My husband and I filed BK13 and all was well when we went to first meeting with Trustee. She then proceeded to state our lawyer did not file my wages correctly (i get paid bi-weekly) and only filed me getting paid twice a month instead of 26 times a year. Then our payment went from $300 to $750. Our lawyer stated we did NOT need to pay any back pay (had already paid $300 4 months). We then get a paper from Trustee stating we were $1350 behind and they were goingto dismiss our case! We paid the $1350 (barely) then received another paper from Trustee stating our revised Debtors plan didnt include a creditor that is not included (car paymetn we are making outside of BK) and thus Trustee feels we cannot make all our payments and want to dismiss our case again. Our lawyer never answeres r callsWe have made 2 payments of $750 and the $1350 when instructed we were behind. We have NEVER been late of payments to Trustee and just recently foudn out my lawyer had a falling out with the Trustee due to another case and since then has been making the lives of my lawyers clients (us) living hell.
The relationship between an attorney and his, her client is one based mainly in trust and confidence. If it ever happen that you do not trust your attorney anymore, you are better off substituting him or her with another.
Usually the variation between a bi-weekly and semi-monthly computation is not that significant (depending on the salary though) to duplicate your plan payment; however, I do not have the actual figures to assist you.
Regarding the car payments, if you are current you can make those payments directly to car loan creditor; however, it need to be included in your budget (Schedule J) ; otherwise, you may be short of income which is also confusing because you in one hand were short of income and also short of expenses and one will offset the other, not completely, but again the number may work out for you.
You cannot sue your lawyer because the trustee does not like him or her. Having said that I would not like to be represented by an attorney who has a grudge with the person who is going to review my case. I think it is the time to look for another counsel,specially if the one you have does not return your calls.
I am very pleased to be of assistance in answering your legal questions on AVVO website. This "pro bono" assistance has not established a attorney/client relationship and should not be construed as such. Therefore, my opinion or suggestions to your question do not constitute legal advice; moreover, when the totality of the facts are not and cannot be fully disclosed and assesses online. I strongly urge you to seek legal advise, in your local area, from a reputable attorney.
As to the Trustee, you may want to address the matter with the U.S. Trustee for your district, assuming the trustee to which you refer is an assistant trustee. If it is the head trustee for the district, there is still another layer above you can address the comportment in question within the U.S. Department of Justice.
As to your attorney, you need to determine to what degree is the misfeasance you have experienced, and whether it is actionable. You could possibly contact the California State Bar, which may have a consumer help section, or a grievance section.
You also wan to determine what you could gain from grieving against your attorney, whether you have the resources of time and possibly money to do so. It may just not be worth it to you in the end.
I wish you the best of luck.
Any response does not form any attorney-client relationship with attorney Martinez, and such relationship is only by written agreement.
I agree with the previous response that there are institutions in place that you can take your grievances to, like the State Bar and the US Trustee's Office. However, I want to note that the problems you have stated that have come up in your Chapter 13 case are real problems that an unbiased Trustee would raise - once your plan payment was changed, you were responsible for the back payments unless your attorney negotiated otherwise; and an undisclosed car payment does change the feasibility of your Plan.
There are definitely attorney errors that need to be addressed, but you also need to sit down with an attorney and file a motion to modify your plan immediately before your case gets dismissed!
Legal disclaimer: Ms. Singh is a California-licensed attorney only. The information is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. Answering this question does not in any way constitute legal representation. Contacting Anudeep Singh or the Stone Haven Law Group does not constitute legal representation, nor is any information you provide protected by attorney-client privilege until otherwise advised.
You undoubtedly have Russel Greer for your trustee. The lady you refer to would be attorney Lorraine Crozier who handles many of the creditors meetings on behalf of Russel. I know them well as I am down in Modesto regularly. As to the bi-weekly vs semi-monthly this seems to be a problem with many attorneys who have not been practicing in the bankruptcy courts. Any Trustee worth their salt would catch that. I can see why Lorraine would be upset by incorrect paperwork. They are not very sympathetic as to incompetent representation. However, you need to understand that no matter how good or how bad the attorney is, they have to do their job. The Trustee is not taking it out on you because of your attorney. They are taking it out on you because the information on your papers, signed by you under penalty of perjury is not true and/or the plan is screwed up. They do understand incompetent attorneys but again they have to do their job.
The increase in payments could be from several things. In your case the proposed car payments were outside the plan when it needed to be inside the plan (rookie mistake). Then there are the Trustee's fees that have to be added on. Other reason for a change in the plan to pay more would go back to the bi-weekly wages. Since you have 2 more paychecks a year, then the amount of those wages would have to be added to the plan. That amount would be divided by 12 months. The difference is available to pay the creditors. That calculates into adding 10 paychecks over a 5 year plan or 6 payments in a 3 year plan. The issue is that you have to use your "best efforts" to fund a plan after all expenses are covered. In your case the corrected income went up but your expenses stayed the same.
As far as the plan arrears goes, I see this issue regularly. The plan payment is wrong for whatever reason. The plan as it is requires a higher payment. Often the attorneys think that they only have to pay the new payment starting with the payments AFTER the creditors meeting. Not correct. I see amended plans that attorneys do where they set a new payment plan but forget to have earlier payments in the plan that match what was actually paid then have the higher payments start. Definitely an avoidable problem if properly amended.
As to suing the attorney and the Trustee, forget suing the trustee. You would never get anywhere. They are doing exactly what they should be doing. As to the attorney, you could sue him but what are your damages? The payments in the plan should have been what it is now. Usually I find that budgets are unrealistically low. The "J" schedule expenses likely should have been budgeted higher but that is water under the bridge. You can substitute the attorney out of your case and replace him with another one. The problem is that most attorneys do not want to substitute into another attorney's mess. You may be better to have the case dismissed and start over. However that has it's own risks and problems too complicated to explain here.
This response does not constitute legal advice nor is the attorney providing this advice in any way liable for the providing of this information. It is provided for general information only. No attorney client relationship in made by the answering of this question. Any reader of this response is recommended to seek the advice of a competent attorney in your area.
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