In 2005, Congress passed, and the President signed, extensive changes to federal bankruptcy law, as the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (ABAPCPA@). BAPCPA has presented a multitude of challenges both to bankruptcy lawyers and to consumers in need of a bankruptcy remedy. For most consumers, BAPCPA does not eliminate their bankruptcy remedies – it simply encumbers them with additional administrative hoops through which the consumer must jump before filing a case. Because of my experience in the bankruptcy arena, both under previous versions of federal bankruptcy law AND BAPCPA, she is uniquely positioned to assist consumers successfully obtain their bankruptcy discharges.
Because waiting until the last moment before your house, car or wages go down the tube in a foreclosure, repossession or garnishment is never a good idea, planning ahead under BAPCPA now is critical. Every consumer who files for bankruptcy protection must obtain ‘credit counseling’ PRIOR to filing and file, with their case, a certificate from an approved credit counseling provider confirming that they have done so. Before you can receive a discharge, you must complete POST-filing financial counseling as well. Because the discharge is such a critical component of the bankruptcy process, these are goals, that come with deadlines, that cannot be ignored.
In addition, each consumer seeking a bankruptcy discharge must confirm that he or she has filed all required tax returns, both state and federal, and provide documentary evidence (usually in the form of paystubs) of his or her income for the SIX MONTHS preceding the commencement of the client’s case. Clearly, these requirements will challenge self-employed individuals, who do not receive paystubs, and Ms. Carlson and her staff clearly define for you what documentary evidence must be provided to accomplish the statute’s intent.
Further, the subject of ‘means testing’ has received much discussion. BAPCPA provides that, if a consumer’s income exceeds a certain amount, or his or her expenses – when compared with his or income – suggest that some repayment can be made, a consumer must file a Chapter 13 repayment plan, instead of a Chapter 7 liquidation case. Ms. Carlson believes that, at the end of the day, the means test will not fundamentally alter the bankruptcy relief available to more than 90% of our clients, so you should not allow your concerns about this issue deter you from seeking her advice.
There are many other aspects of filing for bankruptcy that can be explored better in a face-to-face consultation with Ms. Carlson. While BAPCPA requires her, as an attorney, to inform you that you do not need an attorney to seek bankruptcy relief, a full exploration of the requirements you, as a consumer debtor, must meet in order to obtain successfully your bankruptcy discharge will make you the best judge of whether or not you need to retain legal counsel to assist you in the process.
Fees are set by agreement with the client after an initial consultation to assess the legal problem presented and the work it will require to resolve the problem. Attorney fees, court costs and other expenses of representation are explained clearly and incorporated into written agreements with our clients. Fees quoted for debtor bankruptcy work will include the time spent in the initial consultation. While bankruptcy fees are usual flat fees, they reflect the attorney’s hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours the attorney estimates she will spend on that particular client’s unique set of facts and legal issues. Other matters may require an initial consultation fee, of which you will be advised at the time you make your appointment.
Disclaimer: Nothing on this website shall be construed as an offer to provide legal services or as legal advice. Such an offer or advice can occur only through direct contact with one of the firm’s attorneys and confirmed in writing.
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