1 The Simpson Law Firm, PLLC 1921 Gallows Road, Suite #750 Vienna, Virginia Tel: (703) Fax: (703) Prospective Bankruptcy Clients: If you are considering the possibility of bankruptcy protection, please review this letter which I hope you will find useful. 1. YOU WILL NEED TO TAKE A CREDIT COUNSELING CLASS BEFORE YOU FILE AND AFTER YOU FILE BANKRUPTCY. Before you can file for bankruptcy protection, you will need to take a short credit counseling course by a credit counseling agency. This usually takes less than one hour to complete, and can be done ONLINE or by TELEPHONE. Simply go to or contact any of the counseling agencies listed near the end of this letter and arrange a time to talk with a representative. After you take that course, tell the agency to send me your Certificate of Completion at the address listed above. NOTE: After you file a bankruptcy, you will need to complete a second course relating to financial management before you can receive a discharge. My clients generally use the same counseling agency where they took the first course. 2. YOU MUST BE 100% HONEST THROUGHOUT THIS PROCESS. After you take the credit counseling course, fill out the questionnaire sent to you. Please know that you must be fully honest and forthright in filling out that form, making sure to disclose all of your assets, all of your debts, all of your income and all of your expenses. We insist on completely truthful answers from our clients as our bankruptcy court applies a zero tolerance policy relative to material omissions and material misstatements in your bankruptcy papers. Since you ll be signing under penalty of perjury, MAKE SURE EVERYTHING WE DRAFT IS ACCURATE. If your petition is not truthful and accurate, your case could be dismissed, you could be sanctioned and you could expose yourself to criminal sanctions.
2 3. YOU SHOULD MAKE A LIST OF ALL OF YOUR PROPERTY, INCLUDING REAL ESTATE, CARS, AND HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND FURNISHINGS When completing the questionnaire, please make a list of your homes, your cars, and your household furnishings, including couches, beds, dressers, jewelry, hobby equipment, TVs, radios, electronics, etc. in your home. To make this easier on you, my CLIENT CENTER offers clients a checklist of home goods and furnishings that should help you with this process. 4. WE WILL NEED TO VALUE YOUR PROPERTY AS BEST WE CAN. You will need to give me the approximate values of your things. (A) Real estate/market value: When considering real estate value, look to the most recent tax assessment on your property, estimates given on your property by a Realtor; AND any information you can obtain from the internet about similar house sales in your neighborhood or general area. This last option is often the best indication of market value. You may also consult with the popular website called, www. ZILLOW.com. All of these should be employed when determining real estate values. (B) Autos: When valuing your motor vehicles, please go to Kelly Blue Book at and obtain both the RETAIL VALUE of the car and the TRADE IN VALUE: of the car. (C) Furniture: Furniture retailers tell us that they typically use a three to ten year useful life for various kinds of furniture and appliances. We can discuss reasonable valuations when we meet. (D) Clothing and Jewelry: The same standard applies. A ring s value is not what you originally paid for it, but its actual value is in its current (used) condition. (E) Electronic equipment, stereo equipment and computers: Relative to TVs, stereos, VCRs, etc., those items usually have a seven year useful economic life. You should gauge values accordingly. 5. YOU MUST MAKE A LIST OF ALL OF YOUR DEBTS. You must disclose ALL of your debts. This means EVERY DEBT to everyone you owe money to, including friends, family members, governments (such as taxes or fines), medical providers, student loans, credit card companies, unpaid utility bills, parking tickets, personal loans, etc. There are NO EXCEPTIONS to this rule. You must list
3 every debt, even those you intend to pay back in full. Make sure to give me the proper addresses of everyone you owe so I can send proper notices to all creditors. 6. UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SECURED CREDITOR AND AN UNSECURED CREDITOR. A secured creditor is a creditor that holds a lien or encumbrance on your property. Examples of secured creditors include your mortgage company, your auto finance company, and furniture retailers that took a purchase money security interest in the goods you purchased. If you have a secured creditor, once you file bankruptcy, the law requires that you inform your secured creditors whether you are going to (1) surrender the collateralized property to them; (2) reaffirm the existing debt (sign a new promise to pay the creditor); or (3) redeem the personal property by paying cash for its fair market value. You may elect one of these three options or a Debtor may elect to try to retain the property and simply continue to make regular monthly payments. In all events, a decision must be made within forty five (45) days of your filing. If you fail to do this, the creditor, in all likelihood, will be entitled to exercise its rights to repossess the property. Most of our clients creditors are unsecured creditors. An unsecured creditor is a creditor who holds no lien on property. Examples of this may include credit card companies or banks that have given you a personal loan. 7. IF YOU DECIDE TO REAFFIRM A DEBT, YOU MUST BE ABLE TO PAY. If you want to REAFFIRM a secured debt, as your counsel, the Bankruptcy Code imposes upon me the duty to assess your ability to be able to pay that debt in the future. If a debt you wish to reaffirm may pose an undue burden or hardship upon you, I am ethically prohibited from supporting you in reaffirming that debt. In most cases, this is not a problem as most clients choose NOT to reaffirm debts. But think carefully about any debts you may wish to reaffirm before we start this process so we can discuss it in advance. 8. PLEASE GET ME CONFIRMING DOCUMENTS ASAP. Before we file bankruptcy, I will need to see (A) PAY STUBS showing your GROSS monthly income for EACH of the last 6 months. (B) BANK STATEMENTS: I will need to see your last 6 months of bank statements for all accounts. (C) TAX RETURNS. I will need to see your last two (2) tax returns.
4 9. PLEASE GIVE ME A LIST YOUR MONTHLY EXPENSES. You must list your monthly expenses accurately. Again, this takes some math skills and calculations. If you pay $60 dollars per quarter for water, your monthly water bill is only $20. If you pay car insurance of $540 every six (6) months, your monthly car insurance bill is ($540/6 months) $90 per month. Under bankruptcy law, the services this law firm provides to you constitute services rendered by a debt relief agency. As such, we must perform the services we agree to perform on your behalf, and I am not allowed to make any misrepresentations as to the scope of those services or your responsibility for payment of those services. 10. PLEASE DO NOT INCUR NEW DEBT. Please do not ask me for permission to buy a new car, to buy new furniture, to take out a new credit card charge, or to incur any other new indebtedness as I cannot give you that permission. Please do not use any credit card after you have spoken with me. Use of a credit card after you have spoken to any bankruptcy lawyer may be viewed as fraudulent in the future and may curtail your rights in the future. 11. UNDERSTAND THAT SOME DEBTS ARE NON DISCHARGABLE. Some debts cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. Among the debts bankruptcy CANNOT wipe out are alimony, child support, student loans, and most tax debts. There are other debts that cannot be wiped out like obligations in a written divorce agreement or damages you may have caused from drunk driving or even court penalties. Also, if you have obtained credit dishonestly or through fraud, you would not be able to discharge that debt. WE ARE A DEBT RELIEF AGENCY.
5 527(a) Disclosure I am considering retaining The Simpson Law Firm to represent me in connection with a bankruptcy case that may be filed on my behalf. I understand the following: (1) All information that I am required to provide with a petition and thereafter during a case under this title must be complete, accurate and truthful. (2) All of my property, whether I possess it or not, and all of my assets and all of my liabilities must be completely and accurately disclosed in the documents filed to commence the case, and I must disclose the replacement value of each asset as defined in 506 of the Bankruptcy Code in the documents I file where requested after I have made a reasonable inquiry to establish such value. (3) My current monthly income, my actual living expenses (the amounts specified in 707(b)(2)), and, in a case under Chapter 13 of this title, all of my disposable income (which will be determined in accordance with 707(b)(2)) must be fully and accurately stated after I have made reasonable inquiry. (4) I understand that information I provide during my case may be audited pursuant to this title, and that failure to provide such information may result in dismissal of the case under this title or other sanction, including criminal sanctions. (5) A person who knowingly and fraudulently conceals assets or makes a false oath or statement under penalty of perjury in connection with a case under title 11 of the U.S. Code shall be subject to fine, imprisonment; or both. (6) All information supplied by a debtor in connection with a case under this title is subject to examination by the Attorney General. By signing this, I assert that I have read and understand the above information provided to me. X Signature Date X Signature Date
6 527(b) Disclosure IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT BANKRUPTCY ASSISTANCE SERVICES FROM AN ATTORNEY OR BANKRUPTCY PETITION PREPARER If you decide to seek bankruptcy relief, you can represent yourself, you can hire an attorney to represent you, or you can get help in some localities from a bankruptcy petition preparer who is not an attorney. THE LAW REQUIRES AN ATTORNEY OR BANKRUPTCY PETITION PREPARER TO GIVE YOU A WRITTEN CONTRACT SPECIFYING WHAT THE ATTORNEY OR BANKRUPTCY PETITION PREPARER WILL DO FOR YOU AND HOW MUCH IT WILL COST. Ask to see the contract before you hire anyone. The following information helps you understand what must be done in a routine bankruptcy case to help you evaluate how much service you need. Although bankruptcy can be complex, many cases are routine. Before filing a bankruptcy case, either you or your attorney should analyze your eligibility for different forms of debt relief available under the Bankruptcy Code and which form of relief is most likely to be beneficial for you. Be sure to understand the relief you can obtain and its limitations. To file a bankruptcy case, documents called a Petition, Schedules and Statement of Financial Affairs, as well as in some cases a Statement of Intention need to be prepared correctly and filed with the Bankruptcy Court. You will have to pay a filing fee to the Bankruptcy Court. Once your case starts, you will have to attend a required first meeting of creditors where you may be questioned by a court official called a Trustee and by creditors. If you choose to file a Chapter 7 case, you may be asked by a creditor to reaffirm a debt. You may want help deciding whether to do so. A creditor is not permitted to coerce you into reaffirming your debts. If you choose to file a Chapter 13 case in which you repay your creditors what you can afford over 3 to 5 years, you may also want help with preparing your Chapter 13 Plan and with the confirmation hearing on your Plan which will be before a Bankruptcy Judge. If you select another type of relief under the Bankruptcy Code other than Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you will want to find out what should be done from someone familiar with that type of relief. Your bankruptcy case may also involve litigation. You are generally permitted to represent yourself in litigation in bankruptcy court, but only attorneys, not bankruptcy petition preparers can give you legal advice. By signing this, I assert that I have read and understand the above information provided to me. X Signature Date X Signature Date
7 United States Bankruptcy Court Notice to Individual Consumer Debtor(s) Under 342(b) of the Bankruptcy Code In accordance with 342(b) of the Bankruptcy Code, this notice: (1) Describes briefly the services available from credit counseling services; (2) Describes briefly the purpose, benefits and costs of the four types of bankruptcy proceedings you may commence; and (3) informs you about the bankruptcy crimes and notifies you that the Attorney General may examine all information you supply in connection with a bankruptcy case. You are cautioned that bankruptcy law is complicated and not easily described. Thus, you may wish to seek the advice of an attorney to learn of your rights and responsibilities should you decide to file a petition. Court employees cannot give you legal advice. 1. Services Available from Credit Counseling Agencies With limited exceptions, 109(h) of the Bankruptcy Code requires that all individual debtors who file for bankruptcy relief on or after October 17, 2005, receive a briefing that outlines the available opportunities for credit counseling and provides assistance in performing a budget analysis. The briefing must be given within 180 days before the bankruptcy filing. The briefing may be provided individually or in a group (including briefings conducted by telephone or on the internet) and must be provided by a nonprofit budget and credit counseling agency approved by the United States Trustee or bankruptcy administrator. The clerk of the Bankruptcy Court has a list that you may consult of the approved budget and credit counseling agencies. In addition, after filing a bankruptcy case, an individual debtor generally must complete a financial management instructional course before he or she can receive a discharge. The clerk also has a list of approved financial management instructional courses. 2. The Four Chapters of the Bankruptcy Code Available to Individual Consumer Debtors
8 Chapter 7: Liquidation ($306 filing fee) 1. Chapter 7 is designed for debtors in financial difficulty who do not have the ability to pay their existing debts. Debtors whose debts are primarily consumer debts are subject to a means test designed to determine whether the case should be permitted to proceed under chapter 7. If your income is greater than the median income for your state of residence and family size, in some cases, creditors have the right to file a motion requesting that the court dismiss your case under 707(b) of the Code. It is up to the court to decide whether the case should be dismissed. 2. Under Chapter 7, you may claim certain of your property as exempt under governing law. A trustee may have the right to take possession of and sell the remaining property that is not exempt and use the sale proceeds to pay your creditors. 3. The purpose of filing a Chapter 7 case is to obtain a discharge of your existing debts. If, however, you are found to have committed certain kinds of improper conduct described in the Bankruptcy Code, the court may deny your discharge and, if it does, the purpose of which you filed the bankruptcy petition will be defeated. 4. Even if you receive a general discharge, some particular debts are not discharged under the law. Therefore, you may still be responsible for most taxes and student loans; debts incurred to pay nondischargeable taxes; domestic support and property settlement obligations; most fines, penalties, forfeitures, and criminal restitution obligations; certain debts which are not properly listed in your bankruptcy papers; and debts for death or personal injury caused by operating a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft while intoxicated from alcohol or drugs. Also, if a creditor can prove that a debt arose from fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, or theft, or from a willful and malicious injury, the bankruptcy court may determine that the debt is not discharged. Chapter 13: Repayment of All or Part of Debts of an Individual with Regular Income ($150 filing fee, $39 administrative fee: Total $189) 1. Chapter 13 is designed for individuals with regular income who would like to pay all or part of their debts in installments over a period of time. You are only eligible for Chapter 13 if your debts do not exceed certain dollar amounts set forth in the Bankruptcy Code.
9 2. Under Chapter 13, you must file with the court a Plan to repay your creditors all or part of the money that you owe them, using your future earnings. The period allowed by the court to repay your debts may be three years or five years, depending upon your income and other factors. The court must approve your Plan before it can take effect. 3. After completing the payments under your Plan, your debts are generally discharged except for domestic support obligations; most student loans; certain taxes; most criminal fines and restitution obligations; certain debts which are not properly listed in your bankruptcy papers; certain debts for acts that caused death or personal injury; and certain long term secured obligations. $1039) Chapter 11: Reorganization ($1000 filing fee, $39 administrative fee: Total Chapter 11 is designed for the reorganization of a business but is also available to consumer debtors. Its provisions are quite complicated, and any decision by an individual to file a Chapter 11 should be reviewed with an attorney. Chapter 12: Family Farmer or Fisherman ($200 filing fee, $39 administrative fee: Total $239) Chapter 12 is designed to permit family farmers and fishermen to repay their debts over a period of time from future earnings and is similar to Chapter 13. The eligibility requirements are restrictive, limiting its use to those whose income arises primarily from a family owned farm or commercial fishing operation. 3. Bankruptcy Crimes and Availability of Bankruptcy Papers to Law Enforcement Officials A person who knowingly and fraudulently conceals assets or makes a false oath or statement under penalty of perjury, either orally or in writing, in connection with a bankruptcy case is subject to a fine, imprisonment, or both. All information supplied by a debtor in connection with a bankruptcy case is subject to examination by the Attorney General acting through the Office of the United States Trustee, the Office of the United States Attorney, and other components and employees of the Department of Justice.
10 WARNING: Section 521(a)(1) of the Bankruptcy Code requires that you promptly file detailed information regarding your creditors, assets, liabilities, income, expenses and general financial condition. Your bankruptcy case may be dismissed if this information is not filed with the Court within the time deadline set by the Bankruptcy Code, the Bankruptcy Rules, and the local rules of the Court. Certificate of the Debtor (We), the debtor(s), affirm that I (we) have received and read this notice. X Signature X Signature Date Date
11 The Simpson Law Firm, PLLC 1921 Gallows Road, Suite #750 Vienna, Virginia Telephone: (703) Telecopier: (703) Eastern District of Virginia Approved Credit Counseling Agencies Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta Inc. 100 Edgewood Avenue Suite 1800 Atlanta, GA In Person (not available in all judicial districts), Telephonic and Internet Consumer Credit Counseling Services of San Francisco 150 Post Street, 5th Floor San Francisco, CA In Person (not available in all judicial districts), Telephonic and Internet Credit Advisors Foundation 1818 South 72nd Street Omaha, NE In Person (not available in all judicial districts), Telephonic, and Internet Debt Reduction Services, Inc N. Cloverdale Road; Suite 100 Boise, ID In Person (not available in all judicial districts), Telephonic and Internet Garden State Consumer Credit Counseling, Inc. 225 Willowbrook Road Freehold, NJ In Person (not available in all judicial districts) & Telephonic
12 GreenPath, Inc Country Club Drive, Suite 210 Farmington Hills, MI In Person (not available in all judicial districts), and Telephonic Hummingbird Credit Counseling and Education, Inc Glenwood Avenue Suite Raleigh, NC Telephonic & Internet Institute for Financial Literacy, Inc. 449 Forest Avenue Suite 12 Portland, ME Telephonic & Internet Money Management International Inc West Loop South 7 th Floor Houston, TX In Person (not available in all judicial districts), Telephonic and Internet Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management Inc Latham Street Riverside, CA In Person (not available in all judicial districts), Telephonic and Internet
13 The Simpson Law Firm, PLLC 1921 Gallows Road, Suite #750 Vienna, Virginia Telephone: (703) Telecopier: (703) ATTORNEY CLIENT ENGAGEMENT AGREEMENT Dear Sir or Madam: I am pleased to represent you in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. My firm provides a fee arrangement letter to all clients that discusses the terms and scope of our representation. In this way, there should be no surprises. My customary hourly rate is $400.00, but you and I have agreed that I shall charge a FLAT FEE of PLUS the court filing fee of $ Receipt of the total amount of fees and costs will be required prior to filing your bankruptcy petition. SUBJECT to the following limitations more particularly described herein, this fee will likely take care of what we expect would be all of the work in your case. I can offer a flat fee arrangement because the time I spend in preparing your bankruptcy petition, and the time I will spend appearing at your Meeting of Creditors is generally predictable. My flat fee is based on my best estimate of the likely time I will spend performing these services that are limited to the following services: Analysis of your financial situation and rendering of advice in determining whether bankruptcy is appropriate for you and which chapter to file; Preparation and filing of your Voluntary Petition, your Schedules A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I and J, your Statement of Financial Affairs, MEANS TEST as required; Representation of you at your 341 hearing (also known as your meeting of creditors ) and any adjourned 341 hearing. Discussions with creditors alerting them to the fact you have filed for bankruptcy protection and the filing of any necessary SUGGESTIONS IN BANKRUPTCY.
14 Filing of your pre-filing certificate of credit counseling and your post-filing certificate of financial management. This FLAT FEE does NOT COVER the following services: Time spent on any Adversary Proceeding that may be filed against you. Adversary Proceedings are proceedings filed within a bankruptcy case wherein a creditor or a trustee is seeking to object to some aspect of your bankruptcy case. These actions typically occur when fraud is being alleged against a debtor. If an Adversary Proceeding is filed, we would have to arrange for an additional retainer from which I would bill for my legal services at my hourly rate of $ Time spent on any Amendments that must be made to your bankruptcy for any reason whatsoever. This would include if you forget to list a creditor or you failed to list some income you received. If we learn your bankruptcy contains any material error or omission that must be corrected that you could have corrected at the time you approved the final bankruptcy draft and endorsed same, you ll be charged for the time I spend making AMENDMENTS at my hourly rate of $ Time spent on any rescheduling of your meeting of creditors that is caused by you. If the rescheduling is caused by our firm, you will not pay any additional fee for same. Time spent objecting to a Motion for Relief from Stay I will file your case only when I am satisfied that you have completely and accurately disclosed all of your assets and liabilities and when all of the fees and expenses associated with your case have been satisfied. Often, I will communicate with you and others using e mail. We make every effort to make sure that e mail only goes to its intended recipient, but there is the possibility of misdirection, or other technological problems. Your acceptance of this engagement letter constitutes approval of in house office procedures regarding use and dissemination of e mail. You may terminate our services at any time upon written notice to us. Likewise, the firm reserves the right to resign as your counsel for any reason upon reasonable notice to you. If we are counsel of record for you in a litigation matter,
15 we will tender an order for you to endorse authorizing our withdrawal as counsel. If you or we terminate our engagement, we will take reasonable steps to protect your interest Upon completion of our representation, the files will be closed and indexed for our storage facility. The firm cannot keep old files forever and generally destroys ALL files within one year. The client has the responsibility to retrieve all personal papers or items from the file after completion of the case, and authorizes the firm to destroy and/or discard the files in a secure manner after one year of inactivity. If the client needs to ask the firm to retrieve a case file, the client will be charged a $ file retrieval fee. At the conclusion of the representation, you should inform us if you wish to have your papers and/or property returned to you before the files are processed to the storage facility. Our firm does not do credit repair of any kind. Clients occasionally ask our firm us to assist them in correcting some error or blemish contained on their personal credit profiles. This can be discovered when one wishes to obtain a new loan and something unexpected is noted on a personal credit profile during the application process. Regrettably, this is an all too familiar problem and speaks to problems with Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union, the three (3) major credit reporting agencies ( CRA ). If something like this happens, a client can seek to correct the matter on their own or they may hire a service that does this. Very truly yours, Andrew G. Simpson
1 P a g e Notice Required by 11 U.S.C. 342(b) and 527(a) In accordance with section 342(b) of the Bankruptcy Code, this notice: (1) Describes briefly the services available from credit counseling services;
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BANKRUPTCY Bankruptcy means you ask the court to excuse you from your duty to repay your creditors. A person or business you owe money to is called a creditor. Bankruptcy allows you to discharge (get rid
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Consumer Bankruptcy in Florida SOME INFORMATION ABOUT BANKRUPTCY People who are having trouble paying their debts sometimes consider bankruptcy as a strategy for resolving this situation. An individual,
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LIQUIDATION UNDER CHAPTER 7 1. WHAT IS CHAPTER 7 AND HOW DOES IT WORK? Chapter 7 is that part (or chapter) of the Bankruptcy Code that deals with liquidation. The Bankruptcy Code is that part of the federal
ADJUSTMENT OF DEBTS UNDER CHAPTER 13 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT CHAPTER 13 CASES 1. What is a chapter 13 bankruptcy case and how does it work? A chapter 13 bankruptcy case is a proceeding under federal
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