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I Filed a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and Moved. Now I Need My Chapter 13 bankruptcy Modified. – Susan

“Dear Steve,

I filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy in August 2010.

I had medical issues two years prior and did not pay attention to the finances due to focusing on recovering. After about 18 months I realized I was in major debt. I first went to my creditors to discuss options. I didn’t get any help from GMAC on my mortgage both 1st and 2nd. I did get a temporary relief from Navy Federal Credit Union. I also sought credit counseling and entered one of their programs. They did not include the Navy Federal Credit Union debt in that program. This caused extreme stress in the family and my husband and sons left until I could get my finances straightened out. I’m an engineer, but am not very good with finances. I went back to the Credit Counselors and asked about filing bankruptcy, they said that because of my income it would probably be a Chapter 13 case and provided me a list of attorneys. I contacted my attorney, Geoffrey Atzbach, and he agreed to take my case.

My memory has deteriorated since my surgery so I can’t remember much at this time about the early discussions on my bankruptcy. I was offered a job in Washington DC, which I accepted and moved in October 2010. I contacted my attorney and he advised that I let my house be foreclosed or relinquished as part of the bankruptcy.

My plan was confirmed in August of 2011 and I was advised that I was to make payments of $30 until my debt to the government, from my move, was paid off, expecting that to be early 2012. I was then to make a payment of $1000. I did receive some papers from the court, but I didn’t really look at them until recently. I received notice that I owe my employer, US government, around $9000 for travel advances that were not resolved in the voucher process. I notified my attorney and received a scathing email that I would have to pay a $2000 retainer fee and would be charged hourly and would occur “Significantly more” charges to go back to the bankruptcy court. In this email, I also asked if I could trade my vehicles in for another vehicle.

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One of the creditors listed is the mortgage company that bought the 2nd mortgage, but I relinquished the house to foreclosure, so I thought that was taken care of, but I saw it listed on the forms from the bankruptcy court, how do I question this debt and get it off the listing?

Can I seek a new attorney to modify my bankruptcy?

If I don’t think my bankruptcy attorney is responsive what are my options?

If I want to trade my cars in for something cheaper, how do I get permission from the court, when my attorney will charge more than I would probably save?

Susan”

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Dear Susan,

My advice is that before we worry about moving forward we need some clarity on your current chapter 13 bankruptcy and the issues surrounding it.

I think it would be a fair statement that there have been gaps in focus on what has been happening in the case. And that now we need to pay some attention to the case and get it back on track. While you could locate a new attorney to assist you in dealing with the chapter 13 it would make logical sense to work closely with your old attorney who is more aware of the filing and your situation. Of course if you can’t stand the guy then go find someone you like that is licensed to practice in the bankruptcy district you filed in. You should be prepared to pay for their services as well. It’s not an unreasonable expectation consider the amount of attention that now needs to be focused on clearing this up.

There are just too many open issues here to give you any definitive answer. I have no idea if the home was foreclosed completely or it is still in limbo and in your name. It happens. I also don’t know if you would now qualify for a chapter 7 bankruptcy. And of course another option would be to find a local bankruptcy attorney near you now and refile a new chapter 13 bankruptcy.

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There are possible options and solutions but the best solutions will come from you working closely with your old bankruptcy attorney or a new bankruptcy attorney in the state you live in now.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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