Monthly Archives: February 2014

Can you protect my computer in bankruptcy if I use it for work?

Yes, if we can argue that it is a tool of your trade.

Today I received a phone call from a computer programmer/seo expert.  His employer had been cutting employee wages recently, and it was forcing him slowly into bankruptcy.  He asked me if I could protect his laptop and ipad.  Generally, no, I cannot, but it usually doesn’t matter because the personal electronics have a value is too small for a trustee to bother with selling them off to pay creditors.

However, in his situation, he used his laptop and ipad for work, and both items could be considered tools of his trade.  In Utah, the tools of the trade exemption protects up $5,000 of tools used in your work.  So in this situation, yes, I could protect them.

By the same argument, if you used the computer to keep the books for your self-employed business, I could also protect it as a tool you use in your trade.

If I file bankruptcy in Ogden (or Northern Utah), where will I go to court?

If you file bankruptcy in Ogden, or really anywhere north of North Salt Lake, you will have your 341 meeting of creditors at the Federal Building in Ogden.  It is located at:  324 E 2500 S, Ogden, UT 84401.

ogden building

The actual meeting is up on the sixth floor of the building, and we will meet in a hearing room with the bankruptcy trustee.  Parking is free outside of the building, and it’s not really that bad of a location.  The biggest problem you’ll face is the metal detector on the first floor:  they do not like belt buckles and will make you remove your belt.  You also need a photo i.d. to even enter the building.

If you are a chapter 7, this will be the only hearing you go to.  If you are a chapter 13, the court may require you to attend one more hearing at the bankruptcy courthouse in Salt Lake City..  The Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse is located at:  350 S Main St #301, Salt Lake City, UT 84101.

Can you file bankruptcy today? Do you offer same-day filing? Is there a way to file bankruptcy the same day I meet with you?


If there is an emergency happening today, like

1.  a foreclosure in one hour,

2.  a pending repossession, or even

3.  payroll processing a garnishment today that will come out of your paycheck on Friday,


then, yes, we can file an emergency case today.  And yes, I can do same-day filing.  But I need to be paid cash or cashier’s check up front.

However, I don’t like emergency cases.  As an attorney, I am required to do my due diligence on a case (meaning that I’m supposed to research out the assets and creditors) before I file a case.  An emergency case means exactly that:  it’s an emergency.  I don’t have time to do much in the way of due diligence, and we won’t even be filing a full petition.

We will have to file a skeletal, or emergency, petition.  This is basically your name, social, address, list of creditors, and the online class certificate (Don’t forget:  YOU MUST TAKE THE ONLINE CLASS FIRST!!!!).  This skeletal petition will stop garnishment if we can notify payroll in time.  It will stop the foreclosure, and it will stop the repossession.

The danger is that we need to get the rest of the paperwork filled out completely and file amendments with the court to make sure it is all done properly.  Otherwise, your case is dismissed for incomplete schedules or non-existent schedules with the court.

So yes, I can file an emergency case the same day I meet with you, but it’s dangerous.

This is not legal advice.  If you need help go to  garnishment coming out of your paycheck

Is there any way to convince the bankruptcy trustee to let me keep my tax refund?

No, not in a chapter 7, and maybe in a chapter 13.

In a chapter 7, the bankruptcy trustee will not let you keep your tax refund.  You can give him the best reason ever, and he will still take it.  Don’t even try to convince him otherwise.  It simply increases your frustration and delays the inevitable.

In a chapter 13, your confirmed chapter 13 plan requires that you turn over most of your tax refund monies.  Sometimes, if you have a really good reason, you can file a motion to modify confirmed chapter 13 plan to allow retention of tax refunds to (rebuild a transmission, fix the roof, get braces, etc.).  However, the motion is difficult for your attorney, and it needs a really good reason to work.

This is one you’ll have to discuss with your attorney in detail to get it right.

This is not legal advice.  If you need help, go to

What if I don’t turn in my refund to the trustee after filing chapter 7? Can they stop my discharge?

Yes, but it’s worse than that.

If you are in a chapter 13, if you don’t turn over your refund (because you spent it on your family or rebuilt the transmission that just went out), the trustee can move to dismiss your case.  Then you simply have to file a new one.

In a chapter 7, if the trustee has ordered turn over of the tax refund, you need to do it.  If you don’t, then the trustee will move to revoke your discharge.  This means that your entire chapter  is thrown out and you can NEVER file a chapter 7 on those same debts again.

That being said, you can file a chapter 13 to discharge those same debts, so it’s not the end of the world, but it would be easier to turn over the refund and not go through the hassle.

This is not legal advice.  If you need help, go to

Do you have to have receipts for how you spent your tax refund before you filed bankruptcy?

No, but it sure is a good idea.

The bankruptcy trustee normally only gets paid about $60 a case from the court to conduct the 341 meeting of creditors.  He also makes a commission on assets recovered, so he makes more money if he can discover assets worth selling off and using to pay creditors.

Most people don’t have assets worth selling off, or if they do, I can usually exempt or protect them.  However, the trustee loves to look at equity in your home, your cars, and how you used your tax refunds.

At the 341 Meeting of Creditors, the trustee will ask you what you spent your refund on.  If he doesn’t like the answer, he may ask us to produce receipts for the expenditures.  Normally, the trustee doesn’t ask for those receipts, but if he does, it is very, very helpful to provide them.

This is not legal advice.  If you need help, go to

Do you speak Spanish, and can you file bankruptcy in Spanish?

Yes, and no.

Yes, I speak Spanish.  (Se habla espanol aqui).

No, the documents are in English.

Yes, you can take the required bankruptcy class in Spanish.

Yes, the trustee can use a free translator at court for our meeting.  spanish bk info sheet

I speak Spanish, and back in 1989 was a missionary in the Andes mountains on the southern tip of Chile, South America.  At one time, my Spanish was pretty good, but that was a long time ago.  I can do the whole bankruptcy interview in Spanish and answer most of your questions, but it sure helps if you have a friend who can translate.  In English, I sound like I know what I’m talking about.  In Spanish, I sound like an elementary school child.

But no, you cannot do the entire bankruptcy in Spanish.  The bankruptcy documents we file with the court are in English, and you will need someone to help you read through most of them.  That being said, most of the documents involve numbers, so even is your English is pretty weak, you can still do it.

When we get to court, the trustee is able to use a translation service offered by the U.S. Trustee’s Office through the Department of Justice.  He will call up an office on a speakerphone there at the table, and a translator will translate the entire meeting back and forth.

You can even take the required Debtor Education Course in Spanish.

The only thing you need English for is the paperwork, and maybe when you’re speaking to me if it gets too complicated.

This is not legal advice.  If you need help, go to

If I file bankruptcy in West Valley City, where do I go to court?

If you file bankruptcy in West Valley City, Utah, then you’ll end up going to court in Salt Lake.

After we file your chapter 7 or chapter 13, you will have to meet with a bankruptcy trustee about one month later.  This meeting is called a Section 341 Meeting of Creditors.  Yes, I go to this meeting with you, and yes, I will have you well prepared for it.  For cases filed in Salt Lake County, we meet with the bankruptcy trustees at a meeting room on the second floor of the Ken Garff Building, 405 S. Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84111.  ken garff building map

Most of the parking is metered parking, but there are some parking garages around the building.  The entire meeting takes about 2-5 minutes, but you’ll be sitting there for about an hour, so make sure that you feed the meter, otherwise you’re looking at a $15 parking violation ticket when you get back out to your car.

Don’t arrive more than 15 minutes early, because all you’ll do is feel nervous waiting even longer for your turn.  Just show up, meet with me for any last minute questions, and then you’re ready to go.

This is not legal advice.  If you need help go to

Do you have a bankruptcy office in West Valley City, Utah?

I am opening one this week.

I just registered the website and will be opening up an office there this week.

I serve all of Utah, but over the weekend I was looking at the placement of bankruptcy attorneys in the state, and I noticed that although West Valley City is the second largest city in the state, there is really only one bankruptcy attorney physically located in the entire city.

This means that I need to open an office there and serve the people of West Valley City.  The moment I have a good mailing address, I will update the blog and my website at

If I list my doctor or hospital in my bankruptcy, will they continue to see me?

I really don’t know.

With bigger hospitals, if we list them in the bankruptcy, they take the hit and then generally continue to see you and your family down the road and offer medical services.  You simply have to pay for those.  As for emergency treatment, they cannot refuse you.

With smaller doctor’s offices and medical practices, yes, they can refuse to see you and your kids in the future.  For example, if we list the orthodontist in the bankruptcy, the next time you take your daughter in to get her braces tightened, he will refuse to work on her unless you start paying him again.  He cannot legally force you to pay him, but you cannot legally force him to keep working on her braces.  If you decide to pay him back after the bankruptcy, that is your choice.

Other medical practices may write off the former debt but charge you cash up front for any future services.

Generally, you won’t have problems getting medical services in the future, but yes, it can make it more difficult to see smaller practices that suffered a loss because of your bankruptcy.

This is not legal advice.  If you need help, go to