Livonia Michigan Bankruptcy - Michigan Bankruptcy Blog

Livonia Michigan Bankruptcy

Michigan Bankruptcy Blog

Can you get out of debt without filing bankruptcy?

Posted by Peter Behrmann, Esq. On June 7th

Can you get out of debt without filing bankruptcy?

Livonia Bankruptcy Attorneys

Husband & Wife Lawyers Focused On You

 

Each week we meet with a dozen or so prospective clients seeking advice on whether bankruptcy is right for them.  The process is actually quite simple and sets most people at ease when they come to us with all of their financial stress.   Our consultations really have two parts.  The first part is for us to evaluate your financial situation.  This allows us to understand what your issues are and what end result you are seeking.  The second part is for us to educate you on bankruptcy and if a bankruptcy is a viable option for your financial situation. 

 

When you come in for a consultation, we will sit down with you and have a conversation to find out how and why you got here.  Although, we can’t change what happened in the past what we can do is give you options to put you on a better path for the future.  Once we have an overview of your particular situation then we will be able to explain to you all of your options along with the pros and cons of each option. 

 

Each week out of the dozen people we meet with we end up forwarding 3 or 4 of those people to other services non-bankruptcy related.  You see, not everyone needs to file bankruptcy, not everyone can file bankruptcy, and bankruptcy is not the solution for everyone.  Contrary to us being  bankruptcy attorneys, we not a bankruptcy sales people.  We believe that our job is to allow you to make an educated decision on if bankruptcy is the right or wrong option for you. 

 

Depending on your financial situation, there are options to get out of debt without filing bankruptcy.  There are instances where someone may be able to deal with it on their own but just needed direction on how to do it.  In other instances, it might be better to hire someone to negotiate and settle the debt.  By coming in to sit down with us we will be able to evaluate your situation and give you your options.   

 

This all being said bankruptcy is a very powerful tool and when used in the right circumstances can really change people’s lives.  Equally as important if used in the wrong circumstances could really destroy someone’s financial life. 

 

Peter & Jeri Behrmann are Livonia Bankruptcy Attorneys.  From our Livonia, Michigan location, we represent clients throughout Metro Detroit and beyond, including Garden City, Wayne, Westland, Redford, Dearborn, Taylor, Ann Arbor, Belleville, Northville, Novi, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Canton, and the Counties of Wayne, Oakland, Livingston, and Washtenaw. Our practice is limited to helping consumers like you file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

How do I do bankruptcy different then the guy down the street?

Posted by Peter Behrmann, Esq. On May 29th

How do I do bankruptcy different then the guy down the street?DSC_5011a

 

Consumers like to have options. This is why you often see a Home Depot right across the street from a Lowes.  Sometimes you’re going to be happier at Home Depot, and sometimes you’re going to be happier at your local True Value hardware.  Now, don’t get me wrong; I like Home Depot but sometimes it’s just nicer and easier to stop by the local hardware where the people know you and you receive one on one customer service.

 

In Bankruptcy, you have the same options available to you.  There are Lowes and Home Depot bankruptcy firms, and there are bankruptcy firms like mine that are more of a neighborhood hardware store.  Just last week I was talking to an attorney and owner of a very large bankruptcy firm and he told me this: “If I am not at my desk I am losing money.”  So their model is the owner sits at his desk and does consultations and legal work.  Then a junior associate represents you in court.  Several other firms in the Detroit area have upwards of twelve attorneys practicing bankruptcy.  Each time you contact their office or go to court you will have a different attorney, or someone new representing you.

 

Now in both of these examples above you will get a bankruptcy, just as if you went to Home Depot or Lowes you will get what you’re looking for.   Now here is how we do things different, at my firm you will get my wife and me that is who you are hiring isn’t it?  We will be the ones you have your first consultation with, we will be the people you hire, we will be the ones that prepare and review your bankruptcy petition, we will be the ones that review the petition with you and we will be the ones that attend your court hearings with you! 

 

Now notice that I used the term WE.  My wife and I work on all of our bankruptcies together.  We have found over the years that having both of us work on every case creates a checks and balance system to make sure your case is a perfect as it can be prior to filing.   So to us it does not matter if your case is a simple Chapter 7 or a complicated Chapter 13, your case will be reviewed by both of us prior to it being filed with the bankruptcy court.  If you’re looking for a more personable bankruptcy firm where the person you hire will be the person with you from start to finish, we are your firm!

 Peter Behrmann is a Livonia Bankruptcy Attorney.  From my Livonia, Michigan location, I represent clients throughout Metro Detroit and beyond, including Garden City, Wayne, Westland, Redford, Dearborn, Taylor, Ann Arbor, Belleville, Northville, Novi, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Canton, and the Counties of Wayne, Oakland, Livingston, and Washtenaw. My practice is limited to helping consumers like you file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

Free Legal Advice – Not Just Bankruptcy!

Posted by Peter Behrmann, Esq. On May 1st

Free Legal Advice – Not Just Bankruptcy!Livonia Bar Association

 
Anyone need free legal advice? Myself and other attorneys from the Livonia Bar Association will be celebrating law day today, May 1, from 5:30-7:30 pm at the Livonia Civic Center Library offering free advice to everyone in many areas of law.
 
Stop by if you need to talk to an attorney!
 
Need a non-bankruptcy attorney?  Check out http://www.livoniabar.org
 

Peter Behrmann is a Livonia Bankruptcy Attorney.  From my Livonia, Michigan location, I represent clients throughout Metro Detroit and beyond, including Garden City, Wayne, Westland, Redford, Dearborn, Taylor, Ann Arbor, Belleville, Northville, Novi, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Canton, and the Counties of Wayne, Oakland, Livingston, and Washtenaw. My practice is limited to helping consumers like you file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

The Bankruptcy Petition Coversheet

Posted by Peter Behrmann, Esq. On April 29th

The Bankruptcy Petition Coversheet  Bankruptcy Petition Cover Sheet

In the Eastern District of Michigan Local Bankruptcy Rule 1002-1(B) provides that a petition filed for bankruptcy shall be accompanied by a completed “Bankruptcy Petition Coversheet” available on the courts website. 

BK Coversheet

This Bankruptcy coversheet has to be signed by both you and your attorney and it has you list all companion cases that you have.  A companion case is any prior bankruptcies that you, your spouse or your business partner have been involved in.  The number one reason for the court having you complete this coversheets is the in the Eastern District of Michigan they have a policy of assigning your case to the same judge, or the preceding judge that handled your prior case.  The concept is that if the prior judge is familiar with your prior preceding, he or she might be best suited to handle your next bankruptcy matter.

The Bankruptcy Petition Coversheet also has you check several boxes and fill out several blanks if your bankruptcy you are filing is a Chapter 13.  These blanks involve you disclosing what your prior Chapter 13 Attorneys fees were, and also involve you certifying if you are eligible to receive a discharge in your Chapter 13 matter, or if you are filing your Chapter 13 bankruptcy to just reorganize with our requesting a discharge of your debts. 

 

Peter Behrmann is a Livonia Bankruptcy Attorney.  From my Livonia, Michigan location, I represent clients throughout Metro Detroit and beyond, including Garden City, Wayne, Westland, Redford, Dearborn, Taylor, Ann Arbor, Belleville, Northville, Novi, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Canton, and the Counties of Wayne, Oakland, Livingston, and Washtenaw. My practice is limited to helping consumers like you file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

The Bankruptcy Petition in Detroit

Posted by Peter Behrmann, Esq. On April 12th

The Bankruptcy Petition in DetroitBankruptcy Petition Cover Sheet

So you have decided to file bankruptcy.  You have decided to hire an attorney to fill out the “Bankruptcy Petition” for you and represent you throughout the bankruptcy process. Your attorney should fill out every form that is necessary for your file for the bankruptcy petition; however, below is the most common forms that need to be filled out in each bankruptcy case.  Together, they are the “Bankruptcy Petition” that is filed with the court.

The Bankruptcy Petition Includes:

  • The Bankruptcy Petition Cover Sheet
  • The Bankruptcy Petition (B1 Official Form 1 with Exhibits A – D.)
    • Exhibit A
    • Exhibit B
    • Exhibit C
    • Exhibit D
  • Schedule A – Real Property
  • Schedule B – Personal Property
  • Schedule C – Property Claimed as Exempt
  • Schedule D – Creditors Holding Secured Claims
  • Schedule E – Creditors Holding Unsecured Priority Claims
  • Schedule F – Creditors Holding Unsecured Nonpriority Caims
  • Schedule G – Executory Contracts and Unexpired Leases
  • Schedule H – Codebtors
  • Schedule I – Current Income of Individuals Debtors
  • Schedule J – Current Expenditures of Individual Debtors
  • Summary of Schedules
  • Statistical Summary of Certain Liabilities and Related Data
  • Declaration Concerning Debtor’s Schedules
  • Statement of Financial Affairs
  • Certification of Notice to Consumer Debtors Under Section 342(b) of the Bankruptcy Code
  • Statement of Attorney for Debtor(s) Pursuant to F.R.Bankr.P.2016(b)
  • Verification of Creditors Matrix
  • Means Test (Form 22A or 22C)
  • Statement of Social Security Number
  • Chapter 13 Plan (In Chapter 13 cases only)
  • Form 23

The most important rule when filling out any of these forms with your attorney is to fill the forms out completely and truthfully.  As you can see there are a lot of forms and when they are all complete the “Bankruptcy Petition” is a picture of your entire financial situation.  Your petition is how you prove to the bankruptcy court that you truly are in need of the financial relief of a bankruptcy discharge.

Peter Behrmann is a Livonia Bankruptcy Attorney.  From my Livonia, Michigan location, I represent clients throughout Metro Detroit and beyond, including Garden City, Wayne, Westland, Redford, Dearborn, Taylor, Ann Arbor, Belleville, Northville, Novi, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Canton, and the Counties of Wayne, Oakland, Livingston, and Washtenaw. My practice is limited to helping consumers like you file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

Giving to church and filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Posted by Peter Behrmann, Esq. On March 31st

Giving to church and filing Chapter 13 BankruptcyChurch and Bankruptcy

 

Happy Easter!  On this religious day I figured I would post about religious giving in bankruptcy.  Specifically, about giving to your local church and filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Detroit.  I can not count the number of people who have came into my office that their number one concern about filing bankruptcy is whether or not they are going to be able to continue to tithe each week.  In short answer, yes.

 

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, we have to make a budget of your average monthly income and average monthly expenses that are reasonable and necessary for you and your family.  In Detroit, the Chapter 13 Trustee’s and the Chapter 13 Judges have consistently let families continue to tithe at the rate they have been giving in the past.  We are able to budget this monthly tithing in your budget and it will in turn decrease the amount of your Chapter 13 payment is each month to your creditors.

 

Now this does not mean that you can suddenly decide to start giving, or suddenly decide to increase your giving level prior to filing bankruptcy.  The bankruptcy process of allowing you to contribute to your church is an option if have been giving in the past. 

 

I have budgeted up to 10 percent for a family that had the records to prove they have been giving 10 percent for their entire life.  We simply provided the bankruptcy trustee with a print out from my clients church showing her contributions over the past two years and the Trustee approved the expense.

 

In short, if you’re having issues making your normal living expenses a lot of people immediately stop giving to church.  However, sometimes the best answer is to meet with me and stop paying your credit cards so you can continue to contribute to your house of worship.

 

Peter Behrmann is a Livonia Bankruptcy Attorney.  From my Livonia, Michigan location, I represent clients throughout Metro Detroit and beyond, including Garden City, Wayne, Westland, Redford, Dearborn, Taylor, Ann Arbor, Belleville, Northville, Novi, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Canton, and the Counties of Wayne, Oakland, Livingston, and Washtenaw. My practice is limited to helping consumers like you file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

Median Income for Michigan Changing April 1, 2013

Posted by Peter Behrmann, Esq. On March 28th

Median Income for Michigan Changing April 1, 2013Median Income in Livonia Bankruptcy

 

Come April 1, 2013, the Median Income for Michigan used for bankruptcy eligibility will be changing once again.  The Median Income last changed November 1, 2012. The Median income figures are used in figuring out the first part of the “Means Test” that is required when figuring out if you are eligible for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, or for figuring out in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy if you will be required to commit to a 36, or a 60 month repayment plan.

 

Michigan Median Income Figures:

 

Family Size

 

1 Person

2 People

3 People

4 People

New Median Income

$45,029

$52,621

$61,715

$73,864

Current Median Income

$44,116

$51,554

$60,464

$72,366

*Plus 8,100 for each person over 4

 

Chapter 7 – Median Income

 

In a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the Median Income figure is used to see if you pass the first part of the Means Test.  For example, a single guy making $60,000 per year would not pass the Median Income portion of the Means Test and would most likely have to file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.  Whereas, a family of four people making $60,000 per year would most likely pass the Means Test and be eligible for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

 

Chapter 13 – Median Income

 

In a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, the Median Income figure is used to determine your commitment period to the bankruptcy.  For example, a single guy making $60,000 per year would have a commitment period of 60 months if he was to file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.  Whereas, a family of four people making $60,000 per year would have a commitment period of 36 months if they were to file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

 

Impact of the New Median Income Figures

 

The impact of the new Median Income figures is that less people will now be eligible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy then prior to April 1, 2013. For people looking to do a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, less people will be eligible for a shorter 36 month, over the longer 60 month commitment period.  The biggest change is the Median Income for a family of three which is increasing to $61,725, a $1,251 increase.  What this means is that individuals in Michigan are making slightly more money than they were six months ago.

 

 

Peter Behrmann is a Livonia Bankruptcy Attorney.  From my Livonia, Michigan location, I represent clients throughout Metro Detroit and beyond, including Garden City, Wayne, Westland, Redford, Dearborn, Taylor, Ann Arbor, Belleville, Northville, Novi, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Canton, and the Counties of Wayne, Oakland, Livingston, and Washtenaw. My practice is limited to helping consumers like you file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

Repaying debts and not filing bankruptcy

Posted by Peter Behrmann, Esq. On March 15th

Repaying debts and not filing bankruptcyDebt Gone

Bankruptcy is not for everyone.  Yes, you heard me, I am a bankruptcy attorney and I am telling you that not everyone needs to file for bankruptcy.  Each week I meet with at least one person where I will flat out tell them that bankruptcy is not for them, or perhaps there are other options available to them.

So let’s say you’re not going to file bankruptcy?  How can you yourself repay you debts?  Here is my advice:

  • Mortgage, rent, car payments all need to be made first.  These are the most important financial obligations you have.  I know if you are one day late on your visa payment they are going to be calling you and your mortgage company will give you 30 days before they call.  It does not matter, pay your mortgage first!
  • Next, stay current on your tax obligations, utilities, and essential financial obligations.  It’s not going to do you any good to get your electric service turned off in order to pay a credit card, stay current on these obligations to avoid late fees and other penalties that you cannot afford.
  • Now that your house, car, taxes, and utilities are all current, you can start paying your other unsecured debts, credit cards, student loans, and medical bills.  You will see that this group of debt is last on my list because is needs to be last on your list to pay as well.  I see so many people that are current on everything except their first mortgage because their mortgage payment is their highest payment. When in theory this should be the first bill you are paying. 

Now obviously this advice only will work if you can afford to make all of you financial obligations.  This very well may be advice that I give to someone who may have fallen behind on some bills due to a job loss and now is back to working and I feel that they are going to be able to catch everything up without my help.  If you curious about your situation I offer a no obligation consultation where I will review you financial situation to see what path I think is best for you.  Sometimes that path is bankruptcy; sometimes that path is listed right above, you taking care of your own financial matters on your own. 

 

Peter Behrmann is a Livonia Bankruptcy Attorney.  From my Livonia, Michigan location, I represent clients throughout Metro Detroit and beyond, including Garden City, Wayne, Westland, Redford, Dearborn, Taylor, Ann Arbor, Belleville, Northville, Novi, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Canton, and the Counties of Wayne, Oakland, Livingston, and Washtenaw. My practice is limited to helping consumers like you file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

Phoenix Law to sponsor event with new US Congressman

Posted by Peter Behrmann, Esq. On February 28th

CongressmanPhoenix Law to sponsor Livonia Chamber event with new US Congressman to be held at School Craft College on March 27.

Congressman Kerry Bentivolio was newly sworn in as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 3, 2013. Bentivolio says his top priority is to fight for common-sense solutions in Washington and provide superb constituent services to the people of Southeast Michigan.

Bentivolio, a Michigan native, background includes military service, business, automotive design, real estate, political activism, education, and community involvement. After high school, Kerry enlisted into the U.S. Army, serving as an infantry rifleman in Vietnam. Upon his honorable discharge, he attended Oakland Community College. He then transferred from OCC to Michigan State University and later earned a Bachelor of Arts from St. Mary’s College and a Master of Education from Marygrove College.

For more than 20 years, Bentivolio proudly served with the Michigan Army National Guard where he worked to protect and defend the U.S. He served with the military police on the home front during Desert Storm and in Iraq in 2007, at age 56, with an Artillery Unit in an administrative capacity. Kerry was medically evacuated from Iraq after suffering a neck injury and retired.

At the Livonia Chamber’s Wake-Up Livonia program on March 27, Bentivolio will talk about his initiatives to support small business and answer your questions on other issues.  

 

Peter Behrmann is a Livonia Bankruptcy Attorney.  From my Livonia, Michigan location, I represent clients throughout Metro Detroit and beyond, including Garden City, Wayne, Westland, Redford, Dearborn, Taylor, Ann Arbor, Belleville, Northville, Novi, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Canton, and the Counties of Wayne, Oakland, Livingston, and Washtenaw. My practice is limited to helping consumers like you file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, and Foreclosure Prevention.

Bankruptcy is not a game

Posted by Peter Behrmann, Esq. On February 21st

Bankruptcy GameYesterday, I was sitting at a Bankruptcy 341 meeting with my clients in Detroit watching a hearing prior to our case being called.  We got a real show, an individual that obviously was not prepared by his attorney on how the bankruptcy and 341 process goes.   This individual sat down at the table, his face was red and he was obviously mad that he was even there.  Now don’t get me wrong, no one wants to be at bankruptcy court; however, your bankruptcy hearing which is usually a quick five minute hearing is basically the last step you have to take in becoming debt free.

 

As the hearing with this individual progressed, it was obvious that he was simply not listening to the questions the Trustee was asking him.  The Trustee who was beginning to also become flustered with this individual finally asked what seemed like a simple yes or no question.  “Have you destroyed any of the books and papers of your business?”  The individual continuing his uncooperative nature answered that question “I have the last seven years of books and papers for the business.”  The Trustee then again asked the individual to listen to his question, and again asked “Have you destroyed any books and papers of the business?”  Again, the individual responded “I have the last seven years.”   The Trustee and the individual then went back in forth for several moments before the individual disclosed that he has recently discarded all paperwork that was over seven years old.

 

As the hearing progressed further the combativeness continued and the Trustee eventually pointed out on the record that the individual was not listening to the questions, not providing him with correct answers, and “not scoring any points with the way he was acting.”  To even my surprise, the individual responded to the Trustee that he did not realize that this was a game that he was trying to score points for.

 

Now, thankfully I have never had a client act this rude at a hearing before.  Perhaps it is because I sit down with each of my clients prior to the hearing and go over with them what is going to happen:

  • The first thing that is going to happen is both you and me are going to sit down at the table, you will be sworn in where you will promise that you will tell the truth.
  • Next, I put my appearance on the record and I will ask you to verify your bankruptcy petition signatures where you will testify that you read and reviewed the bankruptcy paperwork prior to it being filed with the court and the information contained in your bankruptcy paperwork is truthful and accurate. 
  • Finally, the Trustee and any of your creditors will have the opportunity to ask you questions regarding the information that is in your bankruptcy paperwork.  You have a duty to cooperate with the Trustee and answer the questions truthfully.

 

Now simply by following this most of my bankruptcy hearings last less than five minutes.  Whereas the hearing for the above individual went over twenty minuets and will mostly be drawn out in a further hearing under section 2004 of the Bankruptcy Code.  Worse, if this individual continues his combative nature he may not even receive his bankruptcy discharge, the entire purpose for him even being there in the first place.    You see Section 521 (a) (3) of the bankruptcy code require debtors to “cooperate with the trustee as necessary to enable the trustee to perform the trustee’s duties under this title.” If you as a debtor do not cooperate with the Trustee, the trustee may ask the bankruptcy court to deny the relief you are seeking, specifically to deny your bankruptcy discharge.  Simply put bankruptcy is not a game, and if you treat it as such you will come out on the losing end. 

 

Peter Behrmann is a Livonia Bankruptcy Attorney.  From my Livonia, Michigan location, I represent clients throughout Metro Detroit and beyond, including Garden City, Wayne, Westland, Redford, Dearborn, Taylor, Ann Arbor, Belleville, Northville, Novi, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Canton, and the Counties of Wayne, Oakland, Livingston, and Washtenaw. My practice is limited to helping consumers like you file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

 

Image Credit to: garlandcannon