I represent individuals in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases filed in the Northern District of Georgia, which includes Atlanta, Newnan, Gainesville and Rome. I publish several informative web sites, including https://www.atlanta-bankruptcy.com and an Atlanta bankruptcy blog, https://www.thebklawyer.com/thebkblog. Please mention Bankruptcy Law Network when you call.

 

Author: Jonathan Ginsberg, Esq.

06 Apr Repo Alert: Are You at Risk?

Last year, a potential client called me to say that her car had been repossessed and that she needed help. I explained that one option would be to file a Chapter 13, then a Complaint for Turnover as a means to get the vehicle back. We would argue to the bankruptcy judge that my client’s vehicle was necessary for her to fulfill the terms of her plan, and thus the judge should order the lender to “turn over” the vehicle immediately. In this case, however, I felt that Chapter 13 might be premature. Instead, I called the lender’s customer service number and after being transferred from department to department, I finally spoke to someone in the default department. I explained that I was a bankruptcy lawyer who was prepared to file Chapter 13 on behalf of my client and I suggested that everyone might be better off if the bank returned the vehicle voluntarily in exchange for my client’s payment of all missed payments + finance charges.
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03 Feb Child Support Delinquency Will Hold Up Chapter 13 Discharge

All payments made to Chapter 13 trusteeIt is a real accomplishment to complete your Chapter 13 case. In an environment where jobs come and go, unexpected expenses can pop up and more than two-thirds of all Chapter 13 plans fail, anyone who fulfills the terms of his Chapter 13 plan should take pride in this milestone. Be aware, however, that making trustee payments for five years may not be enough to get your Chapter 13 discharge. As I previously wrote on this blog, every Chapter 13 debtor must obtain a Financial Management certificate and submit through counsel a certificate of completion for this post-filing educational course. If you do not submit the certificate, your case will be closed without the issuance of a discharge thereby potentially leaving your exposed to post-bankruptcy collection actions. If you choose to ask the court to reopen your case so that you can file the financial management certificate you will incur additional time and cost. A second possible hurdle arises from Bankruptcy Code Section 1328. This Code Section precludes the judge from issuing a discharge if you do not certify that all domestic support obligations that have come due during the pendency of your case have been paid. In the Northern District of Georgia, where I practice, every Chapter 13 debtor receives a Section 1328 certificate to complete as their case winds down.
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03 Jan Why You Should Not Expect Your Bank to Voluntarily Rewrite Your Loan

no mortgage modificationEconomists of every political stripe agree that our recent recession and lackluster recovery arose from a collapse of real estate markets in cities all over the country. Homeowners are either stuck in properties worth less than what is owed on them, while other homeowners have just walked away. The result is a landscape where real estate has lost its liquidity and banks are afraid to rely on real estate to extend needed loans, thereby freeing up the capital markets. A few years ago, a several members of Congress floated the idea of empowering bankruptcy judges to “cram down” mortgages to equal the fair market value of the underlying real estate. Currently bankruptcy judges can, with some restrictions, cram down auto loans and other secured debt to fair market value in Chapter 13. From my perspective as a bankruptcy lawyer, this cram down power does a lot of good. Debtors can now afford to keep their vehicles, and thus their means to and from work. The used vehicle and used furniture market is not depressed with excessive inventory of returned property and more people are able to reorganize rather than liquidate.
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13 Dec Prepare to Pay if You Forget to Take the Financial Management Course

Recently I received a notice from the bankruptcy court that my client's Chapter 7 case has been closed without the issuance of a discharge order because my client never completed his mandatory financial management course. This means that in order to get his discharge, my client will have to pay a filing fee of $260 plus attorney's fees (I usually charge $240) to get his case reopened so that we can file his financial management certificate and he can receive his discharge. While reasonable people can debate the merits of requiring bankruptcy debtors to spend the time and money to take two financial counseling courses - one must be completed prior to filing and the second after filing - it is clearly a waste of money to spend $500 because you did not get around to taking a $35 course that may take an hour or two of your time.
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lawsuit settlements

13 Nov What do Credit Card Companies Demand for Non-Bankruptcy Settlements?

Credit card debt remains a primary reason that folks call me to ask for a financial problem evaluation issues. Generally bankruptcy constitutes one option but by no means is Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 the only option. Recently I met with a very nice woman who owes around $6,000 in credit card debt, but not much else. After talking to her, we both agreed that bankruptcy did not make sense for this small amount of debt. There is, by the way, no "minimum" amount of debt that would disqualify you from filing bankruptcy but given that the attorney's fee cost of Chapter 7 usually exceeds $1,000 and the attorney's fee cost of Chapter 13 can exceed $3,000, it hardly makes sense to file a bankruptcy if you debt is not significant.
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