Northwestbankruptcyattorneys Blog Year End Review

Fireworks

The year 2015 is almost ready for the history books.  Before we look ahead into what 2016 brings it makes sense to look back to get a greater sense of where we need to be headed.

This year I posted on a variety of bankruptcy issues, mostly general in nature to give my clients and anyone contemplating bankruptcy some issues to think about.

This year started out with looking at how loan modifications can still be pursued by debtors in chapter 13 bankruptcies. (They can be obtained and can be a great way to deal with a home that you had almost lost.)  I then looked at what happens to your car when you file a bankruptcy. (You have lots of options.)  Since so many of my clients are worried about how their credit scores will be impacted by the filing of a bankruptcy, we did a post on bankruptcy and your credit score. (The impact is not nearly as bad as people think.)  I then put together a post looking at some of the do’s and dont’s of filing a bankruptcy.  If you are contemplating a bankruptcy, please read or reread this post.  The award for the biggest northwestbankruptcyattorneys blog post goes to The History of Student Loans in Bankruptcy.  I did a ton of research for this post and am pretty happy with how it came out.  If you are at all interested in the topic, please give it a read.  The changes that have taken place over the course of 60 years are astonishing and terrible.  They remind me of the proverb, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  From there, I tried to give potential filers some ideas of how they can find a good bankruptcy attorney in 5 Tips for Finding a Good Bankruptcy Attorney.  We then looked back at the topic of homes and bankruptcy in the Halloween Special Zombie Homes Attack.  (You do have options if you have a house that is stuck in your name after bankruptcy.)   The award for biggest rant post of the year goes to Credit Unions: The Devil is in the Details.  In that post we looked at the hidden dangers of using a credit union for a car loan and also having credit cards or bank accounts with those same credit unions.  Lastly, the Christmas Special this year was The Christmas before Bankruptcy.  In that post we looked at some of the hidden dangers of gift giving and receiving before filing a case.

In the coming year, look out for more posts on student loans and ways to deal with your small part of this national crisis.  Another post on zombie homes and getting rid of them through the bankruptcy process.  A more detailed look at what you can do to rebuild your credit.  A post on attempting to avoid bankruptcy.  There will be others as well as the inspiration strikes.  We are also open to writing on topics that people request, so if you have a topic you would like to see an article written on, please suggest it below.

Happy New Year from all of us at northwestbankruptcyattorneys.com and the Curtis and Casteel Law Group.

Steven M. Palmer, Esq.
Licensed in WA and OH
http://www.curtislaw-pllc.com
http://www.northwestbankruptcyattorneys.com

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The Christmas before Bankruptcy

Depending on your family, Christmas gift giving may be huge or it may be minor.  If you fall in the former category and you are considering a bankruptcy you need to be aware of some bankruptcy rules which could impact your bankruptcy filing.

Gift giving and bankruptcy:

If you are a big giver and routinely rack up credit card debt ensuring that everyone gets just what they want, you will want to go easy the Christmas before bankruptcy.  In the forms that are required by the bankruptcy code, there is a requirement that you list any gifts made to a family member of more than $200.00 or more than $100.00 to a charitable organization.  Giving cash or items to a charity is generally not a problem so long as you don’t go over 15% of your gross income during the year in which the contributions were made.  The reason behind the restrictions is that congress did not want potential debtors to squander their assets in an attempt to hide them from their creditors before filing a bankruptcy.  If you did give a bunch of gifts to family members this Christmas, it may be best to wait until next year to file.  Your best bet if this situation applies to you is to contact a local bankruptcy attorney and ask their advice.

Gift receiving and bankruptcy:

What really matters here is what was given and is it an exempt asset.  If you received cash for Christmas, that cash gift could push you over the income threshold between a chapter 7 bankruptcy and a chapter 13 bankruptcy if you were already close.  If instead you received a car or a new mac book, those are items which would need to be listed.  What happens next depends on the value of the assets and the exemptions available.  If you have enough exemptions available, you will not have anything to worry about.  If on the other hand there are not enough exemptions to protect the new assets, a chapter 7 trustee may take them, or you may be pushed into a chapter 13 bankruptcy.  Again, you would want to talk to a local bankruptcy attorney to make sure that this will not be an issue in your case.

Best of Luck,

Steven M. Palmer, Esq.
Licensed in WA and OH
http://www.curtislaw-pllc.com
http://www.northwestbankruptcyattorneys.com

The Dos and Don’ts of Filing a Bankruptcy

Alright, you have it in mind that filing bankruptcy is going to help you to reach your goal of a fresh start.  Now what?  Well, you need to find a good bankruptcy attorney to help you file, but besides that, there are some dos and don’ts of filing that we will take a look at in this post.  The last thing that you want to have happen is to have your discharge denied or revoked because you did something that you shouldn’t have done.

What to do before you file:

  1. Do find a good, experienced bankruptcy attorney.  You can do this by looking around on the internet and going to a free consultation to see what the attorney has to say.  I recommend that you visit the attorney finder page of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy attorneys.  That link is http://www.nacba.org/find-an-attorney/ You can also find bankruptcy attorneys at http://www.avvo.com and then search for a bankruptcy attorney in your area.
  2. Do get all of your documentation in order.  It will be very valuable to your attorney and will save you time at his or her office if you have the following documents before you go in:  Paystubs for the last 7 months, bank statements for the last 2 months, tax returns for the last 2 years, copies of the most recent retirement account statements, most recent statements for car or home loans, credit reports, divorce decree or separation agreement and a list of everything that you own.  Also if you have any pending lawsuits, or if you could sue someone be ready to let your attorney know about those suits.  Your attorney may require more or less documentation, but if you have all of this, you are well on your way to getting filed.
    1. You can get your credit reports for free by going to www.annualcreditreports.com
    2. If you cannot find your taxes for the last two years you can request them at www.irs.gov.
  3. Do be honest and forthcoming with all of the questions that your attorney asks you.

What NOT to do before you file.

  1. Do not pay back friends or family members.  Everyone you owe must be listed in the bankruptcy schedules.  The debt would get discharged.  If you wanted to voluntarily pay them back, do it after the bankruptcy.
  2. Do not transfer any items out of your name prior to filing without consulting with an attorney.  The trustee could view this as a fraudulent transfer and look to undo it in the bankruptcy.
  3. Do not buy anything worth more than $500.00 in credit in the 3 months leading up to the bankruptcy.
  4. Do not pay any one creditor more than $600.00 in the 3 months leading up to the bankruptcy.
  5. Do not take out payday loans of more than $750.00 in the 70 days leading up to the filing of the bankruptcy.
  6. Do not go on an expensive vacation prior to the filing.
  7. Do not spend your money on items that are not reasonable or necessary before filing bankruptcy.
  8. Do not freak out.  Bankruptcy is really not that bad.

If you have done anything on the DO NOT list, contact an attorney and see what you need to do before you file.

Best of Luck,

Steven M. Palmer
Licensed in WA and OH
http://www.curtislaw-pllc.com