Articles Posted in Bankruptcy

Every few months the income numbers for bankruptcy get changed based on new figures. May 1st median incomes jumped by over $1000 dollars a year. It was around 47500 which was lower than the 48100 that we had before that. It seems median income are climbing which makes it easier for clients with higher incomes to still fall under the means test for a presumptive chapter 7 filing. For a two family household it is now $63481. and for four family households its now 82,329. Riverside County still has high employment and jobs in the palm springs, palm desert, coachella valley in general are typically service jobs and well below typical california incomes making bankruptcy a good choice for people with debt or who are being sued.

If you are above the median income do not fret that you will not qualify for chapter 7 as things such as financed vehicles, health insurance, child care, mortgage payments, taxes and other expenses can all bring down your income to show that even with a 100k dollar income that your reasonable and necessary expenses which include high mortgage and financed vehicles still leave you with little money to pay unsecured creditors at the end of each month.

To speak with a qualified bankruptcy attorney feel free to call me for a free consultation to determine if bankruptcy is right for you.

Many people are under the mistaken belief that you can only keep one car in bankruptcy. While the bankruptcy code in California only give you an exemption for one car at $3550 this does not mean that you can only keep one car. I have had clients with 8 cars that have filed chapter 7 and kept them all. Because california has a wildcard exemption for 23,500 its not a question of how many cars but how much value in your cars that you can exempt. Many people have financed cars with no equity in them as they owe the banks more than the cars are worth. Under that analysis you can have as many cars as you have financed as its of no value to the estate since its your equity position in the car that the trustee cares about and not the cars that are overly financed. The wildcard exemption can be pieced and parceled however you like so if you have a car worth 10k we would use the 3500 for the car exemption and the 6500 for a wildcard exemption which would still leave 17k on the wildcard. We could then exempt 2000 dollars that you have in the bank which would leave 15k on the wild card. You could have 5 cars worth 3k a piece and then that would use all the exemption amount. So you can see by my examples its not a matter of how many cars but what the values are and if we can protect everything with the wild card exemption as well as the car exemption. Call my office if you have further questions as to what you can keep in bankruptcy.

This is a very busy time for my bankruptcy practice as many of my clients are using their tax refund to pay the bankruptcy fee that they have needed to do for a while. Having a big lump sum of cash come into your account when you have had financial issues can be a big help and rather than spending it to pay down creditors or for other personal reasons, bankruptcy might be the right decision and a good place to park that money. My fees typically start at $1000 for attorney fees for simple cases. Filing fees and pulling your credit to populate my software is $330 and the two credit counseling fees that I recommend to people and which are mandated by the bankruptcy code will end up costing you $31. So for a simple case $1367 is the total out of pocket cost for your bankruptcy. Many times people tax refunds are suffice to cover this and you can move on with your fresh start and get your financial future on track in 2012. When you are living pay check to pay check and can barely find the income to pay creditors then bankruptcy is most likely your best decision that you can make. Call my office if you are in the situation and we can discuss options to help you move forward with a chapter 7 bankruptcy.

When doing google searches about Palm Springs Bankruptcy attorney’s I seem to find more and more attorneys who are paying to advertise via the web in Palm Springs regarding bankruptcy service but do not live or practice in Palm Springs. Many of these law firms use virtual offices and have a paralegal show up once a week to do the intake process. I don’t have any issues about taking cases out of town and actually do practice in all four federal districts doing chapter 7’s in all four but 13’s only in the Northern and central District, but I do recommend that if you are going to hire an attorney for something as intimate and potentially consequential as bankruptcy that you are dealing with an attorney and not a mass marketing mill that strives to take your money with little consequence to what happens with your case. Many attorney need paralegals to do the day to day work such as correspondence, drafting letters, filing cases, entering data etc. I have heard more and more from clients who have gotten their cases dismissed that there was a lack of communication between the paralegals and the attorney managing their cases which sometimes has gotten their case dismissed. I have had at least 3 cases in the last month from people in palm springs who have filed bankruptcy with attorneys who are an hour or more drive and have had communication break downs which lead to case dismissals and in one case a house which was sold at auction because an attorney didn’t file an response for a motion for relief from automatic stay. Make sure that whoever you decide to use in your bankruptcy that they have your best interest at hand. There is some money to be made in bankruptcy these days with as many cases as we are seeing, but my belief is that if you want to make this a lasting practice you have to take a very individual approach with each client which I strive to do, even as I get busier. Call my office at 760-459-2438 and you will speak with me directly. I live and work in Palm Springs and plan on staying in bankruptcy for the long haul and you will see that in my personal service and attentiveness that I take on your case. Although we will get out of this recession and tough economic times, there will always be failed businesses, divorce, medical issues and the standard things that cause people to file bankruptcy. The mills will fade and the sole practitioner who is serious about bankruptcy will rise to the top and that is how I am building my practice.

Over and over I see clients that have timeshares list them and potentially they are things that could be liquidated by the trustee to pay creditors depending on how many other assets you have, but more and more trustees can’t sell them so they go back to my clients. The other day in a 341 hearing, my client was asked if she had transfered any property in the last three years which she had and I knew about. She mentioned that she had a short sale on a house and that she had sold a timeshare about 8 months ago. The trustees ears perked up and he was very interested not because he wanted the proceeds which had been spent but rather because most trustees can’t sell a timeshare if there life depended on it. Thats because they sell them as is on ebay and don’t have the luxury that the timeshares sellers do when they lure you in and give you all these great discounts and free things on your trip which makes you feel entitled to buy a timeshare which are typically horrible investments unless you use them correctly etc. The after market retail on timeshares is horrendous. They are typically worth 10% of what you paid for it. The problem trustees have is they sell them as is and you don’t know if there are unpaid dues, maintenance fee arrears etc. So when he found out she got 900 for a property in hawaii he asked how she did it and she mentioned that she used a broker and it took some time. The thing is that trustees have 120 days post 341 hearing to sell property or they have to abandon it. I’ve seen raw land supposed worth 40k not sold and returned to clients. I had a guy today who came in. He owns a building leased on a railroad land which he has to pay 700 a month to. He has a secured lien against it for a line of credit. The building is owned outright. He hasn’t paid on the 200k note for two years and they haven’t foreclosed on done any repossession on it. I think its because the building isn’t that marketable and they’d have to pay the lease fees etc so its a liability for the bank to take it back. The interesting thing is if we file BK on the corporation which the building is owned by whether the trustee would be able to sell the building. Even if they did they ‘d have to pay the secured lien holder first which would leave nothing to unsecured creditors and therefore is of no interest to the trustee, but I was thinking if there wasn’t a loan against it that was unsecured but they tied it to the building then he’d probably end up with the property back post BK since the trustee would have a hard time selling the 11k square foot property due to the liabilities and land restricitions, code issues etc that had been grandfathered in. Sometimes BK isn’t just about the law its about knowing how things really work in the trusees eyes and seeing how things play out every day. If you need advice talk to a local palm springs, palm desert Riverside county bankruptcy attorney. Its worth your while.

The general rule in bankruptcy is that the most recent tax return needs to be turned into the trustee one week before the 341 hearings. Failing to do so can get your case dismissed or if you are lucky the trustee will give you a few days to do it and continue your case. If you comply with the tax return requirement then they will remove the continued date off calender and everything moves forward to you getting a discharge. That is if you file your 2nd credit counseling class along with the B23 certificate where you swear that you took the class and put the certificate number etc. These are some of the things that pro se(clients that represent themselves) forget to do and end up getting their cases dismissed. Looking up the local rules on the bankruptcy court website can help but the more prudent aproach in my opinion is to hire someone to do it for you. As a riverside county bankruptcy attorney I do this every day and make sure that everything is done correctly. Today I was in court for 3 cases and one one of them my client gave me a declaration that they were not required to file tax returns for the previous two years because they made under the 9k IRS limit which allow you to not file. I have dealt with this before with clients just making social security income or low income enough to not file. What I have typically done is just file a declaration claiming them exempt from returns. Today the trustee told me that I was in his opinion still required to mail the most recently filed return which was for 2008. I will do that tomorrow and the case will move forward smoothly. Even a seasoned practitioner can be challenged and he might be right. I find it hard to believe that the trustee would be interested in the income my client made three years ago as its irrelevant to the current bankruptcy case but if that is what he wants then I’ll be faxing that to this office tomorrow. Typically I have my clients file tax returns before we file. I might go back to that.

The actual costs to file bankruptcy in Riverside County or anywhere for that matter is $299 for a chapter 7 and $274 for a chapter 13. There are also two classes that are now required by the bankruptcy code and some providers charge up to $50 dollars but I have found two that are reasonable and that you can do for $5 and $15 for the second class. I charge people $30 for an individual and 50 for a joint couple to pull their credit reports which then downloads all creditors into my software. Essentially then for me there are $350 dollars in fees that go out of my pocket to file a case on behalf of my clients. Most bankruptcy attorneys start the fees at $1500 for a chapter 7 and that is just for attorney fees so many are $1850 or more in order to file. I try to start around $1200 for a basic case but if its really simple and not a lot of assets to protect, financing on cars, saving a house from foreclosure etc then I’ve been known to charge $1000 dollars. A typical case for me is 12-15 hours of work and then I have my own cost of running a business so I’m about as reasonable as they come for a qualified bankruptcy attorney. I do all the work myself occasionally using virtual paralegals for data entry and gathering of documents when I get too busy, but I pride myself on having a personal relationship with my clients throughout the whole process. I see the type of work that the bankruptcy mills churn out and they charge as much as I do and there clients only meet there attorney for 30 minutes and then show up at the hearing. Bankruptcy work needs someone that you feel comfortable with and that answers the right questions and best protects you to help you move forward with your fresh start. I vary my prices on a sliding scale and understand what people are going through in this economy and what a personal decision this is so please call my office to find out what chapter to file or if bankruptcy is right for you.

More and more of my Bankruptcy clients are being sued by The Law offices of Patenaude and Felix. They are based in San Diego and have many California lawyers who sue on credit card debt. If you have been served a summons or are being sued or looking at a default judgment from this law firm then we should look at bankruptcy as a potential option or possibly trying to settle the debt if you can come up with a lump sum payment. Default judgments will allow them to collect 25% of your net income through a wage garnishment and for most people even who make a lot of money a chapter 13 plan will be much less on a monthly basis then the loss of 25% of your wages. If you are below the median income you can do a chapter 7 bankruptcy and most likely keep all your assets. Call my office to find a solution to your legal problems with Patenaude and Felix.

Have you been served or sued by Legal recovery offices on behalf of a Portfolio Recovery account. I have been noticing more and more clients with old debts that are getting law suits by this firm in San Diego. There is still time to settle the suit and hopefully for pennies on the dollar since that is what they bought it for. California has a 4 year statute of limitations on written contracts and it seems like this firm likes to sue people right before that runs which usually means they bought the account for very cheap. I have been successful in negotiating good settlements with them and if they don’t want to settle we can always file chapter 7 bankruptcy and either extinguish it or pay it back over time for less than what is owed at 0% interest. Now is the not the time to wait if you have been sued by this firm. Call my office to discuss options.

HELOC’s or Home Equity Lines of Credit were pretty popular during the boom years and I’d put a good bet are a thing of the past for near distant future. Riverside County has lost 8 years of value in homes. I’ve seen many homes that are worth 50% of what is owed on a 1st mortgage. Homes that are underwater to the point that you owe more to the first then the home is worth are eligible for lien strips in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This has been enticing enough for some clients that I have that even though their unsecured credit is minimal and typically would not fit a profile that had bankruptcy in their future, have led them to seek bankruptcy relief as a form of restructuring their mortgage. The amount of loan modifications that are being denied and peoples desire to get out of bad housing deals make bring them to the steps of the bankruptcy court. If you are in this position call a riverside bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options.