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Met with BK attorney and am now confused

newtopa
New Member

Met with BK attorney and am now confused

I posted this on another board, but wanted to post here as well to get more input and suggestions.

 

Yesterday, I met with a BK lawyer. I live in PA (formerly in MD) and have been here long enough to now file.

I am very familiar with Ch7 and 13 in MD, but wasn't sure if it was much different in PA, as I have been dragging my feet on

what to do for awhile, so I've done a ton of reading/research.

 

Here is what I have/my situation:

*Married, husband NOT filing.

 

*One child.

 

*Rent from a relative, however we are supposed to purchase home in the next year or so. Husband can probably do it himself.

 

*I have no assets at all, in my name, that are free and clear.

 

*Three vehicles - two in my husband's name. One has a loan, current. One has a private loan through a relative, current. Both payments are doable on his income alone. The other is my vehicle, in my name only, $6k balance. $300 per month payment.

 

*I have various cc chargeoffs, all now out of SOL.

 

*I have one judgment which the lawyer was relentlessly trying to track me down to pay, until the last interrogatory I let them know I'm in PA. Now crickets. Judgment was removed from all 3 credit reports when I disputed.

 

*I have a car loan, up to date, $300 a month. It's a 8 year old car, tons of miles, still runs, I owe $6k however the best offer from a dealer I received was about $4k. I would have to come up with the remaining $2k to 'break even' and get out of it. My name only.

 

*One medical collection that will fall off soon.

 

*One current and open credit card, $325 balance, $350 limit, always current.

 

*(the worst part) Student loans, not in repayment (I'm finishing my degree almost done), totaling now about $65k or more due to interest, etc.

 

I know the student loans likely would not be included.

 

All of the chargeoffs I have contacted, agreed to settle in some way, shape or form. I could try and get out of the car loan by selling it and paying balance if I totally scraped up $2k (I could hold off a semester of classes to do so). The judgment - the lawyer won't talk to me. It started as a $4k judgment and is now double with all the lawyer fees added each time they filed for a wage garnishment, bank garnishment, etc. I have spoke with 2 consumer law lawyers and each said they are willing to look at the case, see if there are any violations and try to negotiate a settlement or at least a solid payment plan. Of course, I'd have to pay lawyers fees too. I've spoke to several mortgage lenders, explaining my situation. All have told me - file Ch 7 and wait 2-4 years to get a mortgage OR payoff/settle up/show payment plan agreements and wait a year and likely to get a mortgage.

 

I really hesitate to file.

 

So  I met with this lawyer. She said there's no way I'm going to settle any of this debt. Said I was wasting my time and money hiring a consumer lawyer to try and negotiate the judgment. That I need to file Ch 7. And I need to keep my car! Yet she said I am barely breaking even each month (with my tuition payments), and that a $300 per month car payment on a car that has over 200k miles is a good deal. I asked about a redemption request. She said she doesn't do those, but suggested a cramdown - however they only do that on Ch13 I thought. So when I asked, she got defensive and said "well it's expensive anyway. We have to hire an expert to appraise it and they have to come to court to testify the amount". This was totally confusing to me, since she said I only had to come to the creditors meeting.

 

I told her that my biggest fear was the judgment - and I couldn't have the house in my name, because they would attach it. She told me if the house was in both our names, they could not since it's joint property. She mentioned the judgment IF "domesticated" in PA, they could attach bank accounts. I asked if they could if it's joint bank accounts. Her answer? She didn't know!! But she's been doing bankruptcies "a long time".

 

I also asked about the student loans - I'm in an area where I won't make much more even if I finish. She said her firm won't even include it because I'm not disabled or destitute. All I wanted was to ask about them, because I've read where sometimes a portion of the oldest ones are discharged and she said it doesn't happen ever.

 

I was then given a packet of papers, with what all they need, I have to pull all my credit reports and submit them and it's $2k flat rate. She wanted me to pay on the spot. I told her I needed to talk it over with my husband and also, I do not have $2k. I had no idea it was that much. She seemed pretty annoyed by that.

 

Anyway.....I have no idea what to do. Do I just sit and do nothing? Do I negotiate and settle everything except the judgment and pray they never domesticate it? Will they really not attach the house if both our names is on the title? If I have to come up with $2k for Ch7 (Oh she said she won't even consider me for Ch13 because I don't make enough - but she wouldn't include my husband's income as our household income), I may as well just make the difference on the car to get it gone (I'll be saving $300 per month plus insurance cost of about $70 per month), and I can take that $370 per month and take a semester off (Saving $2500) and settle that judgment and/or have a lawyer handle contacting the lawyer and setting up an arrangement of some sort. Do I just get the $2k and file and let them take the car? Ask for a redemption amount? Do I meet with another lawyer??

 

I appreciate any suggestions or advice.

 

 

Message 1 of 6
5 REPLIES 5
SteelerNYC
Valued Contributor

Re: Met with BK attorney and am now confused


@newtopa wrote:

I posted this on another board, but wanted to post here as well to get more input and suggestions.

 

Yesterday, I met with a BK lawyer. I live in PA (formerly in MD) and have been here long enough to now file.

I am very familiar with Ch7 and 13 in MD, but wasn't sure if it was much different in PA, as I have been dragging my feet on

what to do for awhile, so I've done a ton of reading/research.

 

Here is what I have/my situation:

*Married, husband NOT filing.

 

*One child.

 

*Rent from a relative, however we are supposed to purchase home in the next year or so. Husband can probably do it himself.

 

*I have no assets at all, in my name, that are free and clear.

 

*Three vehicles - two in my husband's name. One has a loan, current. One has a private loan through a relative, current. Both payments are doable on his income alone. The other is my vehicle, in my name only, $6k balance. $300 per month payment.

 

*I have various cc chargeoffs, all now out of SOL.

 

*I have one judgment which the lawyer was relentlessly trying to track me down to pay, until the last interrogatory I let them know I'm in PA. Now crickets. Judgment was removed from all 3 credit reports when I disputed.

 

*I have a car loan, up to date, $300 a month. It's a 8 year old car, tons of miles, still runs, I owe $6k however the best offer from a dealer I received was about $4k. I would have to come up with the remaining $2k to 'break even' and get out of it. My name only.

 

*One medical collection that will fall off soon.

 

*One current and open credit card, $325 balance, $350 limit, always current.

 

*(the worst part) Student loans, not in repayment (I'm finishing my degree almost done), totaling now about $65k or more due to interest, etc.

 

I know the student loans likely would not be included.

 

All of the chargeoffs I have contacted, agreed to settle in some way, shape or form. I could try and get out of the car loan by selling it and paying balance if I totally scraped up $2k (I could hold off a semester of classes to do so). The judgment - the lawyer won't talk to me. It started as a $4k judgment and is now double with all the lawyer fees added each time they filed for a wage garnishment, bank garnishment, etc. I have spoke with 2 consumer law lawyers and each said they are willing to look at the case, see if there are any violations and try to negotiate a settlement or at least a solid payment plan. Of course, I'd have to pay lawyers fees too. I've spoke to several mortgage lenders, explaining my situation. All have told me - file Ch 7 and wait 2-4 years to get a mortgage OR payoff/settle up/show payment plan agreements and wait a year and likely to get a mortgage.

 

I really hesitate to file.

 

So  I met with this lawyer. She said there's no way I'm going to settle any of this debt. Said I was wasting my time and money hiring a consumer lawyer to try and negotiate the judgment. That I need to file Ch 7. And I need to keep my car! Yet she said I am barely breaking even each month (with my tuition payments), and that a $300 per month car payment on a car that has over 200k miles is a good deal. I asked about a redemption request. She said she doesn't do those, but suggested a cramdown - however they only do that on Ch13 I thought. So when I asked, she got defensive and said "well it's expensive anyway. We have to hire an expert to appraise it and they have to come to court to testify the amount". This was totally confusing to me, since she said I only had to come to the creditors meeting.

 

I told her that my biggest fear was the judgment - and I couldn't have the house in my name, because they would attach it. She told me if the house was in both our names, they could not since it's joint property. She mentioned the judgment IF "domesticated" in PA, they could attach bank accounts. I asked if they could if it's joint bank accounts. Her answer? She didn't know!! But she's been doing bankruptcies "a long time".

 

I also asked about the student loans - I'm in an area where I won't make much more even if I finish. She said her firm won't even include it because I'm not disabled or destitute. All I wanted was to ask about them, because I've read where sometimes a portion of the oldest ones are discharged and she said it doesn't happen ever.

 

I was then given a packet of papers, with what all they need, I have to pull all my credit reports and submit them and it's $2k flat rate. She wanted me to pay on the spot. I told her I needed to talk it over with my husband and also, I do not have $2k. I had no idea it was that much. She seemed pretty annoyed by that.

 

Anyway.....I have no idea what to do. Do I just sit and do nothing? Do I negotiate and settle everything except the judgment and pray they never domesticate it? Will they really not attach the house if both our names is on the title? If I have to come up with $2k for Ch7 (Oh she said she won't even consider me for Ch13 because I don't make enough - but she wouldn't include my husband's income as our household income), I may as well just make the difference on the car to get it gone (I'll be saving $300 per month plus insurance cost of about $70 per month), and I can take that $370 per month and take a semester off (Saving $2500) and settle that judgment and/or have a lawyer handle contacting the lawyer and setting up an arrangement of some sort. Do I just get the $2k and file and let them take the car? Ask for a redemption amount? Do I meet with another lawyer??

 

I appreciate any suggestions or advice.

 

 


I think there are arguments both for filing and not filing in your case.  One thing I would definitely do is consult with another lawyer since you did not have a good experience with this one and came away feeling confused. I would have a GOOD conversation with a lawyer and then think it over and decide what's right for you.

Ch 7 Discharge May 2015
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687/683/673 EX/EQ/TU w/ 5/6/6 INQs as of Jan 2021
Spending 2021 in the Garden
Message 2 of 6
CreditExpressNJ
Established Contributor

Re: Met with BK attorney and am now confused

I would definitely consult with another lawyer because her answers are alone questionable. Then her fees are questionable as well most will give you the option to pay over time she doesnt even seem like she offered that too you. I just filed myself and was discharged and case closed by July 1 and i filed on March 30.....

 

My lawyer was very fast and answered all my questions and concerns in full he never said i do not know even to the stupidest things that i probably could have found easily on the internet....I was kept informed and not to mention he accepts emails and phone calls.....

 

I understand you are in PA im in NJ if you would like i can send you his contact information as PA and NJ are not too far apart... 

 

CH7 Filed (3/29/17) - 516 EQ, 517 TU, 483 EX | Discharged (5/31/17) - 538 EQ 501 TU 559 EX | Current (2/24/21) - 680 EQ - 665 TU - 683 EX
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Message 3 of 6
jw2016
New Contributor

Re: Met with BK attorney and am now confused

I would definitely meet with another lawyer or several.  We had a similiar experience with the first lawyer we met, he was really pushy and although he had years of experience he seemed very uninformed.  We ended up going for another consultation with a much larger bankruptcy firm and found they were much more experienced and cheaper.  

 

We paid $1200 for a joint chapter 7 in Virginia ,so i would say that price is a bit high but I'm sure it varies somewhat by state.  The lawyer we used and many that I have seen take payments and then once you pay the entire fee they will file for you.  

 

As to whether you should file, that is hard to say.  If most of your collections are outside of the statue of limitations then you don't really have to worry about other judgements.  If you can afford to pay the judgement, and the $2k difference on your car that could be a good option.  If not, and you have no use for the car just don't reaffirm and let them take the car during the bankruptcy.  A good lawyer will be able to go over all your options and help you decide what is best, so keep looking.  Good luck!

Chapter 7 Discharge 12/2011
12/2016 TU 726 EX 724 EQ 719
Message 4 of 6
azguy13
Senior Contributor

Re: Met with BK attorney and am now confused


@newtopa wrote:

I posted this on another board, but wanted to post here as well to get more input and suggestions.

 

Yesterday, I met with a BK lawyer. I live in PA (formerly in MD) and have been here long enough to now file.

I am very familiar with Ch7 and 13 in MD, but wasn't sure if it was much different in PA, as I have been dragging my feet on

what to do for awhile, so I've done a ton of reading/research.

 

Here is what I have/my situation:

*Married, husband NOT filing.

 

*One child.

 

*Rent from a relative, however we are supposed to purchase home in the next year or so. Husband can probably do it himself.

 

*I have no assets at all, in my name, that are free and clear.

 

*Three vehicles - two in my husband's name. One has a loan, current. One has a private loan through a relative, current. Both payments are doable on his income alone. The other is my vehicle, in my name only, $6k balance. $300 per month payment.

 

*I have various cc chargeoffs, all now out of SOL.

 

*I have one judgment which the lawyer was relentlessly trying to track me down to pay, until the last interrogatory I let them know I'm in PA. Now crickets. Judgment was removed from all 3 credit reports when I disputed.

 

*I have a car loan, up to date, $300 a month. It's a 8 year old car, tons of miles, still runs, I owe $6k however the best offer from a dealer I received was about $4k. I would have to come up with the remaining $2k to 'break even' and get out of it. My name only.

 

*One medical collection that will fall off soon.

 

*One current and open credit card, $325 balance, $350 limit, always current.

 

*(the worst part) Student loans, not in repayment (I'm finishing my degree almost done), totaling now about $65k or more due to interest, etc.

 

I know the student loans likely would not be included.

 

All of the chargeoffs I have contacted, agreed to settle in some way, shape or form. I could try and get out of the car loan by selling it and paying balance if I totally scraped up $2k (I could hold off a semester of classes to do so). The judgment - the lawyer won't talk to me. It started as a $4k judgment and is now double with all the lawyer fees added each time they filed for a wage garnishment, bank garnishment, etc. I have spoke with 2 consumer law lawyers and each said they are willing to look at the case, see if there are any violations and try to negotiate a settlement or at least a solid payment plan. Of course, I'd have to pay lawyers fees too. I've spoke to several mortgage lenders, explaining my situation. All have told me - file Ch 7 and wait 2-4 years to get a mortgage OR payoff/settle up/show payment plan agreements and wait a year and likely to get a mortgage.

 

I really hesitate to file.

 

So  I met with this lawyer. She said there's no way I'm going to settle any of this debt. Said I was wasting my time and money hiring a consumer lawyer to try and negotiate the judgment. That I need to file Ch 7. And I need to keep my car! Yet she said I am barely breaking even each month (with my tuition payments), and that a $300 per month car payment on a car that has over 200k miles is a good deal. I asked about a redemption request. She said she doesn't do those, but suggested a cramdown - however they only do that on Ch13 I thought. So when I asked, she got defensive and said "well it's expensive anyway. We have to hire an expert to appraise it and they have to come to court to testify the amount". This was totally confusing to me, since she said I only had to come to the creditors meeting.

 

I told her that my biggest fear was the judgment - and I couldn't have the house in my name, because they would attach it. She told me if the house was in both our names, they could not since it's joint property. She mentioned the judgment IF "domesticated" in PA, they could attach bank accounts. I asked if they could if it's joint bank accounts. Her answer? She didn't know!! But she's been doing bankruptcies "a long time".

 

I also asked about the student loans - I'm in an area where I won't make much more even if I finish. She said her firm won't even include it because I'm not disabled or destitute. All I wanted was to ask about them, because I've read where sometimes a portion of the oldest ones are discharged and she said it doesn't happen ever.

 

I was then given a packet of papers, with what all they need, I have to pull all my credit reports and submit them and it's $2k flat rate. She wanted me to pay on the spot. I told her I needed to talk it over with my husband and also, I do not have $2k. I had no idea it was that much. She seemed pretty annoyed by that.

 

Anyway.....I have no idea what to do. Do I just sit and do nothing? Do I negotiate and settle everything except the judgment and pray they never domesticate it? Will they really not attach the house if both our names is on the title? If I have to come up with $2k for Ch7 (Oh she said she won't even consider me for Ch13 because I don't make enough - but she wouldn't include my husband's income as our household income), I may as well just make the difference on the car to get it gone (I'll be saving $300 per month plus insurance cost of about $70 per month), and I can take that $370 per month and take a semester off (Saving $2500) and settle that judgment and/or have a lawyer handle contacting the lawyer and setting up an arrangement of some sort. Do I just get the $2k and file and let them take the car? Ask for a redemption amount? Do I meet with another lawyer??

 

I appreciate any suggestions or advice.

 

 


So from what I gather, the majority of your debt that is not outside of the SOLs is your $300/mo upside down car note in which you owe $6k and a judgement that is close to $8k. That puts you at roughly $14k in debt that could be discharged in BK7 since your student loans cannot be discharged. You have three vehicles in your family and I would assume your husband makes decent money since you say he can most likely purchase a house by himself. Outside of what you stated, I do not know your situation so there very well could be more to it. However, it seems with the information provided, it is a viable option to get rid of one of your vehicles and slowly pay down the $14k in debt instead of filing BK7 which stays on for 10 years.  

 

With that being said, if you still wish to file, I would absolutely consult with another attorney. The fact that the attorney you met with charges $2k for a single file and seemed upset you couldnt pay right then and there is a red flag. When I filed BK7 in Arizona it was a flat fee of $1k and he made sure to answer all of my questions before I left. 

 

Good Luck!

Message 5 of 6
newtopa
New Member

Re: Met with BK attorney and am now confused

Thanks for the comments.

 

Luckily, I found another attorney yesterday who had Tuesday evening walk in hours 5 - 7, which was nice.
A friend suggested him. Great guy, and he gave me several options.

 

*One of which, was filing Ch 13 because my household total is right on the cut off line. (The other attorney told me she wasn't going to include my husband's salary in the household total, which this lawyer told me she was wrong)
That would allow me to be able to buy a home in a year after making payments to the trustee. It would require much less cash upfront to do this. And would be less overall (3 years of about $140 a month) then trying to settle all the accounts and paying off the judgment - and probably take less time. I ran some numbers last night, and I liked that option.

 

*Of course, Ch 7 would be great because it is done faster, but then I'm stuck waiting at least 2 years to buy a home and it's much more money upfront, which I don't have.

 

*He also told me in his opinion, he would get rid of the car - either sell it (which I owe too much so probably won't work) or call the finance company to come get it. It will probably only serve me another year or so, I'm paying insurance on it, tags, registration, etc so getting rid of it also gets rid of that aspect. IF I want to keep it, there's options -  and I can either do a cram down (and he overestimated "worth" at 5k instead of the $2k to $4k middle amount on Blue Book - for worse case scenario) and pay about $270 a month for 3 years total in the Ch 13 to the trustee or about $150 for 5 years (which he highly recommends not doing if I can help it). Whereas the Ch 7, I'd have to either keep making payments ($300 a month) or let them take it.

 

 

I forgot to mention I have one credit card still within SOL and it's $6k. The judgment - if domesticated, they'll still be able to garnish wages and attach property (even though PA bans wage garnishment, it originated in another state, so they can still do it.)

The lawyer said if I didn't want to file at all, he could come up with a payment arrangement with the judgment lawyer to keep that from happening BUT if I somehow defaulted, then it's game on.

 

His flat fee is also $2k for Ch 7. For Ch 13 it's a bit more, but they only require $500 down to file and then the rest gets put into the payment plan with the trustee.

I called 3 other local lawyers (all are based out of Harrisburg, but have smaller offices within the county) - all are about the same, no one offers payment plans upon filing. However, all will do a payment plan BEFORE filing and once paid in full they file. But everything includes all the court fees, etc. Must be a PA thing or at least in this particular district. I know in my previous county and state, it was around $1500 to $1800 plus court fees. Ouch.

Message 6 of 6
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