Is A Local Bankruptcy Lawyer Really Necessary For Success in Your Case? Cathy Moran is one of the most passionate bankruptcy attorneys in the United States. She has been advising clients in complicated bankruptcy cases for over 30 years in California’s Silicon Valley. Should you hire a nearby attorney to handle your bankruptcy case?
- The key factor to consider in choosing a bankruptcy attorney (as opposed to a family law or criminal defense attorney) is that all Nebraska bankruptcy cases are handled by just two bankruptcy attorneys. There is no bankruptcy judge at the local county courthouse.
- They say a good attorney knows the law, but a great attorney knows the judge! So the number one factor to look for in a bankruptcy attorney is how often and how well they handle bankruptcy cases on a regular basis.
- Great bankruptcy attorneys devote the vast majority of their time to bankruptcy matters. You don’t want to hire a general practice attorney to handle complicated bankruptcy matters.
- Technology has changed the field. Our firm represents clients in all 93 Nebraska counties. If you can mail, fax, email, scan or deliver documents via horseback, we can process your case.
- Court hearings are telephonic during Covid-19. It used to be that clients would attend a Trustee Meeting in either Omaha, Lincoln, North Platte, Scottsbluff, Grand Island or Gering Nebraska. But ever since the Covid-19 virus we have handled all hearings and trial telephonically or on Zoom conferences. So it really does not matter where you or your attorney or the courthouse is located these days. And since geography no longer matters, why not hire the best law firm in the State instead of the closest?
Pawned Vehicle is Part of the Bankruptcy Estate. It is not uncommon to see clients who have pledged their car as collateral for a high interest rate loan from the folks at TitleMax. Just cross the Nebraska border into Missouri and you will quickly find a local TitleMax office where you sign over title to your car and buy it back at ultra-high interest rates. Can you file Chapter 13 to get your title back?
- The Alabama bankruptcy court recently handles this issue and ruled that as long as the maturity date on the vehicle pawn contract has not expired before the debtor files Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the vehicle remains part of the bankruptcy estate. In other words, you can get ownership of your car back as when you file Chapter 13 as long as the loan maturity date has not expired.
What’s It Cost to Fill Up an EV? According to auto expert Phillip Reed at Nerd Wallet, the cost of charging an 100% electrical vehicle is the equivalent to paying $2.00 per gallon gas, depending on electrical rates in your area. So, should you rush out to buy one of these new gizmos?
- Remember, vehicle expenses are more than the cost of gasoline. I’d rather pay $4 per gallon for a gas guzzler pickup truck getting 10 miles per gallon if that vehicle was paid in full and I only had to pay liability insurance coverage and if I didn’t drive that much anyway. And if that truck also allowed me to make a few extra bucks hauling stuff on weekends, the cost of gasoline is probably not that big of a deal. I’d rather pay an extra $150 per month in fuel than than incur a new car payment.
- Having said that, if you do need a replacement vehicle, a reliable hybrid vehicle can make a lot of sense. My assist drives a used Toyota Prius and she spends about $10 per week on fuel. (It’s also the quietest vehicle I’ve ever driven.) That vehicle is saving her thousands a year in fuel.
- Debtor owes more than $230,000.00 in student loan debt—some of which are private—others are federal loans and/or guaranteed. Debtor incurred her student loan debt in the process of earning an undergraduate degree in Paralegal Studies and a master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Kaplan University. Debtor asserts that her master’s degree has not translated to gainful employment in the faculty of criminal justice, and that her current employ does not provide her with sufficient means to pay her student loan debt without incurring undue hardship. Debtor claims that an Income Based Repayment (“IBR”) plan will not help her as her expenses already exceed her monthly income. Debtor is also concerned by the prospect of a ‘student loan forgiveness tax bomb’ which would be due in-full immediately upon completion of an IBR plan.
- Debtor testified that her advisors at Kaplan encouraged her to pursue her master’s degree despite having no previous legal or criminal justice work experience. Debtor further testified that she was promised job placement assistance by Kaplan, but never received it. To date, Debtor has yet to secure lucrative employment in the criminal justice field.
- The record indicates that Debtor was maximizing her earning potential at the time of the hearing. There was no evidence produced to suggest that she would be able to leverage her unused master’s degree to obtain a higher paying job in the future. There was likewise no suggestion that her income would increase in any meaningful way over the remainder of her working life.
- This Court finds that the Debtor’s expenses are, indeed, modest and commensurate with her resources, and that she is very frugally meeting her needs for food, shelter, clothing, and medical treatment. She claims almost no expenses whatsoever for items such as eating out, entertainment, pets, and the like. This Court finds that the Debtor’s expenses are, therefore, reasonable and necessary for a minimal standard of living.
- In considering potential IBR plans, the Court must “be mindful of both the likelihood of a debtor making significant payment under the [income-based repayment plan], and also of the additional hardships which may be imposed by these programs.” “Additional hardships” can include the likely growth of the debt over the court of the IBR plan, the effect on Debtor’s ability to obtain future credit, the mental and emotional impact on Debtor, and the likely consequences due to debt collection.
- Debtor was 47 years old at the time of the hearing—she is now 50. Upon completion of a hypothetical IBR plan, she would be between 69 and 74 years old. Over 20 to 25 years, the most Debtor would pay off would be between $15,600.00 and $19,500.00 (which exceeds—albeit marginally—5–8% of her current debt (without accounting for future compounding interest)). Meanwhile, her current debt will continue to grow, and her interest will far outpace that which she will be able to pay off.
- Even if Debtor were to complete an IBR plan, she faces the possibility of a “student loan forgiveness tax bomb”—which would be due in-full immediately when the debt is forgiven.
- Thus, to the extent Debtor is able to timely pay her IBR obligations, as well as her other expenses, and to somehow meaningfully accrue reserves to fall back on in the event of retirement, she would be greeted with a tax bill in the amount of all remaining principal, interest, and other charges due—at a time when Debtor is nearing 70 years of age or older. Not only would such a result be devastating, it would effectively disregard the overarching policy of the Bankruptcy Code to provide debtors with a “fresh start.”
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