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FAQ

I Heard That A Debtor In Chapter 13 Can Repay A Car Through The Chapter 13 Plan And Pay Off The Car’s Secured Claim For Less Than The Amount I Owed When I Filed. Is That True?

Yes, if a debtor financed the car more than 910 days before the filing of bankruptcy, then he/she can force the finance company to accept as payment in full the adjusted retail value of the car, even if the payoff amount for the car is substantially higher.  The balance of the claim is unsecured and often times amounts to substantially less than what is owed on the car.

How Long Does It Take To Complete A Chapter 13 Plan ?

A Chapter 13 plan lasts for up to five years.  Under certain circumstances, the court may approve a plan that lasts as little as three years, as long as the debtor is making a meaningful effort to repay his/her debts.

We Are Eight Months Behind On Our Mortgage Payment Because My Husband Was Sick And Out Of Work. He’s Back To Work Now, But We Can’t Catch Up And The Bank Is Threatening Foreclosure. Is There Anything We Can Do To Save Our Home ?

 Yes.  Chapter 13 was designed for debtors like you.  Through Chapter 13, you are allowed to repay the amount you are past due (arrears) by paying to the trustee the total amount you are behind, divided by 60, each month for five years (60 months).  You must be in a position to make future payments in the full regular, monthly amount, directly to the bank.  I have represented many, many debtors who have successfully saved their home in this manner through Chapter 13.

I Owe Back Income Taxes To The Federal And State Government, Can Taxes Be Paid Through The Chapter 13 Plan ?

Absolutely.  In many cases, interest and penalties stop accruing and taxes can be repaid to the federal government over five years at zero percent interest.

If I File For Chapter 7, Do I Lose My House ?

No, unless you want to surrender your house as part of your fresh start.  In fact, the policy of bankruptcy law is to protect home ownership.  The theory is that if people get rid of unsecured debt, they are more likely to stay current on their mortgages and not lose their homes through foreclosure.

A Credit Card Company Filed A Judgment Against Me And Now There Is A Lien Against My House. Do I Have To Pay That Judgment If I Sell My House Or Refinance My Mortgage? Is It Too Late ?

No, under Federal and NYS Bankruptcy exemption law, if you have less than $75,000.00 equity in your house (i.e. after deduction for your mortgage balance), the judgment lien impairs your homestead exemption (if the property is your personal residence), and a motion to avoid the judgment lien is filed under Bankruptcy Law.  There is an added attorney’s fee for this service as well as a cost for a property appraisal, but these fees and your options for them will all be explained to you and set forth in the retainer agreement.  In Chapter 13, the attorney’s fee always includes a motion to avoid any judicial liens, but the appraisal fee (usually about $225.00-$240.00) is extra.

If I File For Bankruptcy, When Will The Collection Calls Stop?

My job as a bankruptcy attorney is to notify not only your creditors, but the attorneys and collection agents representing your creditors.  At our initial consultation, I will run your credit report and include in your Bankruptcy Petition notifications to the entities on your credit report claiming to be your creditors and their agents, even if you are not aware of these parties.  The Bankruptcy Court sends a notice to the creditors, their attorneys and collection agents involved in collecting the debt, usually about a week after you file.  The calls stop once the creditors and agents receive the notice.  Most creditors and collection agents honor their obligation not to contact you once you have filed, but if they knowingly contact you to collect the debt, they are subject to sanctions under bankruptcy law.

When I Come For My Appointment To See You, What Should I Bring ?

Ultimately, before I can file your case, I would need a copy of your social security card, title to any vehicle(s) you own (i.e. title is in your name), any and all collection agency letters, lawsuits, recent credit card or loan statements, copies of your paystubs from the past two months, a copy of your tax returns, NYS and Federal tax returns for the past two years, information regarding your 401(k) or 404(b) or other pension information, including balances and any loan balances.  When you come to the office, I will run a credit report for you.  I will obtain a copy of your deed and mortgage, if you live in Monroe County.  If you live outside of Monroe County, I will need a copy of your deed, mortgage and any judgments filed in the County in which you reside.  When we set up your appointment, I will explain to you how you can get that information, depending upon where you live.

How Long Does It Take Before I Can See You ?

Usually, I can work my schedule to see you within a few days.  In an emergency filing, I can see you the same day or evening if necessary.  Contact us at (585) 546-7410 to schedule an appointment.

I Own A Classic Car That I Don’t Want To Turn Over To The Trustee. Before I File For Bankruptcy, Should I Transfer That Car To A Friend Or Family Member, Who’ll Transfer It Back To Me After I Am Discharged ?

Not if you want to file for bankruptcy.  You must (and should) disclose any transfers done out of the ordinary course of business or property sold to family members within the past six years, so that I can properly advise you of the consequences of any such transfer, and how that should impact upon your decision to file.

My Engagement Ring Is The Only Valuable Thing I Own, Should I “forget” To Disclose It ?

Absolutely not.  Bankruptcy relief is very powerful and the benefits are profound and significant.  You are obligated to disclose each and every item of personal and real property you own.  I have dealt with this particular issue many times over the years and in every case, we were able to work out a solution so that the client could keep the ring and get the discharge of her debts.  Much has recently changed in the bankruptcy laws that permit debtors to keep more of their property, including valuable jewelry.  A knowledgeable attorney will advise you of the best possible strategy for you to keep the item or items of jewelry while working within the limits of the law.

What Does It Mean “Emergency Filings Available” ?

Let’s say that you have a pending foreclosure on your house and you believed that you had worked it out with the mortgage company based upon their assurances and statements.  You knew that the case was assigned to a foreclosure attorney, but you were still communicating with the bank in an effort to do a mortgage modification.  Then, suddenly, you find out that the foreclosure sale is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m., and it is 4:00 p.m. now.  What do you do?

You call my office at (585) 546-7410 or e-mail me with the situation and I will meet you at my office in such a case for the purpose of getting you filed.  All bankruptcy petitions are now filed electronically, and your case can be file electronically from our office’s computer.

The “repo Man” Is In My Driveway Now Repossessing My Car. If I Call You Now, Can I Get Them To Leave ?

 Not a chance.  However, if you do file for bankruptcy within a few days after the repossession, the creditor is obligated to return the car to you; but you may be required to pay for storage and the repossession charge (but you may not).  If the car is worth saving, and you have the means to catch up on the payments on your own after Chapter 7, or through a Chapter 13 plan, then filing for bankruptcy might be the best option for you.

I Received A Notice From A City Court Marshal That My Wages Are Going To Be Garnished For An Old Credit Card Bill. I Was Told That They Were Going To Take 10% Of My Gross Earnings From My Paycheck. This Will No Doubt Cause Significant Hardship To Me And My Family. Will Filing For Bankruptcy Cancel The Wage Garnishment? Will I Have To Wait Until I Am Discharged Before The Garnishment Will Stop?

Filing for bankruptcy will immediately stop the wage garnishment and you do not have to wait until you are discharge for the garnishment to stop.  If there is a wage garnishment in place when you file, I will contact the attorneys for the judgment creditor who is garnishing your paycheck, and inform them that you have filed for bankruptcy.  The attorney for the judgment creditor must direct the Sheriff or Marshal to cancel the wage garnishment.

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