Bankruptcy Alphabet-Z is for Zero Percent Plan

The Bankruptcy Alphabet comes to a close with this final post. We previously discussed the requirements for a Chapter 12 and Chapter 13 Plan. In this post, we finish with the best type of Chapter 13 Plan: the zero-percent plan.
Bankruptcy Alphabet-Z is for Zero Percent Plan

          Z is for Zero Percent Plan

Photo by Leo Reynolds

When we discussed the Means Test, we found that in a Chapter 13 case, the Means Test determines the length of the Plan (between 36 and 60 months) and how much general unsecured creditors are to receive under the plan.

A Zero Percent Plan is one where general unsecured creditors do not receive anything under the proposed Plan. So how do we get a Zero Percent Plan?

I generalized the Means Test as taking a debtor’s current income (not really current, but an average of the previous 6 months) and current monthly expenses (not really debtor’s expenses, but mostly standard expenses dictated by the Bankruptcy Code) and leaving a disposable monthly income that would be paid to general unsecured creditors.

I proffered a possible conclusion that the Means Test could result in a negative disposable monthly income, meaning unsecured creditors would receive nothing under a Chapter 13 Plan. The question posed was whether in a scenario where the Means Test indicates no payment to general unsecured creditors, if a Debtor could be a Chapter 7 case. I answered with a odd “no”. A debtor who fails the Means Test’s Chapter 7 qualifications cannot skirt through even with a negative disposable monthly income.

So what do we do?
Most court’s now require an analysis of Schedule I (current monthly income, this one’s for real) and Schedule J (current monthly expenses, yes, actual reasonable expenses). With this test, we don’t count payments to secured creditors (with the exception of mortgages). Whatever this amount is is how much the Debtor will pay each month.

In most cases, if the Means Test returned a negative disposable monthly income, than the entire monthly bankruptcy payment will go toward paying required secured creditors and attorney fees. The Debtor’s general unsecured creditors do not receive anything and if they do receive something, it is less than 1% of their claims.

This ends the Bankruptcy Alphabet, but not the continued education you can receive about ongoing changes or news in the field of Bankruptcy law.

Other Bankruptcy Attorneys talking about the Letter Z include:

Bankruptcy Alphabet-Y is for Young v. United States (2002)

For the first time in the Bankruptcy Alphabet, I decided to draw my reference to a United States Supreme Court opinion.
Bankruptcy Alphabet-Y is for Young v. United States

    
      Y is for Young v. United States (2002)

Photo by Leo Reynolds

We previously discussed that, with one exception, taxes are nondischargeable debts in bankruptcy. That exceptions, the so-called “three year look-back period” provides that an income tax debt can be discharged if a return has been filed for the taxable year, a tax debt has been assessed by the taxing authority and more than three years have passed from the date of the bankruptcy petition filing. 11 U.S.C. §507(a)(8)(A).

This created a sort of loop-hole where a debtor, who files a tax return and is assessed a tax debt, could file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy to prevent collection of the debt for three years, dismiss the Chapter 13 case and then file a Chapter 7 liquidation case to discharge the assessed tax debt because more than three years had passed from the date of the Chapter 7 petition filing.

The United States Supreme Court fixed this loop-hole in Young v. United States, 535 U.S. 43 (2002) by holding that the lookback period is tolled, or postponed, during the pendency of a prior bankruptcy petition.

Each state has at least one federal court district with a bankruptcy court that must interpret the application of the Bankruptcy Code to the individual cases. When courts are in dispute, appellate courts, such as the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court, must resolve these disputes.

Other Bankruptcy Lawyers talking about the Letter Y include:

Bankruptcy Alphabet-X is for Xenagogue

I won’t lie. The Bankruptcy Alphabet has made me expand my mind thought process. No letter has been harder to determine than X. There was nothing acceptable in Black’s Law Dictionary on the letter, so I had to get help from Noah Webster (Ok, so my word for X is not in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, but everyone knows Noah Webster invented the dictionary, right? Just go with it).
Bankruptcy Alphabet-X is for Xenagogue

               X is for Xenagogue

Photo by Leo Reynolds

According to an encyclopedia I researched, “Xenagogue” pretty much means a guide for strangers.

That’s what I consider myself, a bankruptcy guide, to my client’s, who are strangers to the world of bankruptcy law.

Initially, I am a stranger to the client. Talking about strange legal concepts in a strange legal language, but my hope is that throughout the tour, my client’s understand the concepts and the language and the conclusion can consider me a friend.

Other Bankruptcy Lawyers talking about the Letter X include:

Bankruptcy Alphabet-W is for Warning

If you do not watch carefully, there are pitfalls that even the most adept lawyer might fall in. That’s why your best bet is to work with a qualified bankruptcy attorney. A knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer can point out the warning signs on the road to debt relief; whether it be bankruptcy or bankruptcy alternatives.
Bankruptcy Alphabet-W is for Warning

            W is for Warning

Photo by Leo Reynolds

If you are contemplating filing a bankruptcy or looking at alternatives to bankruptcy, here are a few things to run away from:

Mortgage Rescue Scams:
These thieves tell distressed homeowners that if they sell the home to the thief and pay rent each month, when the homeowner finally gets back on their feet, they have the option to re-buy their house back. Problem is, the homeowner is charged exorbitant fees and a huge interest rate. They rarely work because the homeowner becomes worse off.

These things are so bad, the government is chasing after these goons for fraud.

Debt CON-solidation Loans:
You have to read the fine print. These loans promise outrageously low interest rates, but in the really, really small type you’ll find penalties and fees that will put you in deeper financial distress. Oh, and there may be a pretty hefty “set-up” fee.

Credit/Debt Counseling:
These are programs where you pay an amount per month to a company who says they will talk to your creditors to lower interest rates, monthly minimums or discuss settlement. Problem is, they won’t do this for over a year from the beginning of the program. The money you pay the company for the first year is their “fee”. Meanwhile, your creditors want to know why they haven’t been paid. They might have even sued you and began garnishing your wages.  Once the company begins accumulating a pile of your money, they will begin discussing settlement options with your creditors, but that doesn’t mean the creditor has to accept it.

My big problem with these companies is that you are paying them a good amount of money to ruin your credit and do nothing for a year. You can negotiate settlements on your own without having to pay a monthly fee.

Check Cashing/PayDay Loans:
This one should be obvious. There is no way you are going to get out of debt by paying a credit card debt at 23% with a check cashing loan of over 400%. These rates may be even higher if you go with a company not regulated by the state (ie: Sovereign Indian Tribes). Just don’t do it.

Do It Yourself Bankruptcy Forms/Bankruptcy Petition Preparers:
If you buy the bankruptcy petition forms online or from something like U.S. Legal Forms, you have gotten ripped off. Every bankruptcy court website will supply them for free. But you shouldn’t even contemplate filling out the forms yourself without getting the advice of counsel.

Bankruptcy Petition Preparers are not attorneys. They pretend to be experts, but they are not. They are not allowed to give you legal advice only prepare your petition (I’m still puzzled how this can be done without providing legal advice). They may charge a lower fee than an attorney, but they will not represent you at the Meeting of Creditors, don’t know the law and will not back you up if items on wrong on the petition. Don’t fall for this scam.

Bankruptcy Law Firm Mills:
This is probably the least poor decision of those already referenced, but by going with a mill firm, you take the risk that your case will be treated like all other cases, when in actuality, every case is unique. Wished you could have saved that house if you would have only done one little thing different?

These are the most significant warnings a qualified bankruptcy attorney can give you.

Other Lawyers talking about the Letter W include:

Bankruptcy Alphabet-V is for Vehicle

Besides the house, Debtors are most concerned about what is going to happen to their vehicle. The Bankruptcy Alphabet has touched on some aspects of how vehicles are treated in bankruptcy, but we will organize it all in one place.
Bankruptcy Alphabet-V is for Vehicle

 
               V is for Vehicle

Photo by Leo Reynolds

We’ll discuss the difference in the way vehicles are treated in each chapter of consumer bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 Liquidation
         
          Vehicles are property of the bankruptcy estate and will be liquidated if there is sufficient equity and no qualifying exemptions to protect it. Normally vehicles that have a lien against it from a bank will not have equity and in fact, may be upside-down, thus will not be valuable to the bankruptcy trustee for liquidation.
          If the vehicle does have equity (value is worth more than what is owed against the vehicle), then a Debtor will need exemptions to protect it. We learned previously in the Bankruptcy Alphabet about exemptions. If the debtor is employed, he is entitled to use up to $2,400.00 to exempt a vehicle used for transporting to work. Additionally, up to $2,500.00 of the “Wild Card” exemption can be used to exempt a vehicle.
          There are circumstances where a lien on a vehicle could be avoided by the bankruptcy judge. In order to qualify, the creditor must hold a non-purchase money security interest in the vehicle. Most vehicles are purchased from a dealer and are financed by a bank. This is called a purchase money security because the security interest was created when the vehicle was purchased. In order to void, the security interest held by a creditor must be a non-purchase security interest, or the owned vehicle is put up as collateral for a subsequent loan. In order to get the loan, the Debtor was required to put his vehicle up as collateral. The second requirement is that the lien must be a burden on debtor’s exemptions. This portion requires a good deal of analyzing and would be impossible to flesh out here. A debtor should review with their attorney whether they may be able to avoid a lien on their vehicle.

Chapter 13 Reorganization
     
          Vehicles are treated differently in Chapter 13 cases. One reason is that vehicles are not liquidated. The bankruptcy code treats vehicles with liens in two different ways: those purchased within 910 days and those owned for longer.
          If the debtor purchased a vehicle within 910 days before filing the bankruptcy petition, the Bankruptcy Code, as applied in Nebraska, requires that the debtor propose to pay the vehicle loan in its entirety through the Chapter 13 Plan. The debtor is permitted to modify the loan’s interest rate as applicable in In re Till.
          If the debtor has owned the vehicle for more than 910 days, the debtor is allowed to propose paying the vehicle’s fair market value on the day of filing in the Chapter 13 Plan. Once again, the loan’s interest rate may be modified accordingly. This is a valuable tool in cases where the value of the vehicle is significantly less than what is owed. The creditor can object to the plan that proposes paying the fair market value. This causes the Bankruptcy Court to schedule a hearing. A debtor may be required to get an appraisal of the vehicle to determine its value. A debtor should review with his attorney when his vehicle may have been owned for more than 910 days to determine whether paying the fair market value would be in the debtor’s interest. It is important to select a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney because most bankruptcy mills will simply file your case immediately without determining whether it would be best to wait a short while to benefit from the bankruptcy code provisions.

As one can see, for the most part, vehicles are usually safe in a bankruptcy case, but it requires a competent bankruptcy attorney to review the situation.

Other Bankruptcy Lawyers talking about the Letter V include:

Bankruptcy Alphabet-U is for U.S. Trustee

While we have walked through the Bankruptcy Alphabet we have made mention of the bankruptcy trustee, but have never really explained the role of the trustee in a debtor’s bankruptcy case.
Bankruptcy Alphabet-U is for US Trustee

        U is for U.S. Trustee

Photo by Leo Reynolds

The U.S. Trustee is a part of the United States Department of Justice and Trustee administration is governed by the U.S. Attorney General. The role of the U.S. Trustee is to administer the bankruptcy cases filed, oversee the administrative functions of private bankruptcy case trustees, ensure compliance with bankruptcy law and procedure and helps investigate bankruptcy fraud and abuse with other law enforcement agencies.

The U.S. Trustee appoints and supervises private trustees who directly administer Chapter 7, 12 and 13 bankruptcy cases or administer cases when the private trustee is unable. In Chapter 11 cases, the U.S. Trustee appoints and convenes a creditors’ committee and administers the Meeting of Creditors.

The appointed private trustees have different duties depending on the type of case the bankruptcy is filed under.

Chapter 7-
          The Chapter 7 trustees administer the liquidation of the debtor’s bankruptcy estate by conducting a meeting of creditors, reviewing the petition, claiming property of the estate, voiding transfers, and disbursing claimed funds to unsecured creditors.

Chapter 12-
          The Chapter 12 trustees administer the debtor’s family farm reorganization by conducting a meeting of creditors, reviewing the petition, review the debtor’s proposed plan for compliance with the bankruptcy code, and disburse funds received from Debtor to the creditors.

Chapter 13-
          The Chapter 13 trustees administer consumer debtor’s reorganization by conducting a meeting of creditors, reviewing the petition, review the debtor’s proposed plan for compliance with the bankruptcy code and disburse funds received from Debtor to the creditors.

Abuse Prevention
          The U.S. Trustee also reviews individual bankruptcy cases to determine whether they are abusive. This usually occurs in a Chapter 7 liquidation case where the Debtor has either failed the means test or the U.S. Trustee believes bad faith is involved and that the Debtor’s continuing in a Chapter 7 case would be abusive because Debtor has regular income to fund a Chapter 13 case.

The role of the U.S. Trustee is critical to the proper administration of the bankruptcy code.

Other Bankruptcy Lawyers talking about the Letter U include:

Bankruptcy Alphabet-T is for Transfers

The Bankruptcy Alphabet is soon drawing to a close, but it is important to discuss what seems to be a growing issue with a lot of people who meet with me as of late, transfers of property.
Bankruptcy Alphabet-T is for Transfers

                               T is for Transfers

Photo by Leo Reynolds


Transfers are defined broadly in the Bankruptcy Code to pretty much include every transaction in which a Debtor either surrenders an interest or in which another party retains an asset of the Debtor through a security interest. 11 U.S.C. §101(54).

Transfers are important in the landscape of bankruptcy because they can be voided by the bankruptcy trustee or debtor in possession. The following is only a short outline of the type of transfers that can be voided and only caters to Chapter 7 liquidation cases and Chapter 13 reorganization cases.

Preferential Transfers
Preferential transfers are those transfers where it appears that the debtor was making the transfer to benefit a particular creditor. Sometimes this occurs when a debtor feels obligated to pay a medical debt to their family doctor or dentist, but all too often involve payments made to family members.

We can see the point of preference transfers. Why should one creditor get paid when the others do not? The preference doctrine allows the trustee to put all general unsecured creditors on an even footing by avoiding the transfers and evenly paying unsecured creditors with the funds given to the favored creditor.

Avoiding preferential transfers are governed by 11 U.S.C. §547. It allows a trustee to avoid any transfer of interest of the debtor’s interest in property if such a transfer was:

  1. To or for the benefit of a creditor;
  2. for or on account of a debt owed by the debtor before the transfer was made;
  3. made while the debtor was insolvent;
  4. made within 90 days of filing bankruptcy or a transfer made within 1 year to insiders (relatives or business partners);
  5. that allows the creditor to receive more than it would have with a liquidation under a Chapter 7 and the transfer had not been made.

A creditor should analyze the situation to determine whether the debtor was in fact insolvent and whether the creditor would have received more than it would have under a Chapter 7 liquidation.

There are exceptions to the required elements. The following transfers, despite being a preference, will be excepted:

  1. A contemporaneous exchange- This is basically an exchange of goods or services for payment at nearly a simultaneous exchange;
  2. Repayment of Ordinary Debt- Ordinary debt is the usual debt that is incurred by a debtor and the creditor. An example could be a situation where a debtor pays monthly for electricity to the electric company;
  3. Perfected Purchase Money Security Interests- Payment to a creditor for a good who simultaneously perfects a lien against the property;
  4. Subsequent Advance- If a creditor, after receiving payment, decides to advance another loan to debtor, the payment will be excepted from avoidance, however, the advanced loan will likely be discharged;
  5. Floating Security Interests- A somewhat confusing exception requiring significant mathematical and accounting skills. Basically, a creditor is only protected based upon the amount it has secured on the inventory or accounts receivable of the debtor;
  6. Non-Avoidable Statutory Liens- Payments made to a creditor for a statutory lien that cannot be avoided are excepted;
  7. Domestic Support Obligations- Payments for alimony or child support are excepted;
  8. Minor Individual Debts- Transfers that are less than $600 for individual debtors are excepted;
  9. Minor Non-Consumer Debts- Transfers that are less than $5,850 (until 2013) in business bankruptcies are excepted.

Fraudulent Transfers
Fraudulent transfers are those where a debtor’s interest was transferred to another for the purpose of frustrating a creditor’s efforts to collect a debt and when a debtor transfers a property interest for less than the value of the property when the debtor is experiencing financial stress.

Avoiding fraudulent transfers is governed by 11 U.S.C. §548. It allows a trustee to avoid the transfer, if within 2 years before a bankruptcy filing:

  1. The debtor transferred or incurred a debt with the actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud any entity the debtor was indebted to;
  2. The debtor received less than a reasonable equivalent value in exchange for such a transfer a) while the debtor was insolvent; b) for which the property remaining with Debtor was unreasonably small capital; c) intended to incur debts that would be beyond Debtor’s ability to pay; or d) made to or for the benefit of an insider under an employment contract and not in the ordinary course of business;
  3. Charitable contributions in excess of 15% of Debtor’s gross income in the year the transfer was made unless the transfer was consistent with Debtor’s contribution practices.

Post-Petition Transfers
Post-Petition transfers are those that occur after the filing of the bankruptcy petition. The trustee can avoid post-petition transfers of property that are included in the bankruptcy estate. It doesn’t apply to property not within the estate.

Avoiding post-petition transfers is governed by 11 U.S.C. §549. It allows the trustee to avoid a post-petition transfer if:

  1. The transfer took place subsequent to the bankruptcy filing;
  2. The transfer involved property of the estate;
  3. The debtor voluntarily or involuntarily transferred the property, and the transfer was authorized only by certain statutes or unauthorized.

The usual example is when a creditor repossesses a vehicle with equity or forecloses on real property without permission from the Bankruptcy Court.

Transfers are an important aspect of Bankruptcy and should be reviewed by an experienced and knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney.

Other Bankruptcy Lawyers talking about the Letter T include:

Bankruptcy Alphabet-S is for Schedules and Statements

In the world of Bankruptcy, there is a lot of paperwork required. The Bankruptcy Petition is composed of Schedules and Statements. Let’s review them.

         S is for Schedules and Statements

Photo by Leo Reynolds

As mentioned above, the Bankruptcy Petition is composed of a number of forms called Schedules and Statements.

First the Schedules:

Schedule A-Comprised of a listing of real estate the Debtor has an interest in.
 
Schedule B-Comprises all of the Debtor’s personal property of any kind. Yes, even Goldie the pet goldfish.

Schedule C-This lists the exemptions the Debtor claims on his property.

Schedule D-Lists all Secured Creditors of the Debtor.

Schedule E-Lists all Unsecured Creditors that hold a priority claim.

Schedule F-Lists all General Unsecured Creditors.

Schedule G-Lists all Executory Contracts and Unexpired Leases.

Schedule H-Lists all Co-debtors of particular debts belonging to the Debtor. This includes those who co-signed on loans.

Schedule I-Lists gross income, deductions and net income of the Debtor.

Schedule J-Lists the monthly expenses of the Debtor.

Now the Statements:

Statement of Financial Affairs-This form contains a variety of questions concerning the Debtor’s finances. It asks things like:

          -Debtor’s gross income from all sources within the last two years.

          -Whether Debtor has paid any single creditor or insider (relative or business partner) a certain amount of money within a certain time period to open up to a preference claim by the trustee.

          -Whether the Debtor is engaged in any lawsuits, garnishments, executions, attachments, and whether any property of Debtor has been seized within the last year.

          -Whether Debtor has transferred any property recently, provided any gifts to anyone, or has suffered any financial losses from fire, theft or other casualty.

          -Bank Account information and Business interests of the Debtor.

Statement of Intention-This form is used in Chapter 7 Liquidation cases to state the Debtor’s intent to keep certain property that has a lien against it by reaffirming the debt or redeeming the property.

In addition to the Schedules and Statements required in the Petition, often times, usually in Chapter 7 Liquidation cases, a Debtor will be required to provide a copy of their bank statement to the trustee assigned to their case which establishes the balance in the Debtor’s accounts on the date of filing.

Other Bankruptcy Lawyers talking about the Letter S include:

Bankruptcy Alphabet-R is for Reaffirmation Agreements

When consulting with a client about bankruptcy I often hear, “I don’t want to put my car in the bankruptcy”. I understand what they’re saying, but officially, everything you own and everyone you owe needs to be listed in your bankruptcy petition So how do we deal with property a debtor wants to keep?

         
            R is for Reaffirmation Agreement

Photo by Leo Reynolds

As the name infers, a reaffirmation agreement is a debtor’s reaffirming of an agreement made prior to the bankruptcy filing. They are only used in Chapter 7 liquidation cases.

Here’s how it works:
You have a house, a car and maybe a bedroom set purchased at Nebraska Furniture Mart. You want to keep that stuff and the items are all fully exempt from being claimed by the bankruptcy trustee for liquidation. The first thing we do is fill out the Statement of Intention, which is included in the initial bankruptcy petition filing. In the Statement of Intention, the property that have liens on them are listed along with boxes to indicate whether the debtor wants to keep the property or surrender it. The Debtor wants to keep all of the property, so each box is checked accordingly.

When the bankruptcy petition is filed, the creditors holding the liens will receive notice of the filing. They should look up your Statement of Intention to determine whether a Reaffirmation Agreement is necessary to send to your attorney. Sometimes creditors send a Reaffirmation Agreement regardless of your intention.

Once the debtor receives the Reaffirmation Agreement, it needs to be filled out. It will ask for the debtor’s monthly income, expenses and whether the debtor can afford to continue making payments on the loan.

The Reaffirmation Agreement needs to be returned to the Creditor for filing and must be filed within 45 days of the Meeting of Creditors. The Reaffirmation Agreement is essentially the debtor’s new contract with the creditor for the property. By signing and filing the Reaffirmation Agreement, you are waiving the discharge of debt you would have received for that particular debt. While you are waiving the discharge of debt, you do guarantee that you will be able to keep the property as long you continue to pay for it.

Even after signing and filing a Reaffirmation Agreement, you can change your mind and rescind the agreement. You may rescind at any time prior to the entry of a discharge order in your case or within 60 days of the filing of the Reaffirmation Agreement, whichever is longer.

Is there a court hearing?
Yes and no. If the Debtor has an Attorney and the Attorney certifies to the Court that the Debtor can afford to make the payments under the Reaffirmation Agreement, no court hearing is necessary. If the Debtor doesn’t have an Attorney, or the Attorney does not certify that the Debtor can make the regular payments, a hearing will be required where the debtor will speak to the Bankruptcy Judge on whether the Debtor can afford to make the payments or not.

What if a Debtor doesn’t sign a Reaffirmation Agreement?
Sometimes its not in the Debtor’s best interest to sign a Reaffirmation Agreement. He is better off surrendering the property. By not signing the Reaffirmation Agreement, the Debtor will lose the property, but not be responsible for the debt on the property because of the discharge.

Sometimes creditors do not send out Reaffirmation Agreements. This is often the case with residential property. The Debtor can still continue to possess the property if regular payments are made, but it should be noted that the debt is discharged in your bankruptcy case. The lien attached to the property will continue to exist, however. The creditor could foreclose or repossess property when a Reaffirmation Agreement is not signed, but it hasn’t been the experience in Nebraska.

The Reaffirmation Agreement process is complicated and you should work with your attorney to determine whether you should enter into the agreement or not.

Other Bankruptcy Attorneys talking about the Letter R include:

Redemption-New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman

Bankruptcy Alphabet-Q is for Quality Bankruptcy Attorney

Choosing a bankruptcy lawyer can be tricky. Who are the good ones? Who are the ones to stay away from? Who will treat me like a number? Where are these form mills I’ve heard about? When choosing a bankruptcy attorney you are looking for someone of knowledge and quality.
 

  Q if for Quality Bankruptcy Attorney

Photo by Leo Reynolds

Here is a list of how to find quality bankruptcy attorneys:
-Ask your friends: You can still be discreet and ask friends if they have ever used an attorney for any reason. Maybe to draft a will or for a divorce. If they had a good experience with that attorney they may also work in the field of bankruptcy or work at a firm who has an attorney who does bankruptcy.

-Perform a Google search for bankruptcy attorneys and try to get the local search results. Those attorneys nearby should have reviews of former clients who took the time to post a review about the attorney. Yelp.com also has a similar feature.

-Do a Google search and look through some attorney websites. Do they contain a ton of free information? The websites with a lot of content provide quality attorneys because the attorney is showing you his/her knowledge. You don’t have to waste meeting with an attorney to determine whether he/she is knowledgeable, you can filter and meet with those ones YOU KNOW are knowledgeable.

-Does the attorney have a blog about bankruptcy and does it contain interesting topics or fluff. If it is fluff that looks like it could be found from a random search about bankruptcy then it was probably written by someone else and not the attorney. A quality bankruptcy lawyer will have many posts about a variety of topics in the field.

-Does the attorney provide a picture of himself/herself? If they don’t provide a picture you have to wonder what else they are hiding. Does the lawyer look friendly or stern? I would lean away from the stern looking attorney. You need to be able to work with the lawyer not be scolded.

What to look out for:
-The attorney or lawyer’s website states a price for the bankruptcy or a range. THIS IS A WARNING OF A BANKRUPTCY MILL! Why? No case is the same. If the lawfirm is charging everyone as if they are the same it should make you wonder if you are getting everything your particular bankruptcy case needs.

-As an addendum to the above, if the price is listed as $599 or below, run away. Why? The bankruptcy filing fee alone is $306 for a Chapter 7. By stating such a low figure, there is likely hidden charges or fees involved. Most quality bankruptcy attorneys will charge a flat rate for the bankruptcy filing and possibly some other charges for out of the ordinary issues.

-Does the attorney or lawfirm handle Adversary Proceedings? If not, they are a bankruptcy mill. Adversary Proceedings are sometimes filed against debtors to determine whether a debt should be discharged, but also filed by debtors to discharge some debt that is normally nondischargeable. If the lawfirm does not do Adversary Proceedings, then it clearly will not do all that it takes to represent you.

-Do they provide a consolidated credit report or ask you to provide one? A consolidated credit report is a report created from the reports of all three major credit reporting agencies. It is necessary to make sure all of your creditors are listed in the bankruptcy.

-Do they only do Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases? Once again, they are a bankruptcy mill or only do bankruptcy cases in small doses. This should tell you that the lawfirm is not interested in doing what is best for you, just what is quickest. Wouldn’t it have been nice to know that you could have wiped away a second mortgage by filing a chapter 13?

-Finally, this is just me, but I don’t trust any lawyer or website that has a contact form directly on the main page of the website. I’m not talking about the sections that ask you to give your email address to sign up for updates or a free book, the ones that ask for your name, address, number, etc. To me it just seems sleazy. Also, there are a lot of websites out there that are referral services. If you are on the site and can’t find the name of an attorney or lawfirm, it is a referral service. You will get any random attorney who has paid a company money to get your information from you.

Make sure to find a Quality Bankruptcy Attorney that you can work with and you will find a fair and reasonable price for the service and know you are getting the best service possible.

Other Bankruptcy Attorneys talking about the Letter Q include:
Quiet-New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman