Excerpt from Chapter 15 – “Taxes and Bankruptcy”

Bankruptcy – We Wrote the Book on It By Ronald C. Sykstus and the Bond and Botes Team of Lawyers

Excerpt from Chapter 15 – “Taxes and Bankruptcy”:

Another important topic that comes up repeatedly with many of
our clients is with regard to taxes and how they are affected by a
bankruptcy filing, either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Contrary to
popular belief, taxes can be discharged in bankruptcy, assuming that
certain rules and qualifications are met. Tax debt can also be paid
back through a Chapter 13 debt consolidation plan. The IRS and
state taxing authorities have many enforcement mechanisms and
procedures to ensure payment, and they can put these enforcement
actions into place quickly to the great detriment of the consumer. As
a result, if you have tax debt or concerns that you are confronting,
please be aware of your rights under the Bankruptcy Code. There is
also interplay with taxes when property is forgiven or settled short
of the full balance owed being paid.

Excerpt from Chapter 14 – “Divorce and Bankruptcy”

Bankruptcy – We Wrote the Book on It By Ronald C. Sykstus and the Bond and Botes Team of Lawyers

Excerpt from Chapter 14 – “Divorce and Bankruptcy”:

Can I File Bankruptcy on Debts from a Divorce?
By Attorney Amy K. Tanner

Most divorce decrees and marital settlements will address the debts
that exist at the time the parties separate. There is usually some type
of division of the debt. Most couples have debt that turns out to be
his, mine, and ours. The only party the creditor is interested in is the
person who is actually liable on the debt. A creditor does not care if
your divorce decree states that your ex-spouse should pay a debt that is
in your name. The creditor is going to collect against the person who is
named and liable on the debt itself, regardless of what is called a hold-harmless
provision in a divorce decree.

The hold-harmless language is an indemnification provision that
provides for the spouse who was assigned to pay a particular debt to
do so, leaving the other marital party unharmed by the debt itself. The
division of debt can become a real issue in bankruptcy. Even the hold-harmless indemnification can be a contingent debt in a bankruptcy.
§523 of the United States Bankruptcy Code provides that any debt to
a spouse or former spouse that arose during the dissolution of marriage
is non-dischargeable in a Chapter 7 case. Although the spouse who
files for bankruptcy can discharge the debt as to the creditor, he or she
cannot discharge the obligation to hold the former spouse harmless.

Excerpt from Chapter 13 – “What Should I Do If I Am Sued? How to Defend a Lawsuit and the Potential Consequences If You Do Not”

Bankruptcy – We Wrote the Book on It By Ronald C. Sykstus and the Bond and Botes Team of Lawyers

Excerpt from Chapter 13 – “What Should I Do If I Am Sued? How to Defend a Lawsuit and the Potential Consequences If You Do Not”:

What Can I Do If I Am Being Sued by a Creditor or Debt Collector?
By Attorney Ronald C. Sykstus

If you receive a summons stating that you have been sued by a debt
collector or creditor, do not ignore it! You have a right to request a trial
and to demand that the plaintiff (the entity bringing the lawsuit) prove
its case in court. If you do not timely file an answer to a lawsuit, then
you will automatically lose under what is called a default judgment.
The plaintiff will then be able to proceed with collections against you
on the default judgment that it received. You must file an answer on
time with the court where the lawsuit is pending and also mail a copy
of your answer to the plaintiff. Failure to timely file an answer with the
court will result in a default judgment against you! Below is a sample of
what an answer should look like. If your answer is anything other than
a denial of the complaint, you will lose automatically.

Excerpt from Chapter 12 – “Bankruptcy Concepts and Issues”

Bankruptcy – We Wrote the Book on It By Ronald C. Sykstus and the Bond and Botes Team of Lawyers

Excerpt from Chapter 12 – “Bankruptcy Concepts and Issues”:

A. Credit Counseling and Financial Management/Debtor
Education Requirements

For every bankruptcy case that is filed, a debtor must first complete
required credit counseling. This requirement came into being when the
dramatic change in law occurred in 2005. A person who wants to file
bankruptcy has to first obtain a certificate of credit counseling after having
attended an approved course. This certificate must be filed at the time
that the bankruptcy is filed or the bankruptcy will be null and void. Every
bankruptcy court in the country provides a list of approved credit counseling
organizations at the bankruptcy court’s website. This is not a long process
and people can get through the credit counseling course quickly.

There is a subsequent requirement while the bankruptcy is ongoing for
the debtor to attend and complete a personal financial management class,
also referred to as debtor education. This class must be completed and a
certificate of completion must be filed with the bankruptcy court prior to
a discharge being entered. This is another mandatory requirement put in
place under the bankruptcy law changes in 2005. While we recommend
all debtor education courses as approved by our local bankruptcy courts
in which we practice, we highlight Dave Ramsey’s course. His slogan
is “The course may be mandatory, but boring is optional.” Our clients
receive a book entitled Starting Over—Dave Ramsey’s Post Bankruptcy
Survival Guide, used in his starting over course. We recommend this one
because it promotes a change in life and reduction in debt stress. Dave
Ramsey’s organization wants this to be a change of life—so do we! We
hope you never need to be a bankruptcy client again!

Excerpt from Chapter 11 – “Should I File for Bankruptcy? If So, What Type Should I File and How Can It Help Me?”

Bankruptcy – We Wrote the Book on It By Ronald C. Sykstus and the Bond and Botes Team of Lawyers

Excerpt from Chapter 11 – “Should I File for Bankruptcy? If So, What Type Should I File and How Can It Help Me?”:

Are you only able to make minimum monthly payments on your
credit card bills?

If the answer is yes, then you may be on a treadmill that will be
difficult to get off. Minimum payments often cover only the interest
that has accrued in the last month and a little bit more. It could take
many years for you to pay off what you owe.

Do you have property or belongings that might be lost if you file
bankruptcy?

The amount of property that you are able to retain, or claim as
exempt, in bankruptcy varies from state to state and should be discussed
with a bankruptcy attorney in your area. If, however, you own very
little or owe more on what you do own than what it is worth, then it
is likely that you would not lose anything if you filed. Even if you do
own property that has significant value, there are types of bankruptcy
that may allow you to keep what you own.

Excerpt from Chapter 10 – “Time Limits Between Bankruptcy Filings”

Bankruptcy – We Wrote the Book on It By Ronald C. Sykstus and the Bond and Botes Team of Lawyers

Excerpt from Chapter 10 – “Time Limits Between Bankruptcy Filings”:

Time Limits of BK
When Can I File Bankruptcy Again?
By Attorney Amy K. Tanner

Despite what most people think, considering the current economy,
bankruptcy filings are actually down nationwide. One would think
that with the high rate of foreclosures, job losses, sequestration, and
cutbacks that more people would have a need to file bankruptcy. It
seems that during an economic recession, Americans begin to feel so
down and out that even seeking much-needed bankruptcy assistance is
just too burdensome.

However, one factor in the declining number of bankruptcy filings
may stem back to the dramatic change in the bankruptcy law in 2005.
In the few months and weeks leading up to the October 15, 2005
effective date of the current bankruptcy law, many people flocked to
bankruptcy practitioners nationwide in fear that this new bankruptcy
law would make it harder or impossible to file after it took effect. One
of the notable changes in the new law set a time limitation of eight years
between consecutive Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings. The old law placed
a limit of only six years between consecutive Chapter 7 bankruptcy
filings.

Excerpt from Chapter 9 – “Do I Lose Everything I Own When I File for Bankruptcy and What Property Can I Protect?”

Bankruptcy – We Wrote the Book on It By Ronald C. Sykstus and the Bond and Botes Team of Lawyers

Excerpt from Chapter 9 – “Do I Lose Everything I Own When I File for Bankruptcy and What Property Can I Protect?”:

Clients who come to our office often worry whether they will lose
any or all of their property if they file for bankruptcy. It is a very rare
occurrence where a person who files for bankruptcy will actually lose
any of his or her property. There is a concept called exemptions, which
is the specific allowance under either federal or state law that sets forth
a certain amount of property of all types (personal property, clothing,
tools of the trade, automobiles, retirement assets, etc.) that people are
allowed to retain when they file for bankruptcy, being that the property
is exempt from creditors. It may also be dependent upon which chapter
of bankruptcy a person elects to file or whether that property is secured
by a lien. A few of our attorneys explain these exemptions below, along
with some general comments as they relate to the concept of exemption.

Excerpt from Chapter 8 – “Should I Use a Debt Management Company or a Debt Relief Company to Handle My Debts?”

Bankruptcy – We Wrote the Book on It By Ronald C. Sykstus and the Bond and Botes Team of Lawyers

Excerpt from Chapter 8 – “Should I Use a Debt Management Company or a Debt Relief Company to Handle My Debts?”:

Should I Use a Debt Settlement Company?
By Attorney Bradford W. Botes

The ads on the radio always sound alluring. Simply respond by
calling a toll-free number and the debt settlement company will solve
all of your financial problems. But is the promised relief as good as
described?

Debt Settlement Process
The business model, or pitch, works something like this. You will
be instructed to stop paying on your credit cards and to instead make
payments to the debt settlement company. Often, the company will
want to deduct the money straight from your bank account. You are
told that the credit card companies will eventually give up and write the
debt off. They will then sell your debt to some third-party debt buyer
for pennies on the dollar. By that time, the debt settlement company
will have amassed enough of your money to settle the claims of the
credit card companies. They will pay everything off and your credit will
be perfect. The radio ad says that you will be able to buy a new house
and/or car in very little time.

Excerpt from Chapter 7 – “Effect of Bankruptcy on a Credit Report and How to Improve a Credit Report After a Bankruptcy Filing”

Bankruptcy – We Wrote the Book on It By Ronald C. Sykstus and the Bond and Botes Team of Lawyers

Excerpt from Chapter 7 – “Effect of Bankruptcy on a Credit Report and How to Improve a Credit Report After a Bankruptcy Filing”:

How Will Bankruptcy Affect My Credit?
By Attorney Bradford W. Botes

Virtually every person who comes to see us to talk about a potential
bankruptcy filing asks us this question in one form or another. They
may have been told by a friend that bankruptcy will ruin their credit.
Another has heard that they won’t be able to get new credit for seven to
ten years. In short, most folks want to know how a bankruptcy filing
will affect their credit.

The truth is that, by the time an individual makes it into our office
to discuss bankruptcy, their credit is usually already in bad shape.
They may have gotten behind on mortgage or car payments. Perhaps
a foreclosure or repossession has already occurred. Some people have
managed to keep their credit score high, but they are simply borrowing
from one creditor to make minimum payments to another. We call this
robbing Peter to pay Paul. The credit score may be okay but the last
thing they can do, or want to do, is to borrow more money. The point
is that bankruptcy doesn’t ruin your credit; it is what has taken place
prior to filing bankruptcy that does so.

Excerpt from Chapter 6 – “Getting Started With Us (How to Get Your Credit Reports)”

Bankruptcy – We Wrote the Book on It By Ronald C. Sykstus and the Bond and Botes Team of Lawyers

Excerpt from Chapter 6 – “Getting Started With Us (How to Get Your Credit Reports)”:

As discussed previously, someone with financial questions or issues
comes to us and meets with one of our licensed attorneys for a free
consultation. At this consultation, potential clients are most likely
concerned about their debt situation, and they have already either
received collection calls and the like or are concerned about how
their immediate credit future looks. Our prospective clients will fill
out an information form that we can provide to them at our office
or we can email to them or direct them to our website to fill it out.
Either way, what we suggest before the prospective client starts with
us is for them to get control of their situation. As the saying goes,
knowledge is power. We recommend that clients write out every single
bill that they have, starting with all of their current monthly bills as far
as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, food costs, insurance costs, and
the like. Once that is done, we ask our prospective clients to gather
together all of the bills that they have to include home loans, car loans,
medical debts, credit card debt, signature loans, payday advances, and
any other type of debt. Immediately after doing that, to make sure
this exercise is full and complete, the next thing all of our prospective
clients should do is to get their credit reports. Nationwide, there are
three main credit reporting agencies that provide virtually all of the
credit information in the United States. These credit reporting agencies
are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. I recently wrote an article for
the BondandBotes.com blog on this issue and am including it below
for the reader’s convenience.