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Ms. Rambeck has retired and the office has closed.  If you have a current case that has not yet been discharged, you can still reach Ms. Rambeck at 770-631-2334.

Is the Trustee Going to Take My Jewelry?

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Is the Trustee Going to Take My Jewelry?

In Georgia, you are allowed to have $500 of jewelry exempted by Georgia statutes from bankruptcy, meaning your jewelry can be worth $500 pawn shop value and you can keep it ($1,000 if married filing bankruptcy jointly).  Georgia’s exemption statute O.C.G.A. 44-13-100 says:   (5) The debtor’s aggregate interest, not to exceed $500.00 in value, in jewelry held primarily for the personal, family, or household use of the debtor or a dependent of the debtor.   Most of my clients have sold off any valuable jewelry before they get to the decision to file bankruptcy, so I’ve not ever had it be an issue.   Don’t gift your valuable jewelry to a relative before filing for bankruptcy.  You have to state on your bankruptcy petition any gifts of over $600 to any one individual.  The trustee can take that gift back and sell it to pay your...

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What is Schedule A in My Bankruptcy?

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What is Schedule A in My Bankruptcy?

Many forms must be filled out to process a bankruptcy.  Schedule A is a list of all real property (land, houses, time shares) that you own.  You must list all of them, whether you own them jointly with another person or all by yourself.   Failure to list all real property may result in the trustee claiming you are hiding assets from the bankruptcy court.  Even if you own a piece of property jointly with 10 other people, you must list the property and tell the trustee what portion of the property interest is yours.   You aren’t necessarily going to lose the property in your bankruptcy.  Your attorney can tell you what exemptions are available (amount of equity in property that you have available) and what the options are if you cannot protect the property.   Don’t do this alone.  I’ve seen many cases fail because debtors didn’t know what they were doing.  If you own a piece of property free and clear of all liens, you definitely need to talk with a bankruptcy attorney before you file.  Failure to do so could cause that farm that’s been in your family for hundreds of years to be sold by the trustee to pay your creditors.  Don’t let that...

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Post I Liked: Why We Run

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This isn’t about why people like to run for exercise.  It’s about why we run from things, thoughts, and people.   I try to keep my blog about bankruptcy (after all, that’s probably why you are here), but it’s Sunday morning and this resonated with me.   Read about it here:  Why We Run from the Clutter, Interrupted blog.   If you want to stop running from your financial problems, call me at...

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Where Do I Go for My Meeting of Creditors?

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Where Do I Go for My Meeting of Creditors?

I mainly practice in the Northern District of Georgia, Newnan Division.  This division covers Carroll, Coweta, Fayette, Haralson, Heard, Meriwether, Pike, Spalding, and Troup Counties.   The Meeting of Creditors for the Newnan Division is not held in a courtroom–it is held in the lower level meeting room at the Country Inn & Suites in Newnan, sideways from WalMart.  There is no judge at the hearing, just the Chapter 7 Trustee.  There is no privacy, either–you are in a meeting room with 9 other sets of people who have also filed bankruptcy.   You must bring a picture ID (driver’s license or passport preferred) and either your Social Security card or an original W-2 or 1099 that has your full Social Security number on...

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Do-It-Yourself Chapter 13 Bankruptcy–Maybe Not

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Do-It-Yourself Chapter 13 Bankruptcy–Maybe Not

Most lawyers advise against someone filing their own bankruptcy petition.  About 10-15% of people who file Chapter 7 do so without an attorney and most do it successfully. I don’t have a problem with someone filing their own Chapter 7, but I do get concerned when someone tries to manage their own Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a different situation. There are more reporting requirements and creating a repayment plan that will be accepted by the creditors, the trustee, and the court takes special knowledge of Bankruptcy Code, bankruptcy forms, and local procedures. I get a call or two every month from someone who has filed a Chapter 13 without an attorney. I usually invite them to come in for a free consultation and I ask them to bring in everything they’ve filed with the court and all correspondence they’ve received from the court and their creditors. I can look up their case on-line to see what’s happened so far. Without fail, I’ll see forms and schedules that have been inaccurately completed or left completely blank. I will look at any objections to the repayment plan that have been filed (there is at least one objection 99% of the time). It’s usually after the objections have been filed that someone will call me looking for help. Usually, I can help. After I review the petition, plan, and all of the client’s supporting documents to make sure there are no discrepancies with the petition, I’ll enter an appearance as their attorney. From that point, I’ll take control of the case. I will update and amend the schedules and review the plan to address any objections that have been filed and make sure that the minimum allowable payment is provided for. My job is to guide my clients through the bankruptcy process to make sure they get through it safely. That’s my objective whether they come to me from the beginning or after they’ve tried to manage their own...

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What is Redemption in Bankruptcy?

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If you owe more on a car or other secured debt than the property is worth, redemption may be the best option for you.  There’s a great article on it at Nolo.com that gives valuable information on this.

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Will Bankruptcy Stop a Lawsuit Against Me?

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Will Bankruptcy Stop a Lawsuit Against Me?

Bankruptcy is great for making the creditors stop calling you and for stopping collection actions.  However, filing bankruptcy does not stop all types of lawsuits or efforts to collect money. Bankruptcy will not stop the following actions: The prosecution of a criminal case A paternity, child support, or alimony case A tax audit, the issuance of a tax deficiency notice, a demand for a tax return, the issuance of a tax assessment, or the demand for payment of such an assessment Evictions, in some cases Tell your bankruptcy attorney about any of these lawsuits or actions you have so your attorney can make the best decision for you in your...

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I’m Going to Lose All My Stuff!!

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I’m Going to Lose All My Stuff!!

A common thing I hear from potential clients–“I’m going to lose everything!” Lots of people think they will lose everything in their bankruptcy so they give things (like cars, boats, furs, and jewelry) to their family members so the court won’t take those things. That’s a bad thing to do and an incorrect assumption to make.   Georgia bankruptcy has things called “exemptions” that allow you to keep most of what you own. Even if you have equity in a car or house (you don’t owe more on it than it is worth), you might be able to keep it. Homestead exemptions are $21,500 (double if you are married and the property is titled jointly), so you can have $43,000 in equity in a home if you live in it. Cars are allowed $5,000 equity (double that if you are married and the car is also titled jointly).   Your attorney will make sure that your property is covered by the State’s exemptions (or Federal exemptions if you haven’t lived in Georgia for the past three years). If there is property that cannot be covered by an exemption, your attorney will tell you and let you know what you might expect. Giving your property away before bankruptcy creates its own unique set of problems. There is a place on your bankruptcy forms that asks if you’ve transferred or sold anything of value in the last two years. If so, you must list it and the value you received. Other than selling things in the normal course of business (you sold that old junker to get a car that runs), this will raise red flags for your trustee and they will want to know why you gave property away.   Talk to your attorney about these issues if you have them. Forewarned is forearmed and your attorney will help you keep what you are able. Call for a free bankruptcy consultation appointment...

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Things to Bring to Your Meeting of Creditors

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Things to Bring to Your Meeting of Creditors

Your trustee will need to see your photo ID and proof of your Social Security number generated by someone besides you.  They also require a copy of your most recently filed Federal tax return (your attorney will normally send that in a week before the hearing).   You can bring a Driver’s License, state-issued identification, or your passport for a photo ID.  For proof of your Social Security number, you can bring your Social Security card (not a copy of it) or an original W-2 or 1099 that has your full Social Security number on it.   If you don’t have both, your trustee will reset the meeting for you to bring the missing ID.  For some clients, it’s hard enough to get time off from work to make the first meeting.  Bringing both forms of ID ensures you won’t have to return for that.  To be extra sure, bring a copy of your most recent tax return in case the trustee did not receive...

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What Happens at My Meeting of Creditors?

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What Happens at My Meeting of Creditors?

Your Meeting of Creditors (also called a 341 hearing, as that is the Bankruptcy Code section that covers creditors attending a hearing where you testify about your bankruptcy information) may be scary to you, but it shouldn’t be.   What happens:   Here in the Newnan District, south of Atlanta, the Meeting of Creditors is held at the Country Inn & Suites in Newnan, not in a courtroom. You don’t meet with the judge who handles your case, you meet with the Trustee.  There are 10 debtors scheduled each hour and you will be in the meeting room with those folks and their attorneys.   When you are called up to the table, you will present your driver’s license and Social Security card to the Trustee so he can check your ID against what is on the petition (basically making sure you are who you’ve said you are). You will be sworn in (you swear or affirm you will tell the truth). The Trustee will ask you to state your full name. Your attorney will state his/her name. Then a very standardized list of questions is asked. Unless you have your own business or you own property, the questions asked are very quick and easy. They may vary slightly, but pretty much all Debtors get asked the same things:   1. Did you read and sign all of the documents? 2. Are you personally familiar with the information in those documents? 3. Is everything in your petition, schedules and related documents true and correct? 4. Are there any corrections you need to disclose? 5. Have you filed for bankruptcy before? When? 6. Did you read and understand the Bankruptcy Court information sheet about filing for bankruptcy? 7. Are all of your assets listed? 8. Are all of your creditors listed? 9. Are you still employed at ______? 10. Is the tax return sent (the last one filed) a true and accurate copy of your most recent tax return? 11. Are you obligated to pay child support or alimony? 12. Are you involved in any lawsuits? 13. Do you have the ability to sue anyone? 14. Have you made any balance transfers on your credit cards in the past year? 15. Have you paid any creditors a lump sum or paid off any in the past year? 16. How many people are in your household? 17. Do you own any real estate? a. Value (how determined): b. Purchase price? c. Did you put any money down on the property? d. Any improvements (such as adding a room)? 18. Have you transferred any money or property to anyone within 1 year of filing? 19. Have you operated a business or been an owner of a business in the past 2 years? If yes, there will be a few more questions about how long you’ve been in business and does the business have any inventory or assets. 20. Is your name on any property jointly owned with a family member, such as mother, father, brother, sister? 21. Has anyone passed away recently from whom you expect to inherit? 22. Have you received or do you expect to receive a tax refund for the past year? 23. Have you lived exclusively in Georgia for the past three years?   Your Trustee will ask...

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