When Should You Talk To A Bankruptcy Lawyer?

Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney. Tel: 610-380-7969 Email: cccarresq@aol.com

In Chancery

In Chancery

Maybe the best approach to the question is to talk about when is not the best time to talk to a bankruptcy lawyer.  You were served with the foreclosure notice 6 months ago and the mortgage company has been refusing your payments and now your home is to be sold at a sheriff’s sale tomorrow.  Your car has just been repossessed and your job is now in jeopardy since you do not have transportation to work. These are bad times to be talking with a bankruptcy attorney.  Not because a bankruptcy attorney can’t still help you.  An “emergency” bankruptcy filing can still possibly help you save your home or maybe your car can be returned to you.  It is a bad time because had you consulted with a bankruptcy attorney sooner, a different plan to help you deal with your debt issues may have been available.  That is, while we may still be able to save your home in the short term, your bankruptcy may fail over the longer term whereas had you taken action earlier, a plan could have been devised to save it long term. So when should you talk to a bankruptcy lawyer?  HERE ARE SOME bASIC GUIDES: You know your finances are not what they should be.  You know that you are falling behind on your bills or are struggling to make ends meet each month.  You are juggling, you often have to choose between putting food on the table and paying your credit cards in full. You pay one card one month but not the next so you can pay another.   Or maybe you know that, even though you are current on your bills, there will be a  disruption in your income coming:  Maybe an operation that will require you or your spouse to be out of work for a time or a coming labor union strike. These are better times to be exploring options. Talk to an a compassionate, experienced, knowledgeable attorney who can look at your particular situation before absolute disaster strikes, before you are about to lose your home, car or possessions on the morrow! And it is important to recognize that ironically you must have money to file bankruptcy. If you wait till the axe has fallen, you likely will not have the funds to file:  As Max Gardner, Esq., a keen observer of trends in bankruptcy recently noted regarding the recent fall off in bankruptcy filings: A substantial number of consumers who need to file are simply too broke to file. And, those consumers who have lost homes to foreclosure during the Great Recession simply no longer care.  Simply stated, as many consumers who have lost hope for finding new employment have also lost the need for bankruptcy relief. A skilled bankruptcy lawyer can help you plan for a future filing before you reach this point of despair.  He or she can help you prioritize to help you keep things that are important to you. If the house is most important, then in order to afford the house, perhaps a vehicle can be surrendered and a less expensive vehicle obtained.  Or, the bankruptcy lawyer may tell you to stop paying your credit card or pre-Obamacare medical bills and use the money to make sure that your house payment is made.  This can ensure that you are current on your house for a bankruptcy filing so that you do not have to pay more money for mortgage arrears or that you can file a chapter 7 with a “walk through”. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say!  Merely talking to a bankruptcy lawyer does not commit you to a bankruptcy filing and many will talk to you initially for free or at a reduced charge What do you have to lose other than your current lack of knowledge?  It is not infrequently the case that we will either decide the timing is not yet ripe for a bankruptcy or that some other tool at our disposal is a better option for your particular situation.  While every case is unique, the bankruptcy lawyer will have had experience with cases like yours in the past that will have shown him or her pitfalls of various approaches both within and outside bankruptcy. For example, certain types of debt and liens which cannot be wiped out in a Chapter 7 can be discharged or removed as the case may be in a Chapter 13. Or perhaps he will guide you in the direction of combining bankruptcy with a mortgage modification to drive down your monthly payment to the mortgage company outside the bankruptcy perhaps even to the point where you ultimately can leave bankruptcy early. The alternatives to bankruptcy could include debt settlement; debt consolidation or even debt litigation. The debt settlement company (DSC) may promise over the radio that they can knock 50% off your debt but they cannot litigate or file a bankruptcy case for you. And they will not defend you if one or more of your creditors brings suit while you are in the settlement process.  A debt consolidation company may say that their solution is the most efficient  but they cannot litigate or file a bankruptcy case for you nor generally speaking can they even reduce your debt as can the DSC.  An attorney who litigates but does not file bankruptcy cases and does not have a financial background as do I may be extraordinarily skilled in the courtroom but is ill equipped to see your bigger debt picture and likely will say litigating a single debt (a costly alternative) is best when the debt could have been wiped out with a lot of other debt in bankruptcy.  An unbiased bankruptcy attorney will be part financial analyst and advisor and can lay out all avenues and recommend a path according to your needs. So, when should you talk to a bankruptcy attorney?  Many will hide their head in the sand but the early bird gets the worm…The clear answer is sooner as opposed to later.  Bankruptcy is not for everyone nor is it intended to be.  But if you have debts, and they seem out of hand, a thorough analysis of your finances should include a visit with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., owned and managed by Attorney Carr since 1997, a quality Chester County Bankruptcy Atttorney, with his practice located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Carr, who has over 30 years of diversified legal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!
Not Legal Advice.

©Christopher C. Carr, Attorney at Law 2013, All Rights Reserved.

 

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“CAN I GET MY CAR BACK AFTER REPOSSESSION BY FILING BANKRUPTCY”? (THE LETTER “Y” IS FOR YO-YO AUTO SALES}

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By Christopher C. Carr, Esq. Chester County bankruptcy attorney.

Tel: 610-380-7969 Email: cccarresq@aol.com

Website: westchesterbankruptcyattorney.org

A yo-yo sale is a consumer vehicle purchase under a valid signed agreement of installment sale which is followed, days or weeks later, by a phone call from a sales person at the agency that sold the vehicle who states that the consumer must return the vehicle, get a co-signer for the loan or sign new paperwork typically because, “the financing fell through.” Of course, this is impossible because the financing was locked in before the car was ever delivered but even so the befuddled consumer will fall for this line and present himself and his vehicle at the dealership for a new round of negotiations.

The way this scheme plays out the dishonest dealer will either negotiate more favorable terms after the fact or to repossess the car and resell it.   With touch ups to the paint and an (illegal) odometer rollback, he may be able to  pass it off as brand new. While yoyo sales are actually quite illegal under various federal and also state laws, they are quite prevalent especially in economic downturns. And they can result in the loss of your vehicle to repossession and oftentimes with it all the valuable property you left within it.

With the help of a skilled attorney, Yoyo’s can often be prevented especially if reported right away so they can be documented while in progress. However, you must still at least pay according to the original terms of the installment agreement or the vehicle can legitimately be repossessed by the dealer or the creditor.

Oftentimes, the Yo-yo victim, not knowing what to do or where to turn will simply stop paying his or her car payment entirely.  This is a very bad idea because they will have then not complied with the terms of the original agreement and have lost most if not all of the ammunition needed to fight the Yo-yo legally but also will ultimately lose the vehicle as well to the repo man. What remedies may be left to help you to get your car back in such a situation? Well, bankruptcy may still help, to a greater or lesser degree, depending on whether you elect to proceed under a chapter 13 or a 7.

SO, CAN I GET MY CAR BACK AFTER REPOSSESSION BY FILING A CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY?

If your car has already been taken out of your driveway, and if it has not yet been sold, you can get the car back in a Chapter 13. See Note 1 below. You will not need to come current (as you do in a Chapter 7, see below), but will just have to be able to make regular Chapter 13 car payments, which will almost always be smaller than the payments that you were making before filing. See Note 2 below for an example of how the car payments can be reduced.  You usually also have to pay a reasonable repossession fee, these range in the hundreds of dollars, and wait anywhere from one week to a couple of months before getting it back.

Most vehicle lenders  will return a car voluntarily once you file a chapter 13 (provided the car is not already sold) if you show adequate insurance. This policy generally must include collision and name the finance company as a loss payee, i.e. the policy must mention the loan companyby name as the entity which gets paid first in the event of a loss or claim.

But why deal with the delay, inconvenience, added expense and potential damage to your car and/or loss of personal property involved in a typical repossession? A Chapter 13 filed before the repo man does his dirty work is your best bet.

CALL ME IF YOU ARE BEHIND IN PAYMENTS AND WE CAN AVOID THIS NASTY SCENARIO AND LOWER YOUR PAYMENTS TO BOOT. See Note 2 below.

BUT, CAN I ALSO GET MY CAR BACK AFTER REPOSSESSION BY FILING A CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPTCY:

In a Chapter 7, no, you cannot get the car back without the creditor’s permission because chapter 7 involves liquidation of the debtor’s non-exempt property. The only way that most creditors are going to agree to return your car to you is if you are able to catch up on the payments right away and sometimes the creditor will not even accept this but will accelerate the note and demand the entire balance due and owing on the vehicle. So, there is virtually no difference between this and not filing at all in terms of what you have to pay.

A Chapter 7 filed before repossession will stop the repo man temporarily, but it won’t take long for the creditor to get the court’s permission for relief from the stay and take the car anyway. The only sure way to save a car is in a Chapter 13, unless you can find a way to pay the value of the car in one lump sum but if you can chances are you probably aren’t thinking about bankruptcy.

Note 1:   In Pennsylvania where I practice, you can stop the repo man from coming on your property to take your car if you are watchful enough to spot him in the act.  That is trespass.  It is however suggested that if you meet with resistance, you call 911 and summon the local constabulary rather than attempt to defend the property yourself. This of course is not true for a sheriff who enters upon real properly with a valid writ of execution or if your car is parked on a public thoroughfare or in the parking area of your apartment building, since you do not own it.

Note 2:   For instance, let’s say you have a car that is worth $15,000.00, on which you still owe $20,000, and are paying $519.00 per month at 19% interest on a 60 month note. (This is only an example…every situation will vary.) I can always lower the interest rate down to 2 or 3 points above the prime rate and in many cases, assuming you have owned the vehicle long enough; we can set the payments based on the $15,000 valuation, rather than the $20,000 debt.

In this example, the monthly payments would be reduced to roughly $380.00, for a savings of $139 per month or a whopping $8,325 over the life of the loan, (based on the WSJ prime rate quote for 11/8/2012 of 3.25 plus 2% Risk Factor or 5.25% total.) If we are able to drop the loan down to $15,000 the payment would be only about $285 per month, for a savings of $234 per month. The same thing applies to boats, RV’s, motorcycles, motor homes, appliances, furniture, electronics, and any other secured property, except for primary residences.

©Christopher C. Carr, Attorney at Law 2009, 2012. All Rights Reserved

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., is a quality bankruptcy and debt relief practice, located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney, who has over 30 years if diversified ;egal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!  


I also provide Mortgage Modification Services.

Other lawyers asking “Y” include:

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