Stephen Behrends Law Office Blog | Eugene, OR

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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, 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 http://www.judsoncarusonelaw.com/

or Kim Covington http://www.kimcovington-bankruptcylawyer.com/

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.

By Stephen Behrends, Apr 14 2017 03:51AM

A: Yes, definitely! There are several reasons why. First, while you will still have penalties for failing to pay on time, you won’t have penalties for failing to file. This will reduce the amount that you owe. Second, filing the tax returns will start the statute of limitations running. This sets the amount of time that has to go by before income taxes can be discharged in bankruptcy. It also starts the clock on the total amount of time for an audit and for collection of the taxes. Finally, it avoids the danger that the IRS or the ODR will file a “substitute for return” which includes your income but no deductions or exemptions in determining how much you owe. If this happens, not only do you owe more than you would if you did the returns yourself, but those taxes can never be discharged in bankruptcy, no matter how much time passes. So, always file your tax returns on time, even if you don’t have the money to pay the taxes you owe on them.

By Stephen Behrends, Mar 9 2017 06:24PM

We all know that filing bankruptcy will be a negative or adverse event on your credit report. So how can it help you rebuild your credit? Won't potential lenders avoid loaning money to someone who has filed bankruptcy?

The answer is that they look at one part of your credit report, your debt to income ratio, as part of their decision making process. And bankruptcy improves this aspect of your financial situation because the discharge that comes at the end of the bankruptcy case means that you do not have as much debt anymore or, maybe, not any debt at all.

One way of thinking about this is from the point of view of one of these potential new lenders. If they see that you do not have much debt, they will conclude that it will be easier for you to repay money loaned to you now. This is because you do not have many other debts that you are trying to pay.

Of course, the usual concerns will still apply. Any new lender will want to know if you have a source or repayment and whether there is anything, like a car, that can be security for the loan. But a bankruptcy discharge can be the first step towards rebuilding your credit just because it reduces the other debt that new lenders would think that you would still have to try to pay.

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