Monday, May 31, 2010

I Found My Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney on eBay!

I'm not kidding! I wasn't really looking for a Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney on eBay..that would be absurd...but not as absurd as actually finding one on eBay.

I was looking for books on bankruptcy and stumbled across this law firm's ad for Los Angeles bankruptcy attorneys. I had already consulted with a few other bankruptcy attorneys that I had found online, but hadn't yet found one that I was both comfortable with and could afford.

This guy sounded affordable so, after googling him and finding that he and his firm had a good reputation, I called and set up a consultation for that afternoon.

I had been doing my homework online for months preparing for this bankruptcy so I already had a list of questions but I was nervous. He quickly put me at ease though, and that was no easy feat.

So after a successful consultation, I finally had an Attorney. It was the strangest feeling. I had a bankruptcy attorney.

I would not hesitate again to find an attorney online. Mine no longer advertises on eBay--I just checked--I don't know why. Guess it wasn't as good for him as it was for me...ahem. Unless you know someone who can recommend a good bankruptcy attorney, which isn't likely since no one likes to discuss bankruptcy, finding your lawyer online is probably the best way. If that makes you uncomfortable, well, there's still the yellow pages.

Or if you're one of those broke but brave types, you file pro se (without an attorney) but I'll discuss that in another post. Me, I needed the comfort that came with having an attorney. I needed a bankruptcy blankie.

My Los Angeles Bankruptcy attorney has to be my best eBay find ever!

ep

Sunday, May 30, 2010

85K in Debt ~ Are You Kidding Me?

85K.....wow....that's a big ass number. Seriously? I better do that again, I thought....add it up again. I thought that number was a mistake until I did just that. I'd been avoiding doing that little piece of math for years and now that I had, I wish'd I hadn't. It only made me worried and scared. Terrified really. Terrified because I knew for certain that I would be having to file Bankruptcy in a Los Angeles County court.

I wasn't alone in my ignorance but I wasn't thinking about that. And if I had been thinking about that it would have been of no comfort. It's true that so many people have no clue how deeply in debt they really are. Some of us are wired to bury our heads in the sand when it comes to all things financial. Uncomfortable sand, yes, but not as uncomfortable as the stark realization that comes from knowing a number like 85K. Knowing the number means that you have to do something about it, doesn't it? 85K? Really?

So now what I thought to myself. How, exactly, did I get 85K in the hole? Stupid, stupid, stoopid. Well I can't say exactly how that happened. I still really don't know exactly. I do know that I never learned how to manage money. No one ever sat me down and said, THIS IS HOW YOU MANAGE MONEY EPIPHANY, THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT. I sure wish someone had.

And I do know that growing up as a kid, there wasn't a lot of money for extras. We weren't poor but I watched my friends get everything handed to them...the best Barbies, the best clothes, the best cars....I'd have settled for any car. Hold up...keep reading....I am not about to go on a poor little me rant here...that would be pretty self indulgent of me and I have learned a thing or two from my ordeal...but I've done a lot of thinking about why I lack financial prowess. Done a lot of thinking about how I ended up 46 years old with absolutely nothing..so for now all musings are legitimately on the table.

When I moved out of my house and became responsible for myself, I had a good job that paid the rent easily. I started receiving credit card offer after credit card offer at the still stupid age of 17 and they all sounded good to me. It was really easy to get the credit back then. And really easy to pay the bills. So while I no longer wanted the best Barbies, I did want the best clothes and the best cars and credit was an easy way to get them NOW.

Flash forward 20 years, and the cost of living had sky-rocketed but wages had not. In fact, my wages hadn't gone up significantly at all during that time. What had once been a really, really good living had become one that could no longer sustain the cost of living in present day California.

Things were so easy back in the 80's, I never even thought about my future. Never imagined that it could or would get harder to live on what I made.

And when the financial going got tough, I just started obtaining more credit to pay for the credit I had already obtained. For five years or so, that was an easy thing to do. We were deep in the age of lend and spend and my creditors were as happy as I was to ignore any facts leading to the clear message that I would not be able to repay them down the road.

But as much as I would like to blame my precicament on those creditors, global warming or something else, I can't. As I previously stated in another post, I have to own up the facts of my particular situation. I had been financially irresponsible for years and it had finally taken its toll. This was and will always remain ALL MY FAULT.

But THERE I was. 85K in debt and filing bankruptcy. YOU DID IT ALL WRONG EPIPHANY. YOU DID IT ALL WRONG, I thought as I walked up the steps to have my bankruptcy case heard in Los Angeles County Court. YOU DID IT ALL WRONG. And I hoped against hope that I was about to do something right.

Bankruptcy Los Angeles County Court Experience

The decision to file bankruptcy in Los Angeles Court was the toughest one I've ever had to make. I was scared......terrified actually. I had been completely mismanaging my money for years and I felt like a colossal failure. My self esteem was at an all time low and I had no idea how I was going to get through this.

To top that off I had no one to talk to. The big recession hadn't quite kicked in (at least no one was admitting it yet), and filing bankruptcy was still considered the social equivalent to throwing a puppy out of a car window on a busy metropolitan freeway. To this day, my filing remains my dirty little secret.

If I had to do it over again, I would have done it much sooner. Filing bankruptcy in Los Angeles County court just a couple years earlier would have lessened the pain for both me and my creditors. Instead, because of the terror that the mere thought of bankruptcy invoked, I just kept borrowing money to pay on what I already owed. I kept telling myself that eventually I would miraculously be able to pay my bills off. I was gonna write that book or win that lottery. Of course, eventually, no such thing happened. Eventually the well ran dry and there simply was no more credit to be had. I was nearly 85K in the hole and there was nowhere else to turn.

Don't get me wrong. I am fully aware that there are plenty of people who are forced to file bankruptcy through no fault of their own. (Donald Trump comes to mind..snicker) There are serious illnesses and unexpected job losses that financially ruin people all the time.....that's just not the case for me and I have to own up to that.

Perhaps the best advice I came across in my quest for knowledge prior to my bankruptcy filing, is that filing bankruptcy is a business decision. I can't take credit for that little pearl but I am thankful for it. After all, the law does afford us this privilege. Bankruptcy is meant for us to get a Fresh Start...a second chance. That little piece of advice allowed me to proceed in, for the most part though I did have my moments, a rational and calm manner.

Of course, things have changed a bit in the last couple years. The recession has seen to that. With more and more people filing bankruptcy, it has almost become common place if not acceptable. But it's still a very tough pill to swallow.

If you are considering filing Bankruptcy in Los Angeles Court, there aren't many people who will be able to, or willing to, openly relate to what you are going through. Me, I've been there, done that, got the discharge.

ep

Saturday, May 29, 2010

California Bankruptcy Information

This section includes California bankruptcy information---abbreviations, definitions, general information, and helpful links regarding credit card and other types of bankruptcy. I will be adding to this section as more California bankruptcy information becomes relevant. Please refer to it as needed.

ABBREVIATIONS:
BK: Bankruptcy
BK7: Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
BK13: Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
CBC: California Bankruptcy Central
CA: Collection Agency
CC: Credit Cards
CCCS: Consumer Credit Counseling Service
CD: Cease & Desist Letter
CO: Charge Off
DV: Debt Validation
FDCPA: Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
JDB: Junk Debt Buyer
OC: Original Creditor
SOL: Statute of Limitations
UST: U.S. Trustee
341: Meeting of the Creditors

DEFINITIONS:
Automatic Stay: an injunction that prevents creditors, with certain exceptions, from engaging in debt collection activities from a debtor who has filed for bankuptcy

Secured Loan: a loan in which the borrower pledges some asset (e.g. a car or property) as collateral

Unsecured Loan: a loan that is not backed by collateral

PACER: Public Access to Court Electronic Records

Pro Se: refers to the legal representation of a person representing himself or herself in a court proceeding

California District County Alignment
Central:Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, Ventura

Eastern: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolomne, Yolo, Yuba

Northern: Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake Martin, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, San Mateo, Sonoma, Santa Rosa

Southern: Imperial, San Diego