How to Find Bankruptcy Attorney David Nelson’s Office

David L Nelson
Attorney at Law
24630 Washington Ave 202
Murrieta, CA 92562
951-200-3613 Phone
858-452-4500 Fax

I’ve been a bankruptcy lawyer since 1994 and I love getting you out of debt.

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America’s Funniest Chapter 13 and I Wish It Were On Video!

Chapter 13 Hearing

I was a brand new attorney and following the suggestion of a friend of mine, I attended some chapter 13 bankruptcy hearings in Downtown San Diego. Intent on gaining a greater understanding of the process I made my way to Trustee David Skelton’s offices to watch the hearings for a couple of hours.

The audience was made up of people who had filed bankruptcy, their attorneys, some creditors and attorneys for creditors.  There were probably about 60 to 70 people there that day. I sat about 5 rows back on the right side, aisle seat. Next to me sat a tall man with a congenial smile who was African American and slightly balding.

Typical for the First Half Hour

I sat through at least a half hour or some fairly typical cases. People were paying the arrears on houses or the payments they were behind on their homes, managing car payments and paying off the principal of their credit cards interest free. All the benefits of typical Chapter 13 cases.

Funniest Case I’ve Ever Seen

I can’t remember the debtor’s name anymore, (for the purposes of this story). But he had a gotee and the first thing that struck me was that Trustee Skelton, just said, “Hello, I’m Trustee Skelton, and my attorney will be taking over now,” and he got up and left. Wow, what was happening? Maybe he just had to go relieve himself, I didn’t know, I’d never been to a chapter 13 hearing before.

With this particular debtor, (or person who files a bankruptcy), sitting in font of him, the trustee’s attorney asked a lot of the more usual questions, did the debtor understand the penalty of perjury, did he list everything he owned, did he list all of his debts, did he understand that the penalty for perjury is up to 5 years in prison and or $500,000 in fines, blah blah blah . ..  What?  I had’t heard the Trustee ask those extra perjury questions of anyone else.

Then the attorney moved onto more specific questions such as, how did he choose values for his cars? How did he look up the value of his house?  Whom did he owe the mortgage to?  Had he transferred any money to anyone prior to filing? Had he ever been married to Dagmar Coleridge (name changed)?

Now, the debtor had been sitting there with his chin resting on his thumb and his fingers kind of resting over his chin. He was silent. The room fell silent. During the silence his head dropped slowly until he was looking down at his feet. Then slowly he spoke and said only the word: “No.”

I could not have laughed harder or louder if the man had been Eddie Murphy. All of the audience laughed. After almost falling out of my chair, the tall man next to me said with a big grin, “I’m the other Chapter 13 Trustee and I’d heard this one was going to be good.” And that was my introduction to Trustee Billingslea.

So remember out there, tell the truth, you want your case to be nice and boring.

Why You Should Use Chapter 13 to Consolidate Your Debts When You Have a Higher Income?

What if you make a lot of money but have a lot of debt?

Has a process server shown up at your door yet with a summons and complaint? When you have a higher income, this is a serious problem. If your wages get garnished and you make $9000 per month, then 25% of your check after taxes is a couple of car payments. So now the cars are about to be repossessed. How are you going to get to work? You risk losing that job if you let it move forward.

Have you ever thought that if you could just pay your credit cards what you owe them, you’d be able to handle the payments?  If they just didn’t have 12, 15, or 29% interest rates, you’d be able to eventually pay them off in a reasonable time, right?

Debt Consolidation

For many this would be true. Debt consolidation starts to sound like a great idea at that point. They promise to reduce interest rates for each of your credit cards and accounts, and cut your payments in half and when you get there the numbers just don’t work out.

Once the numbers are all added up, they tell you that you’re going to pay only about 25% to 33% less than you’re currently paying. If honest, they’ll also tell you that some of your creditors won’t play along and will just go ahead and sue you and garnish your wages instead. Some creditors will reduce interest rates to 5% but some will reduce interest rates by 5%.  There’s a huge difference.

Of course if they tell you that, then you won’t sign up and won’t pay them any money and then they won’t make any money on your case.  Clearly that’s why I’m writing this post to you, because I’d prefer you signed up and paid me instead to be perfectly honest.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

So, here’s what I can tell you about a chapter 13: Once the chapter 13 payment plan is approved by the Court which is called a confirmation order, none of your creditors are going to opt out and sue you and garnish your wages instead. They can’t.  Basically, you’ve already sued all of them yourself. It’s a pre-emptive strike sort of like suing all of your creditors as a class action lawsuit before they can sue you individually.  So, no lawsuits against you and no wage garnishments or bank levy.

Truly Reorganize Your Debt With Bankruptcy

Additionally, what I usually find is that if you are paying 100% of your credit cards and medical bills and the like, and you’re paying them at 0% interest for only 5 years, then in most cases you cut your payments in half, give or take a few percent. It’s what the debt consolidators promised to reduce your payments to, but couldn’t. The reason it works out though is that the bankruptcy court forces the creditors to take it.  The other reason it works out is that your attorney and your bankruptcy trustee are charging you far less than the interest you would have to pay if you went to a debt consolidation.  Plus the debt consolidators charge you on top of that.

For example

If you owe $60,000 in credit cards and you pay them the regular monthly payments, by the time you’re done you’ll have paid them something like $194,000. That’s a payment of at least $1800 to 2100/mo depending on how many different accounts, who they are with, varying interest rates and so on. Worse it would take 538 months or 44 years to pay it off. I checked the minimum payments at Bankrate.com.

Debt consolidation on the same debts will probably yield a payment plan of $1400 to $1600/mo for about 5 to 6 years and probably at least one lawsuit.

Your chapter 13 bankruptcy plan would pay back about $70,000.  You do that for 5 years only, and your payment is about $1167.

Call for a Free Consultation 951-200-3613

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8 Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Pitfalls You Can Avoid

Chapter 13 is a Great Tool, Unless . . . 


There are pitfalls to avoid. Getting your case dismissed when you thought it was your last hope to save your house is a disaster.  Yet, it happens much more often than not.

Pitfall 1: Losing Your Job

Such a no-brainer, yet it may sound like something you cannot avoid. However, we all know that sometimes it is.  If you don’t get along with your boss, take a deep breath.  Take an anger management course.  Take a Tylenol. Take a break. Take a nap. Because it could be a case of lose your job, lose your house. If you’re in a chapter 13 bankruptcy to catch up the arrears on your house, then you must keep up your mortgage payments current and you must keep up your plan payments.  Quit paying either one and your chapter 13 will be dismissed.  Once it gets dismissed, and you no longer have bankruptcy protection, you go back into foreclosure.

Pitfall 2: Don’t Get a Divorce

Again, while it may sound like something that probably can’t be avoided, often it can be. Be the best spouse that you can be. Bring flowers. Bring chocolates. Bring movie tickets. Read, How Full Is Your Bucket?  On my wedding day, the officiant gave me 5 little magic words for when you come home and find the baby in the highchair, his food is everywhere, the dishes aren’t done, and the other kids have homework, and you’re just back from work and the 5 little magic words are: “What Can I DO To Help?”

Pitfall 3: Re-evaluate Your House Situation Carefully Before You File

Before you file the case, you should reevaluate the house situation carefully. Chapter 13s are designed to put you on a seriously Draconian budget. So, unless you’re making great money, a budget that is too tight will ruin your marriage or your relationship to your significant other in a big fat hurry.  Don’t lose your spouse over a house.

If you DO qualify for a Chapter 7 but want to file a Chapter 13 to try to save the house, then your budget will be under a huge strain, there won’t be any money for fun, recreation or vacations and I’ve seen that lead to divorces and split ups over and over again and then neither of you will end up with the house.

Pitfall 3: Make Your Chapter 13 Plan Payment On Time Every Time

Get behind, you’re toast.  Nuff said.

Pitfall 4: Get Health Insurance If You Don’t Have It Yet

If you’re not properly insured, with health, life, auto and disability, you’re an accident waiting to happen. If you get sick or injured, you’re outta there.  If you cannot pay the plan, then you will lose that house. 

Pitfall 5: Not Filing a Chapter 13 When You Should

If you make great money, and if you could just get all of your credit cards to agree to zero interest (0%), then you’d be able to pay everyone no problem, then do it.  That’s exactly what a Chapter 13 can do for you.  If you pay the regular payments it will take forever and you’ll pay almost 3 times what you owe before you’re through.  If you go to a Debt Consolidation, they’ll be able to reduce your interest rates, but not to zero percent (0%).  Paying at zero percent interest (0%) for 5 years usually will cut your payments by a little under half.  Take the deal.

Pitfall 6: Including Your Car 

If you can file a Chapter 13 without having to include your car, then avoid putting it in the Chapter 13 payment plan like the plague. If your bankruptcy gets dismissed, you’ll find that you’re now perhaps months or years behind on your payments on your car.  You’ll also find that you’ve got mega late fees now attached to the car note.  Also the repo guys will be on their way soon after your Chapter 13 gets dismissed for non-payment. I had clients who wanted save a house, but to do that they had to lower the car payment by including it in the 13.  I suggested that they move out from the beginning.  When the case finally got dismissed the balance on the car was approximately twice what it was before filing.

Pitfall 7: Technical Tricks and Traps

Most of these are things your attorney is going to have to be familiar with and help you avoid them.  However, my favorite is one that you can help avoid: In the Central District of California, in Riverside, you are required to pay your plan payments directly to the Chapter 13 Trustee at the hearings until the judge approves your payment plan. This approval is called a Confirmation Order. Your Chapter 13 plan payments are due 30 days after your case is filed and then ever month on the anniversary of your filing date. However, your hearing date will be approximately 45 days after you file.  If for some reason your judge continues your confirmation hearing, it will most likely be for another 45 days.  When you show up to that hearing, you must bring two (2) payments with you to the 2nd hearing, not just 1.  Because 45 + 45 = 90, your plan requires that you pay 3 plan payments by that 2nd hearing date, not 2.  If you don’t bring the 3rd with you, your case will be dismissed.

Pitfall 8:  Mal-Adjusting Your Tax Withholdings on Your Pay Checks

Whenever you pay less than 100% of your credit cards and medical bills and so on through your Chapter 13 payment plan, the bankruptcy trustee will want to intercept your tax refunds as you get them from the IRS every year until your case is over. Phew!

Many people try to adjust the withholdings so that they end up zeroing out their tax refunds. However, if you reduce it too much, you end up creating a new creditor for yourself, and it’s the biggest most powerful collection agency in the world, the IRS. But at least it’s not the meanest, that distinction goes to the Franchise Tax Board of the State of California.

What pitfalls did you encounter?  Pin, Tweet, Plus and Share This Article.


Call to set an Appointment, 951-200-3613

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10 Things You Must Know About Chapter 13 If You Do Not Qualify for Chapter 7

So, Attorney Gandalf has told you that “You Shall NOT Pass!”

That’s what Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings told the Demon-Balrog as it attempted to cross a narrow bridge deep in the Mines of Moria. So now you’ve been told by another attorney that you don’t qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You’ve failed the Means Test. Perhaps based on your own research you think your income might be too high. But it’s not like you’re wealthy and or made of money. You’re struggling just like everyone else, just at a higher level of income. At the end of the month, you have the same amount left over as everyone else; nothing.

What now?

Get a 2nd Opinion About the Means Test

I’ve seen cases where a client’s initial consultation with another attorney missed a couple of key items that made all the difference. When you come in for your free consultation, we’ll go over them together. Attorneys are not supermen, we’re fallible.

Okay, I’m not but some are. Some of the lawyers who are newer in the field of bankruptcy might not know all the ins and outs yet. I’ve filed several Chapter 7 cases where the first attorney thought that the clients didn’t pass the Chapter 7 Qualification Test called the Means Test.

Let me have a look at it if you’re in California, maybe I can help you. I’ve been a bankruptcy attorney since 1994 and I’m located in Murrieta conveniently close to Temecula, Riverside, Wildomar, Menifee, Lake Elsinore, Canyon Lake, Santa Ana and San Diego.

Sometimes Your Only Bankruptcy Option is Chapter 13

There are worse things, just ask Gandalf, more importantly ask the Balrog.  But if you have to file a Chapter 13, there are things you must know.  Here are the first 10 that come to mind off the top of my head.
First: It’s not the end of the world.  The sky will not fall. The police will not show up and arrest you (there is no debtor’s prison). Your friends will not laugh at you. In fact more of them have filed or are about to than you might imagine. You won’t walk around with a watermark of a B on your forehead. Frankly, if you make too much money to file a chapter 7 then that’s a good problem to have. You’re going to get to do what you promised to do in the first place; pay your debts.

Second: A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a bankruptcy with a payment plan attached. If you don’t qualify for a chapter 7, your payment plan must be 60 months unless you’re able to pay it off earlier. You might even be able to strip your 2nd mortgage lien off of your house.

Third: If you don’t qualify for a chapter 7, your chapter 13 bankruptcy has a version of the Means Test too and it is used to determine, at least in part, how much of your unsecured non-priority debts you must pay back through your chapter 13 payment plan.

The definition of unsecured is any debt that is not attached to something that can be repossessed if you don’t make the payments. Priority debts, roughly speaking, are debts that either you owe directly to the government or that the government must pay if you don’t. So for instance, credit cards and medical bills are unsecured. So are student loans. Recent taxes are priority debts, which you do owe directly to the government. Child support is a priority debt too because if you don’t pay, then the custodial parent may be forced to go on welfare. But student loans on the other hand are not priority debts because if they were a lot of people would never qualify for Chapter 13. But that’s a whole nuther ball o’ wax!

Fourth: You may not have to pay all your credit cards, medical bills, student loans, old taxes (under the right circumstances and conditions of which there are many) and so on in full. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able pay off lates on your mortgage, back child support and recent taxes in full while paying only what you can afford to on your credit cards, medical bills, student loans, and old taxes.  Of course, you will still owe any unpaid student loans after your chapter 13 payment plan is over.

So, “it puts a book mark in the student loan.”  ~Anna.

Fifth: The other thing that determines how much of your unsecured non-priority debt is how much stuff you own. If you have accumulated a lot of stuff or a lot of unprotected savings, you may have to buy it back again. So, never ever have unprotected savings. Basically if you could protect only $50,000 worth of stuff but you have $75,000 then you must pay at least $25,000 into your chapter 13 bankruptcy. So, whichever requires you to pay more is the one that you go with.

Sixth:  Even if you have to pay everything in full, 100% of the principal on your unsecured non-priority debts, but if you can do it with 0% interest, then you will most likely have a lower payment than if you go to a debt consolidation program outside of a bankruptcy.

Seventh:  If you pay less than 100% of the principal they will take your tax refunds away from you every year you are in your chapter 13 bankruptcy so sometimes it’s better to bite the bullet do a 100% payment plan.

Eighth: If you owe more than $1,149,525 to secured debts such as your houses and cars, you can’t file a chapter 13.  Or if your credit cards and medical bills and other unsecured non-priority debts come to more than $383,175 then you cannot file a chapter 13. In those circumstances your options are consolidate your debts outside of bankruptcy, settle some of the debt and then file the 13 or try a 7 anyway and hope they don’t try to force you into a chapter 11 where you will have to pay more than $20K in attorney’s fees (and that’s just the beginning).

Ninth: If you’ve been behind on your payments to your houses and cars then in some jurisdictions your bankruptcy judge will require that you pay your regular monthly payment on your mortgage to your bankruptcy trustee rather than directly to your mortgage bank.  In the Central District of California in the Riverside Division, there is one judge that does require this.  Called a conduit payment, it helps to insure that you don’t get into any further trouble with your mortgage payments.  However, if you haven’t been behind in your house payments, then you are still allowed to pay directly even in that Judge’s Court.

Tenth:  A Chapter 13 bankruptcy has a qualification test too, it’s called the feasibility test, which means what it basically sounds like.  You have to be able to pay the payment plan.  If you can’t, then they dismiss your case or suggest that you convert to a chapter 7 bankruptcy.  So, if at a later date you lose a job, or your spouse loses their job or that second job, then maybe you can request that the judge assigned to your chapter 13 reduce your plan payment based on the new lower income or even request a conversion to chapter 7.

I’ll be expanding the list, so if there’s something you think should be on the MUST KNOW List, please put it in a comment below.  I look forward to your thoughts.

5 Ways Chapter 13 is Better than Debt Consolidation

First Way

Protection of the Automatic Stay when filing your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is a much better solution than signing up for a traditional debt consolidation. The Automatic Stay is a Temporary Restraining Order prohibiting Collections!  The order comes from a federal court and therefore preempts or supersedes state laws allowing creditors to collect.

A Debt Consolidation program, is a wish and a phone call to beg the creditor not to sue you while you are in repayment.  While most creditors will play along, there are many that will not.

A Debt Consolidation is a mangy dog begging for scraps at the doors of justice.  “Stay Boy! There’s a good doggie!” 

Second Way

When your chapter 13 bankruptcy payment plan is completed in 3 to 5 years, your temporary restraining order is made into a permanent injunction called your Discharge Order. Even better these Court Orders have teeth.  If a creditor violates one of them whether during or after your bankruptcy, you can sue them in the bankruptcy court and they have to pay your attorney to sue them to get them to back off or even pay you back. When you hear the word “stay” think of the word “stop”.  The Automatic Stay stops foreclosures, repossessions, wage garnishments, bank levies, creditor harassment and driver’s license suspensions.  Debt Consolidations do not provide the same protection as that of a Federal Court Order.  Debt Consolidations can possibly help you reduce your interest rates if you beg. 

Third Way

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy forces your creditors to work with you and your attorney whether they like it or not.  While in debt consolidation which is voluntary, some of your creditors aren’t going to work with you.  The debt consolidators pretty much know which ones and under what circumstances they won’t work with you.  The debt consolidators that have been working the deal for a while should already know which ones are not going to play along.  But for some reason, they never tell you:    “Oh and by the by, Equable Ascent Financial (or Asset Acceptance or Your Creditor Here) is not going to take your offer and they’re going to sue you now.  But just keep paying the monthly payment so that I can take my percentage and pay the other creditors slowly but surely while you get sued.  And I also told them that you have a new address, but oh ya, I forgot to tell you that too, even though you didn’t move or anything . . . but just keep paying your monthly payments so that I can get my monthly percentage of your payments, okay, thanks.”  

Fourth Way

The Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan reduces interest rates down ZERO 0% and can reduce principal balances down to as little as ZERO 0% on your credit cards, medical bills, personal loans to private lenders, even older taxes as well.  Debt consolidations outside of bankruptcy can reduce interest rates too, so long as the creditor in question goes along with it.  On rare occasions principal balances might be reduced too for the few creditors who decide to go along with it.

Fifth Way

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can reorganize all of your debts, such as repaying and restructuring your recent back taxes, your missed house payments, and even spread the last 2 or 3 years on your car payments out over 5 years thereby reducing the car payments by half or more. Often even if you repay your credit cards and medical bills in full but cut the interest rate down to 0%, in every case I’ve seen, you will have a lower payment than if you go to a debt consolidator outside of a bankruptcy.

45 Famous Celebrity Bankruptcies

45 Celebrities and Entrepreneurs who Filed Bankruptcy

For many people, filing a Bankruptcy is the last thing they ever wanted to do. In fact, they probably never imagined that they would have ended up needing to file a Bankruptcy.They had always planned to pay their debts. They are the hard working American people.

The Key Word: Need

The key word is “need”. When you have tried everything else and still can’t fix your financial life, a Bankruptcy  is a wonderful relief. Maybe some unexpected life event has taken place such as medical bills, divorce, loss of job or any myriad of circumstances. What if your business partner steals all the money in your business bank accounts and flies off to Tahiti?  What if your album sales slow down and you can no longer afford to pay your tiger handlers and at the same time pay the employees who run the roller coaster and the carousel?  Or if your child support gets raised and you can’t pay your credit cards anymore?

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, and it’s All Small Stuff

If that is the case, that you find yourself needing to file a Bankruptcy, then there is no reason to feel bad for having to file. You will find yourself in good company! Here is a partial list of some of the famous and important members of the history that have had to do just that, file a Bankruptcy. Just seeing Walt Disney on the list, isn’t it a comfort to realize that filing a Bankruptcy didn’t put a stop to everything in his life, on the contrary, what a legacy he left to the whole world!

Historical figures that changed the world such as Walt Disney, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, PT Barnum, Milton Hershey. Celebrities such as Larry King, Anna Nicole Smith, Gary Busey, Kim Bassinger, Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds, Burt Reynolds, Don Johnson. Worldclass Singers such as Michael Jackson, M C Hammer, Dionne Warwick, Wayne Newton, Cyndi Lauper, Tammy Wynette, Willie Nelson, Mick Fleetwood, Wayne Newton, Merle Haggard. Sports figures Mike Tyson, Dorothy Hamill, Tony Gwynn. Presidents of the United States  Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and World renown businessman (who some excepted to run for President) Donald Trump. Trump didn’t personally file, but four of the companies that bear his name filed. He understands business, and he understood it was necessary in order to be able to rebuild.

Of course if we are doing something unreasonable that makes us end up having to file, then we might feel bad that we didn’t change our life style and prevent it in time. An example would be Michael Jackson who filed because it was taking $10 Million dollars a month to run his Neverland Ranch. Is it really necessary to maintain a lifestyle that requires that much money per month? Wouldn’t it be possible to scale back and prevent having to file ahead of time?

But Don’t Do Something Stupid Either!

Wait, if someone was caught lying to the Bankruptcy Court they would feel bad! But really, with the penalties faced for lying to the Bankruptcy Court or for hiding Assets why would anyone do this? Teresa Giudice

(Reality TV Show Real Housewives of New Jersey) and her husband Joe are in plenty of hot water with the Bankruptcy Court, they are accused of hiding major assets and lying on their bankruptcy petition. Of course, at this point, we cannot say that they did lie, only that they’re accused of it.  They are facing more than 50 years in federal prison, and not the club fed version of it where we send regular white collar criminals and politicians.  Additionally they face Millions in fines. They have pleaded not guilty to charges of Fraud. That would be the moment when lying about the lavish lifestyle doesn’t make the fraud worth the time in court, the hassle, or prison.

If convicted you are not able to discharge your debts. This doesn’t mean your case is dismissed, you will still be turning over your property to the Trustee so the stuff you own can be auctioned off. And you can’t discharge your debts in future bankruptcies either. There is a big sign in the hearing room with the reminder that you are under penalty of perjury, you need to be telling the truth, and that the penalty for making a false statement or concealing property is a fine of up to $500,000 or imprisonment for up to five years, or both.
Call for set an appointment for a Free Consultation 951-200-3613

Bankruptcy and Income Taxes and Tax Liens

The California Board of Equalization and California Franchise Tax Board are a bunch of rats clamoring over a cadaver with very little meat left on it’s bones. If you ever make an offer to compromise a debt, never have the money in an account with your name on it. Your attorney’s trust account might be a good place.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this article OR WEBSITE may be mistaken as legal advice. Attorney David Nelson, is licensed only in California, and this article is intended only for readers in California. This article is for entertainment, educational, extra-curricular, and medical purposes only. If you decide to rely on this, heaven help you. Remember also that I’m not a tax attorney, I’m a bankruptcy attorney in Murrieta near Temecula CA.

Chapter 7

Yes, you can discharge taxes in bankruptcy. No, not all of them but some of them. I hate to mention this part, when it comes to credit cards, medical bills and collection agencies, I only want one statement so that I have the addresses, account numbers and balances. But with the IRS, Franchise Tax Board and Board of Equalization, I want you to bring every letter with you that they ever sent you. In those letters are the answers to many of the questions and rules we will go over below. California sales taxes are calculated against gross receipts and therefore discharge in bankruptcy under ALMOST the same rules. For the specifics of the noticing requirements which you must give the California Board of Equalization in an article written Mark Sharf regarding the Ilko case, Ilko v. California Board of Equalization, click HERE.

To discharge income taxes, whether Federal or State, or California Sales Taxes, many rules have to be followed. Because this article only discusses income taxes, then it is important to remember that these are taxes that are assessed against gross income or gross receipts. See 11 USC 507 a 8 and 11 USC 523 a 1

There are several rules involved. What’s worse is that the rules all involve the timing of the bankruptcy. Often you’re in my office because of a lawsuit or a wage garnishment, or your bank account has recently been levied and you want to file immediately in order to stop the bank or your employer from sending your money to the Sheriff’s Office.

Problem is this, if you owe a bunch of money to the IRS and have to wait to file your bankruptcy in order to get rid of the tax, you’re going to have to decide whether the amount of tax to be discharged is more or less important than the amount of money the Sheriff is about to take away from you. Notice that I said more important not bigger.

The Rules

  1. The tax year must be over. Kind of a “No Duh” moment.
  2. The tax return (if required) must have been filed. This is also sort of a “No Duh” moment. Prior to 2005 you used to be able to discharge the tax even you hadn’t filed your return if you chose to file a chapter 13 bankruptcy instead of a 7. Many great things about the bankruptcy code were eviscerated in 2005 when republicans and democrats who had taken hundreds of millions of dollars in lobby money over the course a decade finally gave us bankruptcy reform. Conveniently this happened right at the start of the economic downturn. Literally, the housing market went flat one month before the bankruptcy reforms went into effect. Hmm, I wonder how the banks knew it was finally time to get the bankruptcy reforms passed? Bottom line is, if you owe federal or state income taxes in California and you haven’t filed your returns, your bankruptcy is not going to help you get out of paying your taxes. So file your tax returns, make sure you get proof that they received them, and call back in two years. But what if you were audited, and at the end of the audit, you signed the audit, that is not a substitute for your filing of your return? What if you didn’t file a return and the IRS files one for you? When it comes to filing returns, YOU must be the one who files it, not the IRS, or other taxing authority. If you cannot remember if you filed the returns, contact the IRS and get an IRS Transcript for the tax year or years in question. You can download the Transcript request from the IRS website.
  3. If it turns out that you didn’t file your return, then you will have to decide if you want to file your tax return now and then wait for just over two years to file your case, can you handle the other wage garnishments, bank account levies and lawsuits that will take place during that time. You will have to weigh the amount of tax you can get rid of compared to the amount of wages that will be garnished and what will happen to your bank accounts and having to go to court for judgment debtor exams, and if you don’t go to the judgment debtor exam, the court will issue a bench warrant for your arrest and on and on.
  4. DISCLAIMER: Make sure that you speak with an attorney now and get this advice from an attorney as bona fide legal advice before you make your decision. This article is not your legal advice.
  5. The tax return’s due date must have been more than 3 years prior to the filing date of your bankruptcy petition. Notice it says “Return’s Due Date”. Commonly called the 3 year rule, this is where most people stumble and file their bankruptcy petition too early. Tax Returns are due in April! On top of that, if you got an extension to August, then they were due to be filed in August. What if you extended to October? If you cannot remember if you extended, contact the IRS and get an IRS Transcript for the tax year or years in question. You can download the Transcript request from the IRS website. Alternatively if there is nothing else pressuring you to file you could just wait until October 20th to file. I assume you can get a tax transcript from the Franchise Tax Board or Board of Equalization if you need one. A little while ago, the IRS decided that all extensions were automatically extended to October 15th, I don’t remember which year that started, but from now on, if you think you filed your extension to August, then you must file your bankruptcy in November 3 years later.
  6. If you filed your tax returns late, your returns had to have been filed with the IRS or other taxing agency at least 2 years prior to filing your case. This is true whether you owe income taxes to the IRS or the State of California or whatever state you owe taxes too.
  7. Assuming you have beaten the 3 year rule, and the late filing rule, you still have to have beat this one. The tax must be assessed at least 240 days prior to filing your bankruptcy petition. That’s about 9 months. Assessed means that they have decided you owe, how much and told you so. In California, you get a letter that says: Notice of tax due. It won’t say “assessment” and probably won’t say “assessed” either. California’s notice of tax due is a weird animal, it does not become effective until 60 days after they send it. So, in California, it’s a 300 day rule from the first letter. Our Franchise Tax Board will send a 2nd letter stating that the notice is “final” and from there your 240 days starts. At this point people often ask the IRS, Franchise Tax Board or Board of Equalization if they will take less, give them a break. Called an offer to compromise, if you’re going to file a bankruptcy, DON’T DO IT. An offer to compromise delays the 240 day rule. Sort of like the extensions on filing your tax returns under the 3 year rule. You have to add 60 days to the time that your offer is pending plus the time that your offer is pending to the 240 days. That can extend your 240 days automatically by 60 days even if you withdraw the offer to compromise the tax debt on the same day as you make the offer. If you filed a bankruptcy previously during the 240 day period and it was dismissed and now you have to refile, you must add the amount of time your bankruptcy was pending to the 240 days plus another 90 days. So, even if your previous bankruptcy was dismissed after a month you must add 4 months to the 9 months. That’s an overdue baby.

A client, and no kidding his real name was Groucho Marx, (the names were changed to protect the innocent) owed $50,000 to the Board of Equalization, and $250,000 to the IRS. And no kidding, his rich uncle, (it wasn’t his uncle) died and left him some money, 15% of the total taxes owing. After calling the IRS and talking them into taking a 15% pay off, the IRS put a condition on the deal, he had to get the State of California’s Board of Equalization to take the same deal. Stupid condition but that’s what they told him. So, he calls the BOE and says hey they’ll take 15% if you do, what do you say? Unfortunately, they said, “we’ll get back to you.” A week later they answered by taking all of his money out of his bank account.

Even if since Bush the IRS is kinder and gentler, the Board of Equalization and Franchise Tax Board in California are a bunch of rats clamoring over a cadaver with very little meat left on it’s bones.

“Maybe you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, but you can eat the turnip.”
~David L. Nelson and yes, I just quoted myself.
 

If you ever make an offer to compromise a debt, never have the money in an account with your name on it. Never have it in your wife’s account. Never have it in your S Corp’s or your LLC’s name. In fact, you might want to have it in a hole in your back yard before you make the call.

I had another client who back in 2006 owed every year from 1995 to 2000. Turned out he had filed every year except 1996 which the IRS had filed for him. He was dead certain that he had filed it and was totally surprised when it wasn’t he that had done the filing. Fortunately for him there is a 10 year statute of limitations on the collection of federal income taxes. In his case, because he had been sued, the creditor had a big judgment against him and his wife and was about to garnish both their wages he could not file his return himself and wait out that two years. The amount that would have been garnished would have been greater than the amount of tax he would have discharged by waiting. If you cannot remember if you filed or extended, contact the IRS and get an IRS Transcript for the tax year or years in question. You can download the Transcript request from the IRS website.

Chapter 13

The rules are nearly the same but you get to put the taxes you owe into a payment plan. Plan details can be tricky but you no longer get the good benefits such as discharging taxes without filing the returns and so on like you did before the law change.

Tax Liens and Statute of Limitations

Many of you have asked about Tax Liens. Yes, there is a 10 year statute of limitations on the collection of the tax. Tax Liens are only one method of collection. The question of how long is the tax lien enforceable once recorded is a different question which we will get to in a moment. Have a look at Internal Revenue Code IRC 26 USC 2605.

26 USC 2605(a) Length of period

Where the assessment of any tax imposed by this title has been made within the period of limitation properly applicable thereto, such tax may be collected by levy or by a proceeding in court, but only if the levy is made or the proceeding begun—
(1) within 10 years after the assessment of the tax, or
(2) if—
(A) there is an installment agreement between the taxpayer and the Secretary, prior to the date which is 90 days after the expiration of any period for collection agreed upon in writing by the Secretary and the taxpayer at the time the installment agreement was entered into; or
(B) there is a release of levy under section 6343 after such 10-year period, prior to the expiration of any period for collection agreed upon in writing by the Secretary and the taxpayer before such release.
If a timely proceeding in court for the collection of a tax is commenced, the period during which such tax may be collected by levy shall be extended and shall not expire until the liability for the tax (or a judgment against the taxpayer arising from such liability) is satisfied or becomes unenforceable.

So, the date the statute of limitation starts the assessment date and it runs for 10 years from the assessment. Is that true in every case? Of course not. There a few notable exceptions, all of which only add to the 10 years, none of them subtract from it.

The one that matters the most on my page is the bankruptcy extension of the 10 year period. Extensions of statutes of limitations are calling “tolling” of the statute of limitations. It just means that you did something that made it impossible for the IRS to collect for a certain amount of time therefore you have that amount of time added to the total amount of time that they get to collect. The Statute of limitations is extended.

Filing bankruptcy extends that statute of limitations for the amount of time you are in bankruptcy plus six (6) months. If your chapter 7 bankruptcy lasts 4 months and plus 6 more then they get to collect against you for 11 years for any pre-bankruptcy non-discharged taxes.

In the Severo case, Severo v. IRS (9th Cir. 2009) the Severos owed money for 1990 income taxes. They filed an extension on the filing of the tax returns to October 15th 1991. However, they filed their bankruptcy in Sept of 1994. You can see by reading above that they filed about a month too early to discharge the tax. Oops. They also filed a chapter 11, then about a year later converted it to a chapter 7. Just as an aside, the chapter 11 bankruptcy not only extended the 10 years statute of limitations on the collection of the tax, it also extended the “three year rule” listed above. So, if they wanted to discharge the tax in the chapter 7 they would have had to dismiss the chapter 11 and wait a little while then refile as a 7. Sadly they didn’t do that

Also their chapter 7 case lasted until early 1998 when they got the chapter 7 discharge. So, from Sept of 94 to March 1998 they were in a bankruptcy. That gave the IRS an additional 3 1/2 years to collect. In other words the 10 year statute of limitations grew or expanded to a 13 1/2 year statute of limitations. That’s what tolling does.

Notice that during that 10 years, if the IRS sues you and obtains a judgment then they can enforce the judgment for the amount of time that your state allows them to. In California judgments are good for 10 years and may be renewed for an additional 10 years. So, they could conceivably follow after you for 30 years

Length of Time of the Lien

Internal Revenue Code Section 6321 states that the lien is created when the tax is assessed, the IRS has sent you a notice and you don’t pay it. If the lien is created when you don’t pay or it’s inception is at assessment is at present an unresolved issue. In most cases, it’s probably a non-issue because they’re coming to get you either way. Circle the Wagons!

How long does the lien last? Internal Revenue Code Section 6322 states that the lien will continue until the assessed tax is satisfied or becomes unenforceable by reason of lapse of time. So now you can see why I spent so much time on the Statute of Limitations. When the statute runs, the lien expires.

Here’s an excellent discussion of Tax Liens by Attorney Tony Mankus.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article may be mistaken as legal advice. Attorney David Nelson, is licensed only in California, and this article is intended only for readers in California. This article is for entertainment, educational, extra-curricular, and medical purposes only. If you decide to rely on this, heaven help you.

Bankruptcy Means Test Basics

Bankruptcy Means Test Basics

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Bankruptcy Means Test is the Chapter 7 Qualification Test. However, if you do not qualify for a 7, it is also used to determine the amount of your chapter 13 plan payment. Additionally, it determines the duration of you chapter 13 plan.

If your income is above the median income your chapter 13 payment plan must last for 5 years.  If below then only 3 years.

You can always file a chapter 13 which is often a much better idea than a debt consolidation. A chapter 13 is a type of debt consolidation however, you as the consumer have the upper hand.  You have the power.

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Reaffirmation Agreements

REAFFIRMATION AGREEMENTS

A Reaffirmation Agreement is a new promissory note to keep paying on an old contract for the purchase of goods where the lender can repossess or foreclose the goods.  Because you have signed a security agreement the lender has the right to repossess or foreclose if you do not pay for it.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges your personal obligation to pay the loan, or in other words, you no longer have to legally pay on the note.  However, the lender still has a lien on the object(s) in question. Jewelry, refrigerators or large appliances, and most notably cars can be repossessed in this way.

What a reaffirmation agreement does: It allows you and the lender to agree that you may keep the goods so long as you continue to pay for them.  When executing a reaffirmation agreement with the lender sometimes the lender will reduce the balance owing, the interest rate or both.  As a result the payment and term can be reduced.

Nowadays most lenders will not reduce the interest rates and balances on cars.  Home mortgages never do.  You can often reduce the balance and interest rates on appliances, jewelry, computers and motorcycles.

If you do sign a reaffirmation agreement, you will have 60 days to change your mind and rescind it.  Rescissions must be in writing, served on the creditor and preferably filed with the court.

MORTGAGES

You would never reaffirm a mortgage.  Never.  Seldom but sometimes a mortgage lender will tell a client that the client’s post bankruptcy mortgage account would show up as good credit on their credit report if the client had just done a reaffirmation agreement.  It’s all the bankruptcy attorney’s fault that the client’s credit is not better than it is right now because he didn’t tell the poor client to reaffirm the mortgage.

Most mortgage companies will not do this to you, just a few.  Ones that do are unscrupulous and are aiming to get you to sign your life away.  They want you tied to that mortgage through the reaffirmation agreement come hell or high water.  If they can just do that, then if you foreclose, maybe they can sue you.  If you are in a worse position later, maybe you have to short sell, and when you do, they will ask you to pay them back sometimes, $10,000 to $50,000 in order for them to approve the short sale.

No, we don’t know what will happen, but I have a client right now who is being sued by a lender, his former first mortgage, who asked him to sign just such a promissory note in order to approve his short sale.  Fortunately for him, he did not do a reaffirmation on his mortgage during his bankruptcy.  Therefore, his mortgage company cannot in fact stick him with the debt, but for some reason they think that they can.  Wrong, they cannot.  We will be suing them soon for violating the Bankruptcy Discharge Order.

Because we do not have a crystal ball, and because the length of the term of a mortgage is so long, we NEVER sign a reaffirmation agreement on a mortgage.  This is the industry standard.

CARS AND VEHICLES

Legally, WITHOUT a reaffirmation agreement the lender can repossess your car, even if the car payments are current.  However, at this writing, the only companies who do are Ford Motor Credit & Jaguar Credit & California Coast Credit Union.   I cannot promise that other companies will not change their policies and begin behaving like Ford.

WITH a reaffirmation agreement, as long as the payments are current, then they cannot take the car just as before the bankruptcy.  However, just as before the bankruptcy, if you get behind in payments they will take the car AND sue you for a deficiency balance.

If you get behind, WITH or WITHOUT a reaffirmation agreement, they will definitely repossess the car.  So, the thing to do is to ask yourself, is the economy getting better or worse?  Answer:  Worse, my business is constantly picking up.  Everyone who comes in tells me that the business they work for is dropping off.  Fewer orders, fewer sales, employees are being let go.

So, if you just keep making the payments and don’t worry about it, you have a great probability of nothing changing, and eventually once the vehicle is paid off, they will still have to give you the pink slip.

If you sign and file a reaffirmation agreement, and then change your mind, you have 60 days to do so in writing and it must be in writing, signed and filed with the court.

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Bankruptcy Attorney David Nelson

Temecula Bankruptcy Attorney David NelsonTEMECULA BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY DAVID NELSON

I have been a Bankruptcy Attorney since the very beginning. Having graduated in the top 15% of my class I passed bar the first time and in June of 1994 I opened my law office.  Back then there was a recession and it was just natural to open a bankruptcy practice.  I saw a need and was able to fill it.

I’m an expert in the field of bankruptcy.  Since 1994, I have been passionate about getting my clients out of the troubles they find themselves in.  Certainly many of us might think that if we’d just planned better, we would have been able to avoid the challenges facing the country right now.  While it might be true, it’s probably more accurate to say that there was no way to plan our way out of the whole economy crashing down on us.

I’ve seen first hand the blessing that Bankruptcy can bring to individuals and families.  Think about this for a moment:  What is it that you fight about the most?  Is it too much money, “Dang what are we going to do with all these 20s honey?”  No, it’s the lack of money.

But what if we could cut the arguments in half?  What if we could at least take the arguments from: which debts do we pay this month with the little bit of money we have? and transform those to: how do we set up a savings for the little that we have?  That’s what Bankruptcy can do for you.

If you could start the day knowing that your credit cards, medical bills, repossessed cars, 2nd mortgages, and so on were all going to just disappear, how would you feel the rest of the day?

Wouldn’t you treat your spouse better?  Wouldn’t you be kinder to your children and co-workers?  Wouldn’t you have a better marriage, family, career?

I’ve probably saved more marriages than most marriage counselors over the same time period. You don’t need to know how to talk to each other about money, you must do something about it.

What if you could go back to paying your tithing or your favorite charity again?

Do something about it.  Make the Call Right now to set the Appointment that will change your lives.  Call 800 FILE AWAY or 800 345 3292, call right now.

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Chapter 13 2nd Mortgage Lien Stripping

Chapter 13 2nd Mortgage Lien Stripping

You may be able to strip your 2nd mortgage or home equity line of credit, Heloc, off of your home in a Chapter 13.  Not only can you discharge the loan, or promissory note that you signed when you executed the loan docs, but you may also be able to remove the lien from your home as well.  If the Bankruptcy Judge assigned to your case agrees, then once your chapter 13 case is over, the creditor must release the lien.

You may also be able to remove the 2nd mortgage from a rental property and in addition, you may also be able to reduce the 1st mortgage as well.  Rental property properties have different rules than residences do.  An important distinction, you must remember that if you live in the house, you have fewer options than if you have moved out and rented the place.

IT WORKS PRETTY MUCH LIKE THIS:

A 2nd mortgage, or home equity line of credit, has two things over you:

*****
a) the have the note that you signed promising to pay
b) they have a deed of trust or trust deed on the house which is a lien on the house
*****

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy discharges the Note or the Loan, but you still have the Lien or Trust Deed on your house.  Even after your bankruptcy, your 2nd mortgage lender can foreclose the lien, but in order to do so, it must first pay off the 1st mortgage and any unpaid property taxes.

This is a big difference between the two chapters of  Consumer Bankruptcy.  After a chapter 7 is over and completed, the 2nd mortgage could still foreclose on the house later.  Over time, the value of the property will go up. The house will appreciate.  After it’s value increases to a point where the value of the house is greater than the balance on the first mortgage, the 2nd mortgage would be in a position to foreclose the property.

So, what you do is:

1.  Get an appraisal.  We must be able to credibly state that the value of the home is significantly lower than the balance on the 1st mortgage.   If your value is lower but close, you run the risk of expensive litigation in order to strip your 2nd mortgage or home equity line of credit.  Of course, if the balance on the 2nd is large compared to the cost of the litigation, then it’s worth the effort.  As long as you know that the attorney’s fees could be significant as you’re going into the deal, then it’s fine if you want to spend the money.  Nevertheless, those attorney’s fees would be on a three to five year payment plan so it should be manageable.

2.  If the value of the home is lower than the balance on the first and it is significantly lower, then the mortgage lender on the 2nd mortgage or Heloc, Home Equity Line of Credit, won’t fight it, and you’ll win by default.

3.  If the value of the home is greater than the balance on the first, even just a little bit, then you lose and you’re stuck with the whole 2nd mortgage.   Remember however, there is a difference between your primary residence and your rental properties.  Respecting your primary residence, you can only remove your 2nd mortgage, or not.  Rental properties however, can have 2nd mortgages removed, 1st mortgages reduced, or if the value of the home is above the balance on the 1st mortgage, the 2nd mortgage (or heloc) could be reduced so that the total balances on all mortgages are equal to the value of the property.

Caution

Chapter 7s are risky. We don’t know how long it will take the values of our real estate to increase.  If you do a chapter 7, you will discharge the loan, or promissory note.  Nevertheless, you will still have the deed of trust still attached to the house.  So at some point you must settle that 2nd mortgage with that bank.

Chapter 13s are risky too.  They can allow you to strip the 2nd mortgage off the house completely.  Risky because chapter 13 (on your primary residence) requires that you immediately go back to paying your regularly scheduled monthly mortgage payments on your 1st.  If the 1st mortgage has not yet been modified on the date of filing the bankruptcy, then you’d be stuck with the unmodified mortgage payments.

All chapter 13s must be approved by the judge assigned to your case.  Called a confirmation order, many cases end up falling short because people who want to remove the 2nd mortgage often propose payment plans that are unrealistic.  In other words the budgets they propose for themselves are just too tight.  Your attorney will refer to such a budget as unfeasible.  Feasibility just means that you really can afford to make the monthly payment to the bankruptcy trustee on your case.  To be confirmed, a case must be feasible, and you must convince your judge and your bankruptcy trustee that you can afford to to make the chapter 13 plan payments.

Additionally, most chapter 13s never get completed once they are confirmed.  More than 70% don’t get a chapter 13 discharge because something happens that derails the payment plan such as a work stoppage or an illness, or even just a busted transmission.  Either your earning capacity has been reduced or your ability to pay has been eclipsed by a more pressing expense.

Stripping the 2nd mortgage off in a chapter 13 requires that you complete the payment plan.  If your hypothetical plan payment is $350/mo and you pay it for 2 1/2 years that’s a total of $350 x 30 months = $10,500.  What if you cannot pay it anymore because of a work stoppage, you get fired or laid off, you break your leg, your transmission goes bad? You’re not going to complete your chapter 13 payment plan.  Guess what, you just tossed $10,500 out the window.

So, to strip a 2nd mortgage off of your primary residence,

  1. the value of the property must be lower than the balance on your first mortgage
  2. you must be able to pay the 1st mortgage payment,
  3. you must get the judge to agree that you are able to afford the plan payment,
  4. and you must complete the plan which will be 3 to 5 years long.

How Much Will My Chapter 13 Plan Payment Be?

Plan payments depend on a couple things

  1. how much excess income you have at the end of the month
  2. how much the means test says you must pay
  3. how much you owe on unpaid mortgage payments from previously unpaid months called arrears
  4. back taxes and child support
  5. the balance owing on your car
  6. how much of your attorney’s fees were paid in advance
  7. how much you usually get as tax refunds
  8. and several other possible issues

You will have to call for a consultation on the issue in order to get an estimate.

Call 800 FILE AWAY or 800 345 3292, call right now for a consultation.

David L Nelson
Temecula Bankruptcy Attorney
Temecula bankruptcy attorney, Murrieta bankruptcy attorney, Lake Elsinore bankruptcy attorney, Canyon Lake bankruptcy attorney, Menifee bankruptcy attorney, Perris bankruptcy attorney, Riverside bankruptcy attorney, Corona bankruptcy attorney, San Diego bankruptcy attorney, Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney, LA, and Orange County bankruptcy attorney

Debt Freedom and Retirement

Debt Freedom is Required for Retirement

If you’re like most of us, you’re planning to retire on your 401k or other similar Retirement plan. And you’re wondering if Walmart and McDonalds will have too many “senior” team members when you get there.  Because you’re going end up with a lower income than the one that you presently cannot live on, you wonder what will you do then?  Do you really think social security will be available?  Even if it is, how much buying power will it have?  My mom used to get the equivalent of groceries and utilities, and that was it.

I will teach you how a 2nd Mortgage can be treated as though Stripped Off your home even in a Chapter 7, and how you can in fact strip a 2nd Mortgage off your home with a Chapter 13.

Because your retirement income will most likely be lower, than your current income: If you’re still in debt at retirement time, you’re going to file Bankruptcy.  Why not file right now?  Put those credit card payments into your retirement accounts instead.  I realize that for most of you, if you didn’t have to pay consumer debts, you would not likely be able to just switch portions of your budget over to retirement planning.  You’re eating white bread from Albertsons with non-fat milk and telling yourself that it’s because the non-fat is healthier.  Just to pay the gas expense, you’re wearing sweaters at night and walking to the not as good park because you can’t afford to drive to the nice one with the lake.  Telling yourself and your kids that walking is good for you even though the slides are broken isn’t making you feel any better. I get it.  However, what if you could have a more normal budget and maybe put at least some into savings?

RETIREMENT AND KEEPING YOUR HOME:

YOU MUST GET OUT OF DEBT. When it comes to Retirement, or Wealth Building, getting out of debt is not the FINAL step but the FIRST. Mortgages must be part of the formula. How can you Retire when you’re in debt?

Here’s what I see everyday: Your Mortgage payment is $1500/mo and your 2nd is $500/mo.  In Credit Cards you have $25,000 with payments of another $500/mo.  Both Mortgages have 30 year terms.  At year 10 you start up a 401k plan and a personal IRA.  But how much can you put into either?  You’ve got $1000 in debt service going out of your budget every month.  Each month before you eat, you have to pay $1000 to cyberspace or “The Man”.

Assuming you have an income of $6500/mo and take home $5300 after taxes and insurances, and that you’re married and you have 2 children living at home.  First, I’d recommend, one of you must get a better job or another job as soon as possible.

$5300 Net Pay Less
$2000 Mortgages
$500 Debts and Credit Cards
$2,800 Left after that. (the rest of the budget must be calculated.)
$700 Two Car Payments
$500 Gas and Travel for the two cars
$100 Car Insurance
$40 Medical Expenses out of pocket
$800 Groceries (and everything that comes from the store) and Fast Food on the way to and from work, school and at work and school.
$400 Day Care
$400 All Utilities including Internet $30, Cell Phones $150, Home Heating & Cooking $100,  TV $50, Water $70
___________________________________

You can see that this family’s budget is already negative.  Add clothing & shoes $150 (for four), life insurance $80, hair cuts & beauty shop $40, tithing/charitable giving $40, laundry/dry cleaning $35 and home maintenance $20 and you’re toast.

____________________________

Bankrupt already, and you just didn’t know it.

Filing bankruptcy for this family would be a fantastic idea.  Just think about it.  Even if they were stuck with the 2nd mortgage when it was over, how much better off would they be if they could just get out of under the credit cards payments.

In a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy they must Qualify.  Called the Means Test, the qualification test starts with your gross income and asks first are you above it or below it?  If above, then there is an 8 page questionnaire that you must go through to see if you qualify or not, and in my experience, 97% of my clients have qualified by the time we are done with the 8 page questionnaire.  In our current test case, the family makes $6,500/mo which is $78,000/yr.  The Median Income for a family of 4 this year is $78,869.00 and they get to skip the 8 page test.  Part three of the Qualification Test, we go their budget to see if they have any money left over when it is all said and done.  Even adding that $500 from the credit cards back in leaves them negative $5.00/mo so they have qualified for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

In Chapter 13 you must also Qualify, but the test is basically this, can you afford to make a payment?  Why would you want to do a Chapter 13?  If the value of the home is lower than the balance on the 1st mortgage, then this family could do a chapter 13 bankruptcy and strip that 2nd mortgage off of the house.  In this case, they would divert the $500/mo that they are paying to their 2nd mortgage, or perhaps even a bit less depending on circumstances, and at the end of three short years, (in this hypothetical case) the 2nd mortgage is gone, the lien is released, and that $500/mo payment is gone forever starting 17 years earlier than planned.

I cannot stress this enough, what happens in month 37?

Okay, probably after a short vacation so probably in Month 40 or 45, they can now put that $500/mo that had been going into the 2nd mortgage into their retirement planning.  If it goes into an IRA, Life Insurance, 401k, or whatever, at least it is now going into their future rather than huge bonuses to Citibank and Chase Mastercard’s CEOs.

I would pay the 1st Mortgage off at this point. 17 years x 12 months is 204 months x $500/mo is $102,000.  Any mortgage with a $1500 payment could probably be paid off before the 17 years is over when you combine the 2nd mortgage payment with the first and pay down the first with $2000/mo instead of only $1500.

If you put the $102,000 into an IRA or a 401k how much would you have at the end of 17 more years, it’s hard to say, it could easily be only the $102,000 or it could be $250,000.  What will the monthly payments be from a pot of $250,000 when you retire?  I’m not a retirement planner but I’m sure it would be less than $1500/mo.

So with a chapter 7 our hypothetical family might have some breathing room.

With a chapter 13 they might be able to pay off their 1st mortgage and save for retirement. HERE’S A CREDIBLE PLAN TO RETIRE EARLY THAT CAN ACTUALLY WORK WITHOUT SELLING STUFF TO YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

It depends on the value of the house.

DO NOT WAIT, FILE NOW.  YOUR HOME’S VALUE WILL START HEADING BACK UP SOON IF IT HAS NOT ALREADY.  YOU MUST FILE NOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS.

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Chapter 7 and Your 2nd Mortgage

Updated on June 13th, 2018.

Refinancing Your Second Mortgage

Yes, it may be an actual option. And as unlikely as it may seem or feel, if you have home equity now (at this writing in 2018) then a refinance may work but only if you have good enough credit. But how do you manage that after having filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy? Believe it or not, credit repair services use the same techniques outlined in the following Guide. The Attorney’s Guide to Credit Repair. It’s Fast, Easy and Guaranteed.

In fact many use the very same Guide. Follow this guide to repair your credit fast, including how to write letters to settle debts such as your 2nd Mortgage. Download it Now and Get Started Right Away with The Attorney’s Guide to Credit Repair. It’s Fast, Easy and Guaranteed.

Your 2nd Mortgage or Home Equity Line of Credit – Heloc

While it is true that you may be able to strip these off of your home in a Chapter 13, in a Chapter 7 you can’t, but, you may still be able to effectively ignore it (for a while) and keep your home.  However, the 2nd Mortgage or Heloc would still have a lien on the property.  You would then have to settle the lien or deal with it in some manner later on. Your 2nd or Heloc has two things over you

a) they have the promissory note that you signed promising to pay

b) they have a deed of trust or trust deed on the house which is a lien on the house also called a mortgage. 

If you have filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, then the Chapter 7 discharges the Loan or Promissory Note, which means that the mortgage company or lending bank cannot collect money from you directly. They cannot sue you, garnish your wages, levy your bank account, or even ask you for money or anything like that.

If you still own the home, then you still have that 2nd Mortgage Lien called a Trust Deed or Mortgage on your property. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy does not remove that kind of lien from your house, not in the 9th Circuit Appeals Court’s jurisdiction. Therefore, if the value of the house is high enough, then your 2nd mortgage lender can foreclose that lien, but in order to do so, it must pay off the 1st mortgage and any unpaid property taxes first.

Some Things You Can Try Include, But Are Not Limited To: 

1.  Refinance Your Second Mortgage: Yes, it may be an actual option. But if you have bad credit, you will have to repair it first.

2.  If the Value of the house is higher than the balance on your 1st mortgage then you must deal with your 2nd mortgage now.  If it is lower than the balance on your first, then you don’t have to deal with them immediately, but you must deal with them eventually, because, remember, they have a lien on the house.

3.  If the value is relatively close to the balance on 1st mortgage then you will have to deal with the 2nd mortgage sooner rather than later because in not too much time, the value of the house will go up high enough for the 2nd mortgage company to be able to foreclose. If you cannot afford to settle it, you should consider trying a loan modification. 

4.  What most clients will do is make an offer to settle the 2nd mortgage lien in one payment, one time with no balance owing afterwards, and you must get that in writing from the bank before you mail your cashier’s check. You might have to take a massive 401k loan in order to be able to make such an offer, but if they take it, it would be worth it. 

5.  If you have previously filed a bankruptcy and then the 2nd mortgage lender cancels the debt and sends a 1099 for the “forgiven” balance next year, then you are able to deduct the amount because it was already previously “forgiven” or when you filed your chapter 7 bankruptcy and received your chapter 7 bankruptcy discharged. 

6.  Most clients will save as much as possible and then when they get a tax refund next year, they add that with the savings, and if possible, sell a car or some jewelry and then use that to make an offer to settle the lien. (Dear Reader, when I originally wrote this several years ago, most homes had much lower values and so it was so much easier to offer to settle such a second mortgage. However because home values have gone up considerably, it’s nearly impossible to do now.) 

7.  In any case, your Discharge Order from your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy prohibits  all kinds of collections.  Therefore, they cannot hound you, dunn you, or bother you, whether by phone, email or letters demanding payment of the loan or promissory note.  They have only one legal option, they can foreclose. It doesn’t mean that they won’t but knowing your rights, that they cannot, at least you can protect yourself.  REMEMBER however, that the 2nd Mortgage must pay off the 1st Mortgage in order to foreclose.

8.  If your home has significant value which it probably does, the loan modifications are an option to protect your home, and if necessary, selling your home as a method of preserving the home equity is also a great option. Not that those are the best options, but they are options. Additionally, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy may be a viable option as well.

THEREFORE, the probability of them foreclosing is lower and lower when the value of the house is lower than the balance on the 1st mortgage.  It’s simple math, they won’t pay off a $200K loan to get a $150K asset that they can then resell and only recoup $150K and they’d have to pay closing costs to sell it so they’d only net $120K. That would be a loss of $80K plus they would also lose all of the 2nd mortgage too which is probably another $50K or more on top of the $80K.

HOWEVER, when the 1st and 2nd are held by the same company and particularly if that company is a credit union, it may be possible that they’d foreclose anyway but if the payment on the 1st is getting paid, then it’s still not very likely.

Overall, when dealing with a 2nd mortgage, it’s risky, no matter what happens. A chapter 13 which would allow stripping off the 2nd mortgage, is risky too.  Even more so because your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy requires that you immediately go back to paying your regularly scheduled monthly mortgage payments on your 1st mortgage, and if the 1st was not yet modified on the date of filing the bankruptcy, then you’d be stuck with the unmodified mortgage payments. Also, most Chapter 13 Bankruptcies never get completed.  More than 70% don’t get a chapter 13 discharge because something happens that derails the payment plan such as a work stoppage or an illness, or even something unexpected such as a busted transmission. Stripping the 2nd mortgage off in a chapter 13 requires that you complete the three to five year payment plan, so it’s majorly risky because if you have a hypothetical plan payment of $350/mo and you pay it for 2 1/2 years and then if you cannot pay anymore and you don’t get your plan completed, guess what, you just tossed $350 x 30 months out the window.  That’s $10,500 that you’ll never get back, and that’s only if you get a payment that low to begin with.  Most are higher.

In Summary:

Offer to Settle Your 2nd Mortgage

So, in summary, making an offer to settle the balance on the 2nd after a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, should aim to pay (I originally wrote 10% of the balance or less, but nowadays the percentage at this writing in 2018, must be much higher). However if the house is seriously upside down on the 1st mortgage already, you may be able to offer lower. But it does have to be paid in one payment once they accept and you must get them to accept it in advance in writing. You must not pay them unless you have it from them in writing that they will accept your settlement offer and that they will RELEASE the lien once they get the payment.

I’ll say it again just in case you didn’t hear me, they must agree to RELEASE the lien in writing once they get your payment. If they don’t agree to release the lien, don’t send the check.

Refinancing Your Second Mortgage

1.  Refinance Your Second Mortgage: Yes, it may be an actual option. And as unlikely as it may seem or feel, if you have home equity now (at this writing in 2018) then a refinance may work but only if you have good enough credit. But how do you manage that after having filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy? Believe it or not, credit repair services use the same techniques outlined in the following Guide. The Attorney’s Guide to Credit Repair. It’s Fast, Easy and Guaranteed.

In fact many use the very same Guide. Follow this guide to repair your credit fast, including how to write letters to settle debts such as your 2nd Mortgage. Download it Now and Get Started Right Away with The Attorney’s Guide to Credit Repair. It’s Fast, Easy and Guaranteed.

YOUR HOA MAY SUE YOU EVEN AFTER YOUR BANKRUPTCY

YOUR HOA MAY SUE YOU EVEN AFTER YOUR BANKRUPTCY:

THE BANKRUPTCY CODE SPECIFICALLY ALLOWS IT!  The Rule is that you can eliminate your personal liability to pay your Home Owner’s Association up to the date that you file your case.  But what happens AFTER?

YOUR HOME OWNER’S ASSOCIATION CAN SUE YOU IF:

FILING BANKRUPTCY STOPS FORECLOSURE, BUT YOU MUST STILL EITHER WORK OUT A LOAN MODIFICATION OR SETUP A CHAPTER 13 PAYMENT PLAN IN ORDER TO STRIP OFF THE 2ND AND CATCH UP YOUR FIRST. IF ALL GOES WELL YOU WON’T THINK ABOUT YOUR HOA, YOU JUST CONTINUE TO PAY IT.

IF THE ABOVE DOESN’T WORK OUT, YOUR AIM MUST BE FOR A SHORT SALE to avoid a Foreclosure after Bankruptcy.  Doing a Short Sale will take the Home Owner’s Association into account as part of the final deal and that will be that.

But if you end up with a Foreclosure after Bankruptcy . . .

FORECLOSURE AFTER BANKRUPTCY:

If you know that you can’t pay a Chapter 13 payment (YOU MUST CONSULT A BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY TO BE SURE, NEVER ASSUME ONE WAY OR THE OTHER WITHOUT A CONSULTATION FIRST), & if you cannot pay your 1st, you are going to lose your property.  So, File a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Your 2nd or HELOC will no longer be able to sue once your Chapter 7 has discharged.  You can stay in the property a bit longer while saving up to move. You could get a couple or even several extra months Rent-Free! But if you don’t do a short sale, you will eventually have a foreclosure.

Your HOA will be able to sue you from the date that you filed your Bankruptcy until the day your property is foreclosed.  I have seen this more than once, a couple assumes that a short sale is on track, and then it doesn’t go through.  Meanwhile they have not been paying the Home Owner’s Association fees.  Probably they haven’t paid for a year prior to filing the bankruptcy so they are out of the habit of paying it.  Once the bankruptcy took place, they still didn’t pay because they couldn’t afford to, or they assumed that the short sale would take care of it.

But if you don’t pay, and there’s a foreclosure, you’re going to owe all HOA fees and assessments from the day that you filed until the day that you no longer owned the property. Because they banks don’t want to pay the HOA fees either, I have seen them take a couple years to actually repossess a house, especially if the family has already moved out.  $150/mo in HOA fees plus special assessments, attorney’s fees and costs adds up pretty quickly.

SO CONTINUE TO PAY THE HOME OWNERS ASSOCIATION FEES UNTIL THE PROPERTY IS SOLD OR FORECLOSED.  If you don’t want to pay the HOA Fees to the HOA because you expect a short sale to take care of it, put the HOA Fees into a savings account just in case the short sale doesn’t go through.  If it doesn’t go through you just pay them.  If it does go through, you have a small savings account to use as moving money, or maybe replacing your appliances.

Bankruptcy Attorney David Nelson

Temecula bankruptcy attorney, Murrieta bankruptcy attorney, Lake Elsinore bankruptcy attorney, Canyon Lake bankruptcy attorney, Menifee bankruptcy attorney, Perris bankruptcy attorney, Riverside bankruptcy attorney, Corona bankruptcy attorney, San Diego bankruptcy attorney, Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney, LA, and Orange County bankruptcy attorney