The Law Offices of Steven L. Walker, PC specializes in bankruptcy tax matters and represents creditors, debtors and others in the Northern District of California, Los Angeles, and the Central District of California.
Congress requires us to provide the following information to the debtor’s clients of The Law Offices of Steven L. Walker.
A debt relief agency is any person who provides any bankruptcy assistance to an assisted person in return for payment. 11 U.S.C.S. § 101(12A).
“The term “assisted person” means any person whose debts consist primarily of consumer debts and the value of whose nonexempt property is less than $204,425.” 11 USCS § 101(3).
While the Law Offices of Steven L. Walker, PC will often represent creditors and non-debtor parties, it will sometimes qualifies as a “debt relief agency” under the Bankruptcy Code.
11 U.S.C.S. § 528 requires qualifying professionals to include certain disclosures in their advertisements. Section 528(a) provides that debt relief agencies must clearly and conspicuously disclose in any advertisement of bankruptcy assistance services or of the benefits of bankruptcy directed to the general public that the services or benefits are with respect to bankruptcy relief. § 528(a)(3). It also requires them to include the following, or a substantially similar statement: “We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.” § 528(a)(4).
The Bankruptcy Code provides restrictions on debt relief agencies. 11 USC 525(a) provides, in relevant part:
(a) A debt relief agency shall not—
(1) fail to perform any service that such agency informed an assisted person or prospective assisted person it would provide in connection with a case or proceeding under this title;
(2) make any statement, or counsel or advise any assisted person or prospective assisted person to make a statement in a document filed in a case or proceeding under this title, that is untrue or misleading, or that upon the exercise of reasonable care, should have been known by such agency to be untrue or misleading;
(3) misrepresent to any assisted person or prospective assisted person, directly or indirectly, affirmatively or by material omission, with respect to—
(A) the services that such agency will provide to such person; or
(B) the benefits and risks that may result if such person becomes a debtor in a case under this title; or
(4) advise an assisted person or prospective assisted person to incur more debt in contemplation of such person filing a case under this title or to pay an attorney or bankruptcy petition preparer a fee or charge for services performed as part of preparing for or representing a debtor in a case under this title.
The Bankruptcy Code requires a debt relief agency to provide the information set forth in 11 U.S.C. § 527. The statute provides as follows:
(a) A debt relief agency providing bankruptcy assistance to an assisted person shall provide—
(1) the written notice required under section 342(b)(1) [11 USCS § 342(b)(1)]; and
(2) to the extent not covered in the written notice described in paragraph (1), and not later than 3 business days after the first date on which a debt relief agency first offers to provide any bankruptcy assistance services to an assisted person, a clear and conspicuous written notice advising assisted persons that—
(A) all information that the assisted person is required to provide with a petition and thereafter during a case under this title is required to be complete, accurate, and truthful;
(B) all assets and all liabilities are required to be completely and accurately disclosed in the documents filed to commence the case, and the replacement value of each asset as defined in section 506 [11 USCS § 506] must be stated in those documents where requested after reasonable inquiry to establish such value;
(C) current monthly income, the amounts specified in section 707(b)(2) [11 USCS § 707(b)(2)], and, in a case under chapter 13 of this title [11 USCS §§ 1301 et seq.], disposable income (determined in accordance with section 707(b)(2) [11 USCS § 707(b)(2)]), are required to be stated after reasonable inquiry; and
(D) information that an assisted person provides during their case may be audited pursuant to this title, and that failure to provide such information may result in dismissal of the case under this title or other sanction, including a criminal sanction.
(b) A debt relief agency providing bankruptcy assistance to an assisted person shall provide each assisted person at the same time as the notices required under subsection (a)(1) the following statement, to the extent applicable, or one substantially similar. The statement shall be clear and conspicuous and shall be in a single document separate from other documents or notices provided to the assisted person:
“IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT BANKRUPTCY ASSISTANCE SERVICES FROM AN ATTORNEY OR BANKRUPTCY PETITION PREPARER.
“If you decide to seek bankruptcy relief, you can represent yourself, you can hire an attorney to represent you, or you can get help in some localities from a bankruptcy petition preparer who is not an attorney. THE LAW REQUIRES AN ATTORNEY OR BANKRUPTCY PETITION PREPARER TO GIVE YOU A WRITTEN CONTRACT SPECIFYING WHAT THE ATTORNEY OR BANKRUPTCY PETITION PREPARER WILL DO FOR YOU AND HOW MUCH IT WILL COST. Ask to see the contract before you hire anyone.
“The following information helps you understand what must be done in a routine bankruptcy case to help you evaluate how much service you need. Although bankruptcy can be complex, many cases are routine.
“Before filing a bankruptcy case, either you or your attorney should analyze your eligibility for different forms of debt relief available under the Bankruptcy Code and which form of relief is most likely to be beneficial for you. Be sure you understand the relief you can obtain and its limitations. To file a bankruptcy case, documents called a Petition, Schedules, and Statement of Financial Affairs, and in some cases a Statement of Intention, need to be prepared correctly and filed with the bankruptcy court. You will have to pay a filing fee to the bankruptcy court. Once your case starts, you will have to attend the required first meeting of creditors where you may be questioned by a court official called a ‘trustee’ and by creditors.
“If you choose to file a chapter 7 case, you may be asked by a creditor to reaffirm a debt. You may want help deciding whether to do so. A creditor is not permitted to coerce you into reaffirming your debts.
“If you choose to file a chapter 13 case in which you repay your creditors what you can afford over 3 to 5 years, you may also want help with preparing your chapter 13 plan and with the confirmation hearing on your plan which will be before a bankruptcy judge.
“If you select another type of relief under the Bankruptcy Code other than chapter 7 or chapter 13, you will want to find out what should be done from someone familiar with that type of relief.
“Your bankruptcy case may also involve litigation. You are generally permitted to represent yourself in litigation in bankruptcy court, but only attorneys, not bankruptcy petition preparers, can give you legal advice.”.
(c) Except to the extent the debt relief agency provides the required information itself after reasonably diligent inquiry of the assisted person or others so as to obtain such information reasonably accurately for inclusion on the petition, schedules or statement of financial affairs, a debt relief agency providing bankruptcy assistance to an assisted person, to the extent permitted by nonbankruptcy law, shall provide each assisted person at the time required for the notice required under subsection (a)(1) reasonably sufficient information (which shall be provided in a clear and conspicuous writing) to the assisted person on how to provide all the information the assisted person is required to provide under this title pursuant to section 521 [11 USCS § 521], including—
(1) how to value assets at replacement value, determine current monthly income, the amounts specified in section 707(b)(2) [11 USCS § 707(b)(2)] and, in a chapter 13 case, how to determine disposable income in accordance with section 707(b)(2) [11 USCS § 707(b)(2)] and related calculations;
(2) how to complete the list of creditors, including how to determine what amount is owed and what address for the creditor should be shown; and
(3) how to determine what property is exempt and how to value exempt property at replacement value as defined in section 506 [11 USCS § 506].
(d) A debt relief agency shall maintain a copy of the notices required under subsection (a) of this section for 2 years after the date on which the notice is given the assisted person.
Law Offices of Steven L. Walker
A Professional Law Corporation
Silicon Valley Center
2550 North First Street, Suite 302
San Jose, CA 95131
Direct: 408.295.5800 | Fax: 408.295.5855