Lawyering

A Tax Protestor by any other Name Can Never Sail Sweetly

Is it true that there is no law requiring payment of income tax? My tenure as an IRS attorney caused me to think deeply about taxes, courts, and government. And it helped me see how I can help individuals who face the tax system. There are people – common in the San Fernando Valley – […]

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It happens to the best of us

My mother-in-law, Margret, is in a nursing home. She knows who she is, but not much more than that. My wife does her taxes every year. And it’s usually pretty simple to do, because Margret’s income is fixed: some social security, some pension money from Mercedes-Benz, where her husband had worked for 40 years. I […]

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Which Lawyerly Approach Do You Prefer? A Pit Bull versus a Portuguese Water Dog

I sometimes run into conflict with clients who are so angry they want to use me primarily for revenge, even if their case would have a better outcome if we approached the adversary calmly and with a reasoned strategy designed to get them the best financial outcome. Instead, these clients want me to employ any […]

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Should legal losers pay the winners’ attorney fees?

My clients were nurses at a local hospital, immigrants from a third-world country.  They worked hard and bought a house.  One day, a fellow told them that their house had been built by a contractor without a license.  The fellow said that the house was therefore substandard, and he handed them an attorney’s card.  They […]

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Nothing left to lose and loving it

I had a client come to me a few years ago to file bankruptcy.  He owned two office buildings with mortgages totaling more than the buildings’ values. They were going to be foreclosed, triggering personal guarantees, and the client would owe millions of dollars to the lender.  If he somehow got out of the personal […]

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What happens when I meet the trustee?

Every bankruptcy case has a Meeting of Creditors, often called the “341 meeting.”  It occurs about 30 to 45 days after the petition is filed.  My clients often tell me that they are scared of the meeting: will they need to explain why they filed bankruptcy?  What if they say the wrong thing?  What if […]

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Why I try not to do loan modifications

http://www.salon.com/2013/06/18/bank_of_america_whistleblowers_bombshell_we_were_told_to_lie/ The following commentary is from Hale Antico, a local bankruptcy attorney colleague: Bank of America’s mortgage servicing unit systematically lied to homeowners, fraudulently denied loan modifications, and paid their staff bonuses for deliberately pushing people into foreclosure: Yes, these allegations were suspected by any homeowner who ever had to deal with the bank to […]

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Pigs Get Fat, and Hogs Get Slaughtered

That’s a great saying, and it applies well to pre-bankruptcy planning.  It is perfectly acceptable to move assets around before a bankruptcy, within reason.  It’s a little like the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion: there are legal limits to avoiding taxes, and there are legal limits to avoiding your creditors.  Stay within those […]

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Bankruptcy isn’t a “get out of jail free” card

Here’s a great little loophole being closed. Get your car impounded, file bankruptcy, get your car back, dismiss the case. Easy! Until the FBI comes knocking on your door. Lesson: Bankruptcy may seem like a free lunch.  It isn’t. There are benefits and burdens to it.  File with a reputable lawyer who knows what he […]

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Trader Joe’s

My client had been an executive with an ad agency.  He had put a daughter through college, then lost his retirement nest egg in the real estate crash.  He now lives with his wife in a rental in the Valley.  Stretched beyond his means, he was having his wages garnished because of a credit card […]

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