Sonya Banks – The First Master Certified Virtual Bankruptcy Assistant

— by Victoria Ring, www.victoria-ring.com

From June 13-16, 2010, I had the pleasure of training the First Master Certified Virtual Bankruptcy Assistant (MVBA), Sonya Banks of VirtualPetitions.Com, LLC in Loganville, Georgia. Sonya arrived in Colorado Springs on Sunday, June 13 to begin training for the Master Certification.  Before her arrival, Sonya already had five years of experience working virtually for an attorney but she wanted to expand her services so that she could work for a variety of attorneys and advance her knowledge in bankruptcy and Chapter 13s.

Our training began with an intense review of Chapter 13s and a variety of different Chapter 13 Plans.  I trained Sonya using methods of deep case study in a variety of different consumer-based Chapter 13 filings found online through PACER.  In addition, I downloaded a case study review that is used by the American Bar Institute for the certification of attorneys.  Although many areas of the exam were completely over our heads (since the exam pertained to the logic of the law itself) it was still an excellent way to study cases and understand how they progress and are handled through the bankruptcy court process.

Next, Sonya and I again utilized PACER in the study of different pleadings used in the Complaint process as well as the various Adversarial Proceedings connected with bankruptcy filings.  This skill enables Sonya to be able to study cases and work with attorneys in updating the petition based upon the Trustee Recommendations as well as other problems that can occur after the 341 Meeting.  This level of skill is only achieved by Master Certified Virtual Bankruptcy Assistants.

To finish the training and for a better well-rounded education, I taught Sonya how to design her own website and maintain it.  This will save Sonya literally thousands of dollars and reduce her overhead expenses to zero.  I also taught her many different marketing methods and we customized a marketing plan so that she could return home and put a plan into action immediately.

After the training was complete I asked Sonya to comment about her experience, and her reply was:

This experience has been a life-changing event.  I learned more in 30 hours than most people learn in one year.  One important thing I learned was that I am marketing all wrong and now that I know how marketing works; I have learned how to incorporate it into my daily business routine.  Like Victoria, I have learned how to make marketing fun and exciting and I cannot wait to return home and try some of the ideas I learned.  Also, I feel very confident that I have the skills needed to do a very good job for attorneys and I did not have this confidence before coming to Colorado Springs for training. (Sonya Banks)

SUMMARY

If you are an attorney seeking to outsource your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 petition work, I highly recommend the services of Sonya Banks and her company.  Not only is she our first Master Certified VBA, but she is a kind, patient and wonderful lady with high moral character.  Your clients, as well as you and your staff will love working with her.  To contact Sonya:

Email: sonya@virtualpetitions.com Phone: 770-601-4730

DOES YOUR LAW FIRM NEED TRAINING?

Review the various training options available to you and your law firm staff at: http://www.coloradobankruptcytraining.com http://www.victoria-ring.com

The First Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition Training Course

The first Chapter 7 Petition Training Course will begin its first class in July.  This is your unique opportunity to work one-on-one with Victoria Ring in learning how to prepare a detailed Chapter 7 petition.  Along the way you will learn 100s of time and money-saving techniques that will improve your skills.

This course is designed to teach attorneys, paralegals and other law office personnel how to prepare a well-detailed Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. In the process the student will learn a high level of skills that enables them to curtail most (if not all) Deficiency Notices issued by the Trustee after the 341 Meeting is complete.

This course is for both beginners as well as advanced students.  The reason we can provide one class that meets the needs of a wide range of knowledge levels is because the course is structured to teach a higher level of detail than is normally never taught in typical bankruptcy law firms.  This allows those who have been trained in the haphazard, traditional training methods to apply their present knowledge and advance their skills tremendously through the lessons they learn in the Chapter 7 Petition Training Course.

Beginning students who have never been trained in the haphazard, traditional method of preparing a bankruptcy petition will have the advantage of being trained correctly from the beginning.  This will protect students at this knowledge level from many of the common problems that exist in the majority of bankruptcy law firms today; which originated from poor petition training methods.

For more information and to sign up, visit: http://www.bankruptcytrainingproducts.com/home/web-and-teleconference-training

VIDEO: How to Develop a Web Site in Less Than 5 Minutes with WordPress

This is the perfect tool for bankruptcy attorneys to use in developing their own website.  There is no cost or overhead expenses and you control the look, feel and the content.

If the video does not automatically appear in the area above, click here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkAy4UC9ANI

DO YOU LIKE MY VIDEOS?

If you enjoy my short videos specifically designed for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/MsVictoriaRing Click on SUBSCRIBE at top of page

VIDEO: Intake Tool for Bankruptcy Attorneys

This is the perfect tool for bankruptcy attorneys to use in developing their own website.  There is no cost or overhead expenses and you control the look, feel and the content.

If the video does not automatically appear in the area above, click here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0kRobByfQs

DO YOU LIKE MY VIDEOS?

If you enjoy my short videos specifically designed for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/MsVictoriaRing Click on SUBSCRIBE at top of page

VIDEO: How to Find Bankruptcy Statistics Online

If the video does not automatically appear in the area above, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsRl0svwmx4

DO YOU LIKE MY VIDEOS?

If you enjoy my short videos specifically designed for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/MsVictoriaRing Click on SUBSCRIBE at top of page

Case Review: The Problems That Can Occur When a Debtor Surrenders Assets in Chapter 13 Plan

Disclaimer: The information in this article is for training purposes only.  This article is written by Victoria Ring, a certified paralegal and bankruptcy specialist, who is not an attorney.

Normally when I work with attorneys on Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy petitions, debtors want to keep everything they own even if they are unable to afford the payment.  However, today, I encountered just the opposite.

A little over two months ago I prepared a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition for an attorney I work with in the District of Colorado.  The debtor had three older motor vehicles and was 11 months behind on their mortgage.  We were able to propose a cram down to save the debtor about $85,000 on their mortgage as well as cram down on the motor vehicles, thus saving the debtor another $28,000.

The petition was finalized and everything was ready to be filed when the debtor called the attorney to say he was going to surrender two of the motor vehicles.  Because this was only the second petition my attorney had worked on, he naturally thought this would be a good thing for the debtor to do and did not see how it would affect the debtor in a bad way.  Therefore, he approved the transaction and emailed me to so I could update the bankruptcy petition.

WHY WOULD A DEBTOR GIVE UP ASSETS?

It is always helpful to understand why debtors do certain things because it will equip you to handle similar situations in the future.  Therefore, you may be wondering why a debtor would want to give up assets (such as the motor vehicles) when they are filing Chapter 13.  Through my many years of experience, I have often found that the core of the problem is normally derived from bad bankruptcy advice from non-attorneys.

When a person files bankruptcy, they will discuss their personal business with family, friends and neighbors BEFORE they will pick up the phone and ask their attorney for legal advice that they paid for.  And as you know, people who are not attorneys love to give legal advice.  It makes them feel important and knowledgeable.  However, you will find that family, friends and neighbors almost always tell horror stories about assets being taken in the middle of the night and people having to live on the street because they lost their home.  These stories often scare debtors and they will lose sight of what is logical and what is not.

Therefore, attorneys and their law staff need to be aware that this is a common problem when dealing with debtors and make it a point to educate their debtors and answer questions for them as it relates to their case.  A more informed debtor will make life much easier on the attorney and their law firm.

TIP: As a new bankruptcy attorney, you may not have all the answers.  That is why you may want to have your debtors watch some of the videos produced by the Federal Bankruptcy Court, which are excellent in answering many of the questions debtors have about bankruptcy.  The link to these videos is at: http://www.uscourts.gov/video/bankruptcybasics/bankruptcyBasics.html

Another good piece of advice to always keep in mind is that people only make changes when they believe the change is going to benefit them.  Therefore, someone has told this particular debtor that it would save them money if they gave up their motor vehicles.  But like all bad advice, this is not always the case.

IF A DEBTOR GIVES UP AN ASSET, DOES THIS SAVE THEM MONEY?

In the bankruptcy case concerning the Chapter 13 debtor I worked with, the debtor actually caused harm to himself by giving up the motor vehicles.  Here is the breakdown to understand why:

Car No. 1 – Market Value = $6,125.00 Lien Amount: $10,640.00 Cram Down saved debtor: $4,515 Benefit in Chapter 13: Monthly payment would have only been $102.00 because the debt would have been paid prorata over the life of the Plan.

Car No. 2 – Market Value = $5,065.00 Lien Amount: $11,687.00 Cram Down saved debtor: $6,622.00 Benefit in Chapter 13: Monthly payment would have only been $85.00 because the debt would have been paid prorata over the life of the Plan.

THE PROBLEMS THAT DEVELOPED FOR THE DEBTOR As you can see from the data above, filing a Chapter 13 would have benefitted the debtor in several ways in regard to his motor vehicles.  However, by surrendering them, the debtor loses all benefit from the use of the vehicles as well as the financial savings from the cram down.

Secondly, the debtor also could have qualified under 722Redemption.Com to upgrade the vehicles and improve his situation.

Thirdly, the debtor lost the monthly IRS expense allowance which was $950.00 for three motor vehicles but only $260 for one.  This alone increased the Chapter 13 Plan payment by an additional $690 per month.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE EXTRA MONEY?

When the debtor gave up the two motor vehicles, naturally he no longer made a payment to the lienholder.  This gave the debtor an extra $550.00 per month which was applied to the UNSECURE creditors.  Instead of the debtor being in a 15 percent Chapter 13 Plan, they were now in a 30 percent Chapter 13 Plan; which means that the debtor is paying MORE money to the unsecured creditors but gave up a secure asset in the process.

Also, notice that if the debtor would have kept the vehicles, the debts could have been paid PRORATA over the 60 month life of the Chapter 13 Plan.  This reduced the payments from $550 per month to only $187.00.  Again, the debtor lost again by surrendering the motor vehicles.

TIP TO HELP PREVENT SITUATIONS LIKE THIS FROM HAPPENING TO YOUR CLIENTS

Regardless if you are a new attorney or a seasoned attorney, you should never provide a client with a definite yes or no answer until you have had the opportunity to examine the issue from all angles.  I was at a legal seminar one time and an attorney said: Attorneys never answer questions with yes or no; they always answer with – IT DEPENDS.  The other attorneys in the room laughed, but all of us is aware this is an excellent response if you need more time to research the issue.

Therefore, instead of feeling like you are trapped into providing bankruptcy advice when you are unsure what that advice entails; listen to the client and make sure you get all the facts.  Tell your client that you will need to review their case before you can provide them with an answer.  Assure them that every bankruptcy case is different and what may work for one person may not work for them.  This will provide you with some extra time to either research and get the answer online, contact an attorney mentor, or contact our office at 719-659-0743 and we will try to help you.

NETWORKING WITH BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEYS

As a new bankruptcy attorney or an experienced attorney new to bankruptcy, you may want to join the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and the American Bar Association.  Both of these organizations provide you with access to a wide range of tools including the ability to join private forums and ask questions to experienced attorneys.

Another way to network is to find out if your local Bar Association offers classes and meetings for bankruptcy attorneys.  If so, make sure you attend and pass out your business card.  Not only is this a terrific way to find attorneys who are mentors but also you build your practice by accepting referrals from other attorneys who are often overloaded with Chapter 7 and 13 work.

A final suggestion is to join a social networking group such as LinkedIn and join all the bankruptcy attorney groups.  From your LinkedIn profile, click on GROUPS and do searches on the key words: bankruptcy attorney, bankruptcy court, chapter 7 attorney and chapter 13 attorney.  LinkedIn provides you with the ability to join up to 50 groups, so join as many as you possibly can.  Once you are a member, you can post questions to other attorneys and get help.

REFERENCE LINKS

http://www.linkedin.com http://www.nacba.org http://www.abiworld.org http://www.hg.org/northam-bar.html

TRAINING REFERENCE

http://www.bankruptcytrainingproducts.com/home/web-and-teleconference-training Have a wonderful week and keep working on ways to improve your skills in Chapter 7 and 13.

Is Your Debtor Eligible for $250 Government Check?

Beginning on June 15, 2010, the federal government will begin mailing one-time $250 rebate checks to Medicare beneficiaries who have hit the drug plan’s coverage gap known as: the doughnut hole.

The payment is part of the new health care reform law and people on Medicare do not have to apply to receive the rebate.  Checks will be mailed roughly every six weeks until the end of the year.

Help with drug costs will continue in 2011 when those on Medicare will receive a 50 percent discount if they reach the doughnut hole.  Savings will continue to increase over the years until the doughnut hole is closed in 2020.

What Does This Mean For Those Who Prepare Bankruptcy Petitions?

If you have a debtor who receives an income from the federal government, you need to ask them if they receive Medicare.  If so, ask them if they received the $250 rebate check.  If so, this additional income will need to be added to Schedule I and the Means Test within the bankruptcy petition.

For more information visit: http://www.medicare.gov

Upcoming Bankruptcy Training Seminars

http://www.bankruptcytrainingproducts.com/home/web-and-teleconference-training

New Bankruptcy Web Training Seminars

CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPTCY PETITION TRAINING COURSE Course Length: 30 days

This course is designed to teach attorneys, paralegals and other law office personnel how to prepare a well-detailed Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. In the process the student will learn a high level of skills that enables them to curtail most (if not all) Deficiency Notices issued by the Trustee after the 341 Meeting is complete.

This course is for both beginners as well as advanced students.  The reason we can provide one class that meets the needs of a wide range of knowledge levels is because the course is structured to teach a higher level of detail than is normally never taught in typical bankruptcy law firms.  This allows those who have been trained in the haphazard, traditional training methods to apply their present knowledge and advance their skills tremendously through the lessons they learn in the Chapter 7 Petition Training Course.

Beginning students who have never been trained in the haphazard, traditional method of preparing a bankruptcy petition will have the advantage of being trained correctly from the beginning.  This will protect students at this knowledge level from many of the common problems that exist in the majority of bankruptcy law firms today; which originated from poor petition training methods.  For a complete course description, visit:

http://www.bankruptcytrainingproducts.com/home/web-and-teleconference-training

CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY PETITION TRAINING COURSE Course Length:  5 days

This course is an advanced course.  Students should have either completed the Chapter 7 Petition Training Course or have six (6) months of working knowledge in preparing Chapter 7 petitions prior to taking this course.  For a complete course description visit:

http://www.bankruptcytrainingproducts.com/home/web-and-teleconference-training

HOW TO TRANSITION YOUR BANKRUPTCY LAW FIRM TO A PAPERLESS OFFICE Course Length:  2 hours

This teleseminar will focus on transforming your law firm to a paperless office. We will explore a wide variety of different operational procedures starting at the initial client intake through the filing of the bankruptcy petition. You will learn insider tricks and techniques used by paralegals working inside the law firm for many years. They have been tried and tested and passed on to you when you attend this class.

OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES AND TIME SAVINGS TECHNIQUES FOR BANKRUPTCY LAW FIRMS Course Length:  2 hours

This teleseminar will focus on operational procedures and time saving techniques specifically for use inside your law firm.  This is also an excellent training course for paralegals and legal assistants if you are not a solo practitioner.  BONUS:  Designing and maintaining your own law firm website using WordPress.

Get more information and register for courses at: http://www.bankruptcytrainingproducts.com/home/web-and-teleconference-training

Video: The First Online Training Videos for Law Firms in Petition Preparation Skills

I just developed the first online training video that will be offered to train attorneys and their staff the professional skills needed to prepare a Chapter 7 and 13 Bankruptcy Petition. To provide you with an idea of the information provided in these videos, I have developed a free video centered around the VOLUNTARY PETITION.

I am currently in the process of developing additional videos which will provide training to 1,000s without them leaving the law firm.  However, I would like to get your thoughts and opinions so this product can serve the needs of the many.

If the video does not automatically appear in the area above, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feCunYErLlM

DO YOU LIKE MY VIDEOS?

If you enjoy my short videos specifically designed for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/MsVictoriaRing Click on SUBSCRIBE at top of page

Is a Bankruptcy Attorney a Debt Relief Agency?

Back in the old days (prior to the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA), many attorneys would advise their clients to incur debt in order to eliminate any possibility of having unexempt equity in an asset.  Whether this was right or wrong is not the focus of this article.  The focus instead is to simply state that this behavior existed.

To prevent this problem, the lawmakers implemented wording into Section 526(a)(4) of 11 USC when the BAPCPA law went into effect in 2005.  According to this Section, a debt relief agency shall not advise an assisted person or prospective assisted person to incur debt in contemplation of such person filing a case under this title . . . .

I am sure you agree that all this is well and good, but what does it have to do with the point of this article?  The point is that on March 8, 2010, the Supreme Court declared that attorneys for debtors are debt relief agencies pursuant to 11 USC Section 101(12A) of BAPCPA.  A Minnesota law firm by the name of Milavetz, Gallop and Milavetz filed a declaratory judgment action in the District Court against this ruling; but it was overturned.

What does this mean for your law firm? It could be a very good thing marketing wise.  The stigma most people have against the word bankruptcy is often one of depression and humility.  Therefore, if an attorney markets their law firm as a debt relief agency, it could have a more positive effect on consumers in that particular marketplace.

However, this is just my opinion.  Have a great week!

Victoria Ring Certified Paralegal and Instructor http://www.coloradobankruptcytraining.com