I think we could lose our home from a foreclosure or sheriff/constable sale. What now?

February 7, 2013

If your house is in the midst of foreclosure, filing bankruptcy is a way to save your home. One of the most important things to remember is that you need to take action now. Too many people wait until the week of the sheriff sale to try to file bankruptcy. This is a mistake. There are just too many documents that you must deliver to your bankruptcy attorney’s office before you can file. And once your attorney has those documents, your lawyer needs to carefully examine them. Too often the wrong document is brought in. For example, your attorney wants six months worth of pay stubs. But it can not be just any six months. Another problem with waiting is the closer that you get to sale date the more costs are incurred that you will have to pay back in your Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment. To be really safe you should contact a bankruptcy lawyer the day you receive a notice from a court that a creditor has begun the steps towards suing you.

Somebody forgot to mention a lawsuit. . .

August 2, 2012

What is the worst that could happen?  In a recent local bankruptcy case,  E.S. had a personal injury claim against Vioxx that she failed to mention in her bankruptcy. It was an asset of her estate.  She argued that she did not know that her bankruptcy  attorney did not include it in her bankruptcy, because, for one thing, it was an emotional time for her.  She said that she was relying on her bankruptcy attorney to make correct disclosures in her petition.  

One of the things that you will do on the day of your filing your bankruptcy is sign your bankruptcy petition asserting that the petition you are filing is true and that you have read it.  The judge noted that she had signed the petition and as such failing to disclose the asset could not be considered inadvertent.


How did the Vioxx Debacle Happen? USA Today story from 10/12/2004

23 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

January 20, 2012

This shortand very popular Youtube video was sent by a friend. The advice given will not help you with past healthcare bills. But boy will it reduce your future ones. Do yourself a favor and take a look.

Things are not looking too sharp for Kodak

January 5, 2012

For over a century Kodak has been one of the premier companies in America. Once upon a time it created the most well regarded product in its field in the form of Kodachrome slide film. If you were a photographer who worked in high end magazine photography  whether the camera in your hands was a Leica or a Hasselblad it was probably loaded with Kodachrome.

The magazine that printed your photo may have dissolved into landfill in a few months; but the Kodachrome slide would still be sharp with all the colors intact. I have seen Kodachrome slides taken in the 1940s that still look like they were taken yesterday. Kodachrome was famed for being the only archival color film in existence. All the others lose their colors and the jury is still out on how long digital images will last.

But those times are gone.  Kodak has gradually phased out Kodachrome– most professional photographers have found it easier to switch to digital. You can buy a digital adapter for your Hasselblad (if you have a spare $20,000 lying around.)

The Wall Street Journal reports that investors are unloading  Kodak stock shares priced below 50 cents.

Kodak will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It remains to be seen whether the company will be able to take advantage of filing and recover strongly like Chrysler in the 1970s and many other companies since. On the other hand it could gradually disappear like quite a few other once famed companies. Here is a list from Wikipedia containing both those that survived and some that did not: List of Business Failures.



Obama to offer student loan relief

October 26, 2011

WASHINGTON—Millions of student loan borrowers will be eligible to lower their payments and consolidate their loans under a plan President Barack Obama intends to announce Wednesday, the White House said.

Obama will use his executive authority to provide student loan relief in two ways.

First, he will accelerate a measure passed by Congress that reduces the maximum repayment on student loans from 15 percent of discretionary income annually to 10 percent. The White House wants it to go into effect in 2012, instead of 2014. In addition, the White House says the remaining debt would be forgiven after 20 years, instead of 25. About 1.6 million borrowers could be affected.

Second, he will allow borrowers who have loans from both the Family Education Loan Program and a direct loan from the government to consolidate them into one loan. The consolidated loan would be up to a half percentage point less. This could affect 5.8 million more borrowers.

Read the Full Story

The Early Show: Student loan debt exceeds $1 trillion

October 26, 2011

As the attached video shows, student loans are a giant problem that is not going away. For one thing they are no longer dischargeable in bankruptcy except for all but the most extreme situations. Really the only type of loan that is protected from bankruptcy. Students who pursued a higher education with an eye towards having a better life are instead trapped paying for the equivalent cost of a house. Except this is a house that they will never be able to live in.

Money that should be spent stimulating the economy by being a downpayment on an actual first home is instead more or less trapped in bank vaults. That does not mean that bankruptcy cannot help though. By getting rid of other debt the person with large student loans can devote more of his or her income to getting rid of this albatross. Some borrowers have taken advantage of Chapter 13 in paying back their loans while they are in the Chapter 13.

The main thing is to keep in touch with those in charge of your student loans. You should do so especially if you are between jobs. There are programs to delay payment for those in that situation. Sallie Mae,for one, the largest provider of government student loans has programs for forbearance of the loans for those in need.

Who is the Trustee and what will the Trustee ask me at the Meeting of Creditors?

October 24, 2011

The Trustee is the presiding officer at the Meeting of Creditors. The meeting does not occur in a courtroom.

After you are sworn in the trustee is required to ask you questions about your petition —

  • Whether you have read the bankruptcy information sheet?
  •  Whether you signed and read all of the documents involved in your petition?
  • Is the information accurate?
  •  Have you listed all creditors?
  •  Did you list all assets?
  • Do you know of any errors on the petition?
  • Have you filed bankruptcy before?
The Trustee may ask more detailed questions if desired.  Here is a list of suggested questions by the Department of Justice for Trustees listed under
SAMPLE GENERAL QUESTIONS (To be asked when deemed appropriate.)


The Trustee will ask at best only a few of these questions, but it would be worthwhile to be familiar with them.

By far the most important thing is to be completely honest. One of the worst thing you can do is trying to hide the fact that you have something of value. As long as you keep that in mind you should not have any trouble with the meeting of creditors.

In most cases you should be able to keep your motor vehicle, However –

October 24, 2011

There are a number of important considerations:

  • What is the value of your car?
  • Do you own, the car outright or are paying off a car loan?Kia Spectra
  • If you are paying off a loan, how much is left?
  • Do you have more that one vehicle?
  • Is it used for business — not counting driving to work and back?
  • Are you current on your payments or are you in arrears (behind in your payments)?
  • Would it be better for you to just surrender the car?

The answer to these questions can help us decide whether your needs are best served by the simpler Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or if it would be better for you to be in a Chapter 13.

I will address these issues as they apply to motor vehicles in Louisiana in future posts. But until then if you do have any immediate needs please feel free to call my office. As always, your first appointment will be for a free consultation.

Do many people file bankruptcy due to health problems and the resulting bills?

October 24, 2011

Yes.  The results of a study featured in the American Journal of Medicine in 2009 found that —
image licensed under creative commons

  •  62.1% of all bankruptcies have a medical cause.
  • Most medical debtors were well educated and middle class; three quarters had health insurance.
  • The share of bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 50% between 2001 and 2007.
— source

Medical Bills Cause Most Bankrutpcies

Could Mr P pay back a little each month for the next say 15 years?

October 14, 2011

Mr Pierrotti filed for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to keep from losing his home. He had missed a few mortgage payments and the home was going into foreclosure. His bank and the IRS both had a security interest in his home. He owed the IRS back taxes for quite a few years back and was hoping he would be able to pay it back a little at a time, for about 15 years. The United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals turned him down. For one thing the longest a Chapter 13 could last is 5 years:

The sole issue before us on appeal is whether a proposed Chapter 13 plan may modify a secured claim for a tax deficiency into a long-term debt payable over a period longer than the Bankruptcy Code-mandated term of a Chapter 13 plan In his proposed Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan, Debtor-Appellant Carl Mitchell Pierrotti sought to “modify” the Internal Revenue Service’s secured claims for long-overdue tax deficiencies into a long-term debt payable over a period of fifteen years. We hold that he may not do so, because those tax deficiencies are not debts whose pre-bankruptcy payment terms include a final payment date that falls beyond the five-year term of Pierrotti’s Chapter 13 plan.

IN THE MATTER OF PIERROTTI, Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit 2011




The law office of Steven J. Hunter is a debt relief agency. I help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code

Full Legal Disclaimer

What is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a right provided by law to people who are deeply in debt and in need of a fresh start. Bankruptcy will discharge many of your debts and you will not have to pay them, except that mortgages and other liens may still need to be paid if you want to keep the secured property.

See Beginner's Bankruptcy above