It makes me MAD when I see creditors harass and abuse normal, everyday people.
That is why I created this law firm, Ayo and Iken. There is nothing sadder to see: working people, some with families that are afraid to answer the phone or open the mail. Bankruptcy attorney Howard Iken is here to help you through this difficult time in your life. We offer free telephone consultations to determine whether filing for bankruptcy makes sense for you. The good news: if you qualify, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing will erase practically all of your debt and give you the fresh start you deserve. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will erase virtually all credit card debt, medical bills, most court judgments, and will also allow you to return upside houses and vehicles.Bankruptcy Attorney Howard Iken
Attorney Howard Iken is our New Port Richey Bankruptcy Attorney. Mr. Iken is experienced in consumer bankruptcy, chapter 7 bankruptcy, credit card lawsuit defense, and foreclosure defense. Mr. Iken will work with you personally from your first meeting – to the successful end of your bankruptcy case. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy can be a very beneficial, low stress procedure that can eliminate credit card debt, repossessed vehicle debt, and residual debt from surrendered homes. Bankruptcy will also eliminate most lawsuits and judgments. Our consultations are always free. Call us for a free, no obligation consultation.
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Do You Need a Bankruptcy Lawyer?
Bankruptcy may seem like a scary word, but for those who truly need it, it can be the fresh start that reverses a negative financial situation that otherwise has no hope. If you have been thinking about filing for bankruptcy, it may be time to at least consult with a lawyer to find out what your options are. This will ensure you are fully informed and can approach your bankruptcy with the best chance at a positive outcome.
Take a Look at Your Finances
One of the first things a bankruptcy lawyer will do for you is to look at your finances. This includes the amount of money you have coming in and how much goes toward your bills. This debt to income ratio plays a major role in whether you can file for bankruptcy and if so, which kind. The lawyer will guide you through the process, especially if you want to keep any bills out of the bankruptcy.
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Filing the Right Paperwork
Bankruptcy requires a great amount of paperwork that has strict deadlines and must be filled out exactly. Attempting to fill it out on your own can be intimidating and can lead to a delay or even dismissal of your case. When you work with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, you can be assured your case will be handled with the utmost in care so you can obtain the outcome you desire.
Divert Collection Calls
One of the most irritating aspects of large amounts of debt is the collection calls you start to receive. When you meet with a bankruptcy lawyer and file, you can expect these calls to stop. If they don’t, you can simply relay the calls to your attorney and he will take care of them for you. This can be a great advantage so you no longer need to fear answering your phone.
Hiring a New Port Richey bankruptcy lawyer to help with your debt is one of the best things you can do. Even though hiring a bankruptcy attorney costs money, it will be money well-spent because you can be sure your case will be handled properly. When the case is handled correctly, you stand a high chance of success to get you back on the path to financial stability.
The Role of a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee
A bankruptcy trustee is a critical part in the bankruptcy process. When a debtor files for bankruptcy the court creates an estate to facilitate the discharge of the debt obligations of the petitioner. The bankruptcy trustee is the executor of that estate. That allows the debtor to be relieved of the burden of communicating with the creditors and also having to handle the administration of their personal assets alone. Though the trustee can be a significant relief to the debtor, the relationship can often be a contentious and difficult one if the debtor is not fully aware of the trustee’s role and the interpersonal nature of the relationship.
The Legal Basis for the Chapter 7 Trustee
Bankruptcy law derives from Title 11 of the United States Code. Under Chapter 7, sometimes known as a “straight” or “liquidation” bankruptcy, a trustee is randomly appointed by the local Court when a party files a petition for Bankruptcy protection. Trustees are appointed by the Bankruptcy Court itself under 28 C.F.R. § 58.3(b) which calls for, among other things, those of good moral character, and attorneys in good standing or Certified Public Accountants. The term for a trustee is one year and is renewable. Usually trustees are former bankruptcy attorneys themselves and have a long standing relationship with the court. Therefore it is important to remember though not actually an arm of the court itself; trustees maintain a close working relationship with the Court.
How the Trustee is Paid
Trustees earn their keep by being awarded a percentage of the non-exempt assets collected from the debtor and distributed to eligible creditors. Therefore, the role of the trustee is to ensure that they collect all available assets and provide the most reasonable pay off to the creditors, while still ensuring they can reap some rewards. To do so they will, based on the reported assets, gather all of the non-exempt assets, sell them and distribute the proceeds to the creditors in a way that abides by the law, but provides the most for the trustee as well. Keeping this in mind is very important to understanding the relationship between a debtor and the trustee.
The 341 Meeting of the Creditors
One of the most important factors in a successful Bankruptcy proceeding is to have a good relationship with the Trustee. The first chance to do so is at the first meeting you will have with them. This meeting is known as a “creditors meeting” or “341 meeting.” The location of this meeting is determined by the Trustee and is usually conducted in a conference room. It is intended not to be a confrontational courtroom kind of meeting, but the chance to meet your trustee and discuss the petition and the schedule of assets. Therefore, the meeting usually lasts no more than thirty minutes. The trustee will ask you questions about the information contained on your petition and schedules. If you have concerns about the meeting, speak with your attorney about what to expect. If your attorney specializes in bankruptcy proceedings, he/she likely knows and has a relationship with the trustees and can tell you more about their personalities and traits.
The 341 meeting is mandatory. Your attorney will attend the meeting to represent you. It is usually a very simple affair, but, in rare cases, a creditor may attend. Like your attorney represents you, the trustee is there to represent the creditors.
Trustee’s Objection to Exemptions
Not every asset is subject to the Bankruptcy estate. Such assets are considered “exempt.” After any creditor meetings, reviewing the petition and the schedule of assets, and finally conducting the 341 meeting, the trustee has 30 days to bring up any objections to any assets you have requested be exempt from the estate. If the trustee objects, first they will contact your attorney to discuss the objection to see if a resolution can be come to. If not, the trustee will formally object to the bankruptcy judge assigned to your case through a motion. There may be a hearing held to discuss the trustee’s objection at which time your attorney will explain to the judge why the assets should not be part of the estate. If the assets are deemed exempt, you are free to do with them (including selling them) as you wish. If you are considering doing so, consult with your attorney before you take any action as it may still have an effect on your case.
Trustee Adversary Claim
Since Chapter 7 bankruptcies are usually quite straightforward, many do not involve adversary matters. However, creditors may file an adversary case against a debtor if they believe there are grounds for the debt to not be discharged. Likewise, the Chapter 7 Trustee may also file an adversary case to recover non-exempt property. Unlike a creditor adversary claim regarding a discernable debt, a Trustee adversary case usually involves the exemption of assets from the estate. Under Chapter 7, a debtor is allowed $1,000 in personal property, not cars or homes, to be exempted. The debtor lists the assets that they want considered exempt and their value. It is up to the debtor to be honest with these valuations. If a trustee does not agree with the value, they will likely first bring up such a disagreement at the 341 meeting. However, if no agreement can be made, the Trustee may also file a motion to value property which he believes you have undervalued. The Court will then schedule a hearing to review the valuation and determine its legitimacy. The Trustee may convince the Court that the value on the schedule is not correct and if the value goes above the exemption amount, the trustee is then able to recover the assets and sell them to pay creditors. Therefore, it is very important to be honest with the valuation of your personal property from the outset.
Intangible Aspects to Trustee-Debtor Relationship
The relationship between the trustee and the debtor is crucial to the success of a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Understanding that the Trustee’s goal in any bankruptcy is to arrive at the most equitable, easy and advantageous administration of the estate that also provides them the most in terms of payout will make the trustee’s actions and positions easier to comprehend. The Trustee is not there to look out for the debtor, that is the role of the debtor’s attorney, but the trustee is not there to punish the debtor either. Therefore, a good relationship between the debtor, their attorney and trustee will make the process and potential disagreements much easier to manage.
Honesty and having realistic expectations are the most important things for debtor to remember when going through the bankruptcy process. A trustee is a trained professional, but also a human being, they will recognize when a debtor is being dishonest and it may poison the working relationship, which could result in the risk of making the whole project more difficult and potentially worse for the debtor in the long run. Knowing that the trustee’s job is made harder by difficult debtors, anyone considering bankruptcy should keep in mind that, though the process is difficult and even potentially embarrassing, the goal is not to shame debtors or punish them but to ensure that they can have a fresh start and move on from the difficult situation they are facing.