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James Henry MaGee

James MaGee’s Answers

14 total

  • My fiancée filed a ch 13 in 6 / 12 he now wants to convert it to a ch 7 but his lawyer says he has to wait a year . Why ?

    He was told he could keep his motorcycle as long as he kept making payments . Now we find out he has to surrender it

    James’s Answer

    Seems like an odd response from the lawyer - so I think your fiancee just doesn't understand what the the lawyer is telling him or something is lost in the translation. Maybe you could go in with the fiancee and meet with the lawyer and get it straightened out? There could be a perfectly good reason - like he is not eligible for a chapter 7 for another year because of a prior 7. I also don't quite understand why he would have to surrender his motorcycle when he converted to Chapter 7.

    I wish you the best in getting it all figured out. If you are not communicating well with the lawyer then maybe get a second consult with someone else - look for a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (known as NACBA) or an ABI member, but in a consumer case I think the NACBA member might have the most insight.

    Very truly yours,

    James H. MaGee
    Washington state

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  • How long does Wells Fargo take to foreclose and repossess a home after foreclosure? My home was named in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

    I have been paying on both mortgages-I have a second mortgage-for 2 years. I lost my job and can't pay any more. How long will it take for them to kick me out of my house? I am a student now and don't know what to do.

    James’s Answer

    I am in WAshington state, so I don't know if my observations are of much help, but I have a large practice area and filed almost 400 cases last year and my practice area covers rural, suburban and urban areas.

    I have noticed four trends (1) keep the place up and they will be slower in doing anything to start foreclosure (2) the more urban and the more desirable the neighborhood, then the more quickly they begin the foreclosure as they can turn the house around pretty quickly without much loss and (3) conversely, the more rural then often times the slower they are in beginning the foreclosure process and (4) the more forclosed or vacant property there is in your area, then the slower the commencement of the foreclosure process.

    Most property here in Washington is foreclosed over a four month "nonjudicial" foreclosure process, and then they give a "20 day notice" to vacate, so that puts you at about minimum 140-150 days total from the beginning of foreclosure assuming they go pretty fast (e.g. posting a notice of default on your house) until you really would have to leave. You probably have a different process in your state, so check with a local lawyer.

    You probably need a bankruptcy because even if your first mortgage is non-recourse like it would be in Washington (some states are non-recourse states as to the first mortgage - I have no idea whether your state is non-recourse) your second mortgage can probably still come after you post-bankruptcy, so I would definitely consult with a qualified attorney. I suggest that you find an attorney who is a member of NACBA - the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys or the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI). But I prefer NACBA people for your kind of case.

    Best of luck,

    James H. MaGee
    Washington Bankruptcy Attorney


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  • How do I get credit bureaus to remove an item from my credit report?

    I recently took my ex-husband back to court to enforce the original divorce decree. Judge ruled for him to sign a full assumption agreement to remove my name off of a mortgage loan for the home he was awarded during the divorce. He has signed an a...

    James’s Answer

    Hello, I am so very sorry for your situation. Family law, bankruptcy and credit reports often collide with unsatisfactory results. Your factual situation is detailed, thought out and well written. Here is the best that I have to offer, although I fear that it is not much...

    First, you may have to seek modification of the divorce decree to force sale of the residence. I don't know who your attorney is, but I have had good luck with Charles Schmit, Wendy Zicht, Lynn Johnson and Barb MacInveilgh (always misspell her name, but she works with Robert Helland) and Hillary Holmes in Puyallup is great, too. Maybe consult with one of them if you are trying to do this yourself or if you are not sure about the efficacy of your current legal respresentation. I think you should perhaps re-post on AVVO under family law topics.....

    Second, as much as you might not want to - consider bankruptcy if your income is low enough to permit it. Then you are technically "freed" from the mortgage obligation and it is no longer a personal "obligation" such that perhaps you can dispute it should it show up on your credit report as an obligation other than "discharged in bankruptcy".

    Third, you could "dispute" it to both the credit bureaus and to the mortgage lender/servicer (must be in writing) and see if that helps in any fashion, but I expect that while they may expunge it temporarily from your record they may just end up sticking it back on there under the dispute provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. There is a great book put out by the National Consumer Law Center about the Fair Credit Reporting Act - it is probably $100, but if you can afford it, it could help you craft a good debt dispute letter. They have a number of awsome titles, but this is probably the most relevant one to your situation. Free shipping, too! (Except I don't know if it would be free to an overseas address). You could also email them and see if they have a us military rate or something special. It is a great organization. Their Student Loan Law book is superb ....

    I am so sorry that you are going through this while you dutifully serve in the interests of our country.

    If you have other debts bothering you too, I would be happy to consult with you about a bankruptcy filing. Even though you are overseas I have had some luck in getting bankruptcy cases approved under similar circumstances. I take it that JBLM is your "home base"....

    Best wishes,

    James H. MaGee
    Washington Bankruptcy Attorney
    Offices in Tacoma, Puyallup, Olympia and Renton

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  • OK so i owe on a juvenile case and its been yrs , i owe 35 $ but yet i cant pay it , what could happen to me ?

    its around 13 yrs, ago.

    James’s Answer

    Hello, I grew up in Wenatchee and hope to relocate back there some day - it is beautiful.

    I don't know the answer, but if you need help you might contact Don Bell in Wenatchee. I clerked for him long ago and he is just a wonderful fellow and has many, many years of experience in juvenile and other criminal law courts.

    I certainly wish you the best, and of course you might go and talk to the clerk of the court to see if you could set a motion for relief from the fine/fee as it has been so long, especially if you have been "good" since then.

    The presiding Judge, Judge Allen is tough but fair and if she hears your case maybe it will work out for you!

    But if it is only $35, maybe just do your best to pay it?

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  • A Washington State Corporation closes and ceases to do business and the owner of the company filed for Chapter 7

    with L & I as one of the listed debtors, can the State pursue legal action for balance after the discharge?

    James’s Answer

    Michael Avenesian the Glendale attorney has provided the best answer.

    But my biggest question, is where is your attorney in all of this? He should be consulting with you (if you have asked) and providing you with some input or at least a referral to an attorney with lots of L and I specific experience.

    In my experience, there can be flow through liability for some withholding obligations like premiums for L and I coverage and some portions might not be dischargeable. However, it is not always so and I have seen it be a hit or miss proposition in the state's pursuit of obligations. If it is an L and I overpayment, I generally do not see these pursued - once years and years ago I had L and I file a nondischargeability complaint for an overpayment but that was long, long ago.

    I filed just short of 400 cases last year in Western Washington, so I have seen a variety of results on this point with L and I, and it seems frequently a suprise "grab bag" of results...

    Now, I am currently involved reveiwing a Chapter 7 Debtor's dispute with L and I for contractor fines - the corporation was doing work outside of the area in which it carried licensure. This is playing out to the Debtors favor so far - the citations seem issued to the corporation - not to the individual owner. The state seems to be hedging and backpeddling and not commiting to whether there is personal liability being asserted against someone who was not actually cited. So far my request for a commitment to a postion (individual liabile for fine issued to corporation liable or not and under what basis) has resulted in a mountain of paperwork (like a response to discovery even though I have conducted no discovery) and no commitment.....stay tuned is all I can say.....

    So I feel that Mr. Avenesian is headed down the right road in his analysis. We probably need to know some more about what type of L and I obligations are being asserted with some more specifics. The devil is in the details on this one.....

    Thanks for posting in this great forum - if you need help, give a call!

    James H. MaGee, Washington Bankruptcy Attorney Offices in Tacoma, Puyallup and Bremerton 253 383 1001

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  • Should my husband and I reaffirm our mortgage during our Ch 7?

    I was under the impression this would not even be an option and our mortgage company surprised us by sending the paperwork. I understand the benefits to not signing, but doesn't that also lessen our strength as homeowners, specifically possibly g...

    James’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    My first inquiry is "where is your bankruptcy attorney"? Your attorney is under a responsibility to talk to you about this question. If he/she won't talk to you about it, then complain. I have a specific written statement that I give to the client twice with specific written recommendations about reaffirming, but then I do alot of cases (almost 400 last year) and have 5 staff to help out. And I am also available for such consults for all my clients confused about such issues as reaffirming - but my written instructions are good - I don't get too many follow up requests for info from clients about reaffirming.

    If it is a second mortgage then DO NOT reaffirm - I can't think of hardly any good reason to reaffirm on a second mortgage as there is post-foreclosure recourse liability for the second mortgage - I suppose there may be some exceptions, and if there are any good exceptions, then I hope some other attorney will post a comment and let me know "when" it is a good idea to reaffirm a second mortgage residential obligation.

    Now, on the first mortgage, this is trickier. Washington is one of about 14 "non recourse" states, so if you reaffirm on the first mortgage on your principal residence and then fall on hard times and eventually lose the 'ole girl to foreclosure even well after your bankruptcy, then you are off scott-free - the lender has no further claim against you. Even if you never filed the bankruptcy and were just foreclosed you are still off scott-free. (Important note: you may have a continuing obligation for any HOmeowners' association dues so don't let those get behind if you give the house up - this is tricky stuff. Also, always contact a tax professional like a real CPA (not H&R Block) if you are thinking of giving back a house I say either with or without filing bankruptcy).

    But, if you don't reaffirm on the first mortgage then just about every single lender/servicer is going to allow you to make payments and treat it like "business as usual" EXCEPT, I have had a few weird side effects (1) some former chapter 7 debtor clients come back to me and say that they are having trouble getting the 1st mortgage lender to report the timely payments made to the credit reporting agencies so their credit does not restore as quickly as it might otherwise restore if the payments were reported to the credit bureau. You are not marked as "late" or "delinquent" it is just an absence of reporting that the clients report. Second (and this dates back a while as an off and on problem) some mortgage lenders get their tails in a knot and refuse to send monthly statements (at least for a while) so you have to closely track your own mortgage history and you can't rely on the the mortgage lender to "remind" you every month. Third, I have had at least one case where some time (a couple of years) after the bankruptcy filing the bank cancelled the client's checking account auto-withdrawal - claiming it was the bankruptcy filing that caused the cancellation of the auto-withdrawal. Complete nonsense - since it was happening some time way, way after the bankruptcy filing. This third situation kind of is like the second situation, I suppose.

    So....if you do not reaffirm on the first mortgage, you can have some weird side effects. But all in all, I generally don't recommend reaffirming on first mortgages because it seems futile as the first mortgage is not going to come and take the house as far as I can ever see for failing to reaffirm.

    Need a qualified bankrptcy attorney? Call us at 253 383 1001 James H. MaGee, Washington Bankruptcy Attorney, Offices in Renton, Tacoma, Puyallup, Chehalis and Olympia

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  • Bankruptcy Filed , Waiting for Discharge . . . . having issues renting because of it

    My Chapter 7 BK was filed 2 / 19 / 13 . I am trying to get an idea of when I will have a discharge of my debts that I can show to potential landlords and / or rental agencies . It seems that renting while a BK is in the reprocess is very diff...

    James’s Answer

    Go with the "mom and pop" landlord and offer an additional deposit and/or a guarantee of a friend or a relative. Your discharge should show up 60 days or so after you attend the 341. As much as it might be difficult, you might want to consider residing with a friend or relative until you have your discharge paper in hand - and even then be a careful and strategic shopper. Remember, if there is a vacancy, the landlord needs/wants your money as much as you need the place to live. You might consider putting together a written statement explaining that the bankruptcy was caused by your underinsured medical losses/divorce/separation/unexpected veterinary bills for the now-deceased Fido the dog .... whatever. And explain that in your bankruptcy you did not "stiff" any landlords. Show the mom and pop landlord that you are a "good" person who is just a member of the economically displaced 1.5 million annual bankruptcy filers. Also, remember to put your best foot forward when applying and consider coming with reference letters from former landlords, bosses, priests, pastors .... anybody who will vouch for you. And bring your proof of income - like paychecks, etc. Cover obstreperous tattoos, no weird make-up/jewelry and dress like a winner and last but not least - wash the car if you have one. Like my daddy said, there is no shame in an old car or old clothes - so long as they are clean. Just good old plain interview common sense can go a long way, especially dealing with mom and pop landlords.

    If you hired an attorney, maybe an attorney letter "explaining" your bankruptcy and how it "wasn't as bad as many as he has seen" could help. I have been asked to write letters like that before and had no problem explaining that the client acted honorably and respectfully with the filing and analyzing the "cause" of the bankruptcy.

    So overall, I say best of luck and let your inner warmth and sense of responsibility shine through. Something positive is bound to turn up. Good luck and God bless!

    If you know anyone who needs bankruptcy services - then have them give a call. I offer a free consult. James H. MaGee, Washington Bankruptcy Attorney. 253 383 1001 Offices in Puyallup, Tacoma, Renton, Olympia, Chehalis and Bremerton.

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  • Lien stripping in WA State Chap 13

    How does lien stripping work? The house is worth $280,000 1st mortgage is $180,000 and 2nd is $70,000 and a lien for $55,000. I have heard if the 1st is worth more then the house this cannot happen and if it can how does it work when you have 2nd...

    James’s Answer

    You better hire a friendly certified realty appraiser! If the house comes back at less than $250k value then you can strip off the third lien of $55,000. You didn't mention if the $55k lien is a judgment or a consensual lien like a mortgage, or if it is a "furnace" or "siding" lien in which there is a lien in the specific item as opposed to a mortgage on the realty. If the $55k lien is just a judgment and your friendly realty appraiser gives you a value of under $250k then you can strip the $55k lien by "lien avoidance" motion and do not need to file an adversary - and you can get rid of it in a 7 or a 13. If it is a consensual lien like a third mortgage, then you would need to file a chapter 13 and strip it - but 13s are sometimes such a hassle and go on for so long, why not just file a Chapter 7 and dump the house? Any your credit can be of much slower recovery post chapter 13 filing than post chapter 7. Many people buy houses again post-Chapter 7 bankruptcy - if you have income and a job and VA eligibility you might be in a house pretty right quick! In any event, an attorney who does a significant amount of bankruptcy work should have a "system" for getting you set up with a realty appraiser to obtain a credible but favorable appraisal on the house and then you can also figure out if you should be angling for a Chapter 13 or 7. You are smart and insightful to post your question with some detail - now you need to be smart to check Google reviews and reviews to make sure that you find an attorney who knows what is going on. I filed just shy of 400 cases last year in Seattle and Tacoma bankruptcy courts - and many of them had lien strips in Chapter 13 and also lien avoidances in chapter 7. Give a call if you want a free consult. Best wishes! James H. MaGee, Washington Bankruptcy Attorney, Offices in Renton, Tacoma and Puyallup. 253 383 1001

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  • Can I payoff my chapter 13 bankruptcy off early ?

    I have someone who would like to purchase my truck for $ 8500 . The balance on my bankruptcy is $ 8300 . Would this payoff my bankruptcy ? Truck is included in the bankruptcy .

    James’s Answer

    Well, I wish I could say the answer is easy. From the scant facts that you provided, it is not possible to say if paying $8,300 is a good idea or not. Example #1 - it would be a total rip off to pay $8,300 to terminate your plan - E.g. If you are a lower income person and your plan is at say month 35 and you owe nothing on secured debt or priority debt (like taxes or back child support), then you might be eligible to just make one more small plan payment and end your plan next month - thus avoid having to sell your truck! Example #2 - here it might be a good idea - E.g. if you are a lower income person and you have passed month 36 and the $8,300 you owe on your plan is pretty much all slated to go to pay of the remaining debt on the truck, then I suppose that you could prudently pursue the motion to allow sale of the truck and then payoff of the plan with the proceeds. I wish I had a few more facts from you to help nail down what you should do.

    By the way, where is your Chapter 13 attorney in all of this? While is a great place to get some help from some pretty smart people, really your original Chapter 13 attorney should be involved in helping you. If you are posting here then I assume your Chapter 13 attorney is out of business or maybe just nonresponsive? Generally, you are supposed to be able to rely upon your Chapter 13 attorney to advise you even years on into your Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing - assuming that the person who filed it for you had/has a clue about what he or she was doing. With the "bankruptcy boom" of 2008-2011 I have seen some pretty clueless bankruptcy attorneys running around out there .... even some with great big TV and bus ads! You can always check out our website at Over the past five or six years, very few attorneys have filed as many or more South Puget Sound Chapter 13 cases as has my firm. We do lots of them! Really, you need to talk to a lawyer who understands Chapter 13 at a deeper level to figure out what you should do. Be cautious of just barging on ahead with what you are doing - and remember, while the Chapter 13 office helpers might seem friendly and helpful, they are not in the business of telling you what is "best" for you to do - just what you "could" do. Best wishes in your quest, James H. MaGee, Atty Offices in Puyallup, Tacoma, Renton and Olympia 253 383 1001

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  • Can an HOA collect fees, other than dues (dues are paid up) when a house was bankrupted, yet the bank has not foreclosed on it?

    Bankruptcy was 3 years ago, tenants are living in house, we are being charged for extra security patrol at this house when security patrol is being paid by the HOA's also.

    James’s Answer

    Under Washington law as impacted by the 2005 Bankruptcy Code amendments, HOA obligations are generally regarded to be personal obligations of the homeowner which continue post-bankruptcy. Even if you "give back" your house in the bankruptcy by indicating on your Chapter 7 Statement of Intentions that you wish to "surrender" the house back to a secured mortgage lender, you still remain obligated for HOA expenses falling due after the date of the bankruptcy filing up to the date of foreclosure by the lender. In responding to your inquiry, I am assuming that you moved out at some time pre or post Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing and then placed tenants in the residence and then collected rent from the tenants pre-petition and/or post-petition. Thus I am trying to figure out why you would consider it odd that when you are running the residence like a business collecting rent, then why would you not also have to pay the expenses of the business, including the HOA dues, from the rents that you collect or collected? The one thing that I found curious, however, is that you state you are being charged for "extra security patrol at this house". While you do have to continue to pay the regular ongoing monthly assessments and dues, if you have been assessed some sort of "extra" fee that is not assessed to others in the Association, then perhaps you could dispute that extra portion expense if you can find that it was assessed against you not in accordance with the required procedures for special and unique individual assessments as specified in the HOA covenants. If you have since fallen into additional debt such that you are having trouble coping, you might want to come in and discuss whether you might consider a Chapter 13 case some time in the near future. You might be able to be rid of all accumulated HOA assessments with a Chapter 13 filing once you are about four years out from having filed your Chapter 7 case. I am also wondering why your prior Chapter 7 attorney is not available to help you with this question such that you have had to avail yourself of an post. You were smart to post here, but still, your old Chapter 7 attorney should be happy to accept your call and provide a few words of follow up direction about this issue - assuming he/she has a clue about this HOA issue. I hope that my posting is of assistance to you. Remember, this is not legal advice upon which you should rely - you should have a face-to-face with an experienced attorney as a number of important facts may still missing from your post which would be required in order to make a conclusive determination. James H. MaGee 253-383-1001

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