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Category Archives: Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy & Taxes: New Tax Debts Cannot Be Erased

People who are struggling with overwhelming credit card debt often are also struggling to pay back taxes, too. If you’re struggling with overwhelming debt, it may be time to explore if bankruptcy is the right solution to your debt problems.

Filing for bankruptcy offers a number of benefits, like erasing debts and stopping collection action, including wage garnishment. Bankruptcy can even erase certain older tax debts, though bankruptcy cannot erase newer tax obligations. Payroll taxes and penalties for fraud cannot be erased by bankruptcy, either.

New Tax Debts & Bankruptcy

Income tax debts that are new or newly assessed by the IRS are nondischargeable in bankruptcy. New tax debts that are less than 3 years old, or that have been assessed by the IRS in the past 240 days, cannot be erased through bankruptcy.

If you successfully file for bankruptcy, your credit card debt, medical debt, and other dischargeable debt will be erased, but you will still be obligated to pay back your recent tax debts.

Tax Debt Collection

The IRS has the power to take aggressive collection action against you for unpaid back taxes. When you file for bankruptcy, collection activity by most of your creditors must stop―including collection by the IRS. Even if you cannot erase your newer tax debts through bankruptcy, you can get a reprieve from collection while you handle your other debts in bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 Plan & Tax Debts

Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to create a repayment plan to pay back your debts over three to five years. Nondischargeable tax debts would be paid off in your Chapter 13 plan, which allows you to manage your tax debt payments, and other debts, in a way that works for you.

Older Tax Debts & Bankruptcy

Certain older income tax debts can be erased by bankruptcy. For an income tax debt to be dischargeable, it must meet three criteria:

  • The tax debt must be at least 3 years old.
  • The tax return related to the debt must have been on file for at least 2 years.
  • The tax debt must be assessed by the IRS at least 240 days prior to filing bankruptcy.

 

Any interest and penalties associated with a dischargeable income tax debt will be erased as well. These rules apply to federal and state income tax debts.

Savanna Bankruptcy Attorneys

Here at the Law Office of Barbara B. Braziel we help people get out of debt. We are the premier bankruptcy law firm in Savanna, GA and we practice exclusively in bankruptcy law. Our experienced attorneys are committed to ensuring you understand the protections and benefits of bankruptcy and how filing with affect you and your family. We invite you to get to know us here and read about the clients we’ve helped here.

Contact us for a free consultation here or call (912) 351-9000.

 

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

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Bankruptcy as a Cooperative Process

People who need to file bankruptcy are often concerned about the legal process. It is true that bankruptcy is a complex area of law, but bankruptcy is not a courtroom battle with your credit card company. In fact, generally speaking bankruptcy is a cooperative process.

The majority of bankruptcy cases are completed without conflict or dispute. Bankruptcy is a legal remedy to get out of debt. It is not a contentious fight with your creditors.

Erasing debt through bankruptcy is your legal right, and so long as your bankruptcy petition and schedules are in order and you otherwise qualify for bankruptcy protection, there is little your creditors of dischargeable debt can do to prevent you from receiving a bankruptcy discharge order and erasing the debt owed to them.

Attending the Meeting of Creditors

Most people who file for bankruptcy will not have to go to court, though everyone who files (with rare exception) must attend the Meeting of Creditors. Also known as a “341 Hearing,” this meeting is not a court hearing, does not take place in a courtroom, and there is no judge present.

The Meeting of Creditors is presided over by the bankruptcy trustee assigned to administer your case. It is an opportunity for him or her to confirm that you are who you say you are and to question you under oath about the information contained in your bankruptcy petition.

Creditors Rarely Attend the Meeting of Creditors

Your creditors will be notified of the date, time, and location of the Meeting of Creditors and they have the right to attend the meeting. However, creditors rarely attend the meeting.

In the unlikely event one of your creditors does attend the meeting, the creditor’s representative cannot grill you, harass you, or threaten you. They are permitted only to ask you questions pertaining to your bankruptcy petition, and the nature and location of your assets.

Throughout the bankruptcy process nobody is going to demand an answer as to why you have filed bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy protection is your legal right.

Conflicts Are Rare in Bankruptcy

While conflicts in bankruptcy are rare, not all conflict can be avoided. Some of the most common conflicts that may arise in a bankruptcy case involve the transfer of assets made prior to filing, new debts incurred immediately before filing, the valuation of assets, and questions on income and deductions listed in the means test.

An experienced bankruptcy attorney will strive to avoid unnecessary conflict. Certainly not all conflict can be foreseen, but your bankruptcy attorney can analyze the specifics of your case to identify areas of potential conflict prior to filing and the best ways to avoid potential disputes.

Working with Our Law Office

We strive to make the bankruptcy process as smooth as possible for our clients. We will gather all the facts about your case, about your debts, assets, income, expenses, and other information relevant to your bankruptcy case.

The bankruptcy team at The Law Office of Barbara B. Braziel  are committed to helping people get out of debt and gain the financial freedom they deserve. All we do is bankruptcy law. We invite you to learn more about who we are here. If you live in Savannah, GA or the surrounding areas and have questions about your debt relief options, let’s meet for a free consultation.

Please reach out to us at (912) 351-9000 or contact us by filling out this simple web form.

 

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

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Car Loans in Bankruptcy Options: Surrender, Reaffirm, Redeem

One of the main concerns people have when filing for bankruptcy is what will happen to their car and their car loan. There are a few options when it comes to your car loan and bankruptcy.

Keeping Your Car

First, you must determine if you can keep your vehicle through bankruptcy. Georgia bankruptcy law allows you to protect up to $5,000 of equity in one or more motor vehicles. Equity in excess of $5,000 may still be able to be protected under Georgia’s “wildcard” exemption. Also, if you are married and filing jointly with your spouse in Georgia, you may double the Motor Vehicle Exemption and protect up to $10,000 of equity in vehicles.

You can determine your car’s equity by subtracting the amount you owe on it from the current fair market value of the vehicle.

Second, if your vehicle does not have too much equity, you must decide if you want to keep your car through bankruptcy. You have the option to surrender, reaffirm, or redeem.

Surrendering Your Car

You can surrender your car in bankruptcy and get out of paying the loan.

There are a few reasons you may decide to surrender your vehicle in bankruptcy:

  • As a wise financial decision. If your vehicle is underwater (you owe more than it is worth), or has a high monthly payment you cannot afford, you have the option to surrender the car in bankruptcy. This option allows you to erase the debt, and the lender will not be able to come after you for a deficiency between the amount the car sells for and the amount you owe.
  • If the equity in the vehicle is more than what can be protected, then the vehicle can be sold by the trustee and the proceeds paid out to your creditors.

Reaffirming Your Car Loan

If you can afford your monthly car payment and you do not have more equity than can be protected, then it is likely you can keep your car.

Keeping a car with a loan through bankruptcy is quite common. If the specifics of your case allow for this option, then you must continue to make your monthly car payments during and after bankruptcy.

To ensure that your vehicle will not be repossessed after bankruptcy, the U.S. Bankruptcy Code requires you to “reaffirm” your loan during bankruptcy. Reaffirming a debt in bankruptcy means that you are agreeing to be legally liable to pay the debt back after bankruptcy. To reaffirm your car loan, you must sign a Reaffirmation Agreement and file it with the Bankruptcy Court during the course of your bankruptcy case.

You have a limited time to change your mind after reaffirming a debt. You can cancel a Reaffirmation Agreement for up to sixty days after it is filed with the Court or anytime before your Discharge Order is granted by the Court.

Redeeming Your Car Loan

The option to redeem your car loan allows you to buy your car outright from the lender for the fair market value of the vehicle on the day you filed for bankruptcy.

Redemption in bankruptcy allows you to pay the lender of a secured claim the value of the secured property, in a single payment, and get clear title to the property. 11 U.S.C. § 722.

Redeeming your car loan is a viable option if you can come up with the lump sum payment and your car is worth less than the amount you owe on it.

Bankruptcy is a Powerful Tool to Help You Get Out of Debt

Filing for bankruptcy protection is your legal right and offers powerful tools to help you get out of debt and get the fresh financial start you deserve.

We invite you to learn more about who we are here. We’re committed to helping people get out of debt and gain the financial freedom they deserve.

Call us today at (912) 351-9000 or contact us by filling out this simple web form to schedule a free consultation.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

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Myth Busters: The Top 13 Bankruptcy Myths

Myths about bankruptcy abound!

There are likely a number of reasons why misinformation about bankruptcy is so prevalent. Certainly credit card companies and big banks are served by the public being misinformed about bankruptcy law, and even scared or ashamed of exploring bankruptcy as an option to get out of debt.

In an effort to help people better understand what bankruptcy is (and isn’t), we have compiled a list of The Top 13 Bankruptcy Myths. For more information and to learn how bankruptcy will affect you specifically, we encourage you to meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Many offer free consultations.

The Top 13 Bankruptcy Myths

  1. I will have to sell all of my belongings if I file for bankruptcy.

There is zero truth to this. If you file for bankruptcy nobody is going to make you sell all of your belongings. In fact, most people get to keep most or all of their personal belongings, assets, and property―including their house, car, and retirement accounts.

  1. I will never be able to get a loan again.

Not true. After bankruptcy people are able to get loans, including car loans, mortgages, and lines of credit.

  1. Filing for bankruptcy will be on my credit report forever.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will report on your credit report for 10 years from the date of filing. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy will report for 7 years from the date of filing.

  1. I can max out my credit cards right before filing for bankruptcy and not have to pay that money back.

Incurring debt with the intent to erase it through bankruptcy is bankruptcy fraud.

Further, the U.S. Bankruptcy Code carves out exceptions to discharge. Consumer debts aggregating more than $675 to one creditor, for luxury goods or services (not necessary living expenses), made within 90-days of filing for bankruptcy are presumed nondischargeable. 11 U.S.C. §523(a)(2)(c).

  1. If I file for bankruptcy, my spouse must file also.

You can file for bankruptcy without your spouse. Whether you should file without your spouse, or if the two of you would be better served filing a joint petition, depends on the specifics of your situation.

  1. I make too much money to qualify for bankruptcy.

Many high-income earners are able to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

  1. Filing for bankruptcy means that I’ve lost control of my finances.

No, filing for bankruptcy means that you are taking control of your debt problem. Further, bankruptcy can actually be an opportunity to take control of your finances.

  1. Bankruptcy will erase all of my debt.

Actually, bankruptcy does not erase all types of debt.

Dischargeable debts are erase through bankruptcy, including credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, and other types of debt.

Nondischargeable debts are not erased through bankruptcy and must be paid back after filing, including student loans, back spousal and child support payments, newer tax liabilities, and certain other types of debt.

  1. It is better to pay back your debts than to file for bankruptcy.

Certainly if you can reasonably pay back your debts you should. However, if you cannot reasonably pay back your debt in the next few years, then filing for bankruptcy may be the better option for you. Carrying debt forward for many years is not a wise financial decision. Though filing for bankruptcy is a serious financial decision, it is not necessarily a bad decision.

  1. Bankruptcy will ruin my financial future.

Quite the opposite may be true. For many people filing for bankruptcy is a good decision for their financial future. If paying back your debts will take years, and include massive amounts of interest, or late-payment penalties, then erasing debts through bankruptcy is a wise financial choice. Those years of payments can be directed to savings, investments, and retirement accounts, all of which better your financial future.

  1. I should borrow against my retirement account to avoid bankruptcy.

No, you should do everything possible to avoid borrowing against your retirement account. First, ERISA qualified retirement accounts, including your 401(k) and IRAs, are fully protected in bankruptcy. Second, many people who borrow against their retirement to stave off bankruptcy ultimately end up filing―but are then financially worse off for having borrowed against their retirement.

  1. I am a failure if I have to file for bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy is a legal tool and a financial remedy. Filing for bankruptcy does not speak to your character, morals, ethics, or who you are as a person.

  1. Bankruptcy won’t stop the creditors from trying to collect payment.

Not true―bankruptcy stops creditors in their tracks. As soon as you file for bankruptcy protection no creditor is allowed to attempt to collect payment from you. Bankruptcy puts a swift end to collection phone calls, threatening letters, wage garnishments, bank levies, lawsuits, foreclosure (at least temporarily), and repossession (at least temporarily).

Learn More About Bankruptcy

To learn more about bankruptcy, how it helps people, and how filing will affect you personally, we invite you to meet with us for a free consultation.

All of us here at the Law Offices of Barbara B. Braziel want to help you get out from under the weight of financial stress and gain financial freedom. We invite you to read about the clients we’ve helped here.

Please reach out to us at (912) 351-9000 or contact us by filling out this simple web form.

 

We proudly serve the people of Savannah, GA and the surrounding areas, including Richmond Hill, Hinesville, Pooler, Port Wentworth, Tybee Island, Clyo, Ellabel, Midway, Ludowici, Springfield, Pembroke, Brooklet, and Garden City.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

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Bankruptcy Forms Are Complex and Mistakes Are Costly

The benefits and legal protections of bankruptcy are vast. In exchange for having your debts erased, stopping collection action, and receiving other benefits, bankruptcy law requires that you give full disclosure of your finances in your bankruptcy petition. You are required to list your debts, assets, income, and expenses. You are also required to complete a Statement of Financial Affairs, which requires you to list recent transfers of property and other details about your finances.

It is imperative that you are truthful and accurate to the best of your knowledge in your bankruptcy forms, as they are filed with the bankruptcy court under the penalty of perjury. Purposefully omitting information can amount to bankruptcy fraud―a federal crime.

Bankruptcy Forms Are Complex

Bankruptcy cases rely heavily on the bankruptcy forms, which are national federal court forms. While there are standard national forms, local jurisdictions often have certain forms that are custom to their district. For example, many local jurisdictions use their own Chapter 13 Plan form in place of the federal form.

The bankruptcy forms are not simple, check-a-box forms. They are in-depth, complex forms that relate heavily to accompanying U.S. Bankruptcy Code sections and require specific information about financial affairs that must be calculated in delineated ways.

The necessary bankruptcy forms include, but are not limited to:

  • Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy
  • Summary of Your Assets and Liabilities and Certain Statistical Information
  • Schedule A & B: Property
  • Schedule C: The Property You Claim as Exempt
  • Schedule D: Creditors Who Hold Claims Secured By Property
  • Schedule E & F: Creditors Who Have Unsecured Claims
  • Schedule G: Executory Contracts and Unexpired Leases
  • Schedule H: Your Codebtors
  • Schedule I: Your Income
  • Schedule J: Your Expenses
  • Statement of Financial Affairs
  • Chapter 7 only: Statement of Intention for Individuals Filing Under Chapter 7
  • Chapter 13 only: Chapter 13 Plan
  • Statement About Your Social Security Number
  • Means Test Forms

An experienced bankruptcy attorney can gather the necessary information and documentation from you to complete the forms. Then, prior to filing you should review the bankruptcy petition, schedules, and forms page by page to ensure they are complete and accurate.

Bankruptcy Form Mistakes Are Costly

While honest mistakes made on the bankruptcy forms can generally be corrected, doing so can be time consuming and expensive. Intentional untruths and purposeful omissions made in the bankruptcy forms can amount to bankruptcy fraud, which is punishable by up to 5-years in prison and/or fines of up to $250,000.

Mistakes in your bankruptcy forms can cost you otherwise exempt (protected) property, money, or even your freedom.

 

Here at the Law Office of Barbara B. Braziel we will make sure you understand the benefits of bankruptcy and how filing with affect you and your family. We take the time to explain the bankruptcy process to our clients. We invite you learn more about our firm here and come meet with us for a free no-obligation consultation.

Reach out to us by email at info@BrazielLaw.com or call (912) 351-9000.

 

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

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How Does Filing for Bankruptcy Help People?

When an individual or married couple are deep in debt due to a job loss, medical emergency, or other life-changing event, erasing debts through bankruptcy might be the best choice for them.

While bankruptcy bears the brunt of negative publicity from credit card companies and big banks, there is rarely public discussion on how bankruptcy helps people. Bankruptcy can help a family save their home, help a young professional just starting her career to save her car and erase credit card debt, and help a married couple erase medical debt after the husband suffered a long-term and costly illness. Bankruptcy is a powerful legal tool.

The Ways Bankruptcy Helps People

Bankruptcy helps people by eliminating or reducing debt, stopping creditor harassment, preventing (at least temporarily) foreclosure proceedings or repossession, and gives people the breathing room they need while addressing their debt problems.

Filing for bankruptcy protection can also help people by:

  • Erasing most unsecured debts: including credit card debt and medical bills.
  • Erasing certain older tax debts and some other unsecured debts.
  • Putting an end to harassing phone calls from creditors.
  • Stopping wage garnishments and bank levies.
  • Stopping lawsuits filed by creditors.
  • Creates an opportunity to catch up on mortgage arrears (Chapter 13 only).
  • May create an opportunity for a homeowner to “lien strip” or eliminate a second mortgage (Chapter 13 only).
  • Creates an opportunity to catch up on missed car payments (Chapter 13 only).
  • Creates an opportunity to catch up on other missed payments, such as back taxes or child support payments(Chapter 13 only).
  • Depending on your specific situation you will most likely be able to keep your car and your home. It is more likely that you can keep your car or home if your payments are current and there is not significant equity.

 

Bankruptcy can help people in numerous ways. For many debtors, filing for bankruptcy is the best solution to their overwhelming debt problem.

The Ways Bankruptcy Can Help You

To understand how bankruptcy can help you specifically, we invite you to meet with us for a free, no-obligation consultation. We practice exclusively in bankruptcy law and have been for over 35 years. We serve the people of Savannah, GA and the surrounding areas.

Call us today at (912) 351-9000 or contact us to schedule a free consultation.

 

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

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What Bills Should I Pay During Bankruptcy?

Once you file for bankruptcy the automatic stay goes into effect, which is a provision in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code that stops creditors from taking collection action. 11 U.S.C. § 362. The automatic stay puts an end to all collection activity, including collection phone calls, pending law suits, wage garnishments, bank levies, repossessions, foreclosure proceedings, and even sending bills.

When a Creditor Stops Sending Statements

One unintended effect of the automatic stay is that creditors who you want to continue to pay will stop sending monthly statements, making it more difficult for you to pay your bill on time.

We most often deal with this issue when a person wants to keep their house or car and file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

  • If you want to keep your house through bankruptcy, in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 you must continue to make your on-time monthly mortgage payment.
  • If you want to keep your car through bankruptcy, you must continue to make your on-time monthly car payment (unless the repayment is included inside your Chapter 13 plan).
  • If you fail to make your payments during bankruptcy your property could later be subject to foreclosure or repossession.

 

In many cases it is challenging to logistically make your monthly payment. Your creditor will most likely stop sending statements in an effort to abide by the automatic stay. Also, if your monthly payment used to automatically draft from your bank account, your creditor will likely discontinue taking those payments. This too is in an effort not to run afoul on the prohibition against collection activity.

You can request that your creditor send statements during the bankruptcy. While you are working to get your monthly statements delivered, you must still be diligent to make your monthly payment. During this time you may have to send a check to your creditor in advance of the due date. Make sure you keep records of the checks sent and copies of cashed checks. Unfortunately it is not uncommon for creditors to misapply or not apply payments.

Bills You Must Pay During Bankruptcy

Once you file for bankruptcy you no longer have to make payments on debts that will be discharged through the bankruptcy or paid through the Chapter 13 plan, such as your credit card and medical debts. However, it’s important to continue to pay certain bills.

Bills you must pay during bankruptcy include:

  • Your monthly mortgage payment if you plan to keep your house.
  • Your monthly car payment if you plan to keep your car or other secured debt (unless the payments are included in your Chapter 13 plan).
  • Payments on domestic support obligations.
  • You are obligated to pay the following bills as they become due each month:
    • Rent
    • Utility bills
    • Other monthly bills that become due if you plan to continue receiving the service, such as your cell phone and cable bill.

 

It is critical that you talk with your bankruptcy attorney about which bills you are obligated to continue paying during bankruptcy, and which bills you can stop paying. Failure to make on-time payments on certain bills can lead to harsh consequences. Make sure you understand exactly what bills you must continue to pay and the best method by which you can make the payment.

 

Contact us to explore how bankruptcy can help you! We offer free consultations to anyone in or around Savannah, GA looking to explore how to get out of debt.

Call us today at (912) 351-9000 or contact us to schedule a free consultation.

 

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

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What is “Relief from Stay”?

When a bankruptcy case is filed an “automatic stay” goes into effect. In legalese a “stay” is putting a halt on something, stopping something. The automatic stay is a provision in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code that makes it illegal for creditors to attempt to collect on debts from a person who has filed for bankruptcy protection. 11 U.S.C. § 362. There are only a few exceptions to the automatic stay.

The automatic stay puts an end to all collection action, including collection phone calls, bills, pending law suits, wage garnishments, bank levies, repossessions, and foreclosure proceedings. It takes effect as soon as the bankruptcy petition is filed and generally it lasts through the duration of the bankruptcy case. However, a creditor may ask the Bankruptcy Court for “relief from stay.”

Relief from Stay Motions

When a creditor files a “relief from stay” motion, it is asking the Bankruptcy Court to lift (to end) the automatic stay as to its debt.

For certain creditors the court is likely to grant a relief from stay motion. For example, a mortgage lender is stayed from moving forward with foreclosure action after the filing of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. If the lender wants to continue the foreclosure before the Chapter 7 case closes, it can petition the Court to lift the automatic stay by filing a motion for relief from stay.

The Court may grant the mortgage lender’s motion if the Debtor does not have equity in the property and the property is not subject to administration in the bankruptcy proceeding. If the motion is granted, then the mortgage lender can move forward with the foreclosure process even though the Chapter 7 case is not closed and the automatic stay is still in effect against other creditors.

Exceptions to the Automatic Stay

Other than the Court granting a relief from stay motion, there are a few exceptions to the automatic stay enumerated by Congress in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. 11 U.S.C. § 362(b). The automatic stay exceptions include: criminal proceedings, family law proceedings relating to divorce or parenting, collection on ERISA-qualified pension loans, IRS tax audits, demands for tax returns, or assessment of tax liabilities. However, the IRS must cease and desist from collection action for tax debts while the automatic stay is in effect.

The Automatic Stay Lifts at the End of the Bankruptcy Case

At the conclusion of a successful bankruptcy, the Debtor will receive a bankruptcy discharge order absolving him or her from personal liability to pay back dischargeable debts. Creditors cannot legally attempt to collect on discharged debts. As to those creditors, the automatic stay is no longer necessary.

When the Automatic Stay lifts at the conclusion of the bankruptcy case, certain creditors may begin collection activity again, including student loan lenders, mortgage lenders pursuing foreclosure actions, or car note holders seeking repossession.

 

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The Law Office of Barbara B. Braziel helps people get out of debt. We offer free consultations to people of Savannah, GA and the surrounding areas, including Richmond Hill, Hinesville, Pooler, Port Wentworth, Tybee Island, Clyo, Ellabel, Midway, Ludowici, Springfield, Pembroke, Brooklet, and Garden City.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

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How Do I Find Out Who My Creditors Are?

If you are struggling to pay back your debt, it is time to face your problem head-on. The sooner you get clear about exactly how much debt you owe and to whom, you will be able to evaluate your options for getting out of debt.

We’ve been helping people get out of debt through bankruptcy for over 35 years, and it isn’t uncommon that our client does not know who all of their creditors are. Often debts are sent to be collected by a third party, or sold off to debt collection agencies, and some people have many debts with many creditors. All of this happens. It’s okay, there are ways that you can find out who all of your creditors are.

Your Creditors Are Listed in Your Credit Report

The best way to get a complete list of your creditors is to pull a credit report.

You are entitled to a free credit report every year from each of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The credit reporting agencies have a duty to list truthful and accurate information, so the information contained in each should be the same. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. For information on ordering a free credit report and disputing inaccurate information, read our article here.

Listing Your Creditors If You File for Bankruptcy

It is important to know who all of your creditors are, including collection agencies that have taken over your debt, so that you can address the entirety of your debt problem. Also, if you choose to file for bankruptcy protection you must list all of your creditors in your bankruptcy petition.

The Bankruptcy Court then notifies your creditors of your bankruptcy case and the date, time, and location of the Meeting of Creditors. Know that while they are notified, creditors rarely attend the meeting.

If you accidentally omit a creditor from your bankruptcy schedules, you can likely amend the schedules to add the creditor, but amending schedules based on your mistake can be costly.

If you intentionally omit a creditor from your bankruptcy schedules, that is bankruptcy fraud. Bankruptcy petitions and schedules are filed under the penalty of perjury. You must be truthful and accurate in your filings. If you purposefully fail to include a creditor you may lose your bankruptcy discharge (meaning your debts will not be erased) and you may face other legal consequences.

Hire the Premier Bankruptcy Law Firm in Savannah

The experienced attorneys at The Law Office of Barbara B. Braziel are committed to making the bankruptcy process as smooth as possible for all of our clients.

Together we will work through the bankruptcy petition. We will help you properly list your creditors, income, and expenses. Prior to filing you will review your entire bankruptcy petition to ensure that is it complete and accurate. We’re located in the Savannah, GA area. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss the benefits of filing for bankruptcy.

Reach out to us by email at info@BrazielLaw.com or call (912) 351-9000.

 

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

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An Interesting Result: Social Security Income Can Be Excluded from Chapter 13 Plan Contributions

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Georgia recently ruled on a case that questioned whether Social Security Income may properly be excluded from current monthly income, and hence not considered in projected disposable income in a proposed Chapter 13 plan payment amount.

The Trustees Objection

The Chapter 13 Trustee objected to confirmation arguing that Richard P. Green’s (Debtor) Chapter 13 plan was not filed in good faith because Debtor is not contributing his Social Security Income into the plan. In Re: Richard P. Green, 17-11119. Further, Trustee argues that Debtor incurred several secured debts totally over $6,000 in the months immediately preceding the bankruptcy filing date. Id 3. These six creditors are listed in Debtor’s bankruptcy schedules as having claims secured by TVs, but Debtor omitted the date that each debt was incurred. Id. 2. Also, Debtor’s plan proposes to pay 0% to his unsecured creditors.

Debtor excluded his $975.00/month SSI from his income on Schedule I. He included a notation claiming that SSI is not “current monthly income.” Id. 2.

Over the 36-month period of Debtor’s Chapter 13 plan he will retain $35,100.00 in SSI while paying his unsecured creditors nothing. Id 3. The Trustee argues that “the totality of the circumstances in this case require a finding that Debtor’s proposed plan lacks good faith.” Id. 5. The Court must consider whether this plan has been proposed in good faith.

The Court’s Holding

The Bankruptcy Court held that it was not bad faith for Debtor to exclude his Social Security Income because “Social security benefits are expressly excluded from current monthly income[,]” in the Bankruptcy Code. 11 U.S.C. § 101(10A)(B).

Debtor’s exclusion of his SSI is expressly allowed by the Code and therefore cannot constitute a lack of good faith. However, the Court quoted Judge Drake in a recent case in the Northern District of Georgia stating “the ‘optics of the situation are not pleasant, and that does raise a specter of unfairness’ to allow Debtor to amass such funds while paying a 0% dividend to his unsecured creditors.” Id. 9 citing In re Ogden, 570 B.R. 432, 438 (Bankr. N.D. Ga. 2017). The Court ultimately found that it “should not substitute its judgment for that of Congress.” Id. 10.

Trustee’s Other Good Faith Concerns

The Court was unable to make a determination as to the Trustee’s other good faith concerns because Debtor did not address Trustee’s arguments. Id. 11. Trustee’s objection to confirmation was denied in part and a continued confirmation hearing set so that the Court can consider the remaining good faith issues. Id. 12.

The Takeaway

The issue is not Debtor excluding his SSI from his current monthly income calculation. The unresolved issues involve Debtor proposing to pay 0% to unsecured claims, and the secured debts incurred in May, June, and July, immediately before Debtor filed for bankruptcy on July 31, 2017.

Bankruptcy is Confusing, We’re Here to Help

At the Law Office of Barbara B. Braziel we file hundreds of Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy cases every year. But our clients are never just a number. You will not be left in the hands of a paralegal. You will have access to your attorney throughout your bankruptcy case.

We are here to give you the fresh start you deserve. Call us today at (912) 351-9000 or contact us via the web to schedule a free consultation.

 

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

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