Author: Peter Francis Geraci, Bankruptcy Attorney and Financial Expert
Founding member of Geraci Law L.L.C., a multi-state consumer bankruptcy law firm with over 70 attorneys. One of the largest and oldest consumer bankruptcy law practices in the country.
Founding member of Geraci, Arreola, and Hernandez, a personal injury law firm with landmark personal injury and medical malpractice rulings.
CEO of Professional Financial Guidance L.L.C. and PFG Credit Counseling, Inc., online providers of bankruptcy debtor education and credit counseling.
I am the 4th generation of lawyer in my family, going back to my great-great grandfather, Francis Albert Hoffmann, who was lieutenant governor of Illinois during the Civil War, a founder of the Republican Party and staunch abolitionist, my great-grandfather Francis A. Hoffmann, who was corporation counsel of Chicago in the 1880’s, and my grandfather Francis A. Hoffmann, who went to North Division High School in 1905 (now Lincoln Park High School), Knox College and Univ. of Michigan Law School. My mother unfortunately was unable to go to law school, but my sister is an attorney, and so am I. I am quite proud of my family, and my profession. So it pains me when ignorant people make lawyer jokes, or take a line from Shakespeare like “Let’s kill all the lawyers” out of context and spout it with an ignorant laugh.
This line is from (2 Henry VI, 4.2.59), Dick the Butcher to Jack Cade “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” If we read the play, we see that Dick the Butcher and Jack Cade are low characters plotting the overthrow of the government for their own ends, and his “ragged multitude…rude and merciless… of want to “first kill all the lawyers” and educated persons so that they may destroy the kingdom. Not exactly the kind of people that you would want to imitate, much less repeat their disgusting plot to murder anyone with education. So, read the play, respect the law, and stay out of jail. (what happened to Dick the Butcher and Jack Cade anyway?)
Many of our clients are elderly, and we file their Chapter 13s to protect their paid off home and repay creditors with lower interest and no late payments. Occasionally, a husband or wife will pass away during the case. In this case, the wife passed at the end of the case, after they completed the payments, but before completing the requirement of certifying that she had no outstanding Domestic Support Obligations. You would think that it would “go without saying” that a 78 year old grandmother was not under any court order to pay support, but that is the law. Since the wife was deceased, Geraci Law attorney Megan Hayes obtained an affidavit from the surviving spouse, and when the Clerk marked it a “non-conforming document”, the kindly bankruptcy judge issued an order on the Clerk to make it conform, and both the surviving spouse and the deceased debtor received their discharge. I am very proud of all the 76+ Geraci Law attorneys, not to mention our fine paralegals, for this kind of service to our clients. As Shakespeare put over 400 years ago in in Measure for Measure, which was all about lawyers, “Good counselors lack no clients”!
I live in downtown Chicago, and hawks eat most of the birds they can catch. Doves nest on my balcony, under the privet bushes in my window box. Doves, like swans and magpies, mate for life, and will come back to the same safe nest year after year. Hawks can’t see them because of the bushes, and the color of the dove blends in with the soil! You need to protect your home and family from the creditor hawk, too. That means keeping your rent or mortgage current, and protecting yourself and your family from lawsuits, foreclosure, wage deductions, and recovering from illness, job loss and family problems. That’s what we do at Geraci Law! Take my free non-bankruptcy credit counseling course at www.pfged.com, to find out how to protect your nest!
Your politicians made changes to the bankruptcy laws years ago to protect car finance companies. They seem to think that making it hard for consumers will help their finance companies. Although the politicians must have gotten some big contributions from GM’s captive finance company, GMAC, it didn’t stop General Motors from filing bankruptcy, did it? No!! So even though your Senators and Congress people try to make it hard on us, you can still get help as a working person if you are overwhelmed with debt because of job loss, illness or whatever life brings. Car loans are now going 60 to even 84 months. Used car rates can be 21%. So if you have a high interest car loan, and the car is worth less than you owe on it, here’s the deal in Chapter 13 bankruptcy:
1. If your bought the vehicle more than 910 days (2.5 years ago), you can offer to pay the actual value at prime rate plus 2%.
2. If you bought the vehicle less than 910 days, you have to pay the remaining loan on it, no reduction in value, but can still pay less interest.
Either way, you get a better deal, and still get to handle your other debt, and pay your vehicle ahead of other debts, so the car gets paid off faster, while the other creditors wait. Have a co-signer? Only way to protect the co-signer is pay the loan as written, either inside your bankruptcy, or “outside”. Geraci Law restructured or discharged over $1.5 billion in debt last year. Visit us at http://www.elimadebt.com
An Indiana man filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy with Peter Francis Geraci and Geraci Law Attorney John Allman because of overwhelming medical bills and student loans. After earning his GED, he became homeless and unemployed.
Because of diabetes retinopathy and the inability to afford necessary medical treatment, his vision started to deteriorate and he was diagnosed as legally blind at 31 years old. He started receiving Social Security Disability benefits as his only source of income. He has been unable to find work because of his disability and he met with Attorney John Allman at the Geraci Law Indianapolis location.
Attorney Allman listed American Education Services and Sallie Mae as creditors on the bankruptcy petition. Attorney Allman filed an adversary proceeding on his client’s behalf arguing the student loan debt should be dischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy because of the undue hardship. The total amount owed in student loans was approximately $34,000.
Student loans are not generally dischargeable in a bankruptcy filing. Attorney John Allman was successfully able to argue that the student loans imposed an undue hardship. The Indiana man could not meet his basic living needs on his fixed income and could not work because of his disability.
Without the above and beyond work by Geraci Law staff and Attorney John Allman, the Indiana man would have been left with a fixed income of less than $950 per month and over $34,000 in debt.
A couple met with Wisconsin Geraci Law Attorney Brent Berning for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy consultation. The couple used a credit card to pay $24,000 in tax debt. Attorney Berning explained to the couple, the credit card company would likely file an adversary arguing the debt should not be discharged (or eliminated).
After filing, an adversary was filed. The credit card alleged the entire balance of the credit card is non-dischargeable. The adversary claimed the couple committed fraud and incurred the debt 90 days before filing. Attorney Berning met with the client and reviewed options.
Counsel for the credit card company refused settlement and refused to negotiate the balance. The credit card company wanted the balance in full plus interest. Clients strongly felt the credit card company were falsely accusing them of fraud and wanted to fight.
Ultimately the case came down to the facts. Attorney Berning presented evidence proving the couple did not commit fraud. After 14 years of timely payments, the debtor lost his job and was unable to make payments. There were no prior bankruptcies and the couple did not consult an attorney before paying the tax debt on a credit card.
Attorney Berning won the adversary. If the credit card company was not so greedy, the Wisconsin couple would have agreed to settle.
The Wisconsin couple made the right choice in hiring Geraci Law and Attorney Berning. With the experience of Attorney Berning, the couple was able to save $24,000 plus interest and get a fresh start!
A bankruptcy will not modify your mortgage payment. The only way to reduce or modify your monthly payment is with your mortgage company. Many loan modifications are not approved. If the modification is approved, the arrears (back mortgage payments) are often attached to the end of the loan. This means your mortgage length can be extended beyond 30 years!
Filing a bankruptcy can help make the mortgage more affordable. Chapter 7 bankruptcies can discharge (eliminate) unsecured debt like credit card and medical bills. By eliminating the minimum payment, you free up income in your budget to make your mortgage payment. A bankruptcy will improve your debt-to-income ratio and allow you to save money. After a few years, you can try to refinance for a better long-term solution.
Peter Francis Geraci and Geraci Law Attorneys will figure out a way to get you out of debt. You can use the experience of Geraci Law and federal law to get a handle on your finances. If you are not approved for a loan modification and find yourself in foreclosure, a Chapter 13 with Geraci Law can save your home!
Creditors will file lawsuit for debt. Many people assume a credit card company wouldn’t bother with small balances. However, interest and late fees can take a small bill to a big problem.
A judgment is court-ordered and you if entered – creditors can garnish paychecks, freeze assets, or put liens against property. The good news is Geraci Law can help!
You can attend and try to settle the debt but usually you will need a lump sum. You can work out a payment arrangement but if you miss a payment – the judgment can be entered.
Once the first lawsuit is filed, there can be a domino effect of other creditors. Older debt transferred to collection agencies will wait in line to get paid from your paycheck. Garnishments are deducted from your gross pay so more overtime equals more paid to your creditors. Stop the lawsuit chaos before it starts with Geraci Law.
You will STOP the lawsuit, STOP the constant phone calls and STOP further action by your creditors. Peter Francis Geraci and attorneys offer no-money down Chapter 13 options and Chapter 7 payment plans.
One of the biggest causes for divorce is debt. Many couples do not discuss financial troubles or try to hide debt from each other. Debt can become overwhelming and it’s easy to bury your head in the sand. If you are going through a divorce and have debt – consider a bankruptcy with Geraci Law.
After a divorce is final, a person’s budget is drastically changed. You can lose a spouse’s contribution to the monthly budget or start paying additional spousal maintenance or child support. By eliminating the debt with a Chapter 7, you are able to free up your income to budget new expenses.
Consider your bankruptcy options before a divorce is final. You and your estranged spouse can file a joint bankruptcy and pay only one attorney fee. Once the divorce is finalized, you are no longer able to file together.
Bankruptcy and divorce are complicated legal matters. It’s extremely important to seek legal counsel before making any decisions. Peter Francis Geraci and Geraci Law are experienced in all consumer bankruptcy matters including how it could affect your divorce. You both can have a financial fresh start!