July 20, 2018

Has “Financial Repression” Stopped You from Filing Bankruptcy?

paperworkpileEditors note:  In this compelling post, Charleston bankruptcy lawyer Russ DeMott describes what he calls “financial repression” – the tendency of honest, hardworking men and women to delay or forego bankruptcy protection because of the administrative and expense burdens added to the bankruptcy filing process by the 2005 BAPCPA changes to the bankruptcy laws.

When you meet with your bankruptcy lawyer, you’ll be given a lot of information.  You’ll also be given many tasks to complete before you file your bankruptcy case.

Our new bankruptcy law, BAPCPA (Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act), created a tremendous amount of busy work for debtors.  You must complete a credit counseling session prior to filing your case, you must provide the trustee with the last tax return you filed, and you must give your bankruptcy lawyer six months’ worth of pay stubs, just to get started.  There’s lots of work to be done.

Debtors are already stressed out when they come to their lawyer’s office.  The law is often confusing.  There are many new terms thrown around: CMI, DMI, discharge, First Meeting of Creditors, 341, 362, median income, means test, trustee, and on and on.  Even if they have a lawyer who explains things well, there’s a large amount of new information to absorb.

On top of all this, they must provide their lawyer with numerous documents.  Some of these are easily accessible; some are not.

In my Charleston, South Carolina bankruptcy practice, I have noticed that many clients seem worn down by this process.  We regularly check on open files to notify the clients of the information we need to file their cases.  Sometimes they respond, but sometimes they don’t.  It’s as if they believe that if they ignore the financial mess they are in, the problems will magically disappear.  They won’t, of course.  In fact, they’ll continue to get worse.

I call this financial repression.  Like any other repression, it delays a resolution.  Whatever the problem is, it doesn’t get solved. [Read more…]

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