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Choosing to complete a personal bankruptcy filing can be a very difficult choice, but can end up leading to a second financial chance. This legal proceeding relieves a person of certain types of personal debt; including credit cards, personal loans, or medical bills, while allowing them to retain certain assets, such as their home or vehicle. Each state has its own exempt property laws (or they can choose to use the Federal exemptions) but otherwise, Bankruptcy is governed by Federal law. Some people believe that a lawyer is required to complete a personal bankruptcy filing, which is not the case. If you cannot afford or do not want an attorney, you can file ‘pro se,’ which means without legal representation. Corporations and partnerships must have an attorney to file a bankruptcy case. Individuals, however, may represent themselves in bankruptcy court. While individuals can file a bankruptcy case without an attorney or "pro se," it is extremely difficult to do it successfully.

It is very important that a bankruptcy case be filed and handled correctly. The rules are very technical, and a misstep may affect a debtor's rights. For example, a debtor whose case is dismissed for failure to file a required document, such as a credit counseling certificate, may lose the right to file another case or lose protections in a later case, including the benefit of the automatic stay.Bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal consequences - hiring a competent attorney is strongly recommended.

Debtors must list all property and debts in their bankruptcy schedules. If a debt is not listed, it is possible the debt will not be discharged. (Lists of the documents [including schedules] that debtors must file are set out on Form B200 (pdf), one of the Director's Procedural Forms.) The judge can also deny the discharge of all debts if a debtor does something dishonest in connection with the bankruptcy case, such as destroying or hiding property, falsifying records, or lying. Individual bankruptcy cases are randomly audited to determine the accuracy, truthfulness, and completeness of the information that the debtor is required to provide. Please be aware that bankruptcy fraud is a crime.

Chapter 7 is the liquidation chapter, also known as a "straight bankruptcy". A chapter 7 case typically remains open for six (6) months (from filing to final decree), with a discharge being entered within ninety (90) days of the filing of the petition. All debts must be listed, regardless of whether or not you wish to continue paying them. For instance, a mortgage or car note must be listed, and if you are keeping the property, you will continue to make payments on the debt, despite the bankruptcy filing. Some debts can be reaffirmed through a Chapter 7, however, legal advice is invaluable to determine your rights and obligations when reaffirming a particular debt, as some reaffirmations may have a negative impact and adverse consequence.

Although there is no minimum or maximum debt required in order to file for bankruptcy relief, the Office of the U.S. Trustee reviews every filing for possible fraud and abuse.

There may be debts that will survive your bankruptcy, such as student loans, personal tax liability and domestic support obligations. If you resided in Maryland for two (2) years prior to filing, you are entitled to exempt the value of certain assets from the estate in order to keep them, such as clothes, furniture, jewelry, cash, etc. The maximum exemptions in Maryland are generally $12,000 per individual and $24,000 for a married couple. There are additional exemptions that may be available that a lawyer could provide further advice to maximize your exemptions and minimize your risk. If you did not reside in Maryland for two (2) years, other state or federal exemptions will apply.

After your case is filed, a hearing called a "Section 341 Meeting of Creditors" is held. This hearing provides the Trustee and any creditor an opportunity to examine you under oath and confirm the information contained in your schedules. Once a Chapter 7 discharge is received, a debtor cannot file another Chapter for eight (8) years; however, they can file a different chapter if needed. If your case was dismissed, although you may be able to re-file, the automatic stay protections becomes limited unless it is extended by court order.

 Chapter 13 is another type of reorganization, commonly referred to as a "wage earners" plan. This chapter is primarily filed by someone whose house is in foreclosure, has substantial non exempt assets or income is above the median average. As with Chapter 11, a plan of reorganization is proposed to the creditors for payments from three (3) to five (5) years in length. A portion of your wages are garnished through your employer and paid to a Chapter 13 Trustee who administers the plan and pays your creditors. Under Chapter 13, a lawyer can provide assistance in maximizing your fresh start through motions with the court to revalue assets, strip liens and provide you the relief you are seeking. The eligibility limits on filing a Chapter 13 change on a yearly basis and you should consult the Bankruptcy Code or an attorney for the limitations.    

The Chapter 13 plan must meet several tests in order for it to be confirmed or approved by the bankruptcy court. First, the plan must be proposed in good faith. This means, essentially, that the debtor intends to completely follow through on the plan and is not attempting to misrepresent his finances or perpetrate a fraud on the court. The plan must also meet the "best interest of creditors" test. This test requires that the Chapter 13 plan must pay unsecured creditors at least what they would have had under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In many cases, the unsecured creditors would have received nothing in Chapter 7, so this test can often be easily met. The other test is called the "best efforts" test. The best efforts test requires that the Chapter 13 plan pay unsecured creditors a certain amount multiplied by the debtor's disposable income.

Chapter 11 is commonly referred to as business reorganization. Although individuals can file a Chapter 11, most filings are for businesses. Under a Chapter 11 case, the business or individual debtor remains in possession of the assets and formulates a plan to pay creditors over a period of time. The debtor in possession may divide creditors into different classes, rearrange or sell certain assets, and have certain protection while formulating a plan while remaining in business. There is no limit on the amount of debt an individual or business may have under this chapter. A business filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy may be a corporation, sole proprietorship, or partnership. Even though the owners of a corporation are its stockholders, the corporation is a separate entity so when a corporation is the debtor in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the personal assets of the stockholders are not at risk. Of course if the value of their stock declines as a result of the bankruptcy, then the stockholders' investment is affected. A bankruptcy case involving a sole proprietorship, however, includes both the business and personal assets of the owners. And in a partnership bankruptcy case, the partners' personal assets may, in some cases, be used to pay creditors or the partners may be forced to file for personal bankruptcy protection.

Much of Chapter 11 bankruptcy case law is devoted to determining what constitutes asset exemptions under the law. In cases in which parent companies and/or partnerships are involved, assets may be shielded by selling them off or otherwise hiding them within the financial infrastructures of sympathetic firms. It's even legally possible, under certain situations, to move assets offshore to shield them from creditors. Despite the abundance of case law designed to establish precedent for Chapter 11 bankruptcy situations, the emergence of globalized business has added a new wrinkle to the ongoing debate over how failing businesses should repay creditors.

There are certain large publicly vested entities which are legally not allowed to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Insurance companies, utilities, and certain conglomerates may not have the privilege of filing and may thus have to reallocate or redistribute funds to creditors under other applicable laws. In large-scale bankruptcy cases, the federal government can get involved. That said, the Constitution and legal precedent both make it abundantly clear that Chapter 11 bankruptcy is primarily under the purview of state law and each state has its own requirements and interpretations.

Financial services are the economic services provided by the finance industry, which encompasses a broad range of organizations that manage money, including credit unions, banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, accountancy companies, consumer finance companies, stock brokerages, investment funds and etc. Financial Services is a term used to refer to the services provided by the finance market. Financial Services is also the term used to describe organizations that deal with the management of money. Examples are the Banks, investment banks, insurance companies, credit card companies and stock brokerages.

These are the types of firms comprising the market, that provide a variety of money and investment related services. Financial services are the largest market resource within the world, in terms of earnings.

Defining Financial Services can also be termed as, any service or product of a financial nature that is the area under discussion to, or is governed by a measure maintained by a Party or by a public body that exercises regulatory or supervisory authority delegated by law.

Financial Services are generally not limited to the field of deposit-taking, loan and investment services, but is also present in the fields of insurance, estate, trust and agency services, securities, and all forms of financial or market intermediation including the distribution of financial products.

Aligned with a background of sharp risk, market and regulatory pressures, Financial Services organizations are striving to grow and enhance their shareholder values.

Day by day the customer needs and expectations are growing. Thus, making the mark in increasing personal wealth, a mature population and the desire that can more easily be reached to the personalized financial products and services. Intense competition has squeezed market margins and forced most companies to cut costs while enhancing the quality of customer choice and service.

As Financial Services organizations strive to become more innovative and entrepreneurial, the war for talent is intensifying. The risks increase as the products become more complex, the organizations and the business environment ever more uncertain.

In most mediations, you don't need a lawyer's direct participation. People who are mediating are less likely to need an advocate because they are trying to work together to solve their problem -- not trying to convince a judge or arbitrator of their point of view. Because mediation rules are few and straightforward, people can usually handle the process on their own without too much trouble. If your case involves substantial property or legal rights, however, you may want to consult with a lawyer before the mediation to discuss the legal consequences of possible settlement terms. You may also want to make getting a lawyer's approval a condition of any agreement you make in mediation.

f you're considering having a lawyer help you mediate, you should look for an attorney who truly supports the process. Unfortunately, many lawyers enjoy their role as advocates ("hired guns"), and find it difficult to change gears to focus on helping people work out a compromise solution.

The type of lawyer you choose also depends on whether you want the lawyer to counsel you throughout the mediation or you are only interested in an initial consultation. The lawyer's personality and attitude towards self-help law doesn't make much difference when it comes to legal advice, but it can mean a world of difference if you are mostly interested in having the lawyer coach you on a continuing basis.

If you do need a law coach, you should make it very clear from the first interview that you want to work with a lawyer who understands and supports mediation. This means a lawyer who accepts that mediation sometimes involves compromise and that what you settle for in mediation can be influenced by, but should not be determined only by, what the lawyer believes a judge or jury might give. For example, you might tell a potential lawyer that you want him or her to help you prepare for your mediation, but you don't expect him or her to come to the actual sessions. Also, you might also ask the lawyer to be available to review any written settlement agreement before you sign it.

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