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Archive for 2009

Debt Consolidation Companies vs. The Bankruptcy Attorney – Bout Scheduled For 1 Round

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Client comes to my office and says, “I’ve been paying $600/month to a debt consolidation company.”

I respond with, “How long have you been doing this?”

Client answers, “About 9 months.”

“I’m in the wrong line of work,” I joke. “Ok, so you’ve paid $5,400 to a debt consolidation company over the last 9 months. What have they done for you?”

The client slaps a lawsuit from his creditor on my desk, “This.”

“Looks like money well-spent.”

“You trying to make a jerk out of me?!” retorts the client.

“Absolutely not, my friend. I’m just trying to enter your frustration so that I can offer the actual solution to your financial problems.”

“I’m sorry—ever since I’ve thrown my money away on this program, I simply don’t trust people anymore.”

“Understandable.”

“I mean what’s the big difference between you and a debt consolidator anyway?”

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Doan Law Firm Offering Free Bankruptcy Legal Advice and Services To Local Residents In Trouble This Holiday Season

Friday, December 18th, 2009

In the true spirit of Christmas giving, Doan Law Firm, California’s largest family of attorneys, is making an unprecedented offer to its most financially distressed neighbors; free bankruptcy consultations to residents of Orange County and the Inland Empire through the end of the year.

In addition to the free consultations, from today through the end of the year, Doan Law Firm will provide complete legal services on a pro-bono basis (free-of-charge) to the first 50 qualified Chapter 7 applicants.Applicants must demonstrate their need for pro-bono services by meeting the qualifications found at www.doanlawfirm.com/probono

In an open letter to the Bankruptcy Bar, the United States Bankruptcy Court recently conveyed that the organizations currently assisting low-income people in bankruptcy are seeing hundreds of families on the brink of foreclosure or in other economic distress. The Court underscored that the number of newly homeless families contacting these groups has also risen and that even a brief consultation with an attorney can make a big difference to a pro se (self-representation) party. It further said that attorney assistance greatly helps the court and other litigants.

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Chapter 7 or Bust? Over-Median Debtors

Monday, December 14th, 2009

When a client comes to see me, they are usually struggling with debt. Might be a little or a lot; much of it depends on the eye of the beholder. For some, $20,000 in debt is a drop in the bucket; for others (most), it’s a noose that only seems to tighten with each twitch of the head.

So Mr. Dapper Debtor tells me, “I want to file Chapter 7 to get rid of my debts, approximately $50,000 of old credit cards.”

And I say, “I agree with you. You should eliminate this debt if you can no longer pay it back.” (fraud arguments aside)

Dapper then tells me, “Great, so you will help me?”

I say, “Of course, but first we must determine whether you qualify for Chapter 7 relief under the current standards.”

Dapper asks me, “What are these standards?”

I say, “First you must pass a means test, then show no excess income and finally not have any unexempt assets that the court might liquidate for the benefit of your creditors.” (besides not having filed bankruptcy within a certain period of time)

Dapper says to me, “Well, lawyer, I make $150,000 a year and I’m single. Will I still qualify?”

I sink into my chair, get very cozy and say, “Maybe.”

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Why Attorneys Don’t Always Sign Reaffirmation Agreements On Behalf Of Their Clients.

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Let’s first start with what happens when a debtor files for and is granted a discharge in a Chapter 7 case. In this instance all dischargeable contracts become null and void and any remaining claims on these contracts are no longer the debtor’s legal responsibility. However, a debtor may choose to keep some of his contractual obligations after the filing of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Enter reaffirmation agreements:

11 U.S.C. § 524.

“(c) An agreement between a holder of a claim and the debtor, the consideration for which, in whole or in part, is based on a debt that is dischargeable in a case under this title is enforceable only to any extent enforceable under applicable nonbankruptcy law, whether or not discharge of such debt is waived, only if–

(3) such agreement has been filed with the court and, if applicable, accompanied by a declaration or an affidavit of the attorney that represented the debtor during the course of negotiating an agreement under this subsection, which states that–

(A) such agreement represents a fully informed and voluntary agreement by the debtor;

(B) such agreement does not impose an undue hardship on the debtor or a dependent of the debtor; and

(C) the attorney fully advised the debtor of the legal effect and consequences of–

(i) an agreement of the kind specified in this subsection; and

(ii) any default under such an agreement;”

In essence, Section 524(c)(3) speaks of reaffirming or (reviving dead contracts after filing a bankruptcy on things debtors want to keep and continue to pay for).

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Home Owners Association (HOA) dues and their dischargeability: what you need to know.

Friday, November 13th, 2009

When people buy real property they typically obtain financing and an escrow is opened for the transaction.  Depending on what piece of real property is purchased,  a home owners association (“HOA”) may be involved.  HOA’s are groups of individuals whose role is to look out for the best interests of  the group of homeowners as a whole.  Typically HOA’s are involved with condominiums but can also be present in single family dwellings.   The HOA’s will enter into contracts to maintain the  landscape and gardening,  pool maintenance,  living unit upgrades and maintenance and many other things all designed to preserve and maintain the quality of life for those living in the association.  Sounds great , right?

All of this comes at price in the form of monthly HOA dues.  The price of these monthly dues are set by the HOA  and are generally a relatively small amount typically in the $100 – $400 dollar/month range.  But remember that escrow when someone purchases a unit when there is an HOA?  Documents are executed which make the HOA a potential secured creditor as to the purchaser.  In other words,  the monthly HOA dues must be paid or the HOA has the power to create liens and start foreclosure proceedings if the homeowner fails to pay them.    This can come as a surprise to some who do not realize that the guy over there talking to the pool cleaner actually has the power to foreclose on your home if the HOA is not paid.

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