Successions and Estates

Looking for a succession attorney to handle an estate with personal attention?

Consider the law firm of John C. Menszer, LLC. John has handled both complex estates and small successions. His fees are reasonable and he provides prompt service. Many simple estates can be completed with no complications in a few weeks or less. Call John Menszer for a consultation.

In Louisiana is necessary to open a succession to transfer real estate. The heirs have the choice of either putting themselves in possession of the real estate in which case they own it jointly or else putting the succession under administration. If the succession is put under administration the real estate may be sold and then the heirs are put in possession of the proceeds of the sale after paying the costs of the estate.

In Louisiana if one dies without a will then the decedent died intestate. In an intestate succession there are rules based on their relationship with the decedent that specify which heirs are entitled to inherit the property of the estate.

If one dies with a valid will then the property of the estate will be distributed according to dictates of the will. There is an exception for forced heirs. Louisiana used to have a strong laws in favor of forced heirs but those laws have been relaxed and today it is uncommon to have forced heirs who impinge upon the will.

You may have heard warnings about avoiding probate. In Louisiana most wills that are drafted by attorneys are simply filed with the court. If there is no opposition to the will there is no need for any other proceeding.

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Real Estate Attorney

I’ve been a Louisiana Real Estate Attorney in New Orleans since 1993. Before I became an attorney I was a Louisiana Real Estate Agent and Broker who for over a dozen years managed rental property. I am an experienced professional who provides personal service. Call me or email me for a consultation. Your call goes right to my cell phone and I answer all my calls personally.

Real Estate law can involve a number of areas of law. I thought that it would be helpful to give examples of some of the kinds of problems I handle. What follows is a list of hypothetical clients and their questions.

SUCCESSION ISSUES:

Dad passed away 15 years ago and Mom has just died. Their major asset was their house. What do we need to do now?

Generally, it is necessary to open succession to confirm the ownership of real estate in the heirs. Although a succession is a type of lawsuit it need not be complicated if the debts were few and the heirs can be put directly in possession. There is an even simpler method if the value of the decedent’s estate is seventy-five thousand dollars or less. In this case there is no need to open succession and the real estate can be transferred by filing a simple affidavit.

JOINT OWNERSHIP ISSUES:

Dad left his house to me and my sister. She lives there rent free and I am getting nothing out of the property. I am married and have my own house. What can I do?

One thing you cannot do is charge her rent. As a partial owner she has the right to live there. If she and you cannot agree to sell the property the law provides for owners who cannot get along. In a Partition Sale by Licitation you could have the real estate sold at public auction. The proceeds would then be divided between you and your sister.

FORECLOSURE AND TITLE ISSUES:

I  bought a house at a foreclosure. When I tried to refinance I was told there were clouds on the title. What do I do?

Many people erroneously believe that when real estate is bought at foreclosure it comes with a clear title. This is not the case The clouds on the title have to be evaluated on a case by case basis. Some liens prescribe and can be removed by filing a request with the mortgage office. Others require a quitclaim deed from a former party in interest. Sometimes a former mortgage holder or creditor will need to be involved to release a lien.

TITLE INSURANCE:

At the closing they are going to offer me title insurance. Should I buy it?

If you finance a property the lender will probably require you to pay for title insurance to cover their loss if there is a title problem that impinges on their mortgage. You pay for the insurance and they get the coverage. For a modest additional cost you can purchase an owners title policy which covers your loss if there is a title problem as long as you own the property. If a problem arises the title insurance company will either fix the problem or pay you the value of the policy.

DEBT PROBLEMS:

I failed to pay a bill and got served a law suit. However, at the time I ignored it. How does that affect the real estate I own?

The creditor probably will have taken a default judgment against you and recorded it in the Parish where you own real estate. This judgment will act as a lien against your property. The creditor hopes that you will decide to refinance or sell the real estate. If you sell or refinance the creditor will have to be paid off with interest to release the judgment. However, this kind of judgment prescribes in ten years. If the judgment is more than ten years old it can be canceled by prescription.

TAX AND LIEN ISSUES:

I did not pay my income taxes and I got a notice that the IRS filed a lien against me. What does that mean?

The Federal Tax Lien acts as a lien against your real estate similar to the judgment described above. If you make arrangements to pay the lien then a cancellation of lien will be filed in the records which show that the lien is no longer in force. A Federal Tax Lien prescribes in ten years.

TAX SALES OWNER ISSUES:

Mom died and we never got a tax notice. We found out the property was sold for taxes. What are our rights?

If it is less than three years since the date the tax sale was filed then you have the absolute right to redeem the property by paying the taxes, a 5% penalty and 1% per month interest. This is arranged with the tax collector. If has been more than three years then it depends on what you can work out with the tax purchaser.

TAX SALES PURCHASER ISSUES:

I purchased a tax sale and it has almost been three years. What do I do now? I want to renovate the property.

You can file a Suit to Quiet Title after the three year redemption period is over. This begins a six month waiting period. The tax sale owner has six months after he has been notified that he is about to lose his property to challenge the tax sale in court. However, if you wait five years (instead of three years) from the date of the filing of the tax sale to file your Suit to Quiet Title then the tax sale owner has only sixty days to sue to challenge the tax sale (instead of six months) and the grounds he has to challenge the tax sale are more limited. In either case a reasonable but through effort must be made to actually find and notify the tax sale owner. If he lives out or state or cannot be located an attorney must be appointed to represent him. The filing with the Recorder of Mortgages of an affidavit with notice information and after certain delays acts to cancel all liens, mortgages and encumbrances prior to the date of the tax sale.

WILLS AND DONATIONS:

Our son is always in trouble. He is a good person but he does not know how to take care of his money. Our daughter is a doctor. She doesn’t need money now but wants to provide for her children. We want to be fair to both of our kids. We especially would like our son to know he always has a roof over his head.

Your children have different needs so the solutions would be different for each child. You could leave part of your property to a trust for your grandchildren with your daughter as trustee and the rest of your property to a trust for your son with again your daughter as trustee. The provisions for each trust would require your daughter to fulfill your separate objectives. Another solution in part would be to leave your house to your daughter and leave your son a right of habitation. He could live in the house as long as he lives but he could not sell or mortgage it.

LEASES:

We leased the downstairs of our duplex to a college student. Her boyfriend and his dog have moved in and they are tearing up the place. They are not on the lease. What do we do?

Your written lease probably has provisions concerning standards of behavior, preservation of the property and a waiver of five day notice. In Orleans Parish you would go to First City Court and file for a Rule for Possession. Other Parishes have a similar procedure. A Court date for the Rule will be set. You would then have the Constable serve the Rule for Possession. Do not take or hold any rent money once you have filed. You or your attorney will need to show up on the court date with evidence and testimony about the violations of the lease. If the tenant shows up he or she can give testimony. If the Judge rules in your favor then the Rule for Possession will be stamped “Rule Absolute.” A Notice of Judgment will be served the next day giving the tenant twenty-four hours to vacate. If the tenant fails to move you can obtain a Warrant for Possession from the Court. The Warrant will be enforced by the Constable but you will be responsible to provide the labor to physically move the tenant’s possessions out at the scheduled time.

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Bankruptcy Attorneys

Bankrupcy can give you a chance to start over!

A business or an individual can declare bankruptcy once they have ascertained that it has become impossible to pay off one’s creditors. It can give you a chance to start over from a financial point of view, as most of debts are relieved after bankruptcy as been filed.

Chapter 7, or liquidation bankruptcy, means that your “estate” (i.e., your assets) is sold in order to pay off your creditors. A reorganization bankruptcy can also involve the selling of assets, but more often than not you can retain a majority of your assets while your creditors’ needs are assessed.

Reorganization bankruptcies can be filed under the following guidelines:

  • Chapter 9 – municipalities
  • Chapter 11 – businesses and individuals with many assets
  • Chapter 12 – farmers, fisherman
  • Chapter 13 – individuals with steady income
  • Chapter 15 – international cases

 

Contact us today to learn more about your options under the current bankruptcy laws.

We’re here to help.

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Services

Your first step to financial freedom begins with a phone call. I will personally talk to you.

We will look at your income and debts, what you own, and your spending habits in order to determine what you have at risk and what you have to gain by filing.

Bankruptcy is not for everyone and should not be taken lightly.

Yet there is no more powerful tool than bankruptcy to hold creditors at bay and keep your property from seizure. It begins with a phone call and free consultation.

Let’s get the facts straight.

Click on the link below to download a PDF of the initial assessment form. Print and fill out as much of the information as you can. Then bring it with you to your first appointment.

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Nothing contained herein should be construed to constitute advice for your personal situation. Furthermore, this is intended as a peripheral glance at the various options available, but by no means is this a comprehensive or exhaustive analysis of the bankruptcy laws. Whether or not you should file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or seek any other type of relief, will vary depending on your personal situation. This decision should only be made after careful consideration and analysis, and after consultation with a professional. The information regarding bankruptcy law you see here may contain information and rules peculiar to the Eastern District of Louisiana. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

All About Bankruptcy Debts and Tax Refunds

John C Menszer, LLC’s John Menszer is a bankruptcy lawyer in New Orleans, LA. He has been helping area residents get themselves out of debt since 1995, and his office has handled thousands of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases during that time. In this series of articles, Menszer explains the repercussions of filing for bankruptcy.

How Bankruptcy Can Affect Your Tax Refund

In most cases, debtors who recently filed for bankruptcy will still receive their tax refunds from the IRS. Although there are certain scenarios where a refund may be included in a debt repayment plan, the reality is that the additional funds will help a debtor get toward the end of the plan in less time, which is always a good thing.

Why Filing Fees are Higher for Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13

Filing fees are generally higher for people going through a Chapter 13 case than a Chapter 7 because the amount of paperwork involved in a Chapter 13 is much more substantial. Chapter 13 cases generally take longer as well.

How to Handle Debts to Family in Bankruptcy

People who owe family members money for small loans taken out in the years prior to filing for bankruptcy need to include those debts in their paperwork. If they fail to include those debts, there is a risk of the bankruptcy not going through or additional paperwork having to be filed at the last minute.

 What People Are Saying About John Menszer:

 “Attorney John C. Menszer made the painful task of filing bankruptcy easy and mind soothing. Attorney John Menszer is very dedicated and hard working, and with his help I was able to get my finances back in order. He will make sure that his clients are treated fairly, and understands the bankruptcy process completely. He makes himself available for his clients, he is very easy to communicate with, and gets the job done efficiently. I would highly recommend him to anyone who is thinking about filing bankruptcy. MENSZER FOR PRESIDENT!!” -Nolalove

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Location

The office of John Menszer is at

830 Union Street, Suite 301,  New Orleans, LA 70112.

Call 504-615-9953 to make an appointment.

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FAQs

It is a legal proceeding in which a person seeks protection from his creditors. A bankruptcy suit is filed in federal court. The person who files bankruptcy is known as the debtor.

That depends on how much you owe, how much you make, what your assets are and many other factors. It’s important to discuss this with your attorney.

Chapter 7 is a liquidation. Your nonexempt assets (if any) are distributed to the creditors according to certain rules. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a repayment plan.  You must make a monthly payment to a trustee appointed by the court. The trustee then distributes these payments to your creditors.

There are certain rules that govern your decision. For instance, if you received a discharge in a Chapter 7 case, you may not file another case for eight years. However, you may still be able to  file under Chapter 13. You should discuss with your attorney the advantages of filing under each chapter.

When the court grants you a discharge, it means your obligation to repay  your creditors is gone. In a Chapter 7, you also must complete a financial management course by telephone or computer. Additionally, in a Chapter 13, you must have made all your monthly payments to the court.

Certain debts are not discharged. Tax debts, student loans and domestic support obligations are the most common exceptions. These debts survive the bankruptcy.

This, by far, is the most often asked question. This is understandable, because if someone is at the point of considering filing a bankruptcy petition, the cost of doing so is usually an important factor. Before getting into specifics on fees and costs, I will tell you that my fees are extremely competitive. If you “shop around”, you will find that my fees are in line with most attorneys who handle bankruptcy matters regularly. There are also the costs to file your case: currently it is $335 for a Chapter 7; $310 for a Chapter 13.  There are the costs for credit counseling and debtor education, approximately $50.  There is the cost of obtaining (with your permission) a download of your credit reports that helps your attorney do his job. The fee I quote you includes all the above costs. Some attorneys artificially make their fees appear to be a bargain by not including the costs that you will have to pay in addition to their fee.

The Bankruptcy Code provides that a debtor filing for bankruptcy can keep certain assets for a “fresh start” by exempting property from the estate. The vast majority of bankruptcy cases are “no asset” cases, meaning that there are no nonexempt assets which the trustee is going to administer in order to pay creditors. You can keep your clothes, household furniture, pets and musical instruments. A car or truck up to $7,500 of equity is exempt. A home is also exempt up to $35,000 of equity. Other things that you own are not strictly exempt and may not be worth the trustee’s trouble to sell. Of course, by the time you file your bankruptcy petition, you and your attorney will have thoroughly reviewed your situation in order to determine if there are any assets at risk.

As discussed elsewhere in this site, in order to determine whether or not you are eligible to file under Chapter 7, a “means test” is utilized. If your income is above the state median level for a household size the same as yours in the parish in which you reside, analysis of your expenses is necessary. Some of these expenses are not your actual expenses, but rather are national and regional standards, and some are your actual expenses. If, after deduction of these expenses, your “disposable income” is less than a certain amount, then you are permitted to file a Chapter 7 without involving a presumption of abuse. If your income is over that amount, then you will be forced into a Chapter 13 proceeding.

You must list all your creditors, even though you may not want to. Clients often tell me that for some reason they do not wish to list a creditor. Sometimes they indicate that they are current with their payments with a creditor, maybe a home mortgagee or a car lender, and do not wish to disturb their good relationship with the creditor. I have to advise them that the Bankruptcy Code requires that all debts be listed. This does not necessarily mean that the relationship with the creditor will be damaged. If the creditor has a security interest in some property, such as your home or vehicle, usually the creditor and debtor enter into a “reaffirmation agreement.” This is a special document which is also signed by your attorney and is filed with the court. The effect of the reaffirmation agreement is to again make the debtor legally responsible for the debt. The creditor usually is very happy to enter into this agreement. After all, the creditor would much rather have you pay the debt than to go to the expense and hassle of seizing and selling the collateral, usually at a loss. If the debt is an “unsecured” debt, meaning that there has been no property pledged to “secure” the debt, it almost always is not advisable to reaffirm the debt. The reason for this is that there is no benefit such as retention by the debtor of secured property to justify the reaffirmation of the debt. To reaffirm the debt, and consequently to be obligated to repay it, prevents a true “fresh start”, which, after all, is the purpose of filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Having said that, however, the Bankruptcy Code allows you to pay any debt on a voluntary basis, if you wish to do so. Whether this is advisable is questionable and is an issue to be discussed with your attorney.

Yes, most probably. There are two questions which must be addressed.

Will the trustee take the car? The first consideration is to determine whether the trustee will administer the vehicle (take it and sell it to pay creditors). If there is little or no equity in the car, after subtracting any car loan from the car’s present value, the bankruptcy trustee will not take the car. If there is equity in the car over and above the value of the exemptions available, a debtor can usually buy any unprotected equity from the Chapter 7 trustee, if necessary. Your vehicle is exempt up to $7,500 in equity value (the value remaining after subtracting the amount of any loan against it from the NADA retail value). Additionally, if the vehicle has been modified to accommodate a physically infirm person, then there is a $7,500 exemption available.

Will the creditor take the car? If you still owe money on the car, you can choose to reaffirm the debt to the secured lender, keep the car, and continue paying under the existing terms; or you can buy the car from the secured creditor for its present value (redemption), usually in a single payment. Your creditor will be quite willing for you to reaffirm the debt. In a Chapter 7, the creditor usually requires you to be current with your payments at the time the reaffirmation agreement is signed. Of course, if you choose, you can surrender the car and be free of any obligation to pay for it.

Yes. As soon as your case is filed, creditors must stop whatever collection efforts are underway, including garnishment. The only exception may be for ongoing child or family support ordered by a court. The discharge of a debt will forever eliminate a creditor’s right to garnish your wages on account of that debt.

No, there is no requirement that both spouses file, either under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. In some situations, it might not be necessary. For example, in Louisiana, which is a community property state, a debt incurred during the existence of a marriage is presumed to be a community debt, and therefore owed by both spouses. (This presumption can be overcome if the debt was not incurred for the benefit of both spouses or the one who had not incurred the debt). Even if only one spouse files a bankruptcy petition, the bankruptcy discharge is effective as to the other spouse with regard to the community debts. Assuming that all debts are community in nature, one might then ask why it would ever be necessary for both spouses to file. Two reasons come to mind. First, the presumption that a debt is community is just that—only a presumption. It can possibly be overcome, and a creditor may attempt to do so. Second, creditors, especially those located out of the state of Louisiana, may be ignorant of this rule, and assume that the discharge does not cover the non-filing spouse, In either event, needless harassment or even litigation may ensue. Since one of the goals of filing bankruptcy is to obtain protection from creditors, it often is advisable for both spouses to file. If only one spouse has debt and it is clear that this debt is separate, not community (for example, if the debt was incurred prior to the marriage), then it is not necessary for both spouses to file.

That is up to the individual creditors and how they assess your creditworthiness. If you file a Chapter 7, the creditor knows you cannot file another Chapter 7 for eight years. Once the bankruptcy case is closed, credit usually becomes available to my clients. At first, it may be a credit card with a high interest rate and a low credit limit. Mortgage lenders usually want to see two years of good credit history after a bankruptcy. There is no “right” to credit, and landlords and credit card companies are well within their rights to consider your financial history in their credit decision. However, debtors are protected from discrimination based solely on the fact that they have filed bankruptcy by provisions of the Bankruptcy Code. While the fact that you filed bankruptcy stays on your credit report for up to 10 years, it becomes less significant the further in the past the bankruptcy is. In fact, you may well be a better credit risk after bankruptcy than before.

When you file a bankruptcy, the law imposes an automatic delay on legal proceedings, including foreclosures, but this may be good only for a limited time. To save your house, you must file a Chapter 13, which will propose to repay the money you owe to your mortgage company over the length of your bankruptcy, which is 36 to 60 months. You will also have to make your regular monthly payments during this time. If you make all your payments, you will emerge from bankruptcy current on your mortgage.

Generally, while your case is open, your tax refunds can be taken by the trustee and distributed to your creditors. In some cases, the trustee decides it is not worth his trouble, and returns the refund to the debtor.

No. They can file together, they can file separately or just one can file.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy lasts no less than 36 months and no longer than 60 months.
A Chapter 7 case is usually over in about four months. There can be exceptions.

No, the Bankruptcy Code prohibits a private employer from discriminating against an employee or prospective employee solely because of a bankruptcy.

No. Again, the Bankruptcy Code strictly prohibits denial of a loan because your or someone with whom you have been associated has filed bankruptcy.

No, however, the utility can require “adequate assurance” for service (usually a deposit.) Please note that this deposit must be paid within 20 days of filing.

No. The discharge relieves you of the legal obligation of paying the debt underlying the lien. But, the lien generally survives. For example, if a creditor has obtained a judgment against you and has recorded the judgment, a judicial lien is created against your real estate. This lien will remain after the bankruptcy discharge. It may be possible to have this lien removed, but it is not automatically removed. You should discuss this with your attorney.

Such transfers are not effective to put your assets beyond the reach of creditors and bankruptcy trustees. Worse, such action may lead to the denial of your discharge. A bankruptcy trustee can recover assets transferred within one year of the bankruptcy filing where the debtor did not get reasonably equivalent value for the asset, or where the transfer was made with intent to hinder creditors. This “look back” period may be even longer in some situations. If you have more assets than you can protect with the available exemptions, consider filing Chapter 13 where the debtor generally keeps all of his or her property and, in essence, “buys back” the non exempt value from the creditors through payments to the Chapter 13 trustee out of future income .

Most of my clients are reluctant to file bankruptcy. But overwhelming debt can crush a person. The bankruptcy laws were created to give a person a fresh start. The Founding Fathers felt so strongly about this that in the Constitution they authorized Congress to enact uniform laws on bankruptcy throughout the United States.

Chapter 13 plans are voluntary and you can dismiss them freely. Also, if you have a temporary interruption in income or an unexpected increase in your expenses, you can ask the court to modify your plan to reduce the payments, or to obtain a suspension of the payments for a couple of months. If you miss the payments and don’t take action to modify your plan or to get a suspension, the court will dismiss your case. Even if this happens, however, you can refile, usually right away. (In some situations, you may have to wait 180 days before filing).You also have the right to convert your Chapter 13 case to Chapter 7.

It depends on what chapter you want to file now, what chapter you filed before and whether you received a discharge in the earlier case You can only get a Chapter 7 discharge if a previous Chapter 7 case was filed more than 8 years ago. If you got a Chapter 13 discharge within 8 years, the Chapter 13 plan has to have met certain repayment requirements to permit a Chapter 7 case within 8 years. If your previous case was dismissed before discharge, this does not count in these considerations. You can file a Chapter 13 case after a Chapter 7 without any statutory time restrictions. The court, however, can question the debtor’s good faith, a necessary element to confirm a Chapter 13 plan, if he or she has recently filed Chapter 7 and received a discharge. You can freely convert a pending case from one chapter to another. Generally, you can only convert a Chapter 7 to Chapter 13 before the discharge is entered.

You may be tempted to attempt to prepare and file the bankruptcy documents yourself. After all, you can buy the forms and fill the blanks in yourself. That way, you avoid the attorney’s fee (you still have to pay the court costs). Or, there are some “bankruptcy preparers” who charge a minimal fee to prepare and file the necessary paperwork to file a bankruptcy. While in some cases this may not be a major problem, it has been my personal experience that the risk is simply not worth it. Much of what goes into the bankruptcy petition, schedules and statements comes from insightful and probing questioning from a qualified bankruptcy attorney. Bankruptcy preparers are strictly prohibited from practicing law and, therefore, cannot give legal advice or even ask the necessary questions to make sure you are completing your paperwork fully and completely. Even if they were legally allowed to do so, they are not able to adequately assess the laws surrounding exemptions and to determine what your best options are. In preparing the documents yourself, with or without the assistance of a bankruptcy preparer, you may assume, for example, that there is no problem with not listing a particular asset or debt, or reaffirming a particular debt, only to find out months or even years later that you did not get rid of that debt, or that you may lose an asset, or any number of other problems. Perhaps most importantly, without an attorney, you will not have representation in court if the need should arise (and it often does when paralegals handle things). Further, if you list things incorrectly in your petition, schedules or statements, or omit necessary items, it is YOUR problem, not the paralegal’s problem. You sign all your bankruptcy papers under penalty of perjury. Ultimately, the debtor may have to spend several thousand dollars to attempt to remedy a situation that could have been prevented, or at least planned for, at the beginning. Bankruptcy is a very important decision. It is basically the first step towards your entire financial future. The entire bankruptcy system is designed so that attorneys represent all parties involved. That is what we are trained to do. Do you want to trust this future to yourself or to a non-licensed non professional? This is the time that you should do things correctly. Don’t skimp and save at this point. Hire the most competent attorney that you can afford and take the first step towards your fresh start.

Nothing contained herein should be construed to constitute advice for your personal situation. Furthermore, this is intended as a peripheral glance at the various options available, but by no means is this a comprehensive or exhaustive analysis of the bankruptcy laws. Whether or not you should file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or seek any other type of relief, will vary depending on your personal situation. This decision should only be made after careful consideration and analysis, and after consultation with a professional. The information regarding bankruptcy law you see here may contain information and rules peculiar to the Eastern District of Louisiana. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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What to Expect

Few things are as paralyzing as overwhelming debt.

Your creditors call you. They nag and threaten. You don’t know who to pay first or how you can repay them. You are afraid of losing your car or your house. It can be embarrassing and frightening. You don’t know what to do. What you would like is some relief. For many people, bankruptcy allows them to have a fresh start.

When you file bankruptcy, the court imposes an automatic delay. This prevents your creditors from contacting and harassing you.

You will meet with your attorney and gather information about your financial history. Together you will decide whether to seek protection under a Chapter 7 straight bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 payment plan. Your attorney will go with you to meet your case trustee, who is appointed by the court to examine you under oath. You must appear before the trustee.

You are also required to undergo pre-bankruptcy and post-bankruptcy credit counseling.

When you successfully complete your case, you will be granted a discharge by the court.

The discharge means that you have no further obligations to your creditors and they can never contact you about your past debts. You are under no obligation to repay these past debts. This is the essence of the fresh start.

10 EASY STEPS:

1. Initial consultation.
2. Sign the contract.
3. Gather and organize information.
4. Fill out and sign the forms.
5. Credit counseling prior to filing.
6. Your attorney files your case.
7. You meet with your case trustee.
8. (Only for those filing under Chapter 13) Pay your plan your payments and receive confirmation.
9. Post-filing debtor education.
10. Your discharge.

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One of the strengths of my practice and something my clients tell me over and over that they appreciate is the personal attention which I devote to them and their cases. I personally interview and advise each and every one of my clients and obtain all necessary information from them—I do not rely on paralegals or secretaries to perform this critical function. I am committed to this approach because I find that, not only do my clients feel more comfortable, my approach also significantly reduces the risk that errors will be present in the documents filed with the bankruptcy court, with the result of a potentially unpleasant and costly surprise.
In order for me to adequately assess your situation, I need for you to provide me with certain information prior to or at the time of our initial consultation. This consultation can be accomplished by telephone or even by e-mail. In fact, this is often the preferred method of my clients, and it may be the most efficient way to determine if you are eligible for bankruptcy and under what Chapter you should file. Of course, if you prefer an office consultation, I am happy to arrange this also. You do not need an appointment to call me for an interview, but you will need an appointment to see me in my office.

Whatever the forum of our initial meeting, you need to have as much information as you can about your situation. It would be helpful, but not it is not strictly necessary, to have the following available for our initial conference:

A compilation of your income for the previous six months. This is most important. This in part determines, among other things, whether or not you can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and, if you file a Chapter 13, whether you can limit the Chapter 13 Plan term to 36 months or whether you are required to go out to 60 months. If you contemplate filing in, for example, the month of November, you should compile income information for the months of October back through May. Please note that income is broadly defined in the bankruptcy code. It includes all funds that you have received, except for Social Security, payments to victims of war crimes and victims of international terrorism.

The balances and types of all of your debts (i.e., credit card, loans, secured, unsecured, etc.) and the status and history of your payments on each debt (when you last made a payment, are you current, etc.). When you last incurred any of the above debts and what you used the funds for.

The value of your assets. An asset is any property that you own (by yourself or with other people) or have a right to own. The definition includes the usual kinds of property that many of us have (vehicles, real estate, money in bank accounts, etc.), and it also means property such as retirement funds, inheritance rights (even if the succession has not been opened) and interests in businesses (corporations, partnerships, etc.).

Regarding any real estate that you own, depending on when the property was purchased, the extent of improvements made to the property and appreciation of real estate generally, this value may be hard for you to determine. The best method for arriving at a value is an appraisal, but this will cost several hundred dollars. Alternatively, you can obtain a “broker’s price opinion”, which basically is a statement of the value of the property by a real estate agent familiar with the area where the property is located. Also, if property in the neighborhood has sold recently and your property is similar in size and condition, you might be able to use this as a benchmark.

For vehicles, you can consult the Kelley Blue Book or the NADA Guide, at least initially. Whether or not you need to obtain an appraisal is a question you should discuss with your attorney.

Your estimated monthly income and expenses.

We will thoroughly discuss the above information in detail. I will ask you the following specific questions:
Do you own real estate? If so, what is the current fair market value of the property? What are the amounts and priority of mortgages, liens, and other encumbrances against the property?

Do you have any items of extraordinary value, such as expensive artwork, jewelry, collectibles, luxury cars, etc.

Does anyone owe you money?

Do you have a potential lawsuit against anyone (or an existing lawsuit)?

Do you have any retirement accounts or pensions? If so, what type and how much is in them? Are you able to pull the funds out, or are you prevented from doing so until retirement?

What is the value of your vehicles and, if you have loans on these vehicles, how much do you owe against each one?

Are both of your parents still alive? If not, did the deceased parent or parents own any real estate at the time of death?

Do you own any interests in any corporations or partnerships or other businesses?
If you have all of this information our initial consultation will go very efficiently and I will be able to adequately advise you. I invite you to contact me if you have questions regarding compiling the information we will need.
Nothing contained herein should be construed to constitute advice for your personal situation. Furthermore, this is intended as a peripheral glance at the various options available, but by no means is this a comprehensive or exhaustive analysis of the bankruptcy laws. Whether or not you should file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or seek any other type of relief, will vary depending on your personal situation. This decision should only be made after careful consideration and analysis, and after consultation with a professional. The information regarding bankruptcy law you see here may contain information and rules peculiar to the Eastern District of Louisiana. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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John C. Menszer

If you need help with local New Orleans bankruptcy filing, a visit to the office of John C. Menszer, LLC is all it takes to get your life back on track. Everyone experiences difficult times in life; if you’re struggling under the weight of unmanageable debt, you may feel as if there are few solutions and even fewer people on your side. Our goal is to help you have a clear understanding of your situation, as well as all the options that are available to you, so that you’re able to choose the course of action that’s the best for your situation. We offer a free initial consultation, a free case evaluation and flat-rate fees for our services.

Most bankruptcies are filed quickly and easily once it’s been established that a person has no reasonable means by which to satisfy his debts. The purpose of filing a petition with the court is to have the court appoint a trustee, who will then manage your estate, take a look at your assets and income, and negotiate a settlement with your creditors. While the process may require years on a strict payment plan, as with Chapter 13, or the liquidation of your assets with Chapter 7, a skilled attorney will help you negotiate the process so it is less painful and allows you to keep possession of your home or business.

Don’t leave your New Orleans bankruptcy case up to chance. When you trust the experienced and knowledgeable legal team at the office of John C. Menszer, LLC, you have a comprehensive understanding of the law working in your corner. Call today for a free consultation and learn more about your options. Bankruptcy is more than your last resort in a difficult situation; it’s a second chance at a brighter future.

Learn about the repercussions of filing for bankruptcy with All About Bankruptcy Debts and Tax Refunds.

Why Choose Us?

  • Appointment flexibility
  • Evening hours
  • Free case evaluation
  • Fully licensed and insured
  • Payment plans available
  • Free initial consultation
  • Flat rate fees, no hidden costs

About

Get your life moving in the right direction with a call to an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in New Orleans.

At the office of John C. Menszer, LLC, we’ve helped thousands of clients just like you to climb out from under the weight of the never-ending cycle of debt, and get a second chance at financial prosperity. Since 1995, John Menszer has been dedicated to helping area residents work toward brighter futures, and possesses that unique combination of knowledge and compassion that you need in a successful attorney.

“I have been extremely happy with the care and attention that Attorney Menszer has given to my case. He explained everything and has been on the job when issues came up later.” – Angeline Ord

Our office has handled thousands of bankruptcies, including Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 proceedings, and has a keen understanding of how best to approach the process in a way that protects your personal property while simultaneously making it easier for you to rebuild your financial future. In addition, we place our focus on personal attention, meaning that Mr. Menszer himself will handle your case, answer any questions you may have and represent your interests whenever necessary.

Finding a bankruptcy lawyer in New Orleans to help manage your case just got easier than ever before. Count on the accomplished legal team at the office of John C. Menszer, LLC to help you take care of everything that’s necessary to file a successful bankruptcy petition, and begin to rebuild your life in less time than you ever thought possible. Call today for your free initial consultation and comprehensive case evaluation and put an end to frustrating creditor calls and overwhelming interest rates! If you have any questions regarding anything that you read here, I would be happy to discuss these with you.

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“It has been a lot less scary than we thought.” – J.R.H.

“Since we filed Chapter 13 we have more money to spend.” – M.A.

“You gave me all the help I needed.” – A.W.

“Thank you so much for being at my court date with me. You erased a lot of my fear.” – T.G.

“You take all the worry out of it.” – K.D.

“You certainly made this painful experience easier on our first visit.” – G.T.

“You made this a very easy and simple process. We would recommend your services to anyone who inquired.” – T.D.

“I just wanted to thank you for all your help. I am working on making the best of my new financial start.” – F.B.

“I am so glad I met you. A great weight has been lifted from my shoulders.” -T.S.

“My Credit Score is going up as my debts are now showing zero balances.”-C.M.

“I am looking forward to getting a fresh start.” -D.G.

“You were great.” -L.T.

 

Nothing contained herein should be construed to constitute advice for your personal situation. Furthermore, this is intended as a peripheral glance at the various options available, but by no means is this a comprehensive or exhaustive analysis of the bankruptcy laws. Whether or not you should file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or seek any other type of relief, will vary depending on your personal situation. This decision should only be made after careful consideration and analysis, and after consultation with a professional. The information regarding bankruptcy law you see here may contain information and rules peculiar to the Eastern District of Louisiana. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.