Trying to determine if bankruptcy is the right option for me.

Asked over 1 year ago - Phoenix, AZ

I was aware that while living with my mother she opened a business and listed my as the President of the company without my permission. She then opened an American Express business card with me as the primary without my permission. She then opened two other personal credit cards with me as the primary without my permission. Since I was living with her rent free, I didn't feel it was right to tell her to stop because she did have a very good paying job and was paying the cards and she was my mother. She said her credit was never established enough to get credit cards. Over a year ago, she allowed my brother to use the American Express Business card and he never paid her back. She then lost her job and had to short sale her house. She was trying to pay the cards, but didn't tell me that she fell behind and just stopped all together. I received a summons for the American Express Business card totalling just over $19,000. She was able to work out a payment plan for one of the three cards and we are waiting to hear about a payment plan on the the other one. American Express will not agree to a payment plan, but has offered a settlement of $15,000, which neither she or I have. The accounts that I personally opened under my own name are perfectly fine, i am 100% up to date on my mortgage but the house is worth less than the mortgage. My husband and I have two cars, but we checked and selling them would barely cover the loans that remain on them. I fear that i will have a judgment placed against me on the American Express Business card and will have liens against my home, wage garnishments and money taken from my accounts. I am wondering if bankruptcy is a good option. I don't want to lose my house and cars though.

Attorney answers (6)

  1. Ross M. Mumme

    Contributor Level 11

    7

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Thank you for your question. I am sorry to hear about what has happened to you. Based on the info you have provided, it sounds like bankruptcy could provide great benefit to you. If there is little equity in your cars and home, you would probably be able to keep them in a chapter 7 bankruptcy and chapter 7 would eliminate the credit card debt you spoke of in your question. If I were in your shoes. I would find an attorney here on avvo and have a consultation. I offer free consultations myself and many others do as well. I would recommend speaking with a bankruptcy attorney to make certain bankruptcy is the right decision for you because there are many factors that should be considered. Best of luck.

    There is never a proper substitute for consultation with an attorney licensed in your area, when you are facing a... more
  2. Scott L Greeves

    Contributor Level 11

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Sorry to hear about your experience. Your situation sounds quite complicated. If you are working and file bankruptcy, most likely you will be able to keep the house and cars. You should definitely consult with an experienced lawyer.

    The AZ lawyers who have responded to you here on AVVO, including me, can all probably help you. I offer a free consult to evaluate your situation. So, call a few of us and go with whomever you're most comfortable.

    Mr. Greeves is licensed to practice law throughout the state of Arizona. His office is in Tempe. His phone number is 480-422-1850 or his email address is scott@grattorneys.com. His website is www.grattorneys.com.

    Mr. Greeves is licensed to practice law throughout the state of Arizona. His office is in Tempe. He is authorized... more
  3. Scott A Macleod

    Contributor Level 12

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Bankruptcy may be a good option, but often with unsecured debt (like credit cards) the credit card company is willing to settle for fractions on the dollars-owed. Now, I am certainly not making any promises but many firms that do BK may also have an alternative in the form of debt settlement....like our firm.

    Certain questions need to be answered before we could evaluate whether you would lose your cars or home. The value of each, respectively is important, although the exemption amounts for homes in Arizona are quite generous.

    Give me a call for a free, no obligations consultation wherein we can discuss BK, debt settlement, and perhaps other options.

    Thank you for your questions / comments. Good luck!

    Scott A. Mac Leod is licensed to practice law in Arizona. The information provided here is for educational... more
  4. Diane L Drain

    Pro

    Contributor Level 15

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Bankruptcy is a very complicated process. It is wise to talk to an experienced bankruptcy attorney before deciding to take this important step. I am attaching a link to some free videos that explain how bankruptcy works. Most Arizona consumer bankruptcy attorneys offer a free consultation about the basics of bankruptcy.

    Please take time to educate yourself about bankruptcy and to determine which attorney is the best to assist you in the process. Don’t assume the attorney is being completely honest about their experience and capabilities. Check them out. Avoid the attorneys who advertise on TV or profess a 100% success rate in their Internet ads. It costs hundreds or thousands of dollars for these ads and someone has to pay for them – the clients. These attorneys mass produce the work and do not offer the client the hands on assistance that is necessary in a well-planned bankruptcy. Normally these firms assign all or most of the work to paralegals and the client rarely talks to an attorney.

    When interviewing the attorney ask them how long they have practiced bankruptcy law. Ask what percentage of their practice is focused on consumer work. Ask whether they are experienced in both chapter 7 and chapter 13 cases. Ask the attorney for references. Ask about their policy of returning phone calls. They should be committed to answering specific questions about your situation and help you understand your options. If, after talking with them you are still confused about the issues you raised, find another attorney. Check them out with the various ranking sources: such as www.AVVO.com, and the State Bar. An attorney is should be your guide through this process. They should educate you, be there to assist you in how to avoid pitfalls and help you plan for your future after bankruptcy. There are hundreds of “bankruptcy” attorneys in Arizona. Of those just a few will fit the criteria set forth above. Again, bankruptcy is a very complicated process and you want to use an attorney who will be there when you need them.

    IF YOU FOUND THIS ANSWER "HELPFUL" or "THE BEST ANSWER," PLEASE MARK IT SO AS AVVO AWARDS THE ATTORNEY POINTS. All attorneys providing answers on this site are donating their time and not financially compensated.

    This firm is in the business of helping people and companies file for bankruptcy protection. Therefore, the... more
  5. Douglas Garth Edmunds

    Contributor Level 13

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It might be an answer, but you need to know all the potential consequences. If you give me a call tomorrow, I'll gladly walk you through the options for free. 480-603-4988. Emilee will set up a convenient time for a phone call. This is a stressful time; be very careful. Hold off on making financial decisions until you have spoken to an attorney.

    Douglas Edmunds is in the business of helping people and companies file for bankruptcy protection. The bankruptcy... more
  6. Susanne Ruiz Rodriguez

    Contributor Level 13

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Wow. This must be very difficult for you. I guess I'll raise the following issue (which could be, admittedly, a squirmy one). If your mother used your SS # and signed your name on the applications for those cards without your permission, that's likely fraud. Generally, you are not liable for accounts that are fraudulently opened in your name. If, as you say, debts that you took out (not your mom) are in good standing, a bankruptcy might not be necessary. That said, as a condition of being relieved of the debt, it might be necessary to report your mother to the police if the creditors require that a police report be made, Depending on the relationship between you and your mother, that may be a step you are unwilling to take. Understandably. However, it's important that you know about all your options so you can make an informed decision. Please see a consumer lawyer in your area to help you decide.

    The answers to these questions may be different depending on your individual circumstance and should not be... more

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