Credit Reports and Affordable Bankruptcy Options FAQs

Credit Reports and Affordable Bankruptcy Options FAQs

By Ginger B. Kelly, Esq., April 3, 2019

I often get questions from my clients regarding how long a bankruptcy and debt will remain on their credit reports, after declaring or filing bankruptcy.  Here are a few of those frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding credit reporting and how to pay for a lawyer to help with filing bankruptcy:

My bankruptcy was discharged about 10 years ago. What do I have to do to have it removed from my credit report?

~James, from Dudley

Dear James,

Since your bankruptcy and other accounts included within your bankruptcy will be deleted automatically, you don’t have to do anything to have them removed.

Although the date your discharge was recorded is the date your bankruptcy plan was completed, this date has nothing to do with when the information will be deleted. It is very possible that the information about your bankruptcy has been already deleted from your credit report.

How Long Does Bankruptcy Stay on the Credit Report?

~Dave, from Charlton

Dear Dave,

The date your bankruptcy will be deleted from your credit report is not set in stone.  Credit Bureaus will delete this public information anywhere from 7 to 10 years from the date you filed your bankruptcy.  The reason why this is not set in stone is because this depends upon the type of bankruptcy, or Chapter, you filed under.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is deleted 7 years from the date of filing because you are paying your creditors with a payment plan.  A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is deleted within 10 years from the date of filing because most, if not all, of your creditors will go without any payment.

When will accounts included in my bankruptcy be deleted from my credit report?

~Chrystal, from Southbridge

Dear Chrystal,

In both Chapters 7 and 13, individual accounts can remain on your credit report for seven years.  Typically, a person who files for bankruptcy is having serious difficulty payment all their debts.  Past due debts go into delinquency status. Delinquent debts, included in the bankruptcy will be deleted 7 years from the original delinquency date.  The original delinquency date is the date the account was late, which is typically 30 days past the due date.

Just because you declared bankruptcy, your original delinquency date is not altered.  This means that the time the account remains on your credit report is not extended, simply because you declared bankruptcy.

I need to file Chapter 7, but I don’t have any money to pay the legal fees, what can I do?

~Jen, from Webster

Dear Jen,

I totally understand your situation.  It seems crazy to have to pay a lawyer to file for bankruptcy when you can’t even pay your bills.  Isn’t that the reason why you need to file in the first place?

First and probably foremost, if you are really really poor and meet certain income guidelines, you may qualify for a reduced fee or legal aid.  I will point you in the right direction with this. I also offer reduced fees for certain individuals in dire situations.

Another suggestion is to apply your income tax refund to pay for your bankruptcy, rather than your back bills and old debt.  But be sure to contact your trusted bankruptcy attorney, first, before you decided to not pay debt or overdue bills.

Lastly, I can’t tell you how many people get help from family and friends the second they explain they are doing something helpful, like bankruptcy, to get a fresh start.

Other than these suggestions, we can discuss other options for payment at our first consultation.  If you can pay a little along into a payment plan until you have all of your fees paid, this may work for you.  Ask me how I can help you tailor a program that fits your needs and we can discuss any sensible option.  At our first consultation we will sit in my very quiet and completely confidential office and sip coffee if you like, and talk about all of your options and questions.

Thanks for your questions, James, Dave, Chrystal and Jen.  I’m always happy to help.

If you have legal questions, especially if you are contemplating bankruptcy or dealing with collections or debt collection law suits, Attorney Ginger Kelly is now accepting clients in the Dudley, Webster, Sturbridge, Fiskdale, Southbridge, Saundersdale, Oxford, North Oxford, Charlton, Charlton Depot, Auburn, Leicester, Rochdale, Spencer, Brookfield, East Brookfield, West Brookfield, North Brookfield, Warren, Brimfield, Wales, Palmer and Holland.  We can explore whether or not bankruptcy is the easy way out for you.  Our office is a quiet and comfortable place to talk, and a free pot of coffee will be waiting for you when you arrive.

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ABOUT ME: Attorney Kelly is an attorney in good standing, licensed to practice in both the Federal District and State Courts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Her law practice is focused on consumer debt, finance, bankruptcy and District Court matters. Attorney Kelly is experienced in both criminal and civil trial work. On a personal note, Attorney Kelly enjoys writing and other things, like conservation and agriculture. To find out more, visit our website, or call us at (508) 784-1444.

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NOTICE: This is an Advertisement. This post is not legal advice. Consult your attorney. Attorney Kelly does NOT provide legal advice to anyone via social media or anywhere over the Internet. Any and all electronic posts and writings, by Attorney Kelly, does NOT establish any type of attorney-client relationship, whatsoever, neither perceived, actual, material, implied or other. We cannot stress enough, if you need personal legal advice, always see your attorney. Do not rely upon Attorney Kelly’s posts, writings or any Internet information on websites or social media for your own personal legal advice. Seek legal advice and representation from your own personal attorney.

Copyright © 2019 by Ginger B. Kelly, Esq., all rights reserved

Documents Needed Prior to the 341 Trustee Meeting (aka Meeting of the Creditors)

documents-required

Just the other day I was driving to my own client’s 341 Trustee meeting in Worcester, Massachusetts and I thought, most people have no clue what documents are needed prior to most trustee meetings.  So, here is the short list.

The documents you will need are generally the same whether you are filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  However, specific documentation requirements are something different in most every local jurisdiction.  Be sure to check your local rules or contact your attorney in your specific situation.  Your attorney can notify the trustee and find out what is needed.

Tax Returns

Minimally, and most importantly, your last year’s tax return is required to be delivered to the trustee minimally seven days prior to your 341 meeting.  Local rules and trustees vary on what is required prior to the meeting.  If you do not provide this to the trustee, prior to your meeting, your case could be dismissed.

Other than this, you will typically need to provide copies of your tax returns or tax transcripts for the last two years during your meeting.  I have found, over the years, that it is best if you sign your returns.  If you have tax returns that haven’t been filed, you will need to explain why you were not required to file.  If you did not have a valid reason for not filing, most trustees, especially in Chapter 13 cases, will require you to file your taxes and provide copies before concluding or approving your case.  Again, some trustees may require more tax returns while others may ask only for your most recent one.

Income

If you are an employee, you will need copies of pay stubs (also known as payment advances) for the six-month period prior to the bankruptcy.  You will also need your past two years W-2 forms.  If you collect Social Security or Social Security Disability Income, you will need your award letter.  If you are self-employed, you will probably need to provide a profit and loss statement for the same six-month period as well as business bank statements to verify the amounts on the statement. If you have income from other sources such as rental properties or unemployment, proof of this income is also required.

Real Estate

If you own real estate, a valuation of the property is required.  Generally, I recommend my client’s get a broker’s price opinion, or a full appraisal, but this depends upon the situation.  In some cases, this is not needed.  Mortgage statements showing current loan balances, deeds of trust, and proof of home insurance may also be required.

Vehicles

If you have titled vehicles, such as an automobile, you will be required to provide a recent copy of your vehicle registration.  I also recommend you have proof of insurance, and valuation information, such as a KBB (Kelly Blue Book) valuation (you can get this online). If you have a car loan, a recent loan statement showing how much you owe and what your monthly payment is, will be important.  For other titled property, such as boats or trucks, recent valuation may also be required.

Retirement Accounts and Other Bank Accounts

Recent bank account statements (checking and savings) and retirement account statements are usually very important to provide to the trustee.  Your attorney should have these.

Miscellaneous

If you have any other special circumstances, like child support or alimony, you will need to provide proof of these expenses.  Typically a copy of the judgment, order or agreement will be sufficient

Proof of Identification and Social Security Number   

This is very important.  When you go to your hearing with the trustee, you will be asked to show proof of identification.  So you must have these two things ready for the trustee at the beginning of your meeting.  Identification must be valid and include a recent photo.  Examples are a current state-issued ID card, a current driver’s license or valid passport.  You will also need to show proof of your social security number.  These documents are typically your state-issued social security card or employee-issued W-2 form.

That’s it. Now you are ready for your Meeting with the Trustee. If you have any questions or need any help, please give me a call. My direct line is 508-784-1014 (yes, this is the number that goes directly to me, personally).  I’ll be happy to set up your first free consultation, absolutely free.

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The Law Office of Ginger B. Kelly is now accepting new clients.  Call and schedule your first appointment.  We are a small law office offering your first confidential consultation, absolutely free of charge.

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ABOUT ME:  Attorney Kelly is an attorney in good standing, licensed to practice in both the Federal District and State Courts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Her law practice is focused on consumer debt, finance, bankruptcy and District Court matters. Attorney Kelly is experienced in both criminal and civil trial work. On a personal note, Attorney Kelly enjoys writing and other things, like conservation and agriculture.

To find out more, visit, www.attorneykelly.com, visit us at Ginger B. Kelly on Facebook or feel free to call us at (508) 784-1444.

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NOTICE:  Attorney Kelly does NOT provide legal advice to anyone via social media or anywhere over the Internet.  Any and all electronic posts and writings, by Attorney Kelly, does NOT establish any type of attorney-client relationship, whatsoever, neither perceived, actual, material, implied or other.  We cannot stress enough, if you need personal legal advice, always see your attorney.  Do not rely upon Attorney Kelly’s posts, writings or any Internet information on websites or social media for your own personal legal advice.  Seek legal advice and representation from your own personal attorney.

Copyright © 2015, 2016, 2017, by Ginger B. Kelly, Esq., all rights reserved.

4 Qualities That Make My Lawyer Great

 I don't always need a lawyer but when I do I make sure my lawyer is great

Most of us will need a lawyer, at least once in our lives. The lawyer we hire will be our confident. Our lawyer will keep our secrets. Our lawyer will know about our finances. Our lawyer will hear our complaints. They may see us cry. They will negotiate with our adversaries and listen to our desires and hopes.

Sometimes, our lawyer will be the bearer of bad news. They help us cope. They help us deal. They help us celebrate. Our lawyer will know who we are, where we live, and what we want out of life.  Hopefully, our lawyer will understand us. No…..I don’t mean just hear what we say, I mean really understand us on a deeper level.

Surprisingly, not many people do much research before hiring a lawyer.  Doing a quick Google-search or talking to your mother’s best friend’s cousin seems good enough for a lot of folks.  This lack of due diligence works out really nicely for lawyers with issues, like substance abuse, mental illnesses and poor work ethic, but it’s horrible for you.

Chances are that you and your lawyer will be in it for the long haul.  You will spend more time with your attorney then you ever dreamed possible.  So what do you really need to know about someone who you will trust with some of the most important matters of your life?  Here are a few tips.

  1.  Like a great friend, a great lawyer will be there when you need them the most.  

Have you ever had a good friend who didn’t return your phone calls or respond to your emails or text messages?  Lawyers are often like this too. Great lawyers return calls and communicate the status of your case, not sparingly, but all the time.  They send updates and talk about the future, the things that matter most.  So why don’t lawyers return calls?

Lawyers, like many people, have reasons and make excuses for not communicating. They may suffer from alcoholism or depression. Statistics indicate that lawyers suffer from alcoholism and depression at rates significantly higher than the general population. In fact, lawyers have the most alcoholics of any profession. Being too busy is another excuse for lack of communication. Then there is avoidance.

Why would a lawyer ever avoid telling a client the truth?  Exactly – when there’s bad news. Did they lose the case?  Did they miss a deadline? Are they overwhelmed? When the fantastic lawyer you hired is so swamped with work that they fail to call, they fall very short of being effective. Not only is this not professional, it’s not as uncommon as you think.

Great lawyers, who are genuinely concerned about you, don’t avoid calls.  Just like friends, outstanding lawyers stay close. Great lawyers, like great friends, do all that they can to be there and watch your back, especially when you need them.

  1.  A lawyer should always be honest and transparent, but a great lawyer knows how and when to be honest.  

Chances are, you will share some of the most exciting things in your life with your lawyer. There are lots of reasons why your lawyer will be the first one who hears your good news, along with the bad.  A good lawyer knows how to be honest and clear, without crushing your enthusiasm.  Not deflating joy, while dealing with reality, is an art. The fine art of listening, while uplifting others, is a topic touches me personally.

One day, a few years back, my adult daughter told me that she was going on a business trip to Cairo, Egypt.  At that time, Egypt was full of conflict and danger.  In Cairo, it was not unusual to see men walking casually down main streets with heavy artillery.  People wore AK-47’s like jewelry.  Needless to say, when my daughter told me she was going to Cairo, Egypt, I was not happy.

I expressed to my daughter, with no reservation, my deepest darkest fears.  “Egypt was a very dangerous place”, I said.  “I’m really afraid for your safety,” I said.

Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to my daughter carefully enough and wore my emotions on my sleeve. As you may have guessed, my daughter was not very happy. Her joy was crushed. Stonewalling me in no uncertain terms, she said, “Mom, I don’t want to talk about it!”  I was hurt.  It was quite some time before we talked to each other.

A few weeks later, we had another conversation. This time things were very different.  I asked her to explain to me why she was so mad.

She said, “Mom, I expected you to act differently.”  She explained to me that she was so excited about her wonderful overseas adventure, that she wanted me to share in her joy not deflate her spirits.  She explained to me that my lack of confidence in her, to make wise decisions, was upsetting.  Right then and there, I realized I needed to think about what was said and how I responded to my daughter.

To make a long story short, my daughter and I both apologized to each other and we both had a good talk about what had happened.  Now, I try to do my best to listen very carefully to others.  I try to think twice and talk once.  I work on keeping my emotions intact and understanding the situation, before I express my concerns.  My daughter also learned that it’s not always a good idea to expect people to act the way you want them to act.

Actually, I think we both learned how to listen and discuss things better with one another.  This is the point.  Almost all great relationship building begins with a learning curve of understanding.  This was one of those learning curve moments, for the both of us.  We both grew and became better, as a result of our misunderstanding.

Find an attorney who continues to improve upon their listening and communication skills.   Great lawyers aren’t always perfect, but they are honest and they try harder than most to communicate and listen to their clients when they are needed.

  1.  A lawyer should always be respectful and decent, but a great lawyer will respect your space and value your emotional energy.

Some clients struggle with the fact that a lot of lawyers take up too much of their emotional energy. Believe it or not, like friends, some lawyers can suck you down a vortex of critically bad emotional thoughts.

Some lawyers are jealous of other lawyers.  Some lawyers have a lot of negativity in their lives.  Some attorneys want to dominate your time with things or small talk.  They are unclear about appointments and fail to work hard on your case to the point that you feel they aren’t doing even simple investigations and research. All of these types of things can leave you feeling deflated and unsure of what to do next.

Then there are the lawyers who constantly bad mouth other lawyers.  This is not good. This could be a good indicator that your lawyer has a few insecurity or mental issues.  Be wary of this sort of thing.  It really doesn’t matter why, but when a lawyer never has enough time to discuss your case with you, don’t attach yourself to them.  Attaching your legal matter, and yourself, to a lawyer who is a mental, emotional and financial suck is like attaching yourself to a leach. Find a different lawyer, quickly.

An outstanding lawyer will respect your space and time.  They will be cognizant about your need to do other things, like pick up your kids from daycare, go to an important dinner-date with your partner or spouse or not be late for work.  It’s never a good idea to bind yourself to a lawyer who dominates your time and takes all your energy.  A good lawyer will respect your boundaries and give you good clear time-frames when something needs to be done and how it should happen.  A good lawyer does not expect you to do their work or read their mind.  This is also true of good friends.

  1.  A good lawyer communicates well, a great lawyer listens and will know how (and when) to take an attorney-client conversation to a deeper level.

Great, lawyers tend to be appropriately upbeat and care enough to discuss important things.  They enjoy listening to stories related to your case that seem meaningful and important to you.  Good lawyers give you freedom to talk, gather your thoughts, or simply take a moment or two of silence.

A good friend will give you an ear to listen or a helping hand when you really need one.  They don’t cut you off or incessantly talk about themselves.  True friendships have a reciprocity of give and take and know when and how to respect your space.  The same is true for lawyers.  A great lawyer will value the relationship enough to know when it is important and appropriate, to take a conversation to a deeper, more meaningful level. Sometimes this is important. Other times, it’s a necessity.

Of course not every situation is the same.  Not every conversation with your lawyer will become deep and meaningful. Lawyers are our trusted advocates. When the circumstances justify the need, like a good friend, an outstanding lawyer will be there to listen.

It is also important to know that we lawyers are a rare breed.  We share our lives with people who are uniquely positioned to see us at our best and at our worst, as lawyers and individuals.  This is another good reason why taking the time to get to know your lawyer is important.  If you’ve seen your lawyer at their worst, and you still trust them, you’ve probably found a great lawyer.

When I was young and I used to go to the grocery store with my mother.  When we were in the produce aisle I’d watch her by fruit.  She would select melons, for example, by looking at them carefully.  When she found a melon she was interested in, she would pick it up in her hands and hold it for a moment or two.  She would look the melon from top to bottom.  She would touch it, thump it, smell it and press down on its skin.  My mother would do all of this before selecting one simple melon.  Think about it.

Here, we are dealing with people. It may seem very difficult to deeply connect and create an important and lasting relationship with your lawyer, but it’s not. Connecting with your lawyer is no different than connecting with some of your closest friends. So why not apply these four basic principles of finding lasting relationships, to find a truly great lawyer?

“Great lawyers are like good friends, hard to find, harder to leave and impossible to forget.”  ~Attorney Kelly

by Ginger B. Kelly, Esq., June 17, 2015

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ABOUT ME:  Attorney Kelly is an attorney in good standing, licensed to practice in both the Federal District and State Courts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Her law practice is focused on consumer debt, finance, bankruptcy and District Court matters. Attorney Kelly is experienced in both criminal and civil trial work. On a personal note, Attorney Kelly enjoys writing and other things, like conservation and agriculture.

To find out more, visit, www.attorneykelly.squarespace.com or www.attorneykelly.wordpress.com, or call us at (508) 784-1444.

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NOTICE:  Attorney Kelly does NOT provide legal advice to anyone via social media or anywhere over the Internet.  Any and all electronic posts and writings, by Attorney Kelly, does NOT establish any type of attorney-client relationship, whatsoever, neither perceived, actual, material, implied or other.  We can not stress enough, if you need personal legal advice, always see your attorney.  Do not rely upon Attorney Kelly’s posts, writings or any Internet information on websites or social media for your own personal legal advice.  Seek legal advice and representation from your own personal attorney.

Copyright © 2015 by Ginger B. Kelly, Esq., all rights reserved.