How Long Do Creditors Have To File A Proof Of Claim?

Written by Peter Mullison, Colorado Bankruptcy Attorney

Deadline To File Proof Of Claim In Bankruptcy

If you file Chapter 13 bankruptcy or have any non-exempt assets that the trustee can liquidate in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your creditors will receive a notice that they need to file a proof of claim if they want to be paid. The claim must show the basis of your debt and how much you owe. The deadline to file a proof of claim is 90 days after your creditors meeting. If a creditor fails to meet the deadline, it may be prohibited from receiving anything.

Most filers, especially in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, won’t be concerned about whether or when a creditor files a claim. If you’ve hired an attorney, he or she should be monitoring the filed claims. However, in certain cases you want to make sure that a claim has been made on time. For example, if you owe back taxes those must be repaid over the course of your Chapter 13 repayment plan. But if a claim isn’t made, the trustee won’t make any payments. This can end up derailing your bankruptcy. The same is true if you owe arrears on your home mortgage. Also, in some cases a Chapter 13 filer may be required to pay 100% of all timely filed claims. If an unsecured credit files a late claim, your attorney will likely want to file a motion to disallow the claim to avoid you having to pay more than you should.

If you have questions about the bankruptcy process, we hope you’ll give us a call or come in for a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Colorado bankruptcy attorney. You can schedule an appointment by calling 303.331.3403 or by using our online scheduling system.

We are Denver, Colorado bankruptcy attorneys. We help people who have been blindsided by life's unexpected events find their way to financial recovery.
3773 Cherry Creek Drive North, Suite 575
Denver, CO
80209
US
Phone: 303.331.3403
Fax: 303.261.8290

Do I Have To List Gifts I Got From Other People When I File Bankruptcy?

Written by Peter Mullison, Colorado Bankruptcy Attorney

Do I Have To List Gifts From Others

After we meet with someone for an initial consultation, we give them a worksheet that asks them to list all of their assets, income, debts, and expenses. Although the worksheet doesn’t get submitted to the bankruptcy court, it  is the foundation of the bankruptcy petition. We emphasize that the need to answer all of the questions and disclose everything we ask for.

Understandably, people get concerned that something they disclose can get them in trouble with the court or their creditors. Our job is to make sure our clients get through the bankruptcy process as easily as possible. We can only help if we understand their financial situation completely. Once we know everything we can determine if the client should anticipate anything out of the ordinary. Most times there isn’t.

Even after these assurances, some clients try to avoid disclosing some information. One of the more common ways they do this is by arguing that a personal belonging isn’t really theirs, because it was a gift. Even gifts to you from another person have to be disclosed. At the time the gift was made the other person transferred their right to the gift to you. You are now the owner of the gift, and we have to disclose any personal belonging that you have an ownership interest in.

Keep in mind that most people who file bankruptcy are able to keep all of their personal belongings. Our job is to help you through the process and ensuring that you keep those items. If you own any items that are not protected under bankruptcy law, we will talk about what options you have.

If you have questions about navigating the bankruptcy process and whether it might be a good option for you, we hope you’ll come in for a free consultation with an experienced Colorado bankruptcy lawyer. You can make an appointment by calling 303.331.3403 or by using our online scheduling system.

We are Denver, Colorado bankruptcy lawyers. We help people who have been blindsided by life's unexpected events find their way to financial recovery.
3773 Cherry Creek Drive North, Suite 575
Denver, CO
80209
US
Phone: 303.331.3403
Fax: 303.261.8290

Can I Reopen My Bankruptcy Case After It Has Been Closed?

Written by Peter Mullison, Colorado Bankruptcy Attorney

Can I Reopen My Bankruptcy CaseFrom time to time we get calls from people who have already filed a bankruptcy case, usually a Chapter 7 case, that the bankruptcy court has closed.

For one reason or another, they want to know if the case can be reopened. Sometimes it’s because they have forgotten to file the certificate of completion for their required financial management class. Other times it’s because they didn’t realize that a creditor had placed a judgment lien against their home. Usually they are in the process of selling or refinancing their home and the title company discovers the lien. They want to know if they can reopen their case and get rid of the lien.

Fortunately, section 350(b) of the Bankruptcy Code allows the court to reopen a case to ” to administer assets, to accord relief to the debtor, or for other cause.” What this means is that, yes, you can ask the court to reopen your case in some instances, including removing a lien that you or your attorney missed during the course of your bankruptcy.

You or your attorney will have to file a motion to ask the court to reopen your case. Assuming the court grants your motion, which it should, you’ll then be able to seek the relief you need, i.e. ask the court to remove the judgment lien.

If you haven’t yet filed your bankruptcy, you should know that a thorough bankruptcy lawyer will do a title search to see if there are any liens against your property and make sure to take care of it while your case is open.

If you have questions about a previous bankruptcy, we hope you’ll contact us to see if we can help. You can call 303.331.3403 to talk to an experienced Colorado bankruptcy attorney.

We are Denver, Colorado bankruptcy attorneys. We help people who have been blindsided by life's events find their way to financial recovery.
3773 Cherry Creek Drive North, Suite 575
Denver, CO
80209
US
Phone: 303.331.3403
Fax: 303.261.8290

Why You Should Hire A Bankruptcy Attorney To Help You With Debt Settlement

Written by Peter Mullison, Colorado Bankruptcy Attorney

Hiring A Bankruptcy Attorney To Help With Debt Settlement

One of the things I like about being a bankruptcy lawyer is helping people avoid bankruptcy. Believe it or not, that’s my primary objective when someone comes in for a consultation. I try to look at their financial situation from every possible perspective to see if there is an alternative to bankruptcy.

One way that I can help someone avoid bankruptcy is when they are dealing with a particularly aggressive creditor with the potential client has tried to settle. The potential client has tried to negotiate a settlement, but the creditor won’t give any ground. If the potential client retains me, I get to work preparing a petition. I go over all of his income, assets, debts, and expenses. Whether the client is eligible for Chapter 7 or has to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, we now have leverage to negotiate settlement. Most times the creditor will receive much less if my client files bankruptcy than if it agrees to settlement terms.

Even if the settlement offer is the same as before the client came to me, my position as a bankruptcy lawyer adds weight to the negotiations.If the creditor asks for it, I can provide a draft of the bankruptcy petition the client intends to file if settlement talks fail.

Of course, my client also needs to understand the potential tax consequences of debt settlement. That’s a factor he’ll have to weigh in making the decision to settle the debt or filing bankruptcy. Bankruptcy eliminates the tax consequences of debt forgiveness.

If you need help settling your debts, we hope you’ll come in for a free consultation with an experienced Colorado bankruptcy attorney to see how we can help. You can schedule an appointment by calling 303.331.3403 or by using our online scheduling system.

We are Denver, Colorado bankruptcy attorneys. We help people who have been blindsided by life's events find their way to financial recovery.
3773 Cherry Creek Drive North, Suite 575
Denver, CO
80209
US
Phone: 303.331.3403
Fax: 303.261.8290

What Are The Most Common Debts You Can Eliminate By Filing Bankruptcy?

Written by Peter Mullison, Colorado Bankruptcy Attorney

What Are The Most Common Debts You Can Eliminate By Filing Bankruptcy

It occurred to me the other day that in my consultations and writing I focus a lot on what bankruptcy cannot do or what debts bankruptcy cannot eliminate. I suppose I do that mainly because of all the misinformation about bankruptcy. As a result, I tend to give less attention to the kinds of debt that bankruptcy can eliminate. But I am surprised to sometimes hear that people have gotten the wrong information about whether certain common debts can be discharged.

For the most part, bankruptcy can get rid of typical consumer debt. That includes credit cards, car loans, mortgages, home equity loans, payday loans, and even lending club loans. Bankruptcy will also eliminate medical bills from hospitals, doctors, and emergency service providers. Bankruptcy can get rid of amounts due after breaking a lease and for unpaid utility bills, including cell phone contracts. Debts that have arisen from running a business, such as franchise contracts, business leases, and other business-related contracts can also be eliminated.

Of course, this isn’t a complete list of debts that bankruptcy will get rid of, but you get the idea. More types of debts than not can be eliminated and most people can take care of 100% of their debts in bankruptcy, whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

If you have any questions about whether you can eliminate your debts and get a fresh financial start by filing bankruptcy, we hope you’ll come in for a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Colorado bankruptcy lawyer. You can schedule your appointment by calling 303.331.3403 or by using our online scheduling system.

We are Denver, Colorado bankruptcy attorneys. We help people who have been blindsided by life's unexpected events find their way to financial recovery.
3773 Cherry Creek Drive North, Suite 575
Denver, CO
80209
US
Phone: 303.331.3403
Fax: 303.261.8290

 

Should I File Chapter 7 Or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy To Keep My House?

Written by Peter Mullison, Colorado Bankruptcy Attorney

Should I File Chapter 7 Or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy To Keep My Home

The biggest concern that people who own or are buying their home have when they come in to see me for a consultation is whether or not they’ll be able to keep their home. The good news is that bankruptcy offers options that typically allow someone to keep their home, either in Chapter 13 or Chapter 7. When someone asks me if they can file bankruptcy and keep their home, I usually ask them why they are asking. I need to know if they have fallen behind on their mortgage payments. Being current or behind behind with payments can make a big difference in whether or not someone files Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

As long as someone qualifies for Chapter 7 bankruptcy (meaning their household income is within the Chapter 7 limits) and is current on their mortgage payments, he or she can probably file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. One other question I’ll ask is how much equity there is in the home. If there is excessive equity (meaning that the home’s value is more than what is owed), then Chapter 13 bankruptcy or not filing bankruptcy at all may be the better options.

If someone has fallen significantly behind on their mortgage payments (more than three months), Chapter 13 bankruptcy is probably a better option than Chapter 7. Chapter 13 allows someone to get caught up on their mortgage over the course of three to five years. Chapter 7 doesn’t have that mechanism.

The bottom line is that wanting to keep your home doesn’t mean you have to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you’re current on your mortgage and have less than $60,000 in equity ($90,000 if you or a family member is disabled or over 60) and are within the Chapter 7 income limits, Chapter 7 is probably a viable option. Being able to file Chapter 7 means that you’ll be through the bankruptcy process much sooner (four months versus three to five years) and won’t have to repay any of your unsecured creditors.

Of course there are several other factors that can determine whether someone should file one chapter of bankruptcy as opposed to another. Owning a home is just one of them. The best way to decide is by talking with someone who has extensive experience helping people through the bankruptcy process.

If you have questions about how bankruptcy can help you keep your home, we hope you’ll come in for a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Colorado bankruptcy lawyer. You can schedule an appointment by calling 303.331.3403 or by using our online scheduling system.

We are Denver, Colorado bankruptcy lawyers. We help people who have been blindsided by life's unexpected events find their way to financial recovery.
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO
80209
Phone: 303.331.3403
Fax: 303.261.8290

How To Avoid Medical Bankruptcy: Apply For Financial Assitance

Written by Peter Mullison, Colorado Bankruptcy Attorney

How To Avoid Medical Bankruptcy

You May Be Able To Avoid Medical Bankruptcy By Applying For Financial Assistance

Earlier this year I was visited by an older woman who needed some help with medical bills that she couldn’t manage. She had suffered a heart attack and had to visit the emergency room and stay in the hospital for a few days. Shortly after she left she got a bill in the mail for $65,000. She came to me wanting to know if I could help; however, she didn’t want to file bankruptcy. She wanted to know if I could help her settle the debt. After I explained to her that I couldn’t guarantee that the hospital would negotiate with me, I agreed to try and help her.

Since her account had already moved to a collection agency, I sent them a letter explaining her financial situation and that, while she was contemplating bankruptcy, she would prefer to avoid it by settling for a lower amount that she thought she could manage. I followed up with a phone call about a week later. When I talked to the collection agency, they explained to me that before the hospital could agree to settle for a lower amount, my client would have to apply for financial assistance. What that entails is filling out an application explaining why you believe you qualify for a reduction in the amount you owe. It also involves providing certain financial information. In this case it involved providing tax returns, bank statements, and documents to show how much she was making as a self-employed person.

The hospital sent followup letters asking for clarification as well as a phone interview between my client and the hospital. Finally, about about two and a half months, we got a response. The hospital agreed to forgive the entire amount of my client’s debt! As you can imagine, she was thrilled. And I was pleased to be able to help someone with such a huge financial burden without resorting to bankruptcy.

In the future, I’ll use this tool as much as possible to help clients avoid bankruptcy. I imagine that part of what helped her case was how recent her treatment had been. She came to me within a few weeks of getting the bill. It’s hard to say if it would have been possible to settle the debt after it had been sold to multiple collection agencies. Of course, this bill was also from the hospital. Private doctors likely will not have a debt forgiveness program.

If you have questions about how applying for financial aid to reduce your medical bills, or whether bankruptcy may be a good option, we hope you’ll come in for a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Colorado bankruptcy lawyer. You can schedule an appointment by calling 303.331.3403 or by using our online scheduling system.

We are Denver, Colorado bankruptcy attorneys. We help people who have been blindsided by life's unexpected events find their way to a financial fresh start.
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO
80209
US
Phone: 303.331.3403
Fax: 303.261.8290

How Soon Will I Qualify For A Home Loan After Bankruptcy?

Written by Peter Mullison, Colorado Bankruptcy Attorney

How Long Before I Can Buy A House After Bankruptcy

Of all the questions I get asked during consultations with potential clients, “When will I be able to buy a house?” has to be in the top five. They are concerned about how bankruptcy will affect their financial future and how long they’ll have to wait before they’ll be approved for a mortgage. Unfortunately, there is no fixed answer for everyone. But for most people, it’s sooner than you think.

First, it depends on whether someone files Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Second, it depends on what kind of mortgage they apply for. There are conventional mortgages, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgages, and Veterans Administration (VA) mortgages.

It’s generally accepted that someone who has filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can expect to qualify for a convention mortgage four years after getting their discharge (which happens about four months after their petition is filed). A Chapter 7 filer can likely qualify for an FHA loan within one to two years from their discharge, assuming they otherwise qualify for an FHA loan. Finally, a Chapter 7 filer can expect to to qualify for a VA loan within two years from their discharge.

Qualifying for a mortgage after a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can take longer, since the court won’t issue a discharge order in a Chapter 13 until between three and five years after a Chapter 13 case is filed. A Chapter 13 filer can expect to qualify for a conventional mortgage between two and four years after getting their discharge. They can expect to qualify for a FHA mortgage after they have made 12 months of payments to their Chapter 13 trustee with no late payments. The same timeframe applies to VA loans.

Of course, whether someone qualifies for a mortgage depends on other factors besides when they filed bankruptcy. The lender will also look at their income and debts. The above are simply guidelines. Your ability to get a mortgage after bankruptcy will depend on your personal financial situation.

If you have questions about how bankruptcy can affect your financial future, we hope you’ll come in for a free, no-obligation consultation for a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Colorado bankruptcy lawyer. You can schedule an appointment by calling 303.331.3403 or by using our online scheduling system.

We are Denver, Colorado bankruptcy attorneys. We help people who have been blindsided by life's unexpected events find their way to financial recovery.
3773 Cherry Creek Drive North, Suite 575
Denver, CO
80209
US
Phone: 303.331.3403
Fax: 303.261.8290

How Veterans Can Avoid The Bankruptcy Means Test

Written by Peter Mullison, Colorado Bankruptcy Attorney

Veterans And The Bankruptcy Means TestAs a navy veteran, veteran issues are near to my heart. It seems that more and more I am meeting with people who have been recently separated from the military for disability reasons. While most of these individuals are receiving veteran disability benefits which place their income well within the median income for their household size (and consequently make them eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy), from time to time, I meet with people whose income places them above the median levels set by the United States Census Bureau.

Because of their disabled veteran status, they may still be entitled to relief under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. If a veteran is a disabled and his or her debts occurred primarily during a period of active duty or while performing “homeland defense activity”, he or she does not have to complete the Bankruptcy Form B22 means test.

While this is arguably a limited exception to the means test for which few will qualify, it emphasizes the importance of making sure you find a bankruptcy lawyer who will thoroughly examine your financial situation and make sure that, if bankruptcy is your best option, you make it through the process safely and take full advantage of its power to give you a fresh financial start.

If you have questions about how to manage debts that you acquired while you served in the military, we hope you’ll come in for a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Colorado bankruptcy lawyer. You can schedule an appointment by calling 303.331.3403 or by using our online scheduling system.

We are Denver, Colorado bankruptcy attorneys. We help people who have been blindsided by life's unexpected events find their way back to financial recovery.
3773 Cherry Creek Drive North, Suite 575
Denver, CO
80209
US
Phone: 303.331.3403
Fax: 303.261.8290

Credit Repair AgenciesIf you’re like most people who come into our office for a consultation, you consider bankruptcy to be an option of last resort. Like you, these people have tried other approaches to getting their debt under control or improving their credit rating.

If you are trying to improve your credit score, you may have come across agencies that promise to “repair” your credit score. Before you pay someone, do your homework. You should also know about the Colorado Credit Services Organization Act which regulates these credit repair agencies.

The Act provides that:

Before you sign a credit repair agreement, the credit repair company must disclose to you in writing:

  • How you can correct your credit report yourself under Colorado and federal law;
  • Your right to cancel the agreement for any reason within five working days (a detachable cancellation form must be included);
  • The total fee, conditions of payments, and a full and detailed description of the services to be performed; and
  • A copy of your credit report, with the incorrect information indicated.
    Note: The Federal Telemarketing Rule prohibits credit repair companies from collecting any advance fees other than those connected with the cost of obtaining credit reports.

Consumers should beware of the following credit repair practices:

  • Promises to remove any negative information or bankruptcies from your credit report. This will occur only through the passage of time. Credit repair companies may be able to temporarily delete information, but once it is re-verified, it may again appear on your credit report.
  • Requests for advance payment for services, including by post-dated checks. This is illegal under federal law and it is difficult to recover any money paid in advance.
  • Promises to improve your credit standing by showing you how to obtain and use a tax identification number or a false social security number in place of your actual social security number. This may be illegal.

Some other reminders:

  • You can correct any error in your credit report yourself, without paying a fee, by contacting the credit bureaus directly.
  • Do not pay advance fees to a credit repair company.
  • Do not contract with or send money to an out of state credit repair company. Because it is difficult to enforce Colorado law against out of state companies, it may be impossible to recover your money if problems arise.
  • If you decide to use a credit repair company, keep a record of all payments you make by keeping the canceled checks, or getting receipts for payments by cash or money order.

If you have questions about what the benefits of bankruptcy are over other types of debt management approaches, we hope you’ll come in for a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Colorado bankruptcy lawyer. You can schedule an appointment by calling 303.331.3403 or by using our online scheduling system.

We are Denver, Colorado bankruptcy lawyers. We help people who have been blindsided by life's unexpected events find their way to financial recovery.
3773 Cherry Creek Drive North, Suite 575
Denver, CO
80209
US
Phone: 303.331.3403
Fax: 303.261.8290