Don’t Inadvertently Work for Free!

178831391The following is a guest blog post by bankruptcy attorney Michael Gouveia, who spoke at the 2013 Annual State Bar Meeting on the New Attorney Guide to Competency. He invites you to visit his popular bankruptcy blog.

This sweet young couple is sitting across from you in your office. You’ve spent a half an hour counseling them on filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The wife then asks, “We need to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy this week, but we don’t have your full attorney fee. Can we give you a little up front and the rest of your fee after we file?” This is the time to start backing away. Continue reading

No Inheritance for Anna Nicole Smith: Ninth Circuit Was Right (Again) for the Wrong Reason

Update: In a reversal of fortune, the district court has awarded sanctions for discovery abuse in favor of Anna Nicole Smith’s estate and her daughter Dannielynn against the estate of her stepson, Pierce Marshall, and his attorney. In a sweeping decision (Marshall v Hilliard (In re Marshall) (CD Cal May 29, 2013, SACV-01-0097 DOC)), the court found that Marshall and his attorney had practiced a fraud on the court and made a mockery of the justice system by withholding or destroying documents, among other abuses. Smith’s estate now stands to collect much of the earlier damage award thrown out by the Ninth Circuit.

It isn’t often that a court is reversed twice by the U.S. Supreme Court in the same case and still had the right result. But in effect, that’s what happened to the Ninth Circuit in the Anna Nicole Smith case. Continue reading

To File or Not to File? Ten Things to Consider Before Advising Your Client to File for Bankruptcy Protection

Many attorneys, from business transactional specialists to family lawyers, are asked by their individual clients, “Should I file for bankruptcy?” This is not an easy question to answer, and is best responded to after analyzing many facts and issues. In fact, to answer it well, you’ll need to ask some questions of your own to determine the appropriateness of bankruptcy and the type of bankruptcy case to file. Continue reading

Commercial Landlords Face Limits on Recovering Future Rent from Bankrupt Tenants

Commercial bankruptcies continue to soar, leaving frustrated landlords hung out to dry by bankrupt tenants. After filing for bankruptcy, a commercial tenant has a limited time to either assume or reject its lease as an executory contract. This election has significance to both the tenant and the landlord.

Continue reading

Economy Still Stressed: Foreclosure, Unemployment and Bankruptcies

On April 13, 2010 the Associated Press reported in its Economic Stress Index, that the US economy in February was still under “stress” with a score of 11.8, although the number was slightly down from its all time high of 11.9 in January. The Index calculates a score for more than 3100 counties based on the county’s unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates. A higher score means things are worse, and a score above 11 generally indicates economic stress.

The nation’s most economically distressed states were: Nevada (21.4), Michigan (17.84), California (16.94), Florida (16.26) and Continue reading

Attorneys Are “Debt Relief Agencies” Under Bankruptcy Code

On March 8, 2010, the United States Supreme Court in Milavetz, Gallop & Milavetz, P.A. v. United States (2010) 559 U S ____, 2010 US Lexis 2206, 10 C.D.O.S. 2797 ruled that attorneys fall within the definition of “debt relief agencies” in Bankruptcy Code §101(12A). This means that advertising rules in Bankruptcy Code §528(a)(4) and limitations on advice to debtors in Bankruptcy Code §526(a)(4) apply to attorneys. Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: