Hi, I'd like to help you with your bankruptcy questions today.
Why were you unable to attend the Debtor's Exam in Maricopa County scheduled for 8/1/12?
You (or your attorney, if you have one) should call opposing counsel to ask to reschedule the Debtor's Examination as soon as possible. Most attorneys will be willing to do this. After the Debtor's Examination is over, it is important that the order for the arrest warrant be withdrawn. After the hearing, ask the judge or magistrate to issue an order to withdraw the warrant.
In the interim, there is a possibility that you would be arrested and brought to jail if you were stopped by the police for some reason (i.e. speeding).
The Debtor's Examination is essentially a recitation of your assets that may be seized by the judgment creditor. You MUST disclose all assets during this examination.
While you may be able to file bankruptcy immediately and stay the Debtor's Examination, it might make more practical sense as a risk-averse individual to participate in the Debtor's Examination and then file bankruptcy, as it's unlikely that a police officer hauling you off to jail for what looks like a valid warrant would understand bankruptcy law.
If all of your unsecured debts (including this default judgment) will be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there's really no reason to fear appearing at a Debtor's Examination unless you wait an extended period of time to file your bankruptcy.
I would recommend consulting a local attorney before liquidating any assets in anticipation of filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, as the Trustee might be able to recover sale proceeds (certainly on any major sales within 90 days of filing and possibly up to as long as 2 years prior to filing - you need to seek specific legal advice as to the character of your particular assets and to whom you plan to sell them).
Since you have a valid state court judgment entered against you and intend to file bankruptcy shortly, I would STRONGLY recommend consulting a local attorney before making ANY major financial decisions at this point (i.e. selling, refinancing, taking out a loan, home remodeling, incurring student loans, ANYTHING like this).
A lot of your "conversion strategies" may constitute bankruptcy fraud in the eyes of a trustee and/or bankruptcy judge, so I would again suggest that you consult with a local bankruptcy attorney to help you understand exactly what's allowed prior to filing
ROUGH ballpark estimates - $1,500 - $2,000 for the Chapter 7 (plus another $300 for the filing fee); a Chapter 7 case nationally averages about 4-6 months, your jurisdiction may differ slightly
Your individual bankruptcy may cost more or less than this figure, as the price will vary depending on the complexity of your case.
I followed your advice and called the opposing counsel. He said he would be willing to conduct the debtor's exam informally in his office and then file a motion with the court to quash the arrest warrant. Does this sound on the up and up? Can he do this?
Yes, but it would be a good idea to get something in writing from him to the effect that he will, in fact, file a motion with the court to quash the arrest warrant once you appear for the Debtor's Examination.Will cooperating with him on this matter cause problems for myself (or my attorney should I retain one) regarding the CH. 7 filing?
No, as long as you're honest in your disclosure of assets. If you attempt to hide (or fail to disclose) any assets during the Debtor's Examination and/or the subsequent Chapter 7 proceeding, all bets are off.
I have contacted one attorney but will have to wait until next week after the scheduled informal debtors exam to consult with her. Should I let the opposing counsel know my intent to file Ch. 7 or should I keep that from him? Will divulging it cause any problems?
You probably wouldn't want to mention it unless he asks you point-blank whether you intend to file. I don't know that it would necessarily cause problems per se, but it might make opposing counsel ask more detailed questions about your assets than might typically be asked.
I would STRONGLY recommend you consult with a local bankruptcy attorney before selling ANY assets prior to filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You should disclose these assets in the Debtor's Examination, as you are required to do so by law. You may be able to use bankruptcy exemptions to protect some or all of these assets in your bankruptcy, whereas if you sell them now, the likely outcome is that most or all of the cash you receive will be turned over to the bankruptcy trustee. Selling your assets now may not be illegal per se (so long as it's properly disclosed in the Debtor's Examination and Chapter 7 bankruptcy), but your bankruptcy filing WILL receive special scrutiny from the Chapter 7 trustee (it has "bad optics," so to speak).
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