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  • "Upon my first visit to the office, I was in an unfamiliar part of town.  I was also bewildered and experiencing anxiety.  I was not even sure I should be there or how to proceed in a very new situation where my back was against a wall.  The first person I met in the office was Ms. Patti.  I have to say that Patti has the absolutely right demeanor and is extremely successful in her position.  Patti has a slight but comforting smile and persona.  She is confident but not arrogant in processing the needs of clients.  I do not feel that this is a small achievement in any way.  I feel Patti in many ways sets the tone for the office as the gate keeper of the office and emotional clients.  Patti definitely helped me thru this process with her silent and dedicated service to me, the clients and the office." 
             – John C., Colorado Springs, CO

  • "Upon entering Steve's office, one immediately knows they have entered his "zone".  Steve will talk, think, contemplate, then act.  He then spins his chair around, garbs paper, types on the computer and zaps something thru the printer.  Occasionally, a document needs to be scanned or something else from outside the office is needed, and Zap someone appears without having to yell down a hall or call out.  There is definitely a team here that is in sync.  There may be a question out of the blue suddenly or a brief conversation about something else.  The whole time, Steve is on point.  I felt from day one, a trustworthy confidence in placing my future in his hands.  I was not wrong.  I also never once felt rushed, brushed off or that my concerns were not his.  I felt that Steve is in this for me and his clients.  I have a debt, gratitude and confidence in Steve and the Swift team that far exceeds the fees pain. " 
             – John C., Colorado Springs, CO

  • "Steve has built good relationships with others in the community.  It was extremely helpful and productive to work with anyone he recommended from having the home value assessed to other services.

    I have only met with and dealt with a few others in the office on occassion.  Each and every person was caring and respectful.

    Overall, my experience with Steve, Patti and the rest of the team has been excellent  There were situations and challenges after filing that I thought I would never get thru.  The Swift team was there to listen, help and provide any service or time I asked for.  The calm and professional demeanor of the office is greatly appreciated.  The joy of ending my bankruptcy is also met with a good feeling of knowing there are caring individuals in Colorado Springs that actually work to help people and to make a lasting difference in the lives of so many. " 
             – John C., Colorado Springs, CO

  • "Valerie went way above & beyond to be helpful and make sure everything was clear.  She's a real spitfire!  Steve & Patti were very professional. Thank you for completing my bankruptcy!  I know it wasn't an easy one." 
             – Ken H., Woodland Park, CO

  • “Patti was so sweet and helpful. And that Valerie...as soon as she heard about my garnishment, she got things moving quickly.  She's quite a go-getter!  My attorney, Mr. Stratman made this process seem very simple, and he was very helpful. ” 
                   – Karie & Glen,  Colorado Springs, CO 

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31 Aug 2015

What Must Be Done Before Filing for Bankruptcy Featured

So many people call a bankruptcy lawyer expecting to file for bankruptcy next week, when in reality there is a process that must be followed. For example, you must receive credit and budget counseling from an approved credit counseling service within the 180 days prior to filing a petition. The credit counseling agency will review other options with you to help you avoid bankruptcy, which should be viewed as a last resort. Some of these agencies will provide counseling via telephone or online, but most people find it more helpful to meet in person. If and when you decide to file for bankruptcy, your forms must include the certificate from this agency indicating you received credit and budget counseling.


How to choose a credit counseling agency

When the time comes to choose a credit counselor, you may find it difficult to distinguish one from another. Many agencies are legitimate but there are others that are rip-offs. Just because they say they are "approved" for bankruptcy counseling doesn't guarantee a good reputation. Remember, even the best agencies won't be able to help you much if you are in serious financial trouble.

Many of the approved credit counseling agencies will also offer debt management plans, also known as DMPs. A DMP allows you to repay some or all of your debts by consolidating them with the agency. The counseling agency then distributes the money to your creditors. Be careful if you choose an agency that offers this service, as some will try to enroll you in a DMP even when it doesn't make sense. In many cases, bankruptcy might be the best solution for you, and if you sign up for a plan that you cannot afford you will end up in bankruptcy anyway.

When should you meet with an attorney?

For most individuals, it is a good idea to meet with an attorney prior to hiring a credit counselor. Some law firms will have a specific counselor that they recommend. A bankruptcy lawyer can also give you legal advice about whether bankruptcy is the answer for you, as well as many other suggestions.

Which property can I keep in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Another one of the most common bankruptcy-related questions is concerning property. Everyone wants to know what property they will be able to keep, but it all depends on the type of bankruptcy you choose. For example, in a Chapter 7 case you can keep all the property that is "exempt" from creditors' claims. However, in a Colorado bankruptcy lawyer will tell you there are some exemptions in this state.

Here are the Chapter 7 exemptions in Colorado:

  • $5,000 in equity in your car or $10,000 equity if you elderly or disabled
  • $60,000 in equity in your home, or $90,000 if you are elderly or disabled
  • $3,000 for household goods
  • $20,000 for things you need for your job (tools, books, etc.)
  • Except for the home, the amounts are doubled when a married couple files together.

It is important to remember that the value of the property is not based on what you paid for it, but rather what it's worth now. This will be especially helpful in determining the value of furniture and cars.

What about Chapter 13?

In a Chapter 13 case, you can keep all of your property if your plan meets the requirements of the bankruptcy law. In most cases you will have to pay the mortgages or liens as you would if you didn't file bankruptcy.
In most cases you will not lose your home or car during your bankruptcy case as long as your equity in the property is fully exempt. Even if your property is not fully exempt, you will be able to keep it if you pay its non-exempt value to creditors in Chapter 13.

Photo Courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Stephen H. Swift

Managing Attorney
Law Office of Stephen H. Swift, P.C.

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