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  • Robert Weed

Bankruptcy is not a car wash

I don’t take the “car wash” approach to bankruptcy.

Car wash approach?  What’s that?

At the car wash, you drive up, pay them, they run your car through, and you drive off.  The car wash doesn’t care where you have been, or where you’re going.  They don’t care what happens once the car wash is over.

The car wash doesn’t care where you’ve been or where you are going. Your lawyer should.

As your lawyer, I do care about those things.  I care about where you’ve been and where you are going–that can have a lot of impact on when and how I file your papers.  And I certainly care what happens to you afterward: if somebody tries to take away from your the new start, I sue.

Let me give you an example.  Late last month a couple came to see me at the recommendation of a friend.  They had had the “car wash” experience when they filed bankruptcy in 2009 with another lawyer.

About six months later,  they got contacted on a yellow pages account, from a small business they had.  The yellow pages said they would sue their business; and sue them personally, as guarantors.

They didn’t even bother to talk to the lawyer who had done their bankruptcy–he had told them (after the personal bankruptcy was over), that they still needed a business bankruptcy, too, and he didn’t do business bankruptcies.

Not knowing where to turn,  they decided to try to work something out with the yellow pages company.  They weren’t able to work anything out and the yellow pages eventually got a judgment against them and their business.  Then a friend steered them to me.

We spent an hour together.  I told them they did not need to file a business bankruptcy.  A chapter 7 for their business would do exactly nothing for them.  A corporation cannot get a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge.  They did need to set up a new business; and working with their business advisers, select the best time to start doing their business in through the new business.  (I gave them my blog on that.)

Second, it was an outrageous violation of the law for the yellow pages to sue them personally!  Business debt or not–their personal liability was cleaned up by their personal bankruptcy!

How does this end up?  Instead of paying the yellow pages on this debt, the yellow pages will have to pay them–for violating their after bankruptcy rights.

But they would never have found that out–not from a lawyer who handled their case like a car wash.

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