Barbara Horwitz's Blog Posts

My Credit Report lists debts that aren’t mine! What do I do now?

I’m impressed by how many people actually get copies of their credit reports every so often to check on the debts that are recorded on them.  There are three many credit reporting agencies:  Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.  If you have a long-term debt with a creditor that remains unpaid, that creditor will likely report it to at least one of these reporting agencies.  If someone should request your credit report, it will show:

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Should you get a new car with a Subprime Auto Loan? And what exactly is a Subprime Auto Loan? (Part 2 of 2)

This blogpost is Part 2 of 2 of our series addressing Subprime Auto Loans.

You are probably aware that if you can’t make your car payments, the lender can repossess the car.  It is then taken to auction, and sold for the best bid.  The sale of the car doesn’t get you off the hook with the lender, unless somehow the sale price equals what you owe on the loan, and most times it’s not even close.  The lender can still hold you responsible for the deficiency between what you owed on the car and what it sold for, plus the costs of picking the car up and the sale itself.  Once that sale is completed, the deficiency balance will be reported to the credit reporting agencies, and it will show up should you try to finance another vehicle.  So your effort to provide yourself with a new vehicle using a subprime loan might end up with you owing on that car and still having no vehicle in your possession.

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Should you get a new car with a Subprime Auto Loan? And what exactly is a Subprime Auto Loan? (Part 1 of 2)

Do you remember just a few years ago, when people with very questionable credit were able to get home loans with zero down payment?   Many of those people were unable to make their monthly mortgage payments, and the houses ended up going into foreclosure.  It ended in a national mortgage crisis.  We’re still seeing the results of that crisis.  In many neighborhoods, especially in the inner-cities, there are several abandoned houses that are lowering the sales prices for the remaining owner-occupied houses.  That crisis also led to the downfall of many lending institutions, who were no longer getting a return on the investment they had made when making these loans.  And it’s led to a large percentage of these houses that are resold going to investors who rent them or attempt to “flip” them rather than to owners who are looking to put down roots and live the American dream.

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What are the Advantages to Working with a Bankruptcy Attorney rather than a Paralegal?

I have been a bankruptcy attorney since 1994. It has always been my practice to interview my clients myself, talk with them directly to get the information I need, and explain what documents I need. I prepare the necessary schedules and other pleadings based upon my notes and the documents they provide me. Once the paperwork is completed to my satisfaction, I meet with my clients to review it, make any changes necessary, and sign it. If any issues come up, I am in personal contact with my clients to do whatever necessary to resolve these concerns. I meet with the clients before the meeting with the Trustee (the “341” meeting), and again if a hearing is set before the judge. I have never used the services of a paralegal/legal assistant to take on any of these tasks.

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Can a Bankruptcy Help Me if I have Student Loans? (Part 2)

The following is Part 2 of 2 of our series addressing the impact of bankruptcy on student loans.

If you file under Chapter 7, you can get rid of debts such as credit card balances,  medical bills, and unsecured loans that will free up money so that it is easier for you to make your student loan repayments once you receive your discharge.

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Can a Bankruptcy Help Me if I have Student Loans? (Part 1)

The following is Part 1 of our Two-Part series addressing the impact of bankruptcy on studen loans.

If you’ve spent any time looking up bankruptcy information on the internet, you’re aware that student loans generally are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.  The reason that student loans get special treatment in bankruptcy law arose from news stories in the 1970s reporting that supposedly a flood of students who had just earned their degrees would be filing bankruptcies to discharge their student loans before they started earning “real” money.  From what I know, I don’t think that every really occurred, at least not to the extent that was publicized.

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Can the Bankruptcy Trustee take my stuff, and what does he do with it? (Part 2)

The following is Part 2 of 2 of our Blogpost addressing the common question clients have regarding what types of property a Bankruptcy Trustee may seize pursuant to the filing of a petition in bankruptcy.

You may have questions as to whether the balance of your 401k or your IRA are available to the trustee.  Luckily, they are protected, up to the full amount you have in there, so long as you leave them alone and intact.  In like fashion, if you receive social security, that cannot be reached by the trustee so long as it’s origin can be clearly traced as originating under the Social Security Act.  (Thus, social security payments directly deposited in a bank account, as is usually the case now, is exempt.)

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Can the Bankruptcy Trustee take my stuff, and what does he do with it? (Part 1)

One of the top concerns people have when deciding whether to file a bankruptcy is whether the trustee will make them turn over any of their possessions.  This is the very first thing I discuss with prospective clients.  When you file a bankruptcy, technically all your assets (money, rights to money, real estate, personal items) are under the control of the trustee/bankruptcy court, although they remain in your possession.  Even so, with an understanding of the exemption laws, we can go into the bankruptcy knowing that certain items are protected against the trustee taking any interest in them, as generally they are either not of sufficient value or have liens against them (such as a car loan).

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What Happens in the Meeting with the Bankruptcy Trustee? (Part 2)

When your case is called, the Trustee will check your photo ID and social security documentation, and then put you under oath.  He will then ask you several questions, many of which are rather routinely asked of all debtors.  I advise my clients to get to the meeting room early enough so that they can watch a few meetings before their case is called, because generally the questions will be the similar in each case.  That way, the clients can give some thought to what their answer will be before they’re actually at the table answering.

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What Happens in the Meeting with the Bankruptcy Trustee? (Part 1)

When you file a bankruptcy under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you are required to attend a meeting with the Trustee assigned to your case.  Most people are at least a little nervous about the meeting, and many people actually dread it.  While I can agree that the meeting is not going to be the most enjoyable event of your life, it’s certainly, by far, not going to be the worse.  [Or, as I often tell my clients, if it is the worst event of your life, I want to change places across the desk with you.]  It is not an interrogation under bright lights.  The Trustee will treat you with respect, and has no reason to “put you down” for being in this financial position (unless you show a very bad attitude!).  If you’re expecting to be punished or reprimanded, you’re going to be disappointed!

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