bankruptcy court, just as in all other courts. As the saying goes though, just because you can do something, doesn’t  mean you should.

Bankruptcy Law is complicated.  It is a hybrid blend of the laws of the State of Georgia and Federal Government.  The amount of time you spend learning and researching the law, completing the mountains of forms and taking time off from work to appear in court pales in comparison to the extremely costly mistakes you can easily make by not hiring a competent bankruptcy attorney.

Bankruptcy Laws can vary from state to state

The books you purchase and forms you find in those books and online can make it seem to be a simple enough process, but that’s the point. It may even look like you will be saving some money by not hiring a competent debt relief attorney. However, the truth is quite the opposite. The laws are  very complicated. As mentioned previously, bankruptcy is a hybrid type of law that blends state law with federal law and what you can do in one state may not be what you can do in others. There is a high likelihood you will omit something important, make a mistake on the means test or say or do something that will cost you your home, your car or other assets, including your retirement savings. Losing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in an effort to save a few bucks is a very real possibility.   

The reality of Filing “Pro Se”

Once you file for Bankruptcy “pro se”, there is a high likelihood you will be faced by mountains of paperwork being filed on behalf of your creditors by attorneys whose job is to get the absolute best deal for your creditors as they possibly can.  These attorneys will work tirelessly and ruthlessly to ensure that your bankruptcy fails and that your creditors can resume harassing and collecting from you. Beyond the creditors attorneys, you will also be opposed by a trustee who is a highly trained attorney.  It is the trustee’s job to secure as much of your assets for your creditors as possible. Just because you’re not an attorney and don’t know the law doesn’t mean the creditors’ attorneys, the trustee or the judge will take it easy on you. You are still expected to know the United States Bankruptcy Code and the procedures of the bankruptcy court, including the local procedures of each individual federal bankruptcy judge.  

Investing in your future

The low cost of being represented by a competent bankruptcy attorney is one of the best investments you can make for your future.  Beyond not having to learn the many aspects of the law that your attorney is familiar with, it’s reassuring to have someone on your side who knows how the bankruptcy process works and can guide you through it successfully.  Beyond knowing the law, the attorneys at Harmon and Gorove have a long and successful relationship with many of the creditor attorneys and all of the current Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 trustees in the Newnan Division, all of whom know not to try to take advantage of our clients.

Hiring a Competent Bankruptcy Attorney

The experienced attorneys at Harmon and Gorove can give you advice based on your individual circumstances. Their decades of experience aren’t something you can get from a form you find in the internet. Do yourself a favor and invest in your future. Contact the competent and compassionate attorneys at Harmon and Gorove today for a FREE consultation.  Let us help you get your life and your financial freedom back from greedy creditors.

Cramdown: reducing the principal on secured debts

When considering filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may find yourself in the position to be able to reduce the principal balance of a secured debt to the actual value of the property (car, household item, etc.) it is secured by. When you reduce this amount of debt in this way it is known as a “cramdown” and can be a very valuable tool in your bankruptcy case that can potentially save your automobile, real estate investments, and other personal property you have pledged to secure a debt. Because of the way the law is written, you aren’t allowed to use the cramdown provision on your primary home  but using it in other aspects of your financial life can net massive savings.

When your attorney initiates a cramdown, you’re taking the value of a secured item like a car and reducing the balance you owe in order to match the item’s true book value. When this happens, the crammed down amount is then placed in your unsecured debt in your Chapter 13 case. A cramdown can be extremely beneficial in certain cases and might allow you to pay only a small percentage of your unsecured debt.  Filing things this way could result in all of your unpaid unsecured debt being discharged at the conclusion of your Chapter 13 case. There are many other advantages to cramming down your loans with a Chapter 13. This includes reduced interest rates, the potential to stretch the payments across a greater period of time which might very well reduce monthly payment amounts to a more affordable level. Another fantastic benefit is that you can escape liabilities on any deficiencies by using a mortgage cramdown on investment real estate.

As with much in life, the cramdown in a Chapter 13 seems often seems too good to be true. While this is not the case, it does come with certain guidelines that were passed by Congress to place certain restrictions on how, why and when you can initiate a cramdown. The cramdown restrictions to remember are the 910 Day (roughly two and a half years) Rule on car loans, the One Year Rule on personal property (think TVs, furniture, etc.), and the restrictions on investment real estate mortgages.

The attorneys at Harmon and Gorove are extremely experienced in using cramdowns to the benefit of their clients.  With decades of combined experience, our team can help you find out of you qualify for a cramdown in a Chapter 13 and help you successfully navigate the intricacies of a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy so that you may emerge on the other side debt free.  Call our office today to set up a free consultation with an experienced and compassionate Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorney.