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I am often asked what you should do if somebody owes you money. The short answer is that you should probably sue in conciliation (or "small claims") court, although the longer answer depends on what you are owed money for and how much money you are owed.

The jurisdictional limit for suing in conciliation court – or the most you can ask for – is $15,000. So, if somebody owes you $15,000 or less, I would probably recommend suing in conciliation court. However, if you have provided professional services or have done work on a titled piece of personal property (the most common is probably a motor vehicle), then you may have a lien for the amount of your services that could be enforced outside of conciliation court. Of course, if your claim is for more than $15,000, you should consider suing in District Court, where damages are not limited.

To win in conciliation court, you must prove both liability and damages. In other words, you must prove that the defendant actually owes you the money, and the amount that they owe you. If you win your conciliation court case, you will wind up with a conciliation court judgment for the amount of your claim that you were able to prove. The conciliation court judgment will be stayed for a period of time to allow the defendant to appeal, if the defendant wishes.

Once the time for appeal has passed, you should immediately docket (or transfer) the judgment from conciliation court to District Court by filing a document called an Affidavit of Identification of Judgment Debtor. A District Court judgment shows up on a person's credit report, so the defendant will be unable to obtain major financing – such as a mortgage loan – with your judgment on their record. In addition, having a judgment in District Court gives you the right to garnish wages and bank accounts to collect your judgment.

I can't really speak for other attorneys, but I know that I will collect on a judgment for a contingent fee of one third of any amounts collected, less expenses. Typically, I require an expense retainer in advance. Collecting on a judgment is hard work. Whether you are able to collect anything depends on several factors, including but not limited to if the debtor is working, receives public assistance, and has an active bank account set up at a bank or credit union.

Tim represents creditors  – both consumer and business – in collection matters. Tim also represents consumer and small business debtors in bankruptcy, and brings this perspective – the perspective of an attorney representing debtors – to collections. I somebody owes you money, or if you have a judgment that you need help collecting on, please give Tim a call at 763-450-9494 to set up a consultation. Tim charges $250 for a consultation, and will advise you about your rights under the law and options available to you.

DISCLAIMER: Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. is a debt-relief agency, and Timothy H. Baland, Esq. is a debt-relief agent.  We help people like you to obtain bankruptcy relief.

WARNING: The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.



 
 
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I am often asked when is the right time for a person or business to file for bankruptcy protection. The short answer is that you should file as soon as possible, and unless there is a good reason for not doing so.

For example, you might want to wait for a period of time if you have recently paid a large amount of money to a creditor or made a major purchase not in the ordinary course.  If you do not wait, the bankruptcy trustee can undo that payment or transaction and take the money back.  However, if you can qualify to file bankruptcy now, and there is not a good reason for waiting, then I would generally recommend filing for bankruptcy sooner rather than later.

Individual persons can file for either chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Individuals who make their living from farming or fishing have a few different options as well. Small businesses are limited to filing for Chapter 7, although businesses can also file for chapter 11 – but chapter 11 is far beyond the scope of this blog post.  Personally, I like chapter 7 better because it wipes all of your debts out at once and is a lot faster than chapter 13. However, your net income (your gross income after payroll deductions and expenses) has to be below a certain level for your family size in order for you to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

I prefer to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on behalf of the debtor, unless there is a good reason for choosing chapter 13 bankruptcy. A good reason for choosing chapter 13 would be if the debtor makes too much money to qualify for Chapter 7, or if the debtor has a lot of equity in a house.  Your bankruptcy attorney will be able to explain to you the differences between chapter 7 and Chapter 13, and which one is a better option for you.

Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. represents consumer and small business debtors in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings. Please note that only individual debtors can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy relief, not businesses.  Please call (763) 450-9494 to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation today and find out whether declaring bankruptcy is the right option for you!

DISCLAIMER: Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. is a debt-relief agency, and Timothy H. Baland, Esq. is a debt-relief agent.  We help people like you to obtain bankruptcy relief.

WARNING: The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.



 
 
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I am often asked whether a debtor can keep personal property – such as a bicycle, television, etc. – when that person files for bankruptcy. The short answer is that there are 3 ways for a debtor to keep such personal property.

Normally, when a person (called the debtor) files for bankruptcy, property owned by that person becomes the property of the bankruptcy trustee. As a bankruptcy attorney, my goal in my job is to find as many ways as possible to keep the debtor's personal property out of the hands of the bankruptcy trustee.

There are three primary ways to keep property out of the hands of the bankruptcy trustee. Each of those ways will now be discussed in turn.:

The first – and primary – way is if the property is exempt. The law provides that a certain amount of property is exempt and is automatically excluded from the property taken by the bankruptcy trustee. For example, there are exemptions for household goods and furnishings, motor vehicles (up to a certain value), jewelry, and many others.

Some states – in Minnesota is one of those states – permit debtors to choose between the exemptions provided by federal law and the exemptions provided by state law. Most of the time, the federal exemptions are the most appropriate. I especially like the wildcard exemption provided by federal law – that can cover any property, such as a lawn more, that would not normally be exempt.

The second way is for a debtor to reaffirm the debt. Reaffirm is a fancy word for continuing to make the payments. Most often, if a debtor is making monthly payments on a particular item of property, such as a motor vehicle, and the creditor – the person to whom the money is owed – could repossess the property unless the payments in such a case, the debtor might reaffirm the debt, or promise to continue to make the monthly payments in order to keep the property reaffirmation agreements are most common for motor vehicles, but sometimes exist for mortgages as well.

Most of the time, the exemptions, combined with reaffirmation agreements, cover all of the property that a debtor may own. However, if the trustee seizes an item of the debtor's property, the debtor can offer to buy that property back from the trustee. That is the third option, and it primarily comes up when the debtor is a small business with a large inventory or a lot of equipment.

Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. represents consumer and small business debtors in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings. Please note that only individual debtors can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy relief, not businesses.  Please call (763) 450-9494 to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation today and find out whether declaring bankruptcy is the right option for you!

DISCLAIMER: Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. is a debt-relief agency, and Timothy H. Baland, Esq. is a debt-relief agent.  We help people like you to obtain bankruptcy relief.

WARNING: The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.



 
 
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Tim is teaching a seminar on Bankruptcy Basics: What Everybody Needs to Know about Bankruptcy. The seminar will be held on Friday, January 29, 2016 from noon to 1 PM at Tim's office, 2140 – 4th Avenue North, Anoka Minnesota 55303. This seminar is intended for consumer and small business debtors, as well as attorneys who do not practice in the area of bankruptcy.

Space is limited, so preregistration is required. For more information and to register, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bankruptcy-basics-everything-you-need-to-know-about-bankruptcy-tickets-20485575909.

ATTORNEYS: This seminar has been approved for one standard CLE credit. The event code is 214745.

Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. represents consumer and small business debtors in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings. Please note that only individual debtors can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy relief, not businesses.  Please call (763) 450-9494 to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation today and find out whether declaring bankruptcy is the right option for you!

DISCLAIMER: Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. is a debt-relief agency, and Timothy H. Baland, Esq. is a debt-relief agent.  We help people like you to obtain bankruptcy relief.

WARNING: The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.



 
 
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I am often asked when a person should consider filing for bankruptcy. Generally, if a person has one or two debts, I recommend trying to negotiate a more favorable payment arrangement with the creditor. However, if a person is drowning in debt and is constantly being harassed by debt collectors, then bankruptcy may be an appropriate option to consider.

There is no bright line or amount of debt that you have to have in order to qualify to file bankruptcy. Lots of people just like you are in the same situation, where there is too much month and not enough money. Bills keep piling up, and debt collectors keep calling and sending threatening letters. Perhaps you have even been sued by a debt collector. That happens sometimes.

I help people just like you to get bankruptcy relief under the law. Everybody's situation is unique, and everybody deserves special attention. Please give me a call at (763) 450 – 9494 to discuss your specific situation and needs. Also, please mention that you read this blog post to receive a free consultation. Normally, I charge $150 (in 2015) for a consultation, but will waive that charge for readers of this blog.

Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. represents consumer debtors and small businesses in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings.  Please call (763) 450-9494 to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation today and find out whether declaring bankruptcy is the right option for you!

DISCLAIMER: Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. is a debt-relief agency, and Timothy H. Baland, Esq. is a debt-relief agent.  We help people like you to obtain bankruptcy relief.

WARNING: The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  This blog post may constitute attorney advertising.  Further, Tim is licensed only in Minnesota state and federal courts, and the information that is provided here is applicable only to those jurisdictions.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.