Consumer Bankruptcy Success Stories from the Offices of Wolfson Bolton PLLC
Case Study: Melissa and Marc - Independent Property Managers
Melissa and Marc, a married couple with two children, both work full time in fast-paced careers. They have a successful side business owning four rental homes, which they lease to students in a nearby college town. Years ago, the couple took out a second mortgage on their primary residence to make the down payment on these properties, which properties they also mortgaged. As their children continued to grow and expenses increased, they found that they needed to take equity out of the rental homes. Due to a number of factors - including the rising costs of raising a family, living outside of their means, a decrease in salary, and increase in utilities and health care costs - the family eventually found itself living on credit cards. The family now finds itself in a position where they have two mortgages on their home and two mortgages on each of their rentals. The side business they believed would create positive cash flow became a burden, and the couple could no longer afford to choose between making the mortgage payments or making the credit card payments. The properties, including their own home, had dropped in value, and they began to feel themselves slowly spinning out of control with all of the obligations they faced. The couple had always envisioned that collecting rents from their investment properties would carry them through to retirement. They finally decided to speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
Melissa and Marc filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which allowed them to strip off the second mortgage on their home, strip off the second mortgages on their rental homes, cramdown the primary mortgages on these properties to match the current value, and pay those crammed-down loans out over the life of their case. The junior liens, which were stripped from their primary residence and rental homes, were reorganized as ‘unsecured debt’ and treated together with their credit cards. The credit cards and junior liens received cents on the dollar, and at the end of the five year plan, the balance on those debts was discharged. At the end of their five-year plan, Melissa and Marc owned their four investment properties free and clear, and had significant equity in their primary residence after removal of the second mortgage. They wiped out all of their credit card debt and were able to start fresh with all of their assets intact.
Case Study: Manny - Small Business Owner
Manny owned and operated a small, local restaurant, serving his family’s authentic cuisine from his native country. Unbeknownst to Manny, he was sued in state court for a debt that he had co-signed years ago. He was no longer in touch with the co-borrower, with whom he had a falling out. Although Manny did not receive notice of this lawsuit, court records indicate that he was served at a prior address. Due to his “failure” to respond in a timely manner, a default judgment was entered. The judgment creditor took swift action to collect on the judgment. Manny could not afford to challenge the validity of service at a prior address, and nonetheless, he had co-signed for the underlying debt. The creditor sought to freeze his bank account and seize his restaurant’s equipment. Fearing the loss of his business equipment and assets, and needing to seek immediate relief, Manny contacted an experienced bankruptcy attorney for advice.
Manny was advised that he risked losing his business and/or the equipment he needed to operate his restaurant by filing for Chapter 7. Manny elected to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead, with a plan to pay the judgment creditor the total amount a Chapter 7 Trustee would recover if his business assets were liquidated. Manny worked with his attorney on this plan, which gave him five years to pay a portion of the judgment, while retaining his business assets. To Manny’s surprise, the judgment creditor - the only creditor in the case - failed to timely file a proof of claim. As a result, Manny’s case was closed and a discharge of his debts entered. Manny emerged from Chapter 13 in just six months, debt free, and with full ownership of his business assets.