Stephen Behrends Law Office Blog | Eugene, OR

Low fees for a very experienced bankruptcy attorney

Stephen Behrends Law Office | Bankruptcy | Eugene, OR

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Welcome to my blog

 

This blog is for people who are thinking that they might have to file bankruptcy. I have been helping people work through their financial problems for so many years that I know the concerns that come up again and again. I want to provide practical information that you can use right now in helping decide how to take on these complicated issues.

By Stephen Behrends, Jul 1 2020 02:50AM

We're halfway through 2020 and it seems to me like it has been at least 10 years since January 1st.

At Behrends, Carusone & Covington, Attorneys at Law PC, I am so fortunate to have the support of my partners, Jud Carusone and Kim Covington. Our excellent, top notch paralegals and office manager have adjusted quickly and easily to our new routines while the practice of law has changed completely.

The office is closed to the public and we all work remotely from home a majority of the time. All appointments and Court Hearings are done on the phone. But the funny thing is that it actually seems to work better. It is easier for our clients if they don't have to fight the traffic to come downtown. Instead, they just get a call from me and we discuss their questions and options while they comfort and safe at home. Our "no show" rate for free initial bankruptcy consultations has gone from 25% to less than 2%.

And it is just easier for everyone to participate in the Court Hearings when they are done by conference calls. This means that more creditors can participate and get the answers they need when someone who owes them money files bankruptcy. And it certainly is easier for our clients because most of them don't even have to take the day off work.

So to all of my friends, family, clients and fellow professionals, I hope that you are able to stay healthy and safe. Please let me know how you are doing.

By Stephen Behrends, Jun 27 2020 08:28PM

I am working on a new, updated web page. I expect that it will be uploaded by the end of July, 2020.

Of course, I will still offer free, one-hour bankruptcy consultations and will still do the complicated bankruptcy paperwork with my clients. If you are wondering why you should pay a bankruptcy attorney so much when you have to fill out the bankruptcy paperwork yourself, call to set up an appointment. My goal is to reduce your stress level and sending you home with 40 pages of questions including lots of legal terms is not going to help accomplish that goal. We'll do the paperwork together over the phone.

I will also continue to offer reduced fee tax settlement appointments. My usual hourly rate is $295.00 but for $250.00 for an hour long appointment, I will review your situation with you and let you know if you have a chance of qualifying for an offer in compromise that could save you a lot of money and get your problems with the IRS and the Oregon Department of Revenue under control. National tax settlement companies charge thousands to give you the same information.

Watch for the new web page in late July!

By Stephen Behrends, May 3 2020 09:48PM

A recent New York Times article discusses this important question:

https://www.nytimes.com/article/small-business-bankruptcy-coronavirus.html?referringSource=articleShare

Experts and small business advocacy groups worry that tens of thousands of small business will be lost in the coming years due to the Coronavirus crisis. Many of them will consider and may be saved by filing bankruptcy. But there are the big questions: When do they need to start to think about it, which chapter of bankruptcy would be best and would the owners as well as the business have to file.

Everyone agrees that a clear sign that the company should consider filing bankruptcy or shutting the doors is an inability to pay the payroll taxes to the state or the IRS. The owners will be personally liable if the payroll taxes are not paid and it also is a definite indication that the business is not generating enough cash flow to cover the ongoing expenses.

Chapter 7 can be filed when it is time to give up or when the owners have no non-exempt assets. But a Chapter 13 or Chapter 11 is needed if there are non-exempt assets to be protected or the business can be reorganized.

Chapter 11 has recently been improved with the addition of Sub-Chapter V (5), which streamlines the Chapter 11 process and makes it easier for the Bankruptcy Court to approve a plan which is not supported by the creditors. Corporations, LLC, partnerships and joint ventures can only reorganize through Chapter 11, so the addition of the sub-chapter 5 is a big deal. Before it came along, there was only regular Chapter 11, which is big, clumsy and expensive, or the sale of the assets of a small corporation owned by an individual or couple, to the owners who then file Ch 13.

If the owners of the company have personally guaranteed the buisness debt, they may end up having to file bankruptcy, whether or not the company has to file. A bankruptcy for the company doesn’t automatically protect the owners. And a bankruptcy isn’t automatically required just because the business is going to be shut down. Sometimes, it is possible to reorganize the business in bankruptcy so that the debt that is personally guaranteed or the payroll taxes for which the owners will be personally liable can be paid.

A business reorganization is essentially a new business and so a new business plan and budget are crucial. Can the reorganized business generate the income needed to survive, even if its debt is restructured? If not, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be considered.

An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help sort out all of the questions about whether to file, who should consider filing and which chapter would work best.

By Stephen Behrends, Apr 21 2020 03:02AM

Great News! Oregon's Governor Kate Brown signed Executive Order 20-18 protecting stimulus payments from bill collectors. This provision is on page four of her Order:

https://www.oregon.gov/gov/Documents/executive_orders/eo_20-18.pdf

She added them to the list of other exempt payments, such as social security, unemployment or retirement payments, that remain exempt even when deposited in your bank account. This means that you don't need to worry about running down to the bank to get the money out as soon as it is deposited or about your account being targeted by collection agencies or law firms.

Thank you Gov. Brown for making sure this money stays available to the families who really need it to try to survive this crisis.

By Stephen Behrends, Apr 11 2020 04:22PM

Problems with the Payroll Protection Program make it difficult for small businesses to count on these loans to save them

Here are some articles with information about the new SBA administered loan program for small businesses. These loans are supposed to turn into grants if they are used only for payroll, rent and utilities.

Just copy and paste them into your browser to see the articles.

First, here is a link with more information about how to apply for the loans:

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/04/02/business/ap-us-smallbiz-virus-outbreak-small-business-help-qa.html?searchResultPosition=2

But if you haven’t applied already, you may be waiting for the second round of funding. Everyone agrees that more money is needed but it may be a while before it is authorized by Congress:

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/04/07/business/ap-virus-outbreak-small-business.html?searchResultPosition=1

Banks have been warning of overwhelming demand for the loan. In addition, they are complaining of inadequate guidance from the Treasury Department and the SBA about how the loans are to be processed.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/business/small-business-coronavirus-stimulus.html?referringSource=articleShare

Other big problems are that many rural areas don’t have banks that are usually involved in SBA loans and the bigger banks are limiting participation to existing customers. People are reporting that banks have cut off the loan applications after only two or three days.

Some are suggesting that the next round should be targeted to rural areas and to minority owned banks. Others think that at the same time this program is fixed, other problems with the CARES act should be fixed, such as inadequate assistance to hospitals and states that have been hard hit with the virus. Still others think that the whole idea of using the SBA and loans is misguided and that the Treasury Department should have been given the job of administering grants to businesses to meet payroll and other expenses.

There is little doubt that this program is in trouble and is inadequate to meet the needs of the country’s small business.

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