Bankruptcy Talking Points Memo

Setting Up The Bankruptcy File Correctly

To conduct a successful bankruptcy case, you have to have your file set up correctly from the outset. I’m talking about having every detail covered so that you don’t fall into any of the open man holes and potholes that lie ahead of you. Of course there is the simple stuff like having the debtor’s name, address, telephone number and email address properly set up in the file. You also need to make sure you have the right Chapter indicated, the right jurisdiction and the right color coordinating that goes with that particular file. Just as important and probably even more critical are the particular nuances that must be itemized for success.

Garnishments & Urgencies

Let’s start with a garnishment situation or other urgency. You need to properly note that the debtor is being garnished, and have some sort of trigger system so that the attorney or the staff knows to send an automatic stay to the debtor’s payroll department as well as to the creditor conducting the garnishment. This means doing a little homework and finding out who the proper person is at the payroll department, what their fax number is, what their phone number is and what their email may be. You also want to find out from the law firm that’s doing the garnishment as to what their fax number is so that you can automatically send notice upon filing.

Stay Extensions

In a chapter 13, you want to be very concerned about motions to extend the automatic stay or to impose the automatic stay. If you’re in a second chapter 13 and the first case was dismissed within a year, then in order to extend that stay your motion must be brought and heard within 30 days of filing. If you miss this deadline, you will not have an opportunity to bring a motion before the court to extend the stay. At that point, you will be at the mercy of the creditor in many cases to know whether or not your client’s assets are subject to a taking.

Credit Counseling

Before the bankruptcy case is filed you want to make certain that your client has taken the pre-filing credit counseling session. You must have some simple indication on the file or inside the file related to that fact. You should also do the same type of thing with regard to the two-hour financial management class. You should have some indication on the file or in the file as to whether or not that class was taken. You should also incorporate some sort of system that will remind you and the debtor that the class needs to be taken at a particular time.

As you can see, setting up the file is highly involved. There are many law firms and attorneys that handle bankruptcy cases who have no systems in place and they simply do not set up the file correctly. If you want to provide the best service to your client and if you want to avoid negative reviews, the foundation of setting up a file correctly will help you from before the case is filed all the way through until it is discharged.

So take the time immediately after you are hired to set up your file correctly. Examine your intake questionnaire and notes from your initial meeting to determine what key points need to be highlighted on your file. By doing so, you help your firm navigate through the case and you help the debtor obtain his or her desired results. And that’s the memo.

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