For this past Monday’s Moore Law, host and local TV journalist Deb Haas and attorney co-host Don Moore welcomed Cincinnati attorney Richard D. Nelson from the firm of Cohen, Todd, Kite & Stanford, LLC. “I’m really excited because this is a good friend of mine that I’ve known for a long, long time and he happens to be one the area’s most experienced bankruptcy lawyers,” Don said. The show addressed a wide variety of common misconceptions about filing bankruptcy.
Deb asked Rick what the biggest hurdle is for people coming into his office. “Taking the first step,” Rick replied. “Sometimes they’re really just overwhelmed by the problems and they need to look at it in small pieces, and understand what is really important in their lives are their future and their family. Everything else will fall into place.”
When discussing the pros and cons of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, specifically, Rick said, “Chapter 7 is like taking a photograph. It freezes your financial situation in time.” He went on to explain that the common con part of losing assets is “something of a misnomer.” “As a bankruptcy trustee, I see hundreds of cases a year, and in maybe 5 percent of cases or less does someone lose an asset,” Rick said. “Bankruptcy is not set up for people to lose things, it’s set up for people to get a fresh start.”
Another common belief about filing bankruptcy was addressed later when Don pointed out that an individual is not required to have a lawyer in order to file bankruptcy. “It is not easy to do because the complexity of the bankruptcy schedules and the wording somewhat rival the tax forms and tax instructions,” Rick said. “But I’ve seen people do a very good job filing them on their own and not having an attorney.”
Later on, Deb addressed another common fear some people have in bankruptcy is the thought of going before a judge. “In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, when I’m the trustee, I’m usually the only person they see,” Rick said. “I don’t sit on a bench, I sit at a table and we talk and I examine documents, I ask questions. It takes maybe 10 minutes, maybe five minutes.”
Don used the situation of a personal injury client of his who had been involved in a motorcycle accident to demonstrate another common bankruptcy falsehood. “One of the things that oftentimes people think from a bankruptcy standpoint is people just spent too much money, they’re not good stewards of what they make, and they overspend and they get in trouble,” Don said. He showed a picture of the crash the motorcyclist had been involved in and pointed out that his client had done nothing wrong. “Well, he’s still having trouble, but his financial world, through no fault of his own, got turned completely upside-down,” Don said. “Not just him, but his whole family.”
Near the end of the show, Deb asked Rick, “If you had one piece of advice for people filing bankruptcy, what would it be?”
“See a professional, someone to help you focus on what you need to be concerned about, what you don’t need to be concerned about,” Rick said. “Once you understand the process, it’s not scary, you’ll be treated with respect—which you deserve—and you get on with your future. That’s what you really need to save.”
The topic for the next episode of Moore Law will be “Ask Us Anything.” Deb and Don will be joined by Northern Kentucky attorney Margo L. Grubbs to take viewer questions on whichever legal subject viewers want to ask about. The next episode be Monday, April 23, 2012, at 9:30 a.m. on WXIX-TV, FOX19.