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First post. First stages of realization. Questions. Story

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  • First post. First stages of realization. Questions. Story

    Hello. First I just want to say thank for all the info and stories you all have posted. I am so glad I found this forum. It has helped tremendously.

    First off I live in Virginia. This past year I made slightly over $50,000, which included working more overtime than I ever had to try and keep up. I just realized 5 days ago that I am not going to be able to pay all my bills if I want to pay rent and eat. I guess my last straw was 3 weeks ago I had to take out a payday loan to payday loan to pay my rent. I am current on bills as of right this second.

    I been married for 3 years and this past Summer we Seperated. I have been living seperate for about 8 months now. We have no joint debt. No house. No children. We do have a joint bank account that I was solely using since we opened that I am closing this week. Didn’t ever see myself being in this position. It took me awhile to realize it is truly over and my life is different now. My wife makes around 100K a year. We never worried about money. When I realized I couldn’t pay all these bills and what my option was I was devastated. Laid around and moped and had crazy thoughts for about 2 days before I realized time to face reality.

    I guess my first questions: is it too soon to talk to a bankruptcy lawyer? Should I continue paying the debts that I can for now? I cannot pay everyone. I assume the payday lender will be most aggressive should I be paying them?

    After that, what do you tell these creditors when they call? I feel like a failure running from them. Which I guess I am I have put myself in this position. It’s just to the point where I either pay rent and live or pay the creditors.

    Thanks for any input this is going to be a long journey and it helps reading here. I will continue to come back and read and give updates to anyone interested. Thanks again

  • #2
    I'm new and just signed up. I filed for a chapter 13 last month and I was current on every bill. It started in December when I knew a few payments weren't going to get paid. I reached out to a lawyer to see what my options were. I have a ton of credit card debt, a house, and a car. I have very little equity in my home but I wanted to keep it. The lawyer told me that the 13 would be my best bet in paying everything off. I had no late payments so that wasn't included in my payment plan. Just my attorney fee, trustee fee, and a small percentage of unsecured debt. Mortgage, student loans, and the car will be paid outside the plan. My payment plan is far less than I thought it would be. It is a much better plan than to do a debt consolidation. I have to pay for 5 years but it's far easier than stressing about the debt, dealing with the neverending phone calls and such. They take the payment straight out of my check and it's only 12 monthly payments, so if you're paid biweekly, you get to keep 2 full paychecks. It's embarrassing and I didn't want to do it, but I did what was the best option. No one knows I filed with the exception of my payroll department, but I don't know them so no biggie there. I beat myself up too. But all we can do is own it, and move on being more aware of what not to do in the future. I filed right away as I didn't want to deal with creditors calling me. I dealt with about 1 week of calls from 2 creditors, received a few emails, and a couple of text messages then they all ceased once the automatic stay was received by them. It was all worth it for me. I wish you all the best! Keep your head up, it will get better!


    • #3
      It is never too soon to talk to bk attorneys. When you have reached the point of thinking the word "bk" on a regular basis & posting on forums, it's time to become educated and therefore, empowered. You have choices & options. The right thing to do is to know what they are. Have a solid understanding of the law & where you stand, so you can move on from here and sleep at night, knowing it's going to be ok.

      Once you have decided there is no other way out, you stop paying those unsecured creditors. It is money down the drain, pure and simple. When you file, it's not going to make a difference to them whether your balance is 10,000 or 11,000 -- but think of what YOU can do with that $1000 difference right now.

      As far as the calls go, everyone handles this differently. I answered them. Many choose not to. My way worked for me. It may not work for you. What they want is to know what is going on. You can talk to them when you have attorney information to give them, or before. But ultimately that is what they want. And when you actually file, the calls stop. Like the flip of a switch.

      And life goes on. I know it may not feel like it, but I promise you it does. The angst, the stress, the million questions -- they fade. And you can move on with a new chance at your future. You learn a lot of lessons along the way, and you have a lot of lightbulb moments. It is an experience that is both humbling and confidence-building at the same time. It will change you. But I believe, from the majority of what I have seen here, it changes most of us for the better.


      • #4
        Originally posted by BKmyFault View Post
        I guess my first questions: is it too soon to talk to a bankruptcy lawyer?
        It is never too early to talk to a BK lawyer. Here's what I tell others that ask the same question: "The best day to talk to a BK lawyer was yesterday, the better day to talk to a lawyer is today, the worst day to talk to a lawyer is tomorrow." Google some lawyers in your area, search your city's subreddit for bankruptcy lawyer recommendations. Get a short list of lawyers and start interviewing them. Most lawyers give a free introductory consultation where they go over your case, answer a few brief questions, and then give you their fee structure.

        Originally posted by BKmyFault View Post
        Should I continue paying the debts that I can for now?
        Pay what you can afford. In my situation, before I filed BK, I called my creditors and told them, "I know I owe $xx.xx this month. I can afford to pay you $yy.yy. If you offer any kind of hardship program or payment arrangements, I would be interested in more information." Here's when life gets real. You need to determine which expenses NEED to be paid and which expenses WANT to be paid. Expenses NEEDING to be paid would be expenses critical to your survival. Rent, utilities, car payment, gas for your car, food, insurance, medicine, etc.. are necessities for you to survive. Expenses that WANT to be paid would include that pesky payday lender, netflix, dining out, entertainment, etc. Also save enough money to start your BK fund. This fund will be used to pay for your lawyer and expenses that arise from your BK.

        Originally posted by BKmyFault View Post
        I assume the payday lender will be most aggressive should I be paying them?
        Talk to your lawyer first. They will tell you what to do in this situation. My wife had a severe payday loan problem that she hid from me. After speaking to the lawyer which we ended up placing on retainer, the lawyer told us to seize paying all creditors unless it was a debt we wanted to reaffirm (as in not discharge).

        Originally posted by BKmyFault View Post
        After that, what do you tell these creditors when they call?
        First, find and hire a lawyer. They will give you a script to tell creditors. Before the BK is filed in court, the script will be a version of the following: "Mr./Ms Creditor, right now I am in the process of filing bankruptcy. Please update my records to contact my attorney at XXX.XXX.XXXX"

        After your BK is filed and you have a case number, you can tell your creditors: "Mr./Ms. Creditor, I am filing bankruptcy. Your company should be receiving a notice of my bankruptcy in the next 5-7 business days. My lawyer's name and number is XXXXXX at XXX.XXX.XXXX. My BK case number is XXXXXXXX. Please contact my lawyer going forward."

        Originally posted by BKmyFault View Post
        I feel like a failure running from them. Which I guess I am I have put myself in this position. It’s just to the point where I either pay rent and live or pay the creditors.
        Don't feel like a failure. Stuff happens in life. Sometimes you can control it, sometimes you can't. In your case, your primary role is to pay rent and survive. The great thing is we have a bankruptcy process that allows people like you and I to start again and not make the same mistakes as before.

        Filed Chapter 7 - December 2016
        341 Meeting - Jan 2017 (Made the trustee laugh)
        Expected Discharge Date - March 2017


        • #5
          Thanks for the responses guys. It really helps.

          Just a quick update I closed that joint bank account and talked to a bankruptcy lawyer. My consultation is Friday. They emailed me a bunch of forms to fill out and some info to bring like pay stubs, student loan and car loan info. Assuming this is normal for first consultation?

          I have to print and fill out these forms so I was wondering would it be a bad idea to buy a cheap chrome book and printer? I have no other way of printing right now and do now own a computer or printer. I seen one online as cheap as $150 and a cheap $30 printer. Otherwise I’m unsure otherwise how to get this stuff done? Thanks again for the replies.


          • #6
            First of all, you do need paystubs (6 months worth, it sucks!!). If you were like me and threw them away as soon as you got them, you should be able to ask your employer for past copies, and you don't even need to say why. My supervisor told me that a lot of people need it for rent (I didn't specify any reason whatsoever). Your student loan and car loan information is also helpful for your attorney to make sure you qualify for a chapter 7 and that it is in the best interest for you (you don't want to lose your ride do you). My attorney told me straight away what I would need, he didn't require it right away but I knew what to expect.

            Also, regarding the forms, if you don't have a printer right now, there should be no need to get one. Is there a public library near you? I have one that lets me print 50 (oops, 75 just checked) copies in a week for FREE. And if yours charges, it's only like 10 cents a page. I printed at home because I had a printer anyway, but I was more than happy to go to the library if things got too crazy.

            And one more thing, when you file, you'll need bank statements that:
            1. Cover the date of filing
            2. Show balances at the end of each banking day
            3. Cover a minimum of 30 consecutive calendar days

            Official bank statements are best, but if you're like me you won't have any between the date of filing and the time your attorney needs them. Usually provisional statements are okay that show the above.

            My attorney had me fill out the forms after paying the attorney fees plus the first installment of the court fee (In my district $100 can file the case and the rest can be paid before discharge). Shortly after that he filled out the forms and we got to work in finalizing it.

            Also, make sure you have your social security card, or since it's tax season your W2's will work too!!! You'll need that for the mandatory meeting of creditors which will be about a month after you file.

            Best wishes!!!


            • #7
              Have you talked to a divorce attorney? You might be entitled to alimony if you were married for a while.


              • #8
                Another quick update:

                I met with a bankruptcy atty that I found during a google search. They had a few reviews all good and all they deal with is bankruptcy. I was surprised when he said I have too much income for chapter 7. The state median is 58,000 and myW2 was 50,400. A couple of my last pay stubs have OT on them so he wants to wait and have a few in a row with no OT.

                He asked me a few questions while looking over all the paperwork I filled out. Which included my normal expenses. I was conservative on those and now I realize I shouldn’t have been, but regardless he still added some money to items and says he thinks my income is about $400 a month too high. Cutting out the Ot would bring me down about $500 a month just might be hard to do because I like my job and don’t want to develop a bad reputation for missing work.

                He seemed straight forward very “all about business” and had no interest in hearing why I was considering bankruptcy. He said he’s “the guy that gets rid of debt.” He also said he knows all the Trustees and they are all good guys for whatever that is worth. Anyways any insight on why he’s thinking I can’t do chapter 7?

                Should I look for another atty? Thanks again for all the help.


                • #9
                  The means test is based on all pay for the last 6 months. You can find another attorney but if you file anyway with that then you could have the US Trustee knocking on your door unless you are convinced you could beat the POA (Presumption of Abuse).

                  If you were to file before the 28th then you'd take all your pay from August though January add them all up and then multiply by 2. That's probably what your attorney did and it's why he or she is nervous about filing a chapter 7 for you right now.

                  Edit: I do recommend talking to at least three. But do have the same documents this attorney requested that way they can run the numbers too.


                  • #10
                    That's correct, they will look at your income from the last six calendar months, not including the month you file in. That will be multiplied by two to figure out a yearly number, so it doesn't matter what you tell them you make per year if the numbers say otherwise. You want to have those six months work out correctly if you want to be able to qualify for a chapter 7.

                    Another thing to think about which applied to our situation as well, is that if you do end up choosing a chapter 13 or having to do one, do you want that payment calculated on your paychecks that are bringing in overtime? Do you get that overtime year round? In our case, the answer was no. My husband's income varies a lot from week to week and month to month and year-to-year. The money he was making busting his butt to try to make all of those payments we had was definitely not the kind of money that he could make steadily for five years of a plan.


                    • #11
                      es I did have all my income from prior 6 months. My average Gross pay every 2 weeks is just below $1900. So $1900 x 26 pay periods is 49,400. (Net take home is around 1400) my W2 from previous year was 50,400 so it’s staying around the same. The median for my state is 58,000 so I’m 8K below that which is why I was surprised when he said he thinks I have too much income and might be pushed in chapter 13. My bills with no unsecured debt would be about $1300 a month. That doesn’t include food and living expenses etc..

                      He skimmed over all those in about 3-5 minutes also. No calculators. And then said if we can get 2 or 3 checks with no OT we would be ok. Just asking if it seems right giving the fact I’m easily below the median income. I asked about the “90 day rule” because I just took out a payday loan 3 weeks ago and he said he’s not worried payday lenders don’t usually fight it.

                      It also seemed he was he was trying to say but “not say” don’t pay the creditors. I am not currently late on anything but will be next week. They pulled up a packer report on me and obviously there was nothing currently. He said call me in 2 months when you have those lower checks. But kept all my paper work and info so am I allowed to talk to another lawyer? The first question he asked me was if I had talked to any other lawyers.

                      Im still learning as I go clearly.


                      • #12
                        Unless you've signed a retainer agreement then nothing was agreed to. You are welcome to (and strongly advised) to get a second and third opinion.

                        Those documents (paystubs tax returns titles etc) are necessary no matter who you file with and they are YOURS not the attorney's.

                        Payday loans generally aren't above $925 so I'm not too worried about those. Courts hate payday lenders too FWIW.

                        Since you are close it might make sense to wait until March. February is a short month so that should help.

                        My only concern is your budget. Even if you pass the means test the court could still push you into a ch 13. You mention a monthly income of $3800 every four weeks yet continued expenses of $1300 plus living expenses. That's a big gap. Typically your income should be slightly over your expenses at most. You may yet be forced into a 3 year ch 13 even if you can pass the means test. Just wonder what others would say on here.

                        EDIT: Im not trying to be judgemental at all .I'm hoping a ch 7 will work for you. Just saying what could happen based on the numbers.
                        Last edited by Nodebtrenton; 02-16-2018, 09:50 PM.


                        • #13
                          You need to understand that they do not take your gross pay every two weeks times 26. My husband is paid biweekly also. That means in some months, he receives three paychecks. You have to look at -- because they will look at -- what your gross pay actually was for those six months prior. This may sound like splitting hairs to you, but I assure you it's not. I had to keep track of everything on a spreadsheet and we did not file until that six-month window was under the state median income if you multiplied it by 2. That's just how it works. Maybe your number still would not be over the median, but with three paychecks in some months, it does put you closer than you are thinking.


                          • #14
                            Thanks for the replies and info. Honestly. I am just trying to learn and figure out my best option.

                            If it matters, the 3800 is GROSS. After taxes and health insurance my net take home for the 4 weeks is around $2800. So $1300 for rent and car and student loan So I guess I have to show what I am doing with the other $1500 a month correct? I would think fuel for the car and food would be $600-$700. Then entertainment stuff, or is that not included? Are they looking down to the last dollar to see what I would have left? What if I get a flat tire? Oil changes? Personal property tax on the car? Etc... not being smart just curious on how things like this are viewed


                            • #15
                              I understand exactly what you are saying about over/under the median. I assure you no matter how you average it out I am under the median by thousands. I have all my gross and net pays for the last year plus. I added up every single check for the last 6 months. Gross is still under the median easily. That is not the issue I’m having it seems there is a second part even if you are under the median. I was under the impression of you are under the median chapter 7 would be ok. But it seems the difference maker for me is going to be whether I have $1500 or $1200 left after I pay my rent car and student loan.


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