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November 2011 Archives

How Do Bankruptcy Attorneys Get Paid?

One of the most common questions I am asked when I tell people I am a bankruptcy attorney is "how do you get paid?" To many people it comes as a surprise that most people who file bankruptcy have income. Many earn a decent living and without their current debt, could be quite comfortable. The reasons for bankruptcy are vast. People incur unmanageable debt for many reasons. Some cases are the result of one bad business decision, others may be the result of a sick or injured family member with inadequate insurance. For many individuals, their debt was manageable until a pay cut or loss of employment. People of all income levels file bankruptcy. To answer the question, I explain that if an individual is going to file bankruptcy, they can and should stop making their burdensome monthly payments to their credit cards and other unsecured loans. Once their paycheck is no longer being used entirely for payment of unmanageable debt, the individual can use that money toward attorney’s fees and necessary living expenses. Once a client makes an initial payment to our firm, our firm will take all creditor calls and help the individual client avoid harassment from creditors. Most firms take payment plans but should not file a chapter 7 bankruptcy case without receiving the fees prior to filing. If a chapter 13 bankruptcy is filed, fees may be included in the chapter 13 payment plan and the case will likely be filed once an agreed upon retainer is received.For more information on bankruptcy contact the attorneys at Greenwald & Hammond, PC.Submitted by:Mindy Greenwald, Esq.

Tags: Bankruptcy, attorney, attorney's fees, chapter 13, chapter 7, credit card, creditor harassment, debt, loans

Have We Returned to the Middle Ages?

Many of us have heard of outdated state laws that are still on the books. It may be illegal to play Dominoes on Sunday in Alabama, but none of us live in fear that this will actually be enforced. Instead, we get a laugh out of these funny rules and wonder who came up with them in the first place.
Not so funny, however, is a recent Yahoo Finance article that reveals that 1/3 of the states in our country still have a law on the books that people who default on their debts can be jailed. Yes, this is the concept of a debtor’s prison. We know people can go to jail for failure to pay court ordered debts, such as child support, but has our society really returned to the middle ages?
For the most part, this is just an example of fed up creditors trying to get what they feel is their due. But it really makes you think, and shows how the feeling of desperation can occur on both sides. Prison may not be the answer, but for many, bankruptcy may. Bankruptcy law, unlike that related to debtor's prison, is there to help people get out from overwhelming debt and get on with their lives.
Talking to a bankruptcy attorney is the first step to finding out what your options are. At Greenwald & Hammond, we offer a free consultation to help you understand bankruptcy and find out if it is right for you.
Submitted by:Kerry Hammond, Esq.

Tags: creditors, debtors prisons, jail, laws

Black Friday Blues

The reports are in and Black Friday sales were up this year. That's great for the retail industry and sometimes taken as a good sign for the economy in general, but how did you fare? Did you incur more credit card debt to get that great deal on a television or video game console? According to a Bloomberg article "Fed Says Household Debt Continues to Fall", consumer mortgage debt is down, however consumers' non-mortgage debt continues to rise. Consumers may have dipped into retirement and other nest egg savings to spend over the holiday weekend. Others probably used available credit and hope to pay it off sometime in the future. Getting out from credit card debt is often times harder than one may think. If you didn't have the cash this month to spend on the items you bought, will you have it next month to pay the bills? Are you paying excessive interest on your credit card purchases? The cycle of debt that credit card use can create is one that is hard to break. Don't let the holidays get you into that cycle. It is okay to sit the family down and say that you are going to spend a little less this year. Everyone will survive. If you are in the cycle of credit card debt where every month you need to use your credit cards because after you pay your monthly bills there is nothing left to pay for your necessities, then it may be time to seek help. The attorneys at Greenwald & Hammond can assess your situation and help you come up with a plan to eliminate the debt and end the cycle of credit card reliance. Contact Greenwald and Hammond, PC today for a free initial consultation. Submitted by Mindy Greenwald, Esq.

Tags: credit card, debt, eliminate debt, retirement

Tips For Choosing a Bankruptcy Attorney

Choosing an attorney can be daunting these days. A Google search often yields pages and pages of attorneys in your geographic area, and there seems to be no easy way to decide which might work best for you. In the area of bankruptcy, this choice can be especially difficult. When times are tough, more and more attorneys are expanding their practices and branching out into this area of law in order to keep their firms alive. Finding the best representation at the best price may seem impossible. There is guidance, though, and below are a few things that Bankrate.com suggests you look for when choosing the right bankruptcy attorney:
1. The old “you get what you pay for” theory. Make sure that the attorney you hire outlines what services are included in the fees you are paying. It is very important that in addition to filing the bankruptcy petition, the attorney will also attend the Meeting of Creditors and advise you on all things post-filing. Sometimes creditors continue to harass you after you've filed your bankruptcy. Other times a secured creditor may want you to reaffirm a debt. Your bankruptcy attorney should be there to guide you through these issues as they arise. In a chapter 13, there can be objections to a proposed plan and confirmation hearings to attend. You want to be sure that your attorney will represent you and work to get your plan confirmed with the court.
2. Finding an Expert. Attorneys that dabble in several areas of the law are sometimes stretched too thin. They may not be as knowledgeable in any one of the areas, when compared to an attorney who only handles that type of case. You may want to find someone with a practice limited to bankruptcy.
3. Knowledge of the Bankruptcy Code. In 2005 changes were made to the bankruptcy code. Make sure the attorney you hire is up on these changes, as well as current case law that may affect your individual situation. Go into a consultation with questions that pertain to your individual situation and get a feel for the attorney’s knowledge of these nuances.
4. Petition Preparers and Bankruptcy Mills. Beware of filing your bankruptcy with a firm that makes you feel like you’re being run through the mill and not given any personalized service. These types of practices fall into #1 above, you get what you pay for. Petition preparers often charge a smaller amount for services, but do not represent you at the meeting of creditors, or offer any help post-filing. There are also instances where these preparers are being investigated by the United States Trustee for illegally practicing law without a license. You don’t want to get caught up in a situation like this.
5. Warm Fuzzy. It’s always a good idea to hire the person who makes you feel safe and comfortable. Go with your gut instinct. If you feel you can trust an attorney, you’re going to go in feeling better about your bankruptcy immediately.
For more bankruptcy information from Greenwald & Hammond, please feel free to visit our website at denverbankruptcyadvocates.com.
Submitted by:Kerry Hammond, Esq.

Tags: Bankruptcy, choosing, fees, lawyers, services

Second Mortgage Keeping You Down?

Those pesky second mortgages many of us used to purchase homes in the golden days of the housing boom are keeping many from recognizing any equity in their homes. With housing values plummeting, many people find that they are upside down on their homes. This means that they owe significantly more than their homes are worth. On average, individuals now have lower incomes, or have not seen an increase in income in several years making it more difficult to make ends meet. In many cases, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can be used to eliminate a second (or even third) mortgage. The process, often referred to as a strip-off, allows a debtor in bankruptcy to declare that their second mortgage is wholly unsecured. In such a case, after a debtor completes their Chapter 13 plan payments, the second mortgage holder must release the lien and cannot seek recovery of the debt on the original loan. There are some misconceptions about Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. The primary misconception many individuals have is that all debt must be paid off through Chapter 13. That could not be further from the truth. In chapter 13 cases debtors pay what they can afford to pay after their necessary living expenses are paid. In some cases, Debtors with significant non-exempt assets, must pay at least the liquidation value of such assets, but the average debtor in chapter 13 bankruptcy pays only a small amount of their debt through the chapter 13 plan. When the plan is completed, all remaining debt is discharged. When determining whether Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is an option to alleviate the stress and hardship of a second mortgage (or HELOC) there are a few things to consider. For some people, bankruptcy is not a good alternative. If your income level is such that the second mortgage poses no problem and you have no other significant debt then bankruptcy is not a great option. If you are unable to make your second mortgage payments and are even having difficulty paying your first mortgage, Chapter 7 may be a better option. Making such a determination is something that should not be taken lightly. It is important to discuss all options with an attorney who can best guide you to what works in your situation. For some, elimination of that pesky second mortgage has brought significant relief. Submitted by:
Mindy Greenwald, Esq.

Tags: 2nd mortgage, Bankruptcy, HELOC, chapter 13, second mortgage

Where Has Our Disposable Income Gone?

If you’ve noticed a drop in the amount of money you have to spend on the things that you need, you’re not alone. According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor, each of us has $1,315 less to spend than we did three years ago. So, if you’ve been cutting back on your spending and still can’t seem to make ends meet, this might be one of the reasons. Unfortunately, for many Americans this amount of money can make the difference between being able to pay their bills and falling behind. The difference between sinking and swimming.
Years ago the thought of filing bankruptcy made most people cringe. If you heard that someone had filed, you wondered what they had done to get themselves into such a situation. The blame seemed clearly on the individual and there was no need to look any further. Well, this past decade has really turned that concept upside down. Many of us have either filed bankruptcy ourselves or know someone, and in some cases several people, who have filed. Trying to place blame is not so clear or concise.
Rather than focus on blame, I think it’s more important to concentrate on coming up with a game plan to stay afloat until the economy turns around.
Submitted by:Kerry Hammond, Esq.

Tags: Bankruptcy, debt, disposable income, standard of living

Welcome to Greenwald & Hammond, PC Attorneys' Blog, Sorry no fancy water bottles here!

Lawyers who care about their clients? Really, are there any out there? We think so. In 2009, Kerry Hammond and I met at another law firm in a fancy, downtown, high rise office building. Our clients were respectable members of the community who had fallen on hard times. When they came to that office they were expected to pay for premium downtown parking. They were treated to bottled water with the law firm logo and they were introduced to the lawyer whose name appeared on the water bottle. They were told exactly what they wanted to hear, they signed up to file and they were sent away with document requests and a questionnaire. When they called to speak to their attorney, they were routed to voicemail, only to never hear back from the attorney.When that attorney finally delegated the client files to Kerry and me, the clients were already unhappy and worried about their choice of law firm. We would then have to work hard to gain back their trust. Neither one of us enjoyed practicing this way. We both sympathized with the clients and their hopes for a fresh start or reorganization, and the relief they were seeking. We decided it was time to move on, and so we formed Greenwald & Hammond, PC. We found a cozy office in an old house near downtown with free parking, and set up a comfortable office where all people could feel at home.We were told we are “Real Lawyers for Real People” and we really like the way that sounds. Our clients are important to us. Without them we couldn’t exist. We are always seeking out new ways to keep our clients well informed, and this blog is another way to do just that. As a rule, phone calls never go unreturned and we remain available by email and phone after hours and on weekends and holidays. We spend as much time with a client as the client needs.When a client visits Greenwald & Hammond, PC for their free consultation they meet with an attorney, not a paralegal. Their questions are answered. Other firms may sit you down with a paralegal or allow you to meet with an attorney who will give only a basic overview of what bankruptcy entails. Our goal is to give the client the correct answers and information they need to determine whether bankruptcy is an option and how to proceed. There is no pressure to “sign up now.” We encourage our prospective clients to think about what we have discussed and decide how to proceed.Some lawyers may think this type of lawyering is not the best way, but at night, when we go home, we can rest easy knowing that what we do really helps people. We are lawyers who really care about their clients.We hope you will visit our blog frequently as we add additional information and commentary. Our goal is to educate all consumers, not just those who may be in need of filing bankruptcy. Submitted by:
Mindy Greenwald, Esq.

Tags: Bankruptcy, fresh start, lawyers, reorganization

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