Stephen Behrends Law Office Blog | Eugene, OR

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Stephen Behrends Law Office | Bankruptcy | Eugene, OR


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, Jan 7 2018 09:09PM

A while back, I wrote about a recent day in Bankruptcy Court where the attorneys in a majority

of the cases on the docket did not attend the Reaffirmation Hearing with their clients. Could this

happen to you? Of course, if you hire one of the attorneys at Behrends, Carusone & Covington, it

will not! But does everyone have to go to a Reaffirmation Hearing?

If you have a car loan, you will probably have to go to a Reaffirmation Hearing. Does this mean

that car loans always have to be reaffirmed? Furthermore, is this the answer to why these other

attorneys don’t to- because there really is nothing for them to do since the reaffirmation of a car

loan is more or less automatic?

The answers to these questions show why this is maybe the most confusing thing in the typical

basic non-controversial consumer bankruptcy. Many people have car loans and most of them

want to keep their cars. They usually believe that this means that there has to be a Court

approved reaffirmation agreement for this to happen. However, it is much more complicated than


Basically, a car loan is often up-side down from the time you drive the car off the lot. This means

that if you couldn’t pay for it and had to give it back, the lender would sell it for very little, apply

the money from the sale first to the costs of recovering, storing and then selling your car and only

then pay any remaining funds to what you owe. This usually means that you still owe a lot even

though you don’t have the car anymore.

If this happens before you file bankruptcy, the answer is that this remaining debt, called the

“deficiency” is included in the discharge. But what if it is after the bankruptcy case is over? If

you have a car loan, you have to sign a reaffirmation agreement and, if the Court approves it, the

lender could collect the deficiency if you can’t pay for the car after the bankruptcy is over. This

could end up with you being sued and your wages garnished just as though if you had never filed


But if you go to a reaffirmation hearing, the answer result be completely different. I will tell you

how in my next post!

By Stephen Behrends, Jan 6 2018 08:39PM

January 2, 2018 was the 39th anniversary of my swearing-in as an attorney. I was admitted to the California State Bar in1979. However, I never practiced in California. Instead, I became a member of the Oregon State Bar on April 29, 1979 and have practiced here in Eugene ever since.

I filed my first bankruptcy case in 1980, a Chapter 7, but I didn’t really start to do bankruptcy law as a significant part of my practice until after I received my Master of Laws in Taxation on May 22, 1983. I began working almost right away on tax collection cases and since bankruptcy often was one of the options that had to be considered, I started doing more and more of that work, too.

I have found these to be very satisfying areas of law because my services area affordable and there is no doubt that I really help people out. I have seen wage earners who were being garnished and left unable to support themselves rebuild their credit and buy homes, send their kids to college and save for retirement. I have had senior citizens file bankruptcy to stop the phone calls and lawsuits and enjoy a normal financial existence. I have helped business owners save their businesses and homeowners stop foreclosures on their homes. I had people who owed more in taxes than they could every possibly pay get settlements approved that meant they had no tax debts at all.

I look forward to 2018 as another year of helping my clients and enjoying my job. If you have questions about taxes you owe or about your options for dealing with debts that are out of control, I would be happy to help you, too.

By Stephen Behrends, Sep 21 2017 02:55AM

Thursday, September 6, 2017 when I was in Bankruptcy Court in Eugene, Oregon, there were fifteen cases set for Reaffirmation Hearings. I was there representing my clients in five of the hearings and my law partner Kimberly S Covington was there for her clients in another one. Six other attorneys were representing the people in the other nine cases. But, of those six attorneys, can you guess how many were in Court that day or were participating by phone conference call?

The shocking answer is just one! That’s right, the people who had to file bankruptcy in eight of those cases ended up in Court completely by themselves. No doubt they had each paid hundreds of dollars to the attorney who filed their case.

Did it matter that the lawyers weren’t there? Some of the clients were confused and others didn’t know what to do or say. Still others were told by the judge that they should insist that their attorney help them straighten out the problems they were having. One woman told the judge that her attorney wouldn’t respond to her emails. One said that she couldn’t meet with here lawyer because the firm had offices in multiple cities and she always had to work on the days they were in her town.

So, yes, it is certainly possible, depending on which attorney or law firm you hire, that your attorney might not be there when you have to go to Court. But you don’t have to worry if you hire me or one of the other attorneys at my firm:

Judson Carusone

or Kim Covington

because we always go to every Reaffirmation Hearing with our clients.

By Stephen Behrends, Sep 3 2017 07:36PM

Many judgments and tax liens against people will no longer be reported on their credit reports by the three biggest credit reporting agencies. As a result, anyone with these kinds of negative entries may be in for a boost in their credit score.

This is because the major credit bureaus are going to start using tougher rules on which public records they report. Inaccurate information has always been a problem. Now the agencies are going to start using only citations from the public records that include either the date of birth or the social security number in addition to the name and address.

This may make it easier for people to rebuild their credit after a bankruptcy. If some judgment and liens are not reported, the “bounce” from having your debts are discharged will have a larger impact on your credit score.

It will still be smart to take active steps to rebuild your credit after a bankruptcy such as careful use of your credit and development of a history of paying on time. However, in addition to reducing the chances of inaccurate reporting, it may make it easier to get a fresh start so that you can have a normal financial life once again.

By Stephen Behrends, May 13 2017 07:19PM

In my opinion, the American Health Care Act passed recently by the House of Representatives means trouble for the Oregon Health Plan. In turn, problems for the OHP will likely to lead to fewer people in Oregon being covered by it and ultimately to more people being forced into bankruptcy over medical bills.

The American Health Care Act includes a large cut to the Medicaid funding that Oregon uses for the OHP. The state is very unlikely to be able to make up the shortfall. As a result, fewer people will be covered and there will probably be fewer benefits for those who are. Many Oregonians currently rely on the OHP for their health insurance. They can not afford insurance on the individual market, even with government subsidies. If they don’t have health insurance, many will forego or delay treatment. They may not get preventative care. Health problems that could be addressed successfully caught early will go untreated. Then, ultimately, these people will end up in the emergency room or with costly hospitalization that could have been avoided with early diagnosis and treatment. Since they can’t afford the bills from the emergency room visits, let alone hospitalization, they will end up having to file bankruptcy over these medical bills.

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