North Carolina Bankruptcy Lawyer Blog Charlotte NC Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Information

Monday, October 8, 2007

How Is Bankruptcy Like Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Like gastric bypass surgery, bankruptcy can yield dramatic results in a short period of time and give you the ability to get where you need to be quickly.

Like surgery, it isn't for everyone and it can be painful.

Like surgery, bankruptcy can be life saving; financially life saving when you have debts you can't repay.

Most important, like gastric bypass surgery, bankruptcy is a tool for good short term success, but the long term success depends on the ability of the person to live on a healthy financial "diet".

If a person files for bankruptcy, but doesn't have a budget that is balanced, they stand a good chance of getting back into debt again. Therefore when someone takes the serious step of filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy to get out of debt, it is important for their financial future that they take steps to stay out of debt. Think of the budget like a financial diet plan, crucial to your long term health.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Or Mortgage Assistance Workout?

Mortgage assistance companies contact consumers upon learning of pending foreclosures. In North Carolina, all foreclosure notices are posted in the county courthouse where the property is located. NC foreclosures can take place in under two months from the filing of a foreclosure complaint in the court. Anyone can look at the new foreclosure cases filed, and mailing lists are gathered daily.

Homeowners can, and should, contact the mortgage company's "loss mitigation" department to negotiate with the company. All mortgage companies have departments set up to look at loans that are in trouble. These are the departments that mortgage assistance companies contact and the homeowner can call them too.

Homeowners have to consider that the payment to the company uses up money which is in short supply. The money that you have is your most valuable resource at this troublesome time. Those funds could be used to make a payment to the mortgage company if they agree to a workout, to hire an attorney to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or in the worst circumstance to pay a down payment on a rental if you have to move.

Unfortunately many companies are run by individuals who charge a lot of money for the same outcome that the homeowner could get. And if that result is a refusal to workout the default, the homeowner is facing a foreclosure with a lot less money. The company might have more experience speaking to mortgage companies than most homeowners do, but that does not mean that they are always able to get better results. Charlotte's NBC Station WCNC did a story about such a company (Mortgage Assistance of the Carolinas) on February 21, 2007. You can see the full story at the WCNC website.

If you want to use one, there are a few things to check out first, before you pay them.

Always check out the company with the Better Business Bureau and the NC Attorney General before you pay any money to them.

Consult an experienced Chapter 13 lawyer in your area before you make your decision or pay the company’s fee. You need to know what choices you have. You can always listen to what the mortgage assistance company has to say, and weigh it against what the lawyer explains to you. A good lawyer can look at your situation and often tell you in your first meeting if you are a good candidate for Chapter 13. I can not tell you how many people come to me after paying one of these companies, who tell me that the company wasn't able to do anything for them. Worst, this sometimes happens just days before the foreclosure sale leaving the homeowner little time to check into other (and better) options, like bankruptcy.

Even if workouts are achieved, if you can't make the payments required by the workout you may find yourself facing foreclosure again. Silly as this sounds, a workout is only a workout worth doing if it works.

Chapter 13 may also be able to reduce or eliminate many of your other debts, freeing up funds to pay your mortgage. This is something that no mortgage workout can do for you. Chapter 13 can stop a foreclosure and give you up to five years to catch up on the missed payments. Many homeowners are able to catch up their missed payments if they are given the time to do so. Mortgage assistance or workouts directly with your mortgage company will normally give a matter of months, not years, to spread out the missed payments.

Your decision should be decided knowing all your options. A good attorney can, and will, freely discuss whether workout is a better option for you.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Do You Know Anyone Who Has Filed For Bankruptcy?

So many people who come to my office say "I don't know anyone who has filed for bankruptcy." One thing that I can tell these people is that they do know people who have filed, they just don't know who they know that has filed.

The guilt and shame they feel over being the only person they know considering bankruptcy is obvious. Many people do not consult an attorney about bankruptcy until they fell like they are out of options and have no other place to turn. This is often because people feel like no one else they know would ever resort to bankruptcy, and filing for bankruptcy is only for people trying to get away with something.

This is not simply true.

Many good, honest and hardworking people file bankruptcy every year. Bankruptcy references even are found in the Bible. People just don't tend to tell people when the file bankruptcy. While bankruptcy is not something to be ashamed of, it is certainly not one of those events of one's life that you would expect them to be proud of, or announce to everyone they know.

So, if you are considering bankruptcy, don't say you don't know anyone who has filed bankruptcy but wonder who you do know who has filed and you just don't know it.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Did the 2005 Changes in the Bankruptcy Laws eliminate bankruptcy?

The bankruptcy laws changed in 2005. Many people know the laws were changed, but few people really understand what the changes did. The most important thing to know is that Bankruptcy is still available, and works in much the same way it always has.

The rules are different, the paperwork harder, but bankruptcy is still available to help many people. The only real way to know is to talk to an attorney who can answer questions about your case.

I think that the biggest misconception is that the laws were changed to make bankruptcy unavailable. I have heard that some creditors are even telling people that they can't file bankruptcy because bankruptcy doesn't exist.

Please understand that bankruptcy did not go away, and if you might have been helped by bankruptcy under the old laws, you might still be helped under the new laws. Bankruptcy still exists to help people who are unable to pay off their debts and need help.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Welcome to my blog.

Welcome to my blog about consumer bankruptcy law, and related issues. First, let me say that I know very little about blogs or blogging and I am trying it out for the first time now. I am still not quite sure why I want to blog but as I learn how this works, I hope that this site provides interesting information for you.

To introduce myself, I am a bankruptcy attorney who has concentrated in bankruptcy law since 1988. I started in the bankruptcy area when I was hired as a law clerk to Judge Rufus Reynolds, United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Middle District of North Carolina. He was one of the longest sitting bankruptcy judges in the country, and a remarkable man to have the opportunity to work for. I practiced in Winston-Salem, NC for several years before moving back to Charlotte, NC, my hometown. I opened my solo practice in 1993.