Advice about Bankruptcy
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Advice about Bankruptcy
How did bankruptcy change things for you?
Hi there. We are in a really tight financial place (cc debt,
out of state mortgage underwater in a non-walkaway state,
auto loan underwater due to an accident, 2 small kids) and
considering all our options. We do have income and are very
grateful for all the good things in our life... I just want
to see what options we do have. I'm interested in hearing
stories from people who filed for bankruptcy. How did your
financial situation change before and after? What kind of
bankruptcy did you file? Did you use a lawyer? What was in
your control during the process and what out out of your
control? What have been the effects of the process? If it's
been a few years, how has your life changed?
Please, no judgement or advice... just real stories from
people who have been though it.
so much love and too much debt
Arcolina Panto is an incredibly brilliant and charismatic
and affordable attorney who focuses on Bankruptcy. She has
been retained by a friend of mine for another type of case
and he is pleased with her work. Personally, she gave me
key and specific advice for my sister when she was
unexpectedly laid off. She would be the first person i
would talk with if i was in your position.
Her practice is based in Oakland.
Law offices of Arcolina Panto 510-282-5604
Hope this helps.
Hi, my heart goes out to you. We were in a similar
situation. We looked into credit counseling, bankruptcy
(free consultation) and a financial coach based out of
Stockton. We decided to work with the coach. Even if we
would go the bankruptcy route, we wanted to make sure we
were never going to get in that position again. We had our
first meeting in March of this year and now five months
later we are living cash only, have settled three credit
cards at 50%, are short selling our house, and are really
loving the system she taught us. We were somewhat skeptical
because I found her on the Dave Ramsey site and there's
somewhat of a little evangelical element to it, but she is
sincere and we feel like she saved us from bankruptcy.
Working with her each month, using her method, spreadsheets
and rules have been amazing for us. You have to ready. It's
like deciding to go to Weight Watchers, in that you need to
make a serious lifestyle change, but I am so happy with the
results. We think we will be completely out of debt in three
years. To think if we had not gone this route we would have
declared bankruptcy but I think this route will allow us to
recover our credit sooner and not have that black mark on
our record. Not saying everyone ends up this way, but I
can't recommend it enough. Feel free to email me with
details. And no matter what, all the best.
Oof. Sounds like you've had a series of unfortunate events.
I'm so sorry. I did a Chapter 13 bankruptcy 25 years ago. In
a 13, you do a payment plan. Some people pay 10 cents on the
dollar. For various reasons, our attorney recommended about
50 cents on the dollar. And we didn't do a Chapter 11
because my husband owned a house with his parents, and the
creditors could have taken the equity.
We hired a very nice attorney who treated us very kindly. He
explained our rights and how he would be paid. It's been so
long ago that I don't remember the details, but I think
there was a very limited fee at the beginning and then the
rest came out of our court payments.
He immediately contacted our creditors to explain we were
filing for bankruptcy and they could no longer harass us.
All future contact had to go to the attorney, not us. What a
relief. He presented a repayment plan to the creditors. A
court hearing was scheduled. The creditors could challenge
or just not show up. None came. I found the hearing
embarrassing, but not because the trustee treated us badly.
Everyone was very nice and respectful.
Then we had our payment plan. I think we pay about
$300/month, but it was years ago. We sent a money order to
the trustee of our case each month until we were done. The
whole thing was off my record seven years later. I'd say the
only long-term negative was that BofA rejected us for a very
good mortgage because we had gone bankrupt on one of the
banks they later acquired. I can't remember if this was
within the seven years or not.
glad we did it
Bankruptcy - can you recommend a lawyer?
I'm considering whether bankruptcy is right for me and my family. We have a
number of issues, including a pending home foreclosure. Does anyone have a
lawyer recommendation? I'd prefer someone who works in the East Bay.
I recommend Geva Baumer - he can help you assess and then file: Geva Baumer
hope it helps
Hi, Kathy: Stopping foreclosure is one of the most common reasons why people
file bankruptcy cases, typically Chapter 13 cases. A Chapter 13 case stops the
foreclosure, gives you five years to get caught up, and deals with all your
other debt as well. I primarily practice bankruptcy law. Eric
I am glad to recommend Jim Shepherd as a wonderful bankruptcy attorney.
Besides being an excellent attorney, he's a good listener and a kind man.
He'll let you know all the pros and cons of filing bankruptcy; I believe that
the consultation is even free. You can check out his website
(www.jsbankruptcylaw.com) or call him at 510-527-9600. His office is in El
Cerrito Plaza. Kathleen
Time for Bankruptcy?
I am 28 years old and have been considering bankruptcy. I
just got married a year ago but have incurred over
$30,000.00 in debt before I was married.I got a very good
job right out of high school and started to get credit
cards and was able to keep up with the payments. Though
nothing I bought was ever to ''big'' no cars no jewelery no
home. I ended up getting injured on the job but did not
report it in hopes of being able to come back. But since I
took to many sick days due to the injury I was fired. I
then had no job and no health insurance and a very painful
injury which I paid with the credit cards. I tried for
unemployment but could not recieve it due to be considered
a temporary employee. So for many years I dealt with
having to live on credit and trying to find small jobs but
could not work for long due to having issues with my
kidneys, which also ended up getting expensive. So now I
have a one year old son and can barely make minuium
payments. My husband has been great and has tried to keep
up with the payments which total $1000.00 a month and we
only have a income of about $2000.00 a month.
We have a very special child which makes me unable to work
because I need to care for him. We have no car loans, all
our cars are used and only worth $2000.00 each. We own no
home and are staying with his grandmother. We have no
money in savings because we have to pay bills. None of the
credit card payments are late, but they are not getting
anywhere. I am so stressed every month trying to make sure
we have enough money every month to pay my bills and
survive.And I have tried to pay back what I can. But, I do
not have the means to do it anymore. My husband had not co-
signed any of my credit cards, he does however have 2
credit cards that are in my name but he just has the extra
card which has his name on it. I would like to know if
this bankruptcy is a good idea? What has been the
experience of others that have been in a similar
situation? Should I file for Chapter 13 and can I use my
husbands income to pay back the monthly amount on Chapter
13 every month? How much do the payments range with
chapter 13? How much does a bankruptcy lawyer range and
what are some good ones? Will this affect my husbands
credit? And any other advice on this matter would help. No
judgements please I know that bankruptcy is a very awful
thing and that many are against it. I was one of them
until it is know happening to me, it only take a couple of
bad decisions to be in that situation.
After losing both my job and my savings, I found myself
working for my creditors, living hand-to-mouth to make
payments. It was a hard decision to choose bankruptcy but,
without making that choice, I believe I would never have
escaped the emotional and financial death spiral in which I
If you talk to a bankruptcy attorney, find out how to
discharge, rather than reorganize, as much debt as
possible. You're going to take a credit hit no matter which
one you choose and taking the hit while continuing to let
debt service dominate your life doesn't make sense.
Don't do half the job; you have only one chance to do this.
If you reorgnaize your debt and it continues make your life
hell, those creditor's you decided to ''spare'' won't be
there to comfort you and tell you how morally upstanding
you are; they don't care. You must depersonalize them and,
with the advice of your attorney and family, make a
business and quality of life decision that brings the most
long-term benefit to you and your family.
I recommend you speak with a Bankruptcy lawyer to learn your options. I will be
happy to give you a referral to a good one if you write to me
off-line, or if you
post on the Recommendations list.
I don't know why you think bankruptcy is awful, I think it's
great. Best thing I ever did, wish I had done it years
earlier. I filed on $33K.
A friend who owned a collection agency told me that the
credit card companies already had my bankruptcy figured into
their business plan and I shouldn't worry about it. After
the abhorrent behavior of the big banks in recent years (not
like they were ever angels, but sheesh) I'm THRILLED that I
stuck it to those immoral corporations.
I would do it again in a SECOND. Save yourself some grief
and file. You can rebuild your credit with a car loan and
secured card almost immediately, and eventually you'll be a
real person in the eyes of the banks again.
smash the banks
You need to do something. Spending half of your monthly
income on credit card payments (which must be at very high
rates if you are paying $1k a month on $30k of debt) is
unsustainable. Before you look into Bankruptcy (more on
that in a minute) I would start by trying to talk to your
creditors. Here is my experience, about a year ago I had
about $20k in credit card debt and I was finding the
payments unmanagable. One month I just didn't make the
payments and within days the Credit card companies were
calling me. I told the first creditor that I had a drop
in income (which was true) and was having trouble with the
payments and without hesitation they offered to reduce the
rate to 6% interest (it was much higher) and give me low
payments for 4 years to pay it off if I closed the
account. When the next creditor with whom I had 2 cards
and the majority of the debt called I gave them the same
story, they initially offered me something similar to the
first one but I was feeling confident and told them that
that was still not going to be enough because the balances
were high and I just wanted to pay it off. They then
agreed to 0% interest and gave me lower payments over 5
years to pay it off. I think you have to stop paying and
make them come to you because then they know you are
serious. It will not hurt your credit as long as you deal
with it right away, make a deal and make a payment within
30 days. Right now credit card companies want to clean up
their books, they want to get paid and they would rather
get paid then have you file for Bankruptcy so they will
work with you. You have to close your accounts, which is
actually a good thing, and that hurts your credit score a
bit but nothing like a Bankruptcy (you cannot even qualify
for a home loan for at least 4 years after a Bankruptcy).
If that still is not going to help Bankruptcy may be the
answer for you. You are now required to go through some
type of credit counseling before you can file, I don't
know how onerous it is. I would not bother with a chapter
13, it has the same effect on your credit and you really
can't afford the payments even if they were cut in half.
Don't feel ashamed, it happens to a lot of people.
my husband and I bought a home in East Oakland in 2004 at
$350k and then we took an equity line of $73K to fix it up.
Now, the home value is of $195K and our payments are way too
high. The neighborhood was already sketchy but it is getting
worse by the minute: shootings, police cars chasing people
at night etc. My husband and my income is not sufficient to
pay for all of our expenses, so we relied on credit cards to
pay property taxes and bills. We even used a lot of my
student loans to make payments on this home and still we
have not been able to pay down our principle. At this point,
we are so exhausted by trying to keep this home, especially
in a neighborhood where we are afraid to walk around with
our two year old daughter. We sleep with the alarms on and
we are afraid of going to dinner parties or going out at
night for fear of being outside in this neighborhood. We
were considering filing for bankruptcy but we don't know
where to start and also we don't know if we are going to be
able to get rid of all of our debts. I know that we can't
file bankruptcy on our student loans and we can deal with
it. But we would like to know if there are other options to
free ourselves from this financial burden. Home loan
debt$319K, equity line $73K, credit card debts $23k and we
are trying to make payments into our $180k student loans!
Please, any advise given would be appreciated:-)
thanks so much,
If you are in that much hardship, I suggest foreclosure of your house instead of
bankruptcy. When you file bankruptcy, I understand that you have bad credit for
like 10 years after that. You will not be able to get any credit or loans or borrow
any money or open any accounts for a long time. How are you going to live?
I have not had direct experience with bankruptcy but I have had direct
experience with foreclosure. What you do is STOP paying your mortgage. You
can still live in the house for a long time (like 2-3 years?!?!) because it takes
them that long to evict you. First the bank calls you and tries to work with you to
reduce the amount of your mortgage. Anyway, it's a long process. Meanwhile,
you are living in you house rent/mortgage free!!! What's that worth to you?
This is probably not good legal advice, but it is happening all over the place.
There are so many houses in foreclosure they can't get to them in a timely
fashion. Meanwhile, you are in limbo. Take advantage of the limbo time and take
care of the OTHER debts.Good Luck! This must not be a fun time for you. I
There are several options for you:
1. Loan modification to lower the payments. Banks are
starting to do a lot of these. Even home equity lines are
doing them. It is totally lender dependent on how hard it
is and often the modification is only temporary but it
depends on your situation.
2. You might want to consider doing a short sale and be
rid of a negative asset. These are less damaging on your
credit than a bankruptcy or foreclosure. There are agents
that handle these as it will take a specialist to get
through the process. One phenomenal agent is Julie Cuellas
at Red Oak Realty.
3. Filing for Bankruptcy is quite damaging but you might
be able to get rid of your non-secured debts completely
i.e. the credit cards and the home equity line and stay in
the house if that is what you want. Some good referrals
for BK attorneys are Basil Boutris at 430-1518 and
Lawrence Szabo at 834-4893.
4. Let the house go into foreclosure. However, the HELOC
might be able to come after you for the deficiency.
One great resourse to explore all of these options is the
forums at Loansafe. www.loansafe.org/forum.
We personally went the loan modification route and then
the short sale route after investigating all the options.
Oh God, I can't imagine the stress your family is going
through right now. Everywhere people seem to be in some
kind of financial hardships lately. I have heard rumors
that even if you file for bankruptcy, you still have to
pay back some portion. If you decide to go that route,
perhaps you should stop making all payments now(mortgage,
line of equity, and credit cards), and start saving that
money for what is lying ahead. The bank probably can't
kick you out of your house for 6-9 months, so you can put
aside a good chunk of money (mortgage + credit cards +
line equity) until you know what to do. Remember that you
may have a hard time renting a place to live due to bad
credit, but with the money you saved, perhaps you can
negotiate with the landlord. Also, when filing for
bankruptcy, your creditors will likely go after your cash
and any properties you may have, so maybe don't keep your
cash in your banking accounts until things are finalized?
I think you should consult with a professional to make
sure. I hope things will look brighter for you soon. My
final thought is ''there is a time to let go of those
possessions that brings more pains than joys to your
You've gotten a lot of varying advice on this one. I would highly recommend you
go see a bankruptcy attorney. They will give you all the details you need. Most
of the assertions given in the advice here are not correct. It does effect your
credit for 7 years, not 10. You can clear all unsecured debt (except student
loans) if you file chapter 7. You can open bank accounts, etc.
We filed about 18 months ago and it was the best thing we ever did. But, to see
if it is indeed right for you, please see a bankruptcy attorney. Most will do the
first visit for free. They will get all the detail correct.
Oh my gosh - I so understand the stress you are under. We
were/are in your shoes---too much credit card debt and too
high of a mortgage payment, plus my hours at work had been
cut by 75%. We talked with a couple of lawyers, and decided
to throw it all in: bankruptcy with a foreclosure.
Our reasoning was that our house will never regain the value
it has lost, or at least won't regain the value in time for
it to make a difference. We live in a neighborhood that is
not nice, at all, and like you, I don't like to walk around
my 'hood. We have many expensive repairs that our house
needs and that we can't afford. We can rent a place in a
nicer neighborhood. The credit card debt we had was out of
control, and we couldn't make the monthly minimum payments.
So, yes, our credit is shot, but now we have our sanity
back. As part of the bankruptcy settlement we've had to
take credit counseling classes, and only live with cash. It
has been a blessing! It sounds ridiculous, but my husband
and I have finally learned to live within our means. There
have been ups and downs, a lot of looking back and wishing I
had done things waaaaay differently, but I am at peace with
it all now. I am who I am, and I learned a hard and
difficult lesson. I will NEVER find myself in this
We are still in the process of foreclosure, but the
bankruptcy is in the final stages, so it's not 'done' yet.
We found a lawyer we liked and trusted, and there's a lot of
paperwork and paper chasing to do - but it's really the best
thing we could have done for ourselves.
Many people on this list will look down on you and tell you
you 'must' pay your debts, but bankruptcy and foreclosure
are legal options for you to take if you chose. You owe
over $400K on your home, and it's worth way less. You have
a substantial credit card debt, and you still owe student
loans. I say go for it. You can talk to a lawyer and they
will be able to tell you for sure.
I imagine that you, too, will have your emotional ups and
downs, but think about what a relief it will be to not owe
so much. Owning a house is expensive! If owning a house is
important to you, then you'll get a chance to do it again,
one day, when you are genuinely financially stable.
Not so desperate anymore
Bankruptcy: pros and cons?
I'm finding only some older posts about bankruptcy, and hope to
get some advice. What are the ''pros and cons'' of filing
bankruptcy? If you did so, how did you know ''it was time''?
Any helpful resources (books, financial advisors, attorneys)
that you used? How has it turned out (and after how many
years...) Thanks for any advice you can offer.
Might be ready to file
I knew it was time to declare bankruptcy 20 years ago because it
was impossible to pay all the bills each month, every month. We
had no choice. We went to Consumer Credit Counseling, where they
treated us with respect, agreed that bankruptcy was the only
option, and referred us to a great attorney. We did a Chapter 13
bankruptcy, paying back about 50 cents on the dollar over three
years (no interest). I found the process emotionally difficult,
but otherwise straightforward. Long-term it wasn't a problem; we
even bought a house near the 7-year mark. Now it's totally off my
record, of course. Bankruptcy laws have changed, so your
experience may vary.
Filed for bankruptcy, recently?
We're wondering if others have had recent experience with
filing for bankruptcy. Where did you go to learn about the
process, figure out the pros and cons, determine how to
actually do it? Our understanding is that your credit score
(FICO) will be essentially ''ruined'', you can't use any kind of
credit card, etc. Is that true?
And, for how long do you stay in this ''no credit card'' mode?
Assume your bank check card / debit / VISA is not affected, but
is that true?
We saw the older BPN postings, but are looking for some recent
advice/discussion on the whole consideration of filing for
Hi. We filed bankruptcy about 10 years ago and it literally
stays on your credit report for 7 years, however, that did not
stop us from purchasing a home within that time. Cash is king.
We had the cash and although we had the BK on our credit report
it was overlooked! The entire system is a scam. With a Chapter
13 you can keep your home but have to give up the credit cards.
You can also keep your cars. With a Chapter 7, you give up
everything, including your home.
It's supposed to be a ''fresh start'' but you are judged
financially based on your FICO score.
My attitude is ''do what it takes to survive.'' If it's
bankruptcy, then file, if you can manage without filing, then
don't file. You have to also remember that with a Chapter 13
(reorganizing your debt), you have to pay the Trustee a certain
amount per month. Get a bankruptcy attorney; they generally
give a free consultation.
We filed and kept out home, kept our businesses, kept our cars
and have not looked back. We dont regret it but each case is
different. Seek professional advice.
One who cares
Due to a divorce, I filed bankruptcy
many years ago. And now that it's all behind me, the credit
card companies treat me as if nothing happened and offer me
anything and everything (but no thanks from me)...anyway, life
does go on after bankruptcy. been there
I filed for bankruptcy 2 years ago and what I did and thought it was the
thing I could do, was to hire a bankruptcy lawyer. He handled all the
filed the appropriate papers. A bankruptcy lawyer is crucial because he
transfer your car, house and any other possessions you own and keep what
want to keep. When you file for bankruptcy there is the Chapter 7 or
The lawyer will help you decide which type of bankruptcy fits your
situation. You can
file the paper work yourself and forgo the expense to pay the lawyer,
but if you
don't know the law or the stipulations, you can get yourself in deep
In regards to your credit, you start from the bottom up, all the credit
cards you had
are wiped out. You can only use cash or your debit card. My lawyer told
me to wait 2
years for the bankruptcy not to be cleared because it won't be for 7
creditors will look the other way. Filing for bankruptcy was tough at
first, but boy
was it nice not to have such a worry on my mind about how I was going
to pay the
creditors, the phone calls, etc.
First you need to figure out you if you have any other
options, bankruptcy is the absolute last resort. Do some
research online- I think I just googled '' California bankruptcy
law''. Are you living beyond your means, have you tried credit
counseling, have you tried contacting the c.c companies to
negotiate, can you spend less, sacrifice extras and pay down
Next, you must decide what you're prepared to loose. In
bankruptcy you generally must get rid of all your credit cards
(hence where the problem began). We filed Ch. 13 two years ago
and having no credit cards has been the best thing. Yes,
sometimes we barely manage to keep the lights on but we are
finally debt free.In some cases you may be able to keep one
card for emergencies as long as you have no balance on it when
you file but the idea of bankruptcy is to get out of debt and
stay out. Also some credit card companies may close your
account once they find out you're in bankruptcy. You keep any
debit cards and bank accounts.
Yes, your credit score is essentially ruined for up to 10
years meaning it will be difficult if not impossible to finance
a home for several years. I know people who have had no trouble
financing a vehicle one year post bankruptcy however your
interest rate will be high (15%+).
Depending on your situation you will file either Chapter 13
in which you pay back a portion of your debt over 5 years and
keep most secured property (home, vehicles, etc) or Chapter 7
in which you surrender most of your property and pay nothing
back. Do some research and talk to a bankruptcy attorney before
you make any decisions, most offer a free consultation- don't
file alone. We used Patrick Forte in Oakland who was
knowledgable, fair and worth the fee (which you can pay over
time). good luck
There is life after bankruptcy
Check out the Nolo Press materials on bankruptcy--there are
articles on the website (nolo.com), and they also have books that
explain all the issues you're asking about. Good luck!
Newly single parent considering bankruptcy
''He'' has left our family to explore other women. We have 3 young
children and are getting no support from him (financial or
otherwise). I work 2 jobs, am seriously considering personal
bankruptcy and need to talk with someone who really gets it. Would
prefer a seasoned professional who can guide and counsel.
Oakland is preferred since that is where one of my jobs is.
Never thought it would come to this
Call Lawrence L. Szabo. He is an attorney specializing in
bankruptcy law. 510-834-4893
Need a reasonable and compassionate bankruptcy lawyer
Can anyone recommend a reasonable and compassionate bankruptcy
lawyer in Berkeley, Oakland? All the recommendations are years
old. The ideal candidate will be up on the latest mortgage
Lawrence Szabo on Grand Avenue in Oakland did a good job for
us. He was very knowledgeable. We didn't compare prices with
other attorneys, so I can't speak to that. His office is
modest, so you don't get the feeling you are paying for all
his overhead. His secretary is kind of unpleasant but Larry
himself is very friendly and easy to talk to.
I recommend Lawrence L. Szabo 510-834-4893
www.szabobankruptcy.com Of all the bankruptcy attorneys we
consulted with, he was the only one who took the time to talk
to us like we were human beings. Also, he does most of the
paperwork for you unlike the others who make you do it
Thinking about filing for bankruptcy and wonder if there was
anyone out there who had to file, and what your experience was.
I'm not even sure where to start. I can't afford an attorney,
thinking about filing on my own? Any books out that are super
helpful? Any advice would be appreciated.
Money Trouble in Berkeley
Nolo Press in Berkeley publishes a how to guide- they have an
impecible reputation in most do it yourself legal matters.
How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
by Attorney Stephen R. Elias, Attorney Albin Renauer & Attorney
Order online or call 1-800-728-3555
I'm seriously considering filing for personal bankruptcy,
primarily because of credit card debt. (accumulated, btw, to
meet basics during periods of inadequate income, not to buy
luxury items...) I don't want to, but I feel that trying to
keep up with the payments (over $1000 a month to meet the
minimums) may be as much of a burden for me, a single parent
getting ready to start graduate school, as the consequences of a
bankruptcy on my credit record. I qualify under the new laws
because my income is low enough to exempt me from a repayment
I'm wondering if anyone else has experience with this. I'm
particularly concerned about the ways a bankruptcy on my credit
report can hurt me. Has anyone else out there had to make this
choice, and if you chose bankruptcy, was it worth it or has it
caused you a lot of problems? I'm particularly concerned about
its effects on future student loans, student visa for Canada,
and (eventually) a home mortgage.
Check out the Nolo Press book ''The New Bankruptcy: Will It Work
For You.'' It has lots about deciding whether or not to file for
bankruptcy and the effects of filing. (They have other books
that actually have the forms.) It's in bookstores and Nolo also
has a website, www.nolo.com.
Why are you starting graduate school if you can't afford to pay
your debts? Could you defer school for a year and try to pay
down your debts? Have you tried consumer credit counseling
services? Have you tried talking to the credit card companies to
reduce the interest or set up a payment plan?
Whether you used the credit cards for basic living expenses or
luxury items, you used them and you should pay them back.
In my opinion, going to graduate school is just going to put you
further in debt, unless you are one of the lucky ones getting
funding to cover all your living expenses and tuition.
I have read the archived posts regarding filing bankruptcy but
would like some new opinions too. I hate the thought of filing
Chap. 7 or 13 but feel trapped by our current financial
position. I would like advice about the real pro's and con's of
filing. A little history: My husband was laid off a year ago. We
had just bought a home just before he was laid off. I am a stay-
at-home mom but do have a tiny side income. We have gone
through all our savings and retirement and have had to use
credit cards to survive. My husband has a job now and always is
looking for extra work on the side, but it is never enough. We
are $1000 short every month to pay even the very basics (not
including health insurance, which we can't afford). Our mortgage
is consistently late, credit cards aren't being paid, property
taxes are delinquent, utilities almost get shut off each month,
food is ''rationed'' etc. On top of it all there is a penalty if
we sell our home before two years. So we would actually owe
money if we sold our house now. I feel trapped with no hope in
sight. I can see now how easily middle-class families wind up
homeless! We would greatly appreciate any legal/financial advice
regarding bankruptcy or alternatives.
I am a legal assistant with an attorney who has been handling
bankruptcies for 20+ years. Though I help process the bankruptcy
petitions, I do not have enough experience to let you know,
definitively, whether you should claim bankruptcy or not (especially
since you own your own home.) My advice to you would be to contact
the Berkeley-Albany Bar Association to see if you
would qualify for a free consulation with an attorney. (If you don't
qualify, I think the fee is $25.00.) Or, if you don't mind the trek
across the bay, our office is located in SF if you'd like a
consultation with the attorney I work for. He is an excellent
attorney and would not recommend a bankruptcy to you if it were not in
your interest to file. At any rate, I wish you the best of luck and
remember, the law entitles everyone a fresh start so don't feel badly
about filing a petition if you do, in fact, have to file.
This is may or may not be helpful to you as your situation
sounds pretty dire-but my younger sister thought she was
going to have to go bankrupt due to large credit card debt.
All her accounts were closed due to late payments. Anyway
she called the credit card companies saying she was
considering bankrupcy because of her large debt load and
asked them to negotiate her debt down to a level she pay
back instead of doing bankrupcy. The upshot was that she
managed to negotiate her debt down to about 35% and
paid off those amounts- she got them to commit in writing to
the agreement- instead of doing bankrupcy. I don't know all
the details but if this is helpful i could put you in touch with
her and perhaps you find out more about how she did this.
Your situation sounds dreadful and i hope you have family
or someone who can help. Perhaps you can find some
kind of part time job, maybe when your husband is home
from his job and can watch the little one(s). Maybe if you let
BPN know what kind of qualifications or hours you can work
someone can find you a job. Also recently, there was a
discussion about salaries - think it was ''reality check'' and
people discussed useful ways to trim ones monthly
From what you said it sounds like bankruptcy is a good option
for you. In general, you should not file for bankruptcy as
long as you are ''judgment proof.'' Now that your husband is
working, however, his wages could get garnished and you want to
protect his earnings and your home. I strongly suggest you
consult with an attorney who is knowledgable about bankruptcies
before proceeding. Depending on your income and assets, you
may qualify for legal aid.
As to the ethics - the point of bankruptcy laws are to give a
new start in people in your position. As for your debtors,
assuming they are not family and friends, but rather are
businesses, that is the cost of doing business. I urge you to
do what is right for you, financially, and not spend time
feeling guilty about it. If you do have debtors that are
friends/family or small businesses that would feel the impact
of the debt being discharged, you can choose to pay them
voluntarily after the bankruptcy is complete.
I owe about 20,000.00 or a little more to credit cards I
haven't charged for years and all I have been doing is paying
them off but at times it seems like I will never see the end of
the tunel. I have been enrolled in a debt management
program but the rates are not as lowest as I hoped they
would have been,I have been with them for about a year this
makes me feel a little better knowing that I am doing the
responsible thing by tying my best to pay this off how ever I
am a single parent and pay rent ,a car note ,food and the
other expenses we take on by working here such as the
parking and union. I stuggle so hard by the 8th of each
month my monies are as low as $20.00 to last me until the
next pay day and I am even trying to look for a second part
time job to help me get by . By going bankrupt I can save
monies for a house pymnt and for my teens daughter's
college education. What should I do.
Single Mom, needs advice
Just found a relevant article on the Motley Fool website. Food
for thought: http://www.fool.com/m.asp?i=806695
Going bankrupt was the best thing I ever did. I just wish I had
done it sooner. I was left after my divorce with a $30,000 debt.
I tried paying it off for about a year and then I consolidated
the payments through a credit counseling service and paid for
about another year. I never put a dent in the debt, I only
covered the interest. I was afraid to file bankruptcy because I
thought it would ruin me financially. What I didn't realize was
that I was already ruined financially. It would have lasted much
longer had I not filed. Although the bankruptcy stays on your
credit report for 10 years, I had good credit by 4 years post
I sympathize with your financial difficulties. We were in the
same situation about five years ago. I was so stressed! I
decided to file Chpt 13 Bankrupcy and I do not regret it.
Once we were out from under the credit card payments, we
were able to pay our bills and eventually get ahead of our
debts. After four years of good credit, we found that creditors
are willing to forgive a bankruptcy. We have financed two
cars and refinanced our mortgage in the last couple of
years. And we have ONE credit card that is always paid in
full every month. It was hard to face a bankruptcy (we
defaulted only on our credit card debts) but it was definitely
the best choice for us. We're in terrific financial shape now
and will stay that way.
Although I don't know enough about your financial situation to
give a yes or no answer to your question, here's a couple of
things for you to think about. You said declaring bankruptcy
would help free up enough financial resources for you to start
saving for a house down payment. Don't forget that a bankruptcy
will stay on your credit report for 10 years, and that it will
make it very difficult, if not impossible, for you to get a
mortgage -- if you can get one at all, you may have to pay a
much higher rate. Another question to ask yourself -- do you
have the spending habits under control which caused you to rack
up $20,000 in debt in the first place? You want to be sure that
you do, otherwise, even if you do declare bankruptcy, you'll end
up back in the same place a few years down the road.
You say you want to save up to buy a house. I believe that if you
declare bankruptcy, you won't be able to buy a house until that
is off your record (7 years). Since you're already making inroads
in your debt, I encourage you to stay the course. Read ''How to
Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously'' for
more encouragement--you're already taking several of the steps!
Also read ''The Complete Tightwad Gazette'' for ways to curb
expenses and have more at the end of the month. It's a really
$20,000 seems like a lot of money to owe, but in my opinion,
it's not worth the stigma of a bankruptcy on your credit report
for 10 years for such a relatively small sum. I'd try to find a
friend with a house who can let you use some of their home
equity line of credit. Those rates are really low these days,
(like 5%)and you can pay your friend back at their rate much
faster than any other rate you could find. Just an idea.
TC in Berkeley
A very good friend of mine and her husband have run into
financial difficulties during this recession. The husband was
laid off from his well-paying job about a year ago. The wife had
been staying at home taking care of their 3 year old daughter.
Since then they have eaten through their savings and have been
paying their most pressing bills (mortgage, property taxes,
health insurance, etc.) in part with credit cards. While she is
hopeful that her husband will land a job shortly, she thinks
they will in any case probably be unable to afford to pay off
the credit card debt they have incurred, or even make the
monthly payments. Does anyone have any experience (positive or
negative) regarding filing for personal bankruptcy?
Please tell your friends to contact Consumer Credit
Counselors first! Banckruptcy stays on your records for ten
years. It's a quick short term solution, but is a burden later
on. I know, I did it.
My partner had declared bankruptcy about 11 years ago and it
did affect us whenever we had to rent an apt., or eventually
when we bought our home. Thankfully it had gone off his record
by the time of our closing.
Otherwise, expect to pay higher interest rates, and have
trouble getting any kind of services (utilities, cell phones,
other credit cards).
There are other options. Can your friends refinance their house
with a no-cost mortgage and take some $$ out to pay off their
bills? Not the best way of doing it, but if you have to, you
have to. And what about signing up for one of the credit card's
protection plans? They're expensive, and once you start up
using the service, you can't use the credit card. Also, it's
completely possible to call the companies and let them know
what's going on...usually, they'll give you some grace period.
It's when you aren't in contact with them that they start
Also, try some consumer debt services (Consumer Credit
Counseling of SF is the one I know of, but there's one in the
EB, I think.) Good luck!
anon, because my partner still doesn't like to talk about his bankruptcy!
Seeking a Bankruptcy lawyer in the Berkeley/Oakland area
I am looking for a Bankruptcy lawyer in the Berkeley/Oakland area. I
hate to do this,
but I have no choice being a single parent with a deadbeat ex-husband
and now into drugs). How expensive is this service?? And what am I
to expect afterwards??
Before pursuing backruptcy talk to Consumer Credit
Counselors of the East Bay. They will professionally assess your
and give you excellent advice about your alternatives. Their phone
is (510) 729-6966. They have offices in Oakland and Berkeley.
If you're a UC employee sign up for Legal care during this open
period! The deadline is November 21st I think. The cost of bankruptcy
quite small with the legal insurance and the premium is affordable.
have a list of lawyers. Bankruptcy was the best thing we could have
the time we filed, just becoming solvent again. What a relief. It's a
challenge to rebuild your credit afterwards and takes a long time,
your housing is fairly secure, and you're not planning on buying a
house or new model car in the next 10 years, it can be accomplished.
Nolo Press in West Berkeley has good self help books in both
in rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy. Their publication will
guide you through a do-it-yourself bankruptcy (if you are not
the UC legal insurance plan). You could meet with a lawyer for a one
appointment to go over your paperwork before actually filing, to see
you've put it together correctly. The Nolo Press book also helps you
at your situation to see if there is another option that you can
short of bankruptcy. They have some good suggestions for
negotiating; organizations that will counsel you, etc. The legal
can help here too so you can have a lawyer communicate (usually by
with a difficult and aggressive creditor.
Although I do not have a recommendation for a bankruptcy lawyer in
area, I would suggest that you can ask for a referral from the
Alameda County Bar
Association (510) 893-8683. If you qualify, you may be able to get a
referral to an
attorney who will provide representation at a discounted rate. An
(not incl. any discount) should be able to give you a flat fee of
A good, but inexpensive, bankruptcy lawyer is Patrick L. Forte in
at the Kaiser Center. He also has an office in Hilltop - Richmond.
In reply to the person whose sister is thinking about filing
bankruptcy: Nolo Press has a book called How to File for Bankruptcy,
and for $27.00 you get EXCELLENT, humane, supportive advice as well as
all the forms to do it yourself. It's a tad time-consuming, but unless
you have huge holdings, assets, real estate, furs, jewelry, etc. it's
a cheap and easy way to go. I also saw an attorney advertising in the
Express yesterday as a bankruptcy specialist. Good luck and whatever
you do, tell her not to beat herself up. The banks set this up and are
comfortably poised to weather it.
In response to the request for a bankruptcy lawyer. I know of a good one
located in Oakland at One Kaiser Plaza. His name is Patrick Forte and his
phone number is (510) 465-3328.
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