Category Archives: Bankruptcy Information

So Tell Me About Mortgage Modification and Bankruptcy…

Mortgage Modification and Bankruptcy

Borrowers who fall behind on their mortgage payments can now talk to a Pittsburgh bankruptcy lawyer about their situations.  When a lender initiates a foreclosure action or requests a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, borrowers are wise to review their options with an experienced Pittsburgh bankruptcy attorney.

Mortgage companies typically offer loss mitigation or modification opportunities.  Qualifying borrowers may see their interest rates lowered, principal balances reduced or mortgage term extended so that the monthly payments become more manageable.  In some instances, mortgagees may recapitalize mortgage arrearage so that a borrower can pay them over time.  Mortgage modification applications are highly detailed and lenders typically will not render any decision without a package that is 100% complete with current versions of all documents requested.  Many borrowers find the application process confusing.  While borrowers often attempt to modify their mortgage without the assistance of a lawyer, an attorney who practices in the area will typically have experience that a borrower does not.

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania also sponsors a loss mitigation program.  That particular program has been very successful and is well-moderated by a skilled and caring judiciary.

Looking for a way to save your property from foreclosurechapter 13 bankruptcy may be the answer.  Unlike debtors in chapter 7 bankruptcy, debtors in cases under chapter 13 with a regular source of income to repay their creditors some or all of what they are owed over a period of three to five years.  For debtors who have acceptable mortgage terms but who have fallen behind on their payments and need time and space to become current, a chapter 13 case can help.  When a debtor needs both time and better mortgage terms, a chapter 13 case coupled with participation in a loss mitigation program may be a debtor’s best opportunity to save their home and get a fresh start.

Do not wait until it is too late to save your home.  Call a Pittsburgh bankruptcy lawyer skilled in in court and out of court loss mitigation and mortgage modification matters today.

 (412) 925-8194

© 2014 Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Lawyers

Bankruptcy Attorney

bankruptcy attorneyBankruptcy Attorney Information

Know What Questions to Ask Your Bankruptcy Attorney

If you are examining your bankruptcy options online, there are a few important questions you should ask your bankruptcy attorney first.

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of a free initial consultation that is really free.  Do not be afraid to ask whether there are hidden fees associated with the consultation or whether you will be billed for it later if you choose to hire the attorney with whom you have the “free” initial consultation.  Also ask whether there are time limits to a consultation.  Some attorneys will limit their consultations to 15 or 30 minutes.  In most cases, a good rule of thumb is that an initial consultation will require approximately one hour.  Also, make sure that a “free initial consultation” does not require you to use that bankruptcy attorney’s services.  Does your bankruptcy attorney have the ability to perform workouts, negotiations, debt settlements and litigation?  If your bankruptcy attorney only has one tool in his toolbox, that is the one he is likely to use even if you might be better served with some other strategy.

There are restrictions regarding who may be a debtor under each chapter of the United States Bankruptcy Code.  A debtor under chapter 7 must undergo the “means test” to determine whether the presumption of abuse would apply to a chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.  For instance, only a debtor with a regular source of income may be a debtor under chapter 13.  Beyond that, there are restrictions on how much debt a debtor may have (both secured and unsecured debt) and still qualify for relief under chapter 13.  A debtor who exceeds the income thresholds for chapter 7 and exceeds the debt limits for chapter 13, may be required to file a case under chapter 11 (a section of the Bankruptcy Code generally reserved for business debtors).  Moreover, if you have filed previous bankruptcy cases, that could also affect your eligibility to file a case or receive a discharge under certain chapters of the United States Bankruptcy Code.

  • Does your bankruptcy attorney have experience with cases like yours?

There is no substitute for experience.  Make sure your bankruptcy attorney has represented similarly situated clients.  Do not be afraid to ask simple and complex questions regarding how a bankruptcy case works and what you should expect from the process.  Gauge how your attorney responds to those questions.  An experienced bankruptcy attorney can provide you with timely and complete answers to your questions.

The disciplinary board publishes records of attorney discipline online.  Alternatively, you can ask your bankruptcy attorney directly whether he or she has been subject to any disciplinary proceedings.  Furthermore, in Pennsylvania, your bankruptcy attorney is required to tell you whether he or she maintains professional liability insurance.

  • Does your bankruptcy attorney have experience in representing debtors in foreclosure situations?

Your bankruptcy attorney should have experience with foreclosure cases if your situation involves a foreclosure.  The deadlines and timeframes involved in the foreclosure process may require your bankruptcy attorney to file certain documents in state court before or after the filing of a bankruptcy case.  In fact, it may be the case that it is more sensible to defend the foreclosure case than to file a bankruptcy case.  Your bankruptcy attorney should also be able to explain the details of the bankruptcy court’s loss mitigation program if one is available in your jurisdiction.

Generally, a judgment acts as a lien on all real property of the judgment debtor in the county in which the judgment is entered.  If a non-consensual judgment lien exists impairs your homestead exemption, you may be able to have it judicially removed through the bankruptcy process.  This does not happen automatically.  If you have a judgment entered against you and you own real property, talk to your bankruptcy attorney about stripping that judgment lien.

  • Has your bankruptcy attorney challenged the secured status of creditors who claim to be owed more than the value of their collateral?

Certain secured creditors whose interests are undersecured (that is, creditors whose collateral is worth less than the debtor owes them on the secured indebtedness) may have their claims bifurcated into secured and unsecured components.  As with liens that impair an exemption, this process does not happen automatically.  If you believe you have an encumbered asset on which you owe more than the value of the asset, talk to your bankruptcy attorney about a determination of secured status.

You are not the first person to have faced insolvency and many experienced bankruptcy attorney have online reviews.  Those reviews can be very helpful in determining whether your bankruptcy lawyer is a good fit for you.

If you are considering your bankruptcy options, don’t wait.  Take the opportunity for a free initial consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney today.

Robleto Law, PLLC – (412) 925-8194

We are a debt relief agency.  We help people file for relief under the United States Bankruptcy Code.

Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Attorney

Credit Card Debt in Bankruptcy

How Credit Card Debt is Addressed in a Personal Bankruptcy Case

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How credit card debt is handled in a bankruptcy case depends upon numerous factors.  First, the kind of bankruptcy case plays a large part in determining how credit card debt will be treated in bankruptcy.  Generally, individual consumers file bankruptcy petitions under chapter 7 or chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.  Second, whether a debtor has non-exempt assets available for distribution to creditors may also play a part in determining whether the holders of credit card claims are paid anything.  Third, the type of charges made to the card and the timing of those charges can affect whether credit card debt is dischargeable.

Credit Card Debt in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a form of liquidation.  In the case of a business, liquidation would mean that the debtor’s assets would be sold and distributed to its creditors.  The same is true of consumer debtors except that consumers can apply exemptions to protect certain of their property from the reach of their creditors.  Depending on the exemption law applicable to a debtor (which varies from state to state), a debtor may be able to elect from the exemption scheme set forth in the Bankruptcy Code or to use state exemptions.  While most facets of bankruptcy law are controlled by Federal law, Congress left it to the states to determine whether debtors could choose between state and Federal exemptions.  Congress also gave states the power to compel debtors to accept either the state or Federal exemption scheme, leaving them without a choice.  In any event, all states allow debtors to exempt some of their property and, for many debtors, there is no non-exempt property available for distribution to unsecured creditors.  When this happens, credit card companies are not paid any distribution.

Credit Card Debt in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Case

A debtor in a chapter 13 bankruptcy case attempts to repay its creditors some or all of what they are owed over a period of 3 to 5 years.  Generally, debtors pay their mortgage and car payments and certain other obligations through a chapter 13 plan.  Debtors report their monthly expenses and pay their disposable income into their chapter 13 plans.  If a debtor’s disposable income is more than enough to pay secured and priority claims, the holders of unsecured claims, including credit card claims, may receive some distribution.  In addition to the requirement that debtors pay their disposable income into their chapter 13 plans, such debtors must also satisfy the liquidation analysis test.  Said differently, a debtor must demonstrate that, after application of exemptions and giving affect to certain costs, that creditors would fare better under its chapter 13 plan than if the debtor’s property were liquidated in a case under chapter 7.  Often, that means increased plan contributions which could result in a distribution to the holders of credit card claims.

Certain Types of Credit Card Charges Give Rise to Dischargeability Issues

Bankruptcy lawyers are prohibited from advising their clients to incur credit card debt in advance of filing a bankruptcy case.  Additionally, charges for luxury goods incurred within the 90-day period preceding the filing of the bankruptcy case are presumptively non-dischargeable if they exceed $650 to a single creditor.  Likewise, cash advances of more than $925 from any creditor within the 70-day period preceding the filing of a bankruptcy case are also presumed non-dischargeable.

To determine whether your credit card debt would be dischargeable in bankruptcy case, contact an experienced bankruptcy lawyer for a free initial consultation.

(412) 925-8194

Finding the Best Bankruptcy Lawyers in Pittsburgh

IMG_0077The Hunt for the Best Bankruptcy Lawyer in Pittsburgh.

Looking for the best bankruptcy lawyer in Pittsburgh to handle your business bankruptcy or personal bankruptcy case?  It’s important for you to understand what you are really looking for in a bankruptcy attorney in order to find the bankruptcy lawyer that best suits your needs.  Certainly you will need an experienced bankruptcy lawyer.  Also, you will want a bankruptcy lawyer that you get along with and trust.

The Importance of Finding the Best Bankruptcy Lawyer for Your Particular Case.

While every bankruptcy case is different, certain issues tend to recur across similar cases.  One of the best qualities a bankruptcy lawyer can have is experience with cases similar to your bankruptcy case.  For instance, a lawyer that can  anticipate the response of creditors to a bankruptcy filing can put you in the best position to prepare for and respond to that reaction.  A lawyer who understands case law developments on the requirements of a good faith bankruptcy filing and the eligibility of a debtor to file a bankruptcy case will be best prepared to respond to the motion of an adverse party to dismiss your bankruptcy case.

The Best Method for Evaluating a Bankruptcy Lawyer is a Free Initial Consultation.

A free consultation with a Pittsburgh bankruptcy lawyer puts you in the best position to understand whether that bankruptcy attorney is a good fit for you and your bankruptcy case.  If your case is complex, you should expect to be spending a significant amount of time with your bankruptcy lawyer–on the telephone, in person, at a meeting of creditors and in bankruptcy court.  For that reason, you are best served by a lawyer with whom you can comfortably interact on a personal level.

A free initial consultation also gives you the opportunity to see a bankruptcy lawyer in action.  You will pose questions to your bankruptcy lawyer and you should be able to gauge that bankruptcy attorney’s poise and competence from your interactions with him–and all without spending a dime or committing to any engagement at all.  If you are not comfortable with a bankruptcy lawyer after a free consultation, you should move on to find a different attorney.  Even the most credentialed bankruptcy attorneys are not right for every client.

Ask About Your Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Attorney’s Experience.

Most Pittsburgh bankruptcy lawyers are glad to talk about their prior experience.  Beware however, that is often a topic upon which lawyers can expound for hours.  Still, it’s worth asking a few question about a Pittsburgh bankruptcy lawyer’s experience.  Find out about a few representative cases.  If you’re interested in seeing a lawyer’s work product in prior cases, they will often be willing to show you that as well in the form of filed documents that are already public record (Pittsburgh bankruptcy lawyers are very sensitive to client confidentiality and will be very reluctant to disclose non-public information regarding their clients).

Call for a free initial consultation with a Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Lawyer today.

(412) 925-8194

Bankruptcy Reaffirmation Agreement

What is a bankruptcy reaffirmation agreement?

Reaffirmation Agreement

A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement between a debtor in a bankruptcy case and a creditor of that debtor. A reaffirmation agreement has the affect of binding the debtor to the reaffirmed obligations even after the entry of a bankruptcy discharge.  The bankruptcy information sheet offers an explanation for a reaffirmation agreement.  If a debtor does not enter into a reaffirmation agreement and the underlying debt is discharged in that debtor’s bankruptcy case, the creditor will have no recourse to the debtor personally if she later defaults on her obligation.  In the case of an automobile, a lender will still have its lien and be entitled to exercise its legal right to repossess the car but it will not have a right to demand further payments from the debtor.

Should I Sign a Reaffirmation Agreement?

Debtors often ask, should I sign a reaffirmation agreement?  The answer is, it depends.

In the case of a vehicle where the debtor is current on payments prior to the filing of a chapter 7 case, it often makes sense to simply retain the vehicle and continue to pay.  In other cases, the secured creditor may offer more favorable terms to entice the debtor into reaffirming the obligation.  A reduction in interest or principal might be sufficient incentive to enter into a reaffirmation agreement.

Will the Bankruptcy Court Approve a Reaffirmation Agreement?

Courts are required to review reaffirmation agreements when the presumption of undue hardship arises.  Despite the presence of the presumption of undue hardship, a bankruptcy court might still enter the reaffirmation order if a debtor can demonstrate good cause to enter the order.  For example, if a debtor has a good deal of equity in the collateral, if friends or family have committed to making contributions to the debtor for the payments, if the creditor has offered more favorable terms or if the remaining payments are few, a court might enter a order approving a reaffirmation agreement notwithstanding the presence of the presumption of undue hardship.

Debtors considering whether to reaffirm an obligation should consider the matter carefully after a thorough discussion of the matter with a Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Lawyer.

(412) 925-8194

We are a debt relief agency.  We help people file for relief under the United States Bankruptcy Code.

Do I need a bankruptcy lawyer?

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Pittsburgh consumers considering bankruptcy often wonder whether they can save money by filing a bankruptcy case without a lawyer.  While people can represent themselves in any legal proceeding, it’s almost always false economy to “save money” by filing your bankruptcy case without an attorney.  If your financial affairs are very simple and you are a detail-oriented person with excellent records, a do-it-yourself kit could work.

 

Even small mistakes can have big consequences in a bankruptcy case.  Fail to take either of the required debt counseling courses within the timeframes required by the United States Bankruptcy Code and your case could be dismissed or you could be denied a bankruptcy discharge.  If you fail to properly notify your creditors of your bankruptcy case, you could find that debts you believed would be discharged, survive your bankruptcy case.  If you’re attempting to save your house from foreclosure or are self employed, the process takes on new layers of complexity such that many practicing bankruptcy lawyers will refer you to another lawyer to handle the matter.

 

If you’re considering filing a bankruptcy case, talk to an experienced Pittsburgh bankruptcy attorney.  With a free consultation and no obligation, there’s no reason not to get professional advice.

 

-Robleto Law, PLLC

(412) 925-8194

239 Fourth Ave. #1619

Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Credit Card Debt and Bankruptcy

 

Pittsburgh bankruptcy attorneys have witnessed shocking stories of credit card debt.  Many people are still paying finance charges on the tacos they bought a decade ago.  Others find themselves struggling to pay the minimum payments on their accounts from month to month and never see their balances decrease.  Often, people with significant credit card debt find it difficult to accomplish important financial goals.  They are unable to adequately prepare for retirement.  Many are never able to purchase their own homes.

 

But there is good news!  Under the United States Bankruptcy Code, most individual consumers can have their credit card debt discharged.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy provides a means through which consumers can fully and fairly report their assets and liabilities, income and expenses, which a bankruptcy trustee will review.  Debtors must also comply with the debtor education requirements and attend a meeting of creditors under section 341 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.

 

In Pittsburgh, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania has adopted local rules and forms.  An experienced Pittsburgh bankruptcy lawyer can guide you through the process.  Reach out to a lawyer today for a free initial consultation.

 

(412) 925-8194

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

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The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy process in Pittsburgh for most individuals is simple.  It begins with a discussion with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer.  After that meeting, you will provide certain documents and information to your lawyer to assist in the drafting of your bankruptcy schedules, statement of financial affairs and related documents.  You must carefully those documents to ensure that they are complete and accurate and, when you are satisfied that they are, you will sign them.  Prior to filing, you must take a brief credit counseling course with an approved provider and obtain a certificate of credit counseling.

 

After your case is filed, you must attend a first meeting of creditors.  At that meeting, a Chapter 7 Trustee will ask you a series of questions regarding your schedules and financial matters.  Additionally, creditors may appear and ask you questions.  In many cases, no creditors appear.  Within 60 days from the first date set for the meeting of creditors, you must take a second, debtor education course.  If no issues arise, that will be your last order of business and you will await your discharge and you will get your fresh start without ever setting foot inside a Bankruptcy Court.