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2015 American Society of Legal Advocates

In 2014 and again in 2015, Natella Royzman was named as one of the

Top 40 Under 40 Bankruptcy Lawyers in California.

ASLA 2015 Top 40 Under 40

The American Society of Legal Advocates (ASLA) is an invitation-only legal organization comprised of the nation’s most elite lawyers. The ASLA selects actively practicing lawyers who combine “stellar legal credentials with a proven commitment to community engagement, leadership, and the highest professional standards.”

As described on ASLA’s website, Ms. Royzman was selected by a team of lawyers who spent months researching information on tens of thousands of lawyers from across the country, and in filling the Top 40 Under 40 category, ultimately selected less than 1.5% of lawyers nationally.

 

American Society of Legal Advocates

 

To learn more about the American Society of Legal Advocates, visit www.societyoflegaladvocates.org.

 

Ms. Royzman has received numerous awards:

  • Ms. Royzman was named a Super Lawyer Rising Star through California Super Lawyers Magazine in 2012, 2013 and 2014. This honor is reserved for the top up-and-coming lawyers in the state. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in California receive this honor.

 

  • The American Society of Legal Advocates (ASLA) selected Ms. Royzman to the list of the Top 40 Bankruptcy Lawyers Under 40 for California in 2014 and 2015. Membership in the ASLA comprises less than 1.5 percent of lawyers nationwide.

 

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2014 Super Lawyers Rising Stars

Natella Royzman is selected to the 2014 Super Lawyers Rising Stars list

Third Year Running!

Super Lawyers Rising Stars 2014

Natella has demonstrated excellence in the practice of bankruptcy and business litigation law. She is receiving an honor that is limited to no more than 2.5 percent of the attorneys within California each year.

2014 Super Lawyers Rising Stars list recognizes attorneys who have distinguished themselves in their legal practice. The patented selection process is multi-phased and results in third-party validation of the selected attorneys’ professional accomplishments.

Super Lawyers 2014

 

This is the third year in a row Natella has been selected to the Super Lawyers Rising Stars list, and she will be included in the 2014 issues of Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine – Rising Stars and Los Angeles magazine. View her profile on Super Lawyers here.

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Bankruptcy Filing Fee Increase

Bankruptcy Filing Fee Increase starting June 1, 2014:

Adversary proceedings in bankruptcy will increase from $293.00 to $350.00

Chapter 7 filing fees will increase from $306.00 to $335.00

(This is a $29.00 increase in the filing fees)

Chapter 13 filing fees will increase from $281.00 to $310.00

Chapter 11 filing fees will increase from $1,213.00 to $1,717.00

These administrative fees are required at the filing of a bankruptcy case. Starting on June 1, 2014, bankruptcy filing fee increase can be found on the Court’s Abbreviated Fee Schedule and Court Manual Section 1.1.

Although navigating the system can seem intimidating, with the help of an experienced attorney, the rewards of obtaining a discharge of debt can be tremendous.  Think about how well you’ll be able to sleep knowing you have a clean financial slate.  If you’re ready to discharge debt, call Royzman Law Firm at 310.954.8503 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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American Society of Legal Advocates

American Society of Legal Advocates recognizes Natella Royzman as a Top 40 Under 40 Bankruptcy Lawyer

2014 ASLA Top 40 Under 40

Natella Royzman was recently named to the American Society of Legal Advocates list as a Top 40 Under 40 Bankruptcy Lawyer in California in 2014.

The Top 40 Lawyers Under 40 list “identifies and recognizes lawyers demonstrating leadership and talent early on in their careers, not only in their practices, but in exemplifying the characteristics that will demonstrate the best that the legal profession has to offer,” according to ASLA.

Natella was also named to the Southern California Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars lists from 2012-2014. This honor is reserved for those lawyers who exhibit excellence in practice. Only 2.5 percent of the attorneys in California are named to the Rising Stars list each year.

 

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2013 Super Lawyers Rising Stars

Royzman Law Firm Announcement

Natella Royzman was selected as a 2013 Super Lawyers Rising Star

Super Lawyers Rising Stars 2013

Royzman Law Firm, Inc. is proud to announce that Natella Royzman, Esq. has been selected to the 2013 Super Lawyers Rising Stars list.

This distinguished honor is reserved for those who have demonstrated excellence in the practice of law, and is limited to only 2.5 percent of the attorneys in California each year.

The 2013 Super Lawyers Rising Stars list is compiled by Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations.

Southern California Rising Stars 2013

 

This is the second year Ms. Royzman has been selected to the Super Lawyers Rising Stars list and she will be included in the 2013 issues of Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine – Rising Stars and Los Angeles magazine.

View Ms. Royzman’s profile on Super Lawyers here.

 

Thomson Reuters
About Thomson Reuters -
 Thomson Reuters is the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. They combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision makers in the financial and risk, legal, tax and accounting, intellectual property and science and media markets, powered by the world’s most trusted news organization. With headquarters in New York and major operations in London and Eagan, Minnesota, Thomson Reuters employs approximately 60,000 people and operates in over 100 countries.  For more information, go to www.thomsonreuters.com.
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You Are NOT A Failure!

Finding Solutions is NOT Failing

One thing that’s certain in life is that we all make mistakes. Keep in mind that it’s how you deal with mistakes that determine whether or not you are a failure. Our clients often say, “I can’t believe I’m filing bankruptcy.  I feel like such a failure.” You Are NOT A Failure! The truth is that having the courage to confront and seek solutions to your problems is the opposite of failure.

We can’t stress this enough: Filing bankruptcy does NOT make you a failure. Quite the opposite, since it gives you the opportunity to start over. Instead of dodging calls from creditors and worrying about how you will ever get out of debt, you will be able to focus on achieving your goals and managing your finances in a beneficial way. You will be able to accumulate wealth rather than paying never-ending mounting interest.

Bankruptcy laws were passed to help people in distress recover from crushing debt. You deserve a chance to take back control of your finances and stop the negative cycle of being continuously behind on payments. Once that burden is lifted, you will be free to use your energy toward building the life that you want.

Some Simple Advice to Consider:

Don’t Give Up

Accept that you have made mistakes or that certain events were out of your control – but don’t let the past be your defining moment. Talk to a bankruptcy attorney about your options.

Try to Consider Your Situation Objectively

Many people let the emotional toll debt carries get the best of them and don’t look at their financial situation in an objective, business-like manner. Some ignore the situation altogether because it is too stressful to address it head on. Others are unrealistic about the future, hoping they will somehow get enough money to pay off all their debts. Meanwhile, interest is accruing and creditors are calling, making their situation all the more grim.

Do yourself a favor and try to take an objective, realistic look at your financial situation. Start by speaking to a reliable and qualified attorney who can give you sound legal advice and finally put you at ease. You can call Royzman Law Firm at 310.954.8503 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Once you are realistic and figure out which options are best suited for your unique situation, you can start heading towards a fresh start.

Don’t Be Scared or Ashamed

The stigma surrounding bankruptcy is put out there for a reason and only benefits creditors. Individuals struggling with financial troubles should not feel guilty for considering bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a legal option that improves people’s lives and benefits society as a whole. A safety net is an essential part of our economic system. Although the bankruptcy process may seem daunting, with the right team on your side, it will not be scary or intimidating. After speaking with us, our clients tell us they finally feel a sense of control over their lives again.

Bankruptcy is More Common that You Think

You Are Not Alone! – It is common for individuals struggling with debt to feel alone in their financial struggles. However, chances are that you have friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors, etc., who have filed – they just didn’t advertise it.

Stress Can Be Toxic

Don’t continue to stress about not being able to make your payments. It hurts your health and it hurts those around you. By filing for bankruptcy, you can stop this terrible situation and (in most cases) keep your home, car, wages, and other property.

Life is short. Accept your situation and choose to learn from it. If you are exhausted from trying to stay on top of your debt, consider giving yourself an opportunity for a fresh start. There’s no telling what you’ll be able to achieve.

Click to Hear attorney Natella Royzman explain more about how bankruptcy can offer a life-changing financial freedom to people in a wide variety of situations in our previous blog post, “Natella Royzman Featured on Call Toni Radio: Bankruptcy 101 (pt. 2).”

Disclaimer
Please note that the materials appearing on this blog are provided for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice or the opinions of this law firm or any of its attorneys. The law is constantly changing, and the materials appearing on this blog are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. You should not act or rely upon any information appearing on this blog without consulting a qualified attorney for individual advice regarding your own unique situation. Transmission of information through this blog or this website does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and Royzman Law Firm, Inc. or Natella Royzman, Esq. 
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Call Toni Real Estate Radio Feature: Bankruptcy 101 (pt. 3)

call toni logoNatella Royzman sits down with host Toni Patillo and co-host Jason J on CALL TONI REAL ESTATE RADIO on KTLK AM 1150 to discuss how bankruptcy can bring fresh new opportunities to those seeking relief, and to dispel common misconceptions surrounding bankruptcy.  Click to listen to Part 3 (of three) in which Natella explains what life after filing for bankruptcy can bring.  In Part 1 of the Call Toni show, Natella shares how to discharge your debt through different bankruptcy chapters.  In Part 2, she explains how bankruptcy is a powerful legal solution to your debt problems.

Post 3 - nr and toni call toniNumerous myths are out there about bankruptcy, and unfortunately those giving bad advice to people who really need assistance.  People assume they aren’t eligible for bankruptcy since the new law passed and made it harder to qualify.  The truth is that most people suffering from overwhelming debt can be eligible, and with the right representation, bankruptcy can be a quick and simple process.
 
 
 

Keeping Your Property by Properly Using Exemptions
People considering bankruptcy often worry that they will have to give up some or all of their property.  However, with careful legal analysis and creative, strategic planning, you can keep your house, car, wages, and other assets.

What’s the trick?  Exemptions.  Each state has different exemption laws, and using exemptions to your advantage requires a thorough analysis of your assets by an experienced bankruptcy attorney.  It is always heartbreaking to hear about people who did not get the help of a qualified attorney for their bankruptcy case and made a mistake that cost them thousands of dollars, their family jewelry, or even their home.  With a skilled attorney advising you, there will never be any surprises.  If you have any risk of losing any of your assets, a good bankruptcy attorney should tell you about them before you file so that you can decide if filing is a good option for you.  Exemptions are a very complicated and technical area, so have a knowledgeable attorney evaluate your situation, determine what may not be exempt, and apply your exemptions strategically for your optimal benefit.

Life after Your Bankruptcy Discharge
People are usually very surprised when their credit score significantly improves after bankruptcy (often by 100 or more points right after they get their discharge).  They are also surprised when they immediately start receiving many offers for credit.  Although people often think of bankruptcy as financial suicide, it is quite the opposite.  When your debts are discharged, they are removed from your credit report (or listed as a 0 balance).  Also, because you cannot file another bankruptcy for 8 years, you are a better credit risk than someone who hasn’t filed and can therefore discharge his/her debt at any time.

Our clients explain their feelings after filing as an enormous burden being lifted off their backs.  Imagine sleeping peacefully at night.  Imagine rebuilding credit and being able to make major purchases again.  The sooner you get the right help to solve your debt issues, the sooner you can stop worrying and improve the quality of your life. 

Take control of your finances by contacting us today
Located in Los Angeles, we provide a wide range of services for individuals, families and businesses suffering from the weight of excessive debt.  Call Royzman Law Firm at 310.954.8503 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Disclaimer
Please note that the materials appearing on this blog are provided for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice or the opinions of this law firm or any of its attorneys. The law is constantly changing, and the materials appearing on this blog are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. You should not act or rely upon any information appearing on this blog without consulting a qualified attorney for individual advice regarding your own unique situation. Transmission of information through this blog or this website does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and Royzman Law Firm, Inc. or Natella Royzman, Esq.
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Call Toni Real Estate Radio Feature: Bankruptcy 101 (pt. 2)

call toni logoNatella Royzman sits down with host Toni Patillo and co-host Jason J on CALL TONI REAL ESTATE RADIO on KTLK AM 1150 to explain the Benefits of Bankruptcy; the Common Myths about Bankruptcy; and the Effects of Bankruptcy on Your Credit.  Click to listen to Part 2 (of three) in which Natella goes over how bankruptcy is a powerful legal solution to your debt problems.  In Part 1 of the Call Toni show, Natella shares how to discharge your debt through different bankruptcy chapters.  In Part 3, she discusses how bankruptcy can bring fresh new opportunities to those seeking relief.

NR call toni mikeAs a bankruptcy specialist, Natella Royzman uses her legal expertise and pragmatic approach to help people get the relief they are entitled to and absolutely need.  If you are struggling financially and need to know if bankruptcy is right for you, Natella can evaluate your situation and help you weigh your options – including the different types of bankruptcy – to find the solution best suited for your situation and goals. Don’t let the stress of overwhelming debt impair the quality of your life!

Benefits of Bankruptcy – A Second Chance
comphelpbuttonBankruptcy can offer a life-changing benefit to people in a wide variety of situations.  Many people have massive credit card debts that are rapidly accruing interest and penalties at alarming rates, and they struggle to make even the minimum monthly payment.  Others have medical bills or tax liability that has caused their finances to take a turn for the worse.  Failed business ventures or divorces often take a huge financial toll.  Whatever the catalyst for your financial troubles, bankruptcy may be the solution to stop the negative cycle, start over, and rebuild your financial life.  Don’t continue to stress about not being able to make your payments.  You can stop this terrible situation, recover from it, and restore your life – while keeping your wages, home, and other property.

People file for bankruptcy to get a “discharge” – a court order which provides that you are no longer responsible to pay certain debts.  Most debts that arose before you filed are dischargeable and will be completely wiped out when you get your bankruptcy discharge. However, there are some debts, such as student loans, spousal/child support, recent tax liabilities, government fines and penalties, and debts incurred through fraud, which cannot be discharged.

Stigma of Bankruptcy –The Guilt Factor
So many individuals don’t get the help they need because they feel guilty or ashamed about the fact that they are considering bankruptcy.  They think that filing for bankruptcy means that they are a failure.  This stigma surrounding bankruptcy benefits creditors by keeping struggling individuals from exploring legal options that would truly improve their lives.  Filing for bankruptcy does not make you a failure; it gives you the ability to move on and succeed, rather than being unfairly weighed down and defined by past mistakes or circumstances beyond your control.  You can be sure that credit card companies don’t feel any guilt or shame when they provide people with confusing, incomprehensible terms, or charge hidden fees, escalating interest rates and severe penalties.  If you have longstanding credit card debt, chances are that if you look closely, you may find that you have already paid for the items you purchased three times over, and still owe much more than you originally paid.

Choosing a Good Attorney Makes a Big Difference
Be careful to choose an attorney who is knowledgeable about bankruptcy law and with whom you are comfortable asking questions.  You will be disclosing all of your personal financial information, and the process will be much smoother and more pleasant if you are dealing with someone you like and can trust.

A good attorney will listen to your concerns, evaluate your situation considering all the angles, and explain the pros and cons of all of your options. If bankruptcy seems like a good option for you, a skilled attorney will prepare a strategy to optimize your benefit, and will explain the process and any risks involved.  While those billboard and bus bench ads for $300 bankruptcy attorneys may be tempting, you get what you pay for in the end, and the consequences may cost you much more than your prospective savings.  There are many potential pitfalls and risks when you file for bankruptcy (your property can be taken, your friends or relatives could be sued, you may be denied a bankruptcy discharge, etc.), which may be minimized or avoided entirely with the right representation.  Potential problems can almost always be foreseen and considered prior to filing.  Bankruptcy is a complicated and technical field, so make sure you find a competent attorney who can protect you and will spend an adequate amount of time on you and your case.

Effects of Bankruptcy on Your Credit
By the time you are considering filing for bankruptcy, your credit is probably already bad and getting worse as time goes on.  Every time you miss a payment, it is a negative report on your credit score.  Once you file for bankruptcy and receive your discharge, the debts that are wiped out will be removed from your credit report or will reflect a zero balance.  No more negative reporting, so all you can do is go UP and start building your credit immediately!  Also, because you can only file for Chapter 7 every eight years, you are less of a credit risk after filing than someone who has not filed and can therefore file at any time.  Most clients report that their credit score goes up by 100 or more points as soon as their discharge is entered.

Many people are surprised about how quickly they get offers for credit – usually within a few weeks of filing their case.  If you are smart with your credit (e.g. you pay your bills regularly and treat credit responsibly), you will see your credit score improve more rapidly.

Take control of your finances by contacting us today
Located in Los Angeles, we provide a wide range of services for individuals, families and businesses suffering from unmanageable debt. Call Royzman Law Firm at 310.954.8503 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Disclaimer
Please note that the materials appearing on this blog are provided for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice or the opinions of this law firm or any of its attorneys. The law is constantly changing, and the materials appearing on this blog are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. You should not act or rely upon any information appearing on this blog without consulting a qualified attorney for individual advice regarding your own unique situation. Transmission of information through this blog or this website does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and Royzman Law Firm, Inc. or Natella Royzman, Esq. 
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Call Toni Real Estate Radio Feature: Bankruptcy 101 (pt. 1)

call toni logoNatella Royzman sits down with host Toni Patillo and co-host Jason J on CALL TONI REAL ESTATE RADIO on KTLK AM 1150 to discuss the Purpose of Bankruptcy; the Different Types of Bankruptcy; and What It Means to Get a Discharge.  Click to listen to Part 1 (of three) in which Natella shares how to discharge your debt and the various ways to handle your debt.  In Part 2 and Part 3 of the Call Toni Radio show, Natella explains the effect of bankruptcy on your credit and dispels common misconceptions surrounding bankruptcy.

NR Call Toni

If you are considering bankruptcy and don’t know what your options are, Natella can help you through that by looking at the whole picture, asking you what your goals are, and discussing realistic plans to resolve your financial situation.  Although Natella has vast experience with basic bankruptcy filings, she has expertise helping individuals and businesses struggling with more complicated debt issues.  Her aim is to help those in distress recover and thrive, rather than continue to be stuck in a perpetual rut.

 
 
 

Types of Bankruptcy
Note that the information provided here is general and not complete.  To determine the best strategy for your unique situation, speak with a qualified bankruptcy attorney to learn about how to get your financial life back on the right track.

Chapter 7 – The two main considerations in this chapter are eligibility and asset exposure. Both individuals and businesses can file for Chapter 7.  In order for individuals to qualify, they must pass the Means Test (or be exempt from it), which evaluates your income and expenses.  Chapter 7 is considered the simplest, most straightforward chapter, and is best for someone who doesn’t have valuable property that can be sold by the trustee assigned to your case (Read more on the Role of the Trustee). You do not pay anything to any creditors, and in most cases, all of your debt is completely wipe out. You can protect your home, car, and general household items using exemptions, depending where you live and your attorney’s ability to apply exemptions skillfully.

Chapter 13 – This chapter is commonly known as the “Wage Earner’s Bankruptcy.” You pay some or all your debts over a period of time, depending on circumstances. You must be an individual, have regular income, and be able to make payments to creditors under an approved plan in order to get a discharge. You must also fit within certain debt limits. Chapter 13 may be a good choice if you need time to catch up on your mortgage payments, but you must be realistic about what you can and cannot afford in the long term. A lot can happen over 3-5 years, and you have to be able to keep up with your payment plan in order to get a discharge.

Chapter 11 – This is by far the most complicated and costly of the bankruptcy chapters and is used mostly by businesses, though is also an option for individuals with exposed assets who do not qualify for Chapter 13.

Which Types of Debts are Discharged
Most unsecured debts are fully discharged, meaning you are no longer legally obligated to pay them.  However, liens arising from secured debts (such as a mortgage) remain on the property. That means even if you successfully get a discharge, you can only discharge your personal liability. Also, there are some exceptions that will not be discharged: e.g. recent tax debt, student loans, government fines and penalties (including parking tickets), criminal restitution, and spousal/child support. Certain debts that come from fraud and other intentional bad conduct can be held “non-dischargeable,” meaning you will still be liable.

The Automatic Stay
When you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay is triggered immediately after filing (with some exceptions):

-    Immediately stops all collection activity: NO MORE ANNOYING PHONE CALLS OR LETTERS
–    Immediately stops action against your property: Nobody can do anything against you or any of your property
–    No legal action can be taken unless permission is granted by bankruptcy court

The Process is Simpler than You Think
We make the bankruptcy process as easy and risk free as possible for you. Natella has extensive experience representing bankruptcy debtors (both individuals and businesses), bankruptcy trustees, and creditors. She understands all sides of the bankruptcy process, and provides careful and creative legal analysis to further your best interests.  Her evaluation of your financial situation is not only a legal one, but a practical one, considering all options that can help accomplish your goals. Call Royzman Law Firm at 310.954.8503 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Disclaimer
Please note that the materials appearing on this blog are provided for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice or the opinions of this law firm or any of its attorneys. The law is constantly changing, and the materials appearing on this blog are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. You should not act or rely upon any information appearing on this blog without consulting a qualified attorney for individual advice regarding your own unique situation. Transmission of information through this blog or this website does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and Royzman Law Firm, Inc. or Natella Royzman, Esq.
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Increases in California Bankruptcy Exemptions as of January 1, 2013

Good news for Californians considering bankruptcy!

California State Assembly

The California Assembly Bill 929 took effect on January 1, 2013. The new bill increases California Bankruptcy Exemptions, and helps people keep more property when filing for bankruptcy in California.

If you’re considering bankruptcy, it’s important to understand the purpose of exemptions. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, bankruptcy exemptions determine what property you get to keep, i.e. your home, car, or personal belongings. If property is exempt, you may keep it during and after bankruptcy. If property is nonexempt, the Trustee assigned to your case is entitled to sell it to pay creditors. (Read more about California Bankruptcy Exemptions.)

 

 

Increases to the California Bankruptcy Exemptions:

Property                   Old              New

Homestead              $22,075    $24,060

Motor Vehicles        $3,525      $4,800

Household Items      $550       $600

Wildcard                  $1,175      $1,280

Tools of Trade         $2,200     $7,175

Life Insurance        $11,800     $12,860

Personal Injury       $22,075    $24,060

What does this mean if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy? 

To determine what property you get to keep, start by speaking with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Exemption analysis and planning to maximize exemptions require skill and knowledge of different aspects of the law – combined with an in-depth analysis of your full financial situation to ensure that your property is safe from the Trustee and creditors.

Disclaimer
Please note that the materials appearing on this blog are provided for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice or the opinions of this law firm or any of its attorneys. The law is constantly changing, and the materials appearing on this blog are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. You should not act or rely upon any information appearing on this blog without consulting a qualified attorney for individual advice regarding your own unique situation. Transmission of information through this blog or this website does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and Royzman Law Firm, Inc. or Natella Royzman, Esq.
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Bankruptcy Exemptions: Can I Keep My Property If I File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

This is a question asked most often by people considering bankruptcy.  As we mentioned in How to Discharge Debt through a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most straightforward chapter in which general unsecured debts that you can’t pay back are discharged, or wiped out, and you get a chance to start over debt free.

BK exemptionThis seems too good to be true and people expect that they have to give up most of what they own in exchange for eliminating their debt.  It’s true that in some cases, your property may be taken or sold by the Trustee to pay some of your creditors. (Read more about Understanding Role of Trustee in Bankruptcy.)

If you file a case without properly analyzing and applying the available exemptions, your property can be taken and sold.  That’s why navigating your way through bankruptcy exemption statues alone can be very difficult and is not advised.  It is always wise to retain an experienced bankruptcy attorney who is familiar with the processes and understands the law, as well your concerns, expectations and needs.  This process is not as simple as filling out a few forms, and only an attorney proficient in bankruptcy law can help determine whether there is any risk for exposure of your assets and she can ensure that your home, car, wages and other belongings are fully protected.

So What Property is Protected in Chapter 7? 

The Federal Bankruptcy Code recognizes that you need some assets after filing for bankruptcy in order to move forward and get a fresh start, so it provides for certain exemptions.  If property is exempt, it cannot be taken by the trustee assigned to your case or used to pay your creditors’ claims.  Simply put, this property is protected from creditors and is called exempt property.  Exemptions are different in each state and choosing which exemptions apply can be complicated.  What you get to keep depends on where you live, and how long you have lived there.

In California there are two sets of exemptions to choose from depending on your assets.  Determining the correct set of exemptions and applying them thoughtfully and skillfully can mean the difference between your keeping your property and having to give it up. 

In almost every case we file, we implement creative and effective ways to increase protection and maximize exemptions so that the client keeps all of his or her assets.  If there is some unavoidable risk that an asset is not fully protected, we make sure that the client knows before we file the case so that he or she can make an informed, calculated decision.  Once the case is filed, there is no undoing it – meaning there is no way to keep the trustee assigned to your case from going after your exposed assets.

Many people are able to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and keep their home or car.  Depending on the equity in the property, you can figure out which bankruptcy chapter is right for you.

Be sure to discuss all the bankruptcy exemptions available to you in detail with a qualified bankruptcy attorney who knows the bankruptcy process from all sides and can apply that knowledge to provide you with effective and efficient solutions.

Take control of your finances by contacting us today

Located in Los Angeles, we provide a wide range of services for individuals, families and businesses suffering from the weight of excessive debt.  Call Royzman Law Firm at 310.954.8503 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Disclaimer
Please note that the materials appearing on this blog are provided for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice or the opinions of this law firm or any of its attorneys. The law is constantly changing, and the materials appearing on this blog are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. You should not act or rely upon any information appearing on this blog without consulting a qualified attorney for individual advice regarding your own unique situation. Transmission of information through this blog or this website does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and Royzman Law Firm, Inc. or Natella Royzman, Esq. 
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Understanding Role of Trustee in Bankruptcy

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you should know and understand all parties involved and their parts in the process.  What is the role of Trustee in bankruptcy?  It’s important to understand a trustee’s role and what he or she may be looking for in order to best present information in your bankruptcy schedules and prevent delay, additional investigation, or even a lawsuit in your case.  Of course, an experienced bankruptcy attorney will guide you, but it’s good to have a general understanding of the process in order to best know what you’re facing.

TrusteeWhen you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your case will be automatically assigned a trustee.  A Chapter 7 Trustee should not be confused with an attorney from the United States Trustee (a branch of the Department of Justice) who plays a different role in your case.  The United States Trustee appoints several Chapter 7 trustees for each bankruptcy court division, who are then put on a panel and randomly assigned Chapter 7 cases.  The Chapter 7 trustee does not represent you, but rather represents your bankruptcy estate.  For each case they process, they are paid a small amount, as well as a percentage of any assets they administer to creditors.

The Chapter 7 Trustee reviews all bankruptcy petitions and schedules in cases assigned to him or her, and also questions the debtor at the 341(a) meeting of creditors.  The trustee in bankruptcy cases will be looking at a number of things, including but not limited to: (1) whether your bankruptcy schedules are complete, accurate and consistent, (2) whether any of your assets are non-exempt, (3) whether you made any payments to creditors that are recoverable,  (4) whether you transferred any money or property that is recoverable, and (5) whether your case should be converted to Chapter 13 because your income is sufficient to repay a reasonable portion of your debts.

The power of a Chapter 7 trustee in bankruptcy cases is extensive.   For example, the trustee may object to your claims of exemption, sell your non-exempt assets, take over any lawsuits you have pending, remove certain liens against your property, recover certain payments you made to creditors, recover certain transfers you made prior to filing, object to your discharge, or request that your case be dismissed or converted to a Chapter 13 case.  Any assets recovered by the trustee in bankruptcy cases are liquidated and distributed to your creditors according to a priority scheme designated by statute.

So, how can you avoid problems with the Trustee in your bankruptcy?

You and your bankruptcy attorney should work with the Trustee.  A skilled bankruptcy attorney will, no doubt, know many trustees and will have worked with them in the past.  Natella Royzman, of Royzman Law Firm, has represented many trustees in bankruptcy proceedings.  She understands how they think, what they are looking to find, and how to work with them.

“It’s been my experience that most trustees want to accomplish their duties in the quickest and easiest way possible, and they do not like wasting their time and resources on uncooperative debtors or dead-end leads.  When debtors are forthcoming and cooperative, trustees are more willing to work and compromise with them.  Trustees have a specific job to do, and it’s easier for them if we (Royzman and the client) can present information in an orderly and timely fashion,” says Royzman. “Trustees want to do their job properly and efficiently, and if I can help in that process, it’s typically a positive for my client’s case.”

Working with the trustee comes down to understanding the intricacies of law behind the issues the trustee is looking at and the rules of evidence required to prove your case.  For example, a particular transfer, like a transfer of a car or a substantial sum of money to a relative, may appear to be a fraudulent transfer because it is not clear that value was received.  However, value may have been received by an exchange of property or services rather than money, or the transfer may have actually been repayment for a loan.  It is important to demonstrate these kinds of facts to the trustee right away with the proper evidence.  Otherwise, a costly lawsuit may be on its way.

“I always try to anticipate what the trustee will be thinking and looking for, and provide all the information I can up front, either in the bankruptcy petition itself or by filing or sending the pertinent information and documents to the trustee,” Royzman explains.  “If there is a particular transfer I know will be on the trustee’s radar as a possible fraudulent transfer, I make sure to understand the circumstances of the transfer prior to filing the case.”

A good attorney will identify a potentially problematic transfer, evaluate the strength of the facts and evidence, and discuss their legal assessment with the client before the case is filed.  If there is solid evidence showing that one of the necessary components of a fraudulent transfer is missing, or evidence that supports a legal defense, your attorney should make sure the trustee has that evidence right away.

If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy, your next step should be to speak with a skilled bankruptcy lawyer.  Ask her to explain more of the bankruptcy process and how to work with a trustee in bankruptcy. Call Royzman Law Firm at 310.954.8503 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Disclaimer
Please note that the materials appearing on this blog are provided for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice or the opinions of this law firm or any of its attorneys. The law is constantly changing, and the materials appearing on this blog are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. You should not act or rely upon any information appearing on this blog without consulting a qualified attorney for individual advice regarding your own unique situation. Transmission of information through this blog or this website does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and Royzman Law Firm, Inc. or Natella Royzman, Esq. 
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Navigating a California Fraudulent Transfer Lawsuit

There are many different scenarios that can lead to a fraudulent transfer lawsuit (also known as ‘Fraudulent Conveyance’).  Maybe you innocently bought something you thought was a great deal, or you received a gift from a friend or relative who later filed bankruptcy.  Now, months later, you have a fraudulent transfer lawsuit brought on by the trustee of the bankruptcy case (Read more about the role of the Trustee).  

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So What Happened?

Unfortunately, regardless of your innocence or good intentions, you now have to defend yourself in a fraudulent transfer lawsuit.  Your first step should be to talk to a skilled California attorney who is experienced in this type of litigation.

Transfers of property – anything of value, including money, personal property or real property – may result in a fraudulent transfer lawsuit.  If you are the recipient of goods or property from someone who later files for bankruptcy, you could now be sued by the trustee of the transferor’s bankruptcy case.

In California, there are two types of fraudulent transfers in bankruptcy. “Actual Fraud” is a transfer made before a bankruptcy filing with the intent to “hinder, delay or defraud” creditors.  In other words, the Court will need to determine that, by making the transfer, the person who filed for bankruptcy actually intended to defraud a person or company to which he owed money.  Intent can be inferred in a number of different ways, and the Court will be looking at any facts that make the transaction out of the ordinary or suspicious.

The other type of fraudulent transfer falls under the heading of “Constructive Fraud.”  This type of fraudulent conveyance can be shown if you came into possession of transferred property and paid less than “reasonably equivalent value” for the transfer when the transferor was insolvent, or the transfer caused the transferor to become insolvent.  So, if you bought your cousin’s car for $5,000 and the bankruptcy trustee thinks it was worth $15,000, the purchase may fall under the “constructive fraud” definition.  Your innocent purchase or goodwill gesture to help a down-and-out relative may result in a lawsuit!

No matter what type of fraudulent transfer is claimed, you may be liable for your part.  If you’ve been sued, your best line of defense is an experienced fraudulent conveyance attorney.  Without proper representation, you may lose the asset and whatever you paid for the asset.  That’s right – your cousin’s car and the $5,000 paid amount will likely be lost in this lawsuit.  In addition, you will likely be liable for pre-judgment interest from as far back as the date of the transfer. This means that you could owe thousands of dollars in interest.  Speaking with a trusted and knowledgeable fraudulent conveyance attorney is the best line of defense against what could be a very expensive judgment.

Do not assume that the bankruptcy attorney handling this case will handle your fraudulent conveyance lawsuit, as well.  In fact, many bankruptcy attorneys will not touch a fraudulent transfer suit because the laws regarding fraudulent transfers are complex and technical.  At Royzman Law Firm, we know this area of law well and are here to help.  If you have been sued for fraudulent transfer, you must act quickly to try to avoid some of the harsh consequences.

Contact Royzman Law Firm today to discuss the details of your California fraudulent conveyance case.  We have the experience needed to properly assess the strength of the trustee’s fraudulent transfer claim and the legal defenses you have.  Whether the best option in your case is to aggressively defend the suit or negotiate a settlement with the trustee, we will make sure you obtain the best possible outcome. Call Royzman Law Firm at 310.954.8503 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Disclaimer
Please note that the materials appearing on this blog are provided for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice or the opinions of this law firm or any of its attorneys. The law is constantly changing, and the materials appearing on this blog are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. You should not act or rely upon any information appearing on this blog without consulting a qualified attorney for individual advice regarding your own unique situation. Transmission of information through this blog or this website does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and Royzman Law Firm, Inc. or Natella Royzman, Esq. 
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Natella Royzman, Panelist at 9th Annual BANKRUPTCY ETHICS SYMPOSIUM

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THE BANKRUPTCY SECTION OF THE FEDERAL BAR ASSOCIATION & THE LOS ANGELES CHAPTER OF THE FEDERAL BAR ASSOCIATION Present the 9TH ANNUAL BANKRUPTCY ETHICS SYMPOSIUM

SPEAKERS:  Hon. Catherine E. Bauer, United States Bankruptcy Court; J. Scott Bovitz, Esq., Bovitz & Spitzer; Jill M. Sturtevant, Assistant …

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How to Discharge Debt through a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

If you’re a California resident in a financial bind, you may be considering bankruptcy and wondering how to discharge debt.  With a few exceptions, Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to discharge your unsecured debt and get a fresh start on your financial life.  When you receive a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge of debt, you are no longer legally obligated to pay any of the discharged debt.  In other words, all of the unsecured debt is completely wiped out.

To some, discharge of debt sounds too good to be true.  When the debtor speaks to a bankruptcy attorney about how to discharge debt in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it seems like a miracle: they can finally gain control of finances.  There aren’t more worries about paying debts, and the debtor can begin rebuilding credit.

Although a debt discharge provides tremendous benefit and relief, there is a complex legal process involved.  Discharging debt is not as simple as filling out a few forms.  If you wish to discharge debt and file a bankruptcy petition, several events are triggered: a bankruptcy case is opened; a case number, judge and trustee are assigned; a slew of requirements must be met; and potential consequences must be thoroughly evaluated.  Non-compliance with all requirements or improperly evaluating the effect of filing may prevent a successful discharge of debt.  Because of the complexity involved, it’s always wise to speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney before embarking on this journey to ensure you have the best chance of a successful discharge of debt.

1.       Identify and categorize all assets, income, expenses and debt/liabilities.  Be thorough and include everything.  The more complete this list, the easier it will be for your bankruptcy attorney to properly handle the case.

2.       Determine whether you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy and/or Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and determine which type of bankruptcy is best for your situation. Your bankruptcy attorney will be able to help you in this area.  (Note: The remainder of this article discusses the steps for discharging debt in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case only.)

3.       Ascertain whether you have any exposed assets.  Exposed assets are those that can be liquidated by the trustee.  In many cases, most or all assets are covered by exemptions, but a qualified bankruptcy attorney can help you to determine whether there is any risk of exposure and to reduce or eliminate exposure through pre-bankruptcy exemption planning.  This step is crucial because there is no voluntary dismissal of Chapter 7 cases; and if you file a case without properly analyzing and applying the available exemptions, your property can be taken and sold.

4.       Identify non-dischargeable or potentially non-dischargeable debts.  A bankruptcy attorney will help you:

a.       To determine which of your debts will be discharged in bankruptcy; and

b.       To evaluate the risk that a creditor will bring an lawsuit seeking a particular debt be held non-dischargeable.

5.       Determine if your tax debt is dischargeable or will soon become dischargeable.  Although some tax debt is dischargeable debt, very specific and tricky rules apply.  If you file a case just a day too early, you may lose the ability to discharge your tax debt.  Speak with your bankruptcy attorney about your tax debt to determine if and when it can be discharged.

6.       Review transfers/payments you made pre-bankruptcy.  The Trustee assigned to your case has the power to undo/recover certain pre-petition transfers, including but not limited to “preferential transfers” and “fraudulent transfers.”  Specific time frames apply so it is important be aware of them in determining when to file your case.  If you file at an ill-advised time, the recipient of your payment or transfer may be subject to a lawsuit.

7.       Take the required pre-petition credit counseling course online and file the required certificate of completion with the bankruptcy court.

8.       Complete and file the bankruptcy petition and schedules with the court.  Always speak with a bankruptcy attorney before filing.  A knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney will be able to help in many ways.

9.       Send the trustee assigned to your case the documents required by the bankruptcy rules.

10.       Attend the 341 meeting of creditors where the trustee (and sometimes the United States Trustee and any creditors who wish to appear) will question you about your bankruptcy schedules and financial situation.

11.       Send the trustee any additional documents and information requested and attend any continued 341 meeting of creditors.  Usually, a skilled bankruptcy attorney will have provided the trustee with all the necessary information prior to the first 341 meeting and there will be no need for additional appearances.

12.       Consider reaffirmation of any secured debts.  If you drive a vehicle that is leased or financed you will likely receive a Reaffirmation Agreement from the lender requesting that you reaffirm the debt in order to keep the vehicle.  Reaffirming the debt means that you will be personally liable despite obtaining a bankruptcy discharge.  An attorney can help evaluate whether reaffirmation is in your best interest, and in some cases can help you negotiate better repayment terms.

13.       Complete the post-petition financial management course online and file the mandatory court form certifying completion with the bankruptcy court.

14.       Discharge your debt!  You will typically get notice of your discharge from the bankruptcy court within six months of filing.  You are no longer obligated to pay the debts that were discharged.  They will now be listed as 0 balance or completely removed from your credit report.  You can begin rebuilding your credit right away.

Although navigating the system can seem intimidating, with the help of an experienced attorney, the rewards of obtaining a discharge of debt can be tremendous.  Think about how well you’ll be able to sleep knowing you have a clean financial slate.  If you’re ready to discharge debt, call Royzman Law Firm at 310.954.8503 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Disclaimer
Please note that the materials appearing on this blog are provided for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice or the opinions of this law firm or any of its attorneys. The law is constantly changing, and the materials appearing on this blog are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. You should not act or rely upon any information appearing on this blog without consulting a qualified attorney for individual advice regarding your own unique situation. Transmission of information through this blog or this website does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and Royzman Law Firm, Inc. or Natella Royzman, Esq. 
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Defending Preferential Transfer Suits

During the bankruptcy process, creditors of the debtor may find themselves in the particularly troubling position of being asked by the bankruptcy trustee to return money they had legitimately received from the debtor.   Trustees in bankruptcy are always looking out for what is known as a “preference” or a “preferential transfer.”

image-for-preferential-transfer-blog2Preferential transfers are payments of money or property to creditors on a pre-existing debt within the “preference period.”  Typically, this period is 90 days prior to the bankruptcy filing, or one year if the creditor is an “insider.”  Whether someone is an insider is determined by looking at their relationship with the debt, and includes family members, corporate officers and the like.  In Chapter 7, “preferential transfer” actions are brought via a lawsuit in the bankruptcy court under section 547 of the bankruptcy code by the trustee against the recipient of the transfer.  If successful, the trustee can undo and recover the transfer of money or property for the benefit of unsecured creditors.

Preferential transfers can come up in many scenarios.  Common preferential transfer situations include debtors who repay friends or relatives on loans and small business owners and landlords who provide products or services to the debtor.  If a customer falls behind on payments (as is often the case when someone is at risk for bankruptcy) and then makes a payment within 90 days prior to filing bankruptcy, the trustee may view this as a preferential transfer.

As one may imagine, preferential transfer actions are often particularly upsetting to creditors.  The recipient of the transfer is often owed additional money that will not be repaid in the bankruptcy case and now has to return money legitimately received.  Although the overall policy/purpose is to ensure that all unsecured creditors are treated fairly and equally pursuant to the provisions of the bankruptcy code, this practice seems unfair to the creditor.

So, what happens if the trustee has sued or threatened to sue you for having received a preferential transfer? 

Prior to being served with a lawsuit, most creditors will receive a letter from the trustee demanding return of the allegedly preferential transfer.  Just because you received such a letter does not mean that the trustee’s position is strong; you have the opportunity to defend yourself and keep the money you’re rightfully owed.  An experienced attorney can often find the problems/weaknesses in the trustee’s arguments and convince the trustee (or judge if the lawsuit has already been filed) to drop the case or work out a settlement between you and the trustee.

Even where all the elements of a preferential transfer are present, there are many legal defenses, most of which are very technical.  The two most common defenses are “new value” and “ordinary course of business.”

NEW VALUE: This defense applies if the creditor receives a transfer and then subsequently advances additional credit to the debtor that remains unpaid on the date of the bankruptcy filing.  Where such new credit is provided, it can be “offset” against the original preferential transfer, thus reducing or eliminating the creditor’s liability.  The “new value” defense usually applies where there is an open account between the debtor and creditor; for example, a vendor who regularly advances products.  However, it can also apply to a relative or friend who is repaid on a loan and then subsequently lends additional money for which he or she is not repaid.

ORDINARY COURSE:  This generally applies to business.  It requires that (1) the underlying debt that was repaid during the preference period was incurred in the ordinary course of business or financial affairs between the parties; and (2) the repayment was made either in the ordinary course of business or financial affairs of the debtor and the transferee, OR, made according to ordinary business terms.  For example, if payment is due within 30 days of an invoice according to the terms of the agreement between the parties, but is paid 50 days after, that can appear to be a preference.  However, if during the entire course of the relationship between the debtor and creditor, the debtor always paid invoices between 45-60 days, properly proving that fact could be a valid defense.

Disclaimer
Please note that the materials appearing on this blog are provided for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice or the opinions of this law firm or any of its attorneys. The law is constantly changing, and the materials appearing on this blog are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. You should not act or rely upon any information appearing on this blog without consulting a qualified attorney for individual advice regarding your own unique situation. Transmission of information through this blog or this website does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and Royzman Law Firm, Inc. or Natella Royzman, Esq. 
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Defending a Fraudulent Conveyance Lawsuit

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Fraudulent Conveyance lawsuits are brought in many different situations.  If you’ve been sued for fraudulent transfer, it may be as a result of your receiving real property (a residence or land), money or other property.  Whatever the circumstances, you are now facing a fraudulent conveyance lawsuit, and the stakes are high. Fortunately, there are ways to defending a fraudulent conveyance lawsuit.  With the right bankruptcy attorney, you may have some hope of successfully defending the fraudulent conveyance lawsuit.

 

There are steps you can take to ensure that you have the best chance of defending a fraudulent conveyance lawsuit.  By following these helpful tips, you may be able to get back to life without the dread of handling a lawsuit on your own.

1.  HIRE AN EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY.  Fraudulent conveyance lawsuits aren’t easy cases to defend.  You must hire an attorney who has defended similar cases and understands the system.  Find an attorney with experience on all sides of a fraudulent transfer case – both prosecuting the case and defending the case – you can rest easy that you are in good hands.  Of course, it’s important to ask the right questions.  Be sure to ask the attorney about her knowledge of trustees’ and creditor attorneys’ expectations in these cases.  A lawyer who understands the motivation and strategy on all sides of a fraudulent transfer case is in the best position to defend you.

2.  STAY ORGANIZED.  A trustee will be looking for certain indicators of fraudulent transfers: transactions with insiders and transfers that appear to have unfairly benefited the recipient.  Therefore, if you received property from your cousin who later files for bankruptcy (even if the filing is several years after the transfer), you are a target.  If you paid someone significantly less than the value of an item, that is also suspect.  In order to best help your case, keep good records of your transactions.  If you can show that you paid market value for the item, you should be able to keep the goods.  Similarly, if the transfer was made to repay you for a preexisting debt, that may be a strong defense, depending on the timing of the underlying obligation and transfer.  Organization is crucial:  keep a paper trail of any money you loan to friends or relatives.  Avoid loaning money in a manner that cannot be easily traced back to you, such as cash.   Be sure to hand over all records to your attorney.

3.  UNDERSTAND YOUR RIGHTS.  Just because you received money or goods from someone who filed bankruptcy doesn’t make you liable in all cases.  If you can show that you received the goods in good faith and paid fair market value, you may have a valid defense to this fraudulent transfer suit.  Similarly, you may have a valid defense if the debtor was not insolvent at the time of the transfer.  If the transfer of goods was made in order to satisfy a preexisting debt, it’s important to tell your attorney.

4.  FIGHT THE LAWSUIT.  Being sued for fraudulent transfer is not necessarily an “all or nothing” matter.  A knowledgeable attorney can often reach a settlement agreement with the trustee that requires a much lower payment than the amount demanded in the lawsuit.  An attorney who understands the big picture will attempt to negotiate a settlement for your case.

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Call Toni Real Estate Radio Features Natella Royzman

Call Toni Real Estate radio, a Los Angeles-based radio program on KTLK AM 1150, recently invited Natella Royzman to share her experience within bankruptcy law. Royzman Law Firm focuses on all aspects of bankruptcy, including how to discharge debt.

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Click on the MP3 player to hear Natella Royzman on “Debunking Bankruptcy Myths“:

 

 

 

 

 

Three Most Common Bankruptcy Chapters:

Chapter 7: Basic liquidation bankruptcy (simplest, most commonly filed)

Chapter 11: Most complicated type of bankruptcy. Available to both businesses and individuals

Chapter 13: Reorganization for individuals with regular income

Common Misconceptions:

If I file for bankruptcy, I’ll never get credit again.  – Quite the opposite! Most people receive offers for credit before their bankruptcy case is closed.

If I file for Chapter 7, I have to give up my property!  – Not necessarily! With the right attorney on your side, you can keep your property.

“Doing the show was a great experience,” Natella says.  “Being featured on the program was a great way to help so many people who have questions about debt and bankruptcy.  It was an honor to be asked.”

Disclaimer
Please note that the materials appearing on this blog are provided for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice or the opinions of this law firm or any of its attorneys. The law is constantly changing, and the materials appearing on this blog are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. You should not act or rely upon any information appearing on this blog without consulting a qualified attorney for individual advice regarding your own unique situation. Transmission of information through this blog or this website does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and Royzman Law Firm, Inc. or Natella Royzman, Esq. 
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