Attorney Alexz Adams Speaks With Katherine From “This Needs To Be Said”
On How Bankruptcy Is Your Right To Reset Your Life.

Categories: Interviews
Katherine:

Hello everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today on This Needs To Be Said. Attorney Alexz Adams, a friend of the show, is coming back to talk with us about something that is your right to reset your life. That so many of us feel guilty over having to restart, having to admit that we can’t do it on our own and sometimes we need help to get back on the right track. Welcome back to the show, Attorney Alexz, how are you?

Alexz Adams:

I’m doing great. How are you?

Katherine:

I am doing fantastic. And I am relieved, because I was getting ready for our time together today, out of all the times I’ve interviewed anyone on the topic discussing bankruptcy, we’ve never discussed it as being a privilege or a right. So I want to ask you this question before we do anything else. Is bankruptcy a privilege or a right of a United States citizen?

Alexz Adams:

I think it’s a right. It’s also a privilege in our society, too, to have that right. It’s a right. It’s embedded in the constitution. And if you go right to the constitution after the we, the people, article one, section eight, clause four, says clearly, congress shall have the power to establish uniform laws on the subjects of bankruptcies throughout the United States. And they’ve taken that up a number of times. There’s a full bankruptcy code that lays down exactly how the United States thinks it should work. And in our legal system. And it’s there, it’s not an imaginary thing. It’s not something you have to ask for. It’s a right that you have when you end up in a situation.

Katherine:

Why do so many people get afraid? Or make you their last stop before the house totally burns down to save anything?

Alexz Adams:

Well, I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about what bankruptcy is, how it works, and what it can do. And I think that the big answer to the question that you’ve presented is, people look at it as a failure either of themselves, of their life, of their morals, or of what they’re doing. And, and that’s a tough thing to reconcile. But when you get through that and you say, I still need some help, that’s what it’s there for.

Katherine:

And this is in our constitution. And I didn’t even think to think that. So I’m the consumer and you’re the expert. You’re the attorney in this area. And me, the consumer, I wouldn’t have known to look, I didn’t know to look, to know that this is my right so I could feel good about it. Because there’s other things we pick and choose, like the freedom of speech. And however we loosely define that, we hang on to it, right? But this is something else. People, we have to read. Everything we do has some political backing to it.

Katherine:

Now, I have a question for you about even just reviewing the bankruptcy portion of the constitution, if I’m saying that right. Well, I won’t understand every single thing that’s there. What can a lay person get from going to read it?

Alexz Adams:

Well, I think if you look at the constitution, and I think most people are familiar with, there’s a constitution and there’s a series of amendments that were added. For instance, the First Amendment is freedom of speech and freedom of religion. And if you look at it in that sort of aspect, bankruptcy is in article one of the actual constitution. It was considered as a sort of foundational part of our legal and political system. The amendment we all love to talk about, First Amendment, freedom of speech, Second Amendment, right to bear arms. They were afterthoughts. Bankruptcy is embedded in the constitution itself. I think that if you look at it in that sense, I think it’s something to consider. It’s notable.

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Katherine:

It definitely changes my perspective on it and got me excited. Not that I want to run out and file bankruptcy right now, but I know that if I wanted to, it’s within my rights, it’s a privilege to do that.

Katherine:

And you touched on my next question that I was going to ask you. The fear of losing things that people shy away from bankruptcy is one of my thoughts. And that was a very jumbled thought, let me retry that. Would you say the fear of losing things, and I’m using that very broadly, is the reason people won’t consider bankruptcy?

Alexz Adams:

Well, I think that’s a huge thing, and it comes down to, what is bankruptcy and how does it work? In a very real sense, if we look at the scales of justice with Lady Liberty in the middle, and you put your debts on one side and your assets on the other, that’s bankruptcy. If your debts outweigh your assets, that shows that’s a sign that you’re bankrupt. If you have assets above a certain level, those things are potentially something that the court can review. But the things that I often find people are most concerned about are the things that the bankruptcy court is typically least concerned about.

Katherine:

Like what?

Alexz Adams:

In general, nobody’s looking to take your clothes, your furniture, your dishes, your food, your personal heirlooms, your wedding rings. Those things are almost universally not at play in a bankruptcy case. In bankruptcy, what happens is, you essentially weigh the assets that that are not protected against the debt you have, and then they reset the scales, adjust this to level, to put you back on that level playing field. Assets that the court routinely considers is equity in real estate, stock accounts, not retirement accounts, but stock accounts, value in cars, cash like that.

Alexz Adams:

Sort of the universal truth in bankruptcy is by the time you’re in bankruptcy, you don’t have a whole lot of assets that the court is interested in. What I tell my clients is the sooner you talk to an attorney, if you’re headed down that road, when you’re at the top of the mountain and you see the which way you’re going, that’s the time to at least look into your options so you don’t do things like take out home equity loans to pay your debts, cash out retirements or 401ks. Because those assets are oftentimes protected in bankruptcy. And by the time you sort of liquidate all the equity in those assets to get yourself out of debt, you have to… There may be better ways to consider your options if bankruptcy is, in fact, something you’re going to end up doing at some point.

Katherine:

So every time I hear about bankruptcy or someone having to consider it, it puts knots in people’s stomach. I hear that in their voice and they’re sharing that. And I’m saying, well, you know, I talk to attorneys on my show, you should contact one of them you know. Based on the area that you’re located in, contact them. Because every… I want to tell you this, Attorney Alexz, I do not get off air thinking I’m the expert. I say, hey, I know someone that you may want to talk to, because your situation may be better than you realize it. So once we get the person over the emotional part, they sit down with you, they’ve had the consultation, whether it’s on the phone or in person, and they’re able to move to the next part of their life. What are you commonly noticing in your practice with your clients?

Alexz Adams:

Well, I think a good analogy is like the doctor’s office. Nobody wants to go to the doctor. Nobody wants to go to the dentist. You use those professionals because they’re experts in what they do and you’re in enough pain that it makes sense to talk to them. But in most cases, the fear of what you’re going to find out when you get there is worse than what the actual truth of your situation is. So to continue with the medical parody, if you have a tooth that needs to be pulled out. I mean, it causes you a lot of pain and if you don’t get it done, it causes you problem eating, which can lead to some infections, and can lead to a bunch of nasty things. Where if you just go to the dentist, you deal with the short term pain, you’re in better shape typically very quickly.

Alexz Adams:

It’s oftentimes that fear that’s the hard part, because nobody wants to say, I’m the kind of person that files bankruptcy. Rather, the way I suggest people look at it when we talk to them is, I’m the type of person that took the bull by the horns and moved my life forward and I got through the parts. Because it’s universally better on the other side if it’s a direction you have to go in.

Alexz Adams:

One of the comments I hear most was, at the end of the cases they say, thank you, Alexz, or thank you Mr. Adams. That’s it. Yeah, that’s it. Good luck, hopefully you never have to hire me again, and we wish you well. And we have hundreds and hundreds of success stories like that.

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Katherine:

That is encouraging. And I know for myself, and this was before I knew you, that I had to file bankruptcy. It’s been, gosh, probably about 17 years ago now. And I understand what people feel going through that. I remember being in tears. And I’m having in my mind, before talking to an attorney, having in my mind everything I was going to lose or could lose or… Because I made up in my mind, I already knew. And I’m in church, I’m Christian, I’m trying to show my children the right way, and here I am. So I get all of what you say. And I’m sure it shows up in different people’s, whatever their path of success is, being disrupted by a life setback.

Katherine:

You take it personal at first, because it must’ve been something I didn’t do right. It could be that, but it also could be just the plan just wasn’t going to get you where you were trying to go. Or a job loss, or someone getting sick. Anything could happen. And there are so many things out there to try by, you know, if you Google it or you ask a friend or somebody else that has been through similar situations. You go through all of those things before contacting an expert. And in that space, I did not know. My fear was, I’m going to admit to failure, I’m going to be shamed because I’m asking for help. And generally, I don’t have a problem asking for help, but this is major. This is your finances. This means you may have chosen the wrong job to support your family. I mean, admit those things for me in my head.

Katherine:

So I can relate to people that may find themselves in this situation. And I did not know what to do. My mom didn’t talk to me about the time that she was in the same situation. However, she was able to overcome it. Didn’t find out about that until after things were over for me and I had to say, hey, can I come back home?

Katherine:

So every time I get a chance to have an attorney on the show to talk about bankruptcy, I’m going to do it. Because people don’t know that you’re approachable, that you’re actually helping. I did not know that it was a constitutional right. I did not know it was part of the foundation of our country. I did not know that. So we’re going to keep talking until every person we can reach can get the help that they need to reset their lives, to be able to ask better questions, to know if I need to talk to my mortgage company about a loan modification, am I in that area? Am I too far gone? Is my situation salvageable? If so, how? If it’s not, you know… Doctor, how bad is it? In this case, Attorney Alexz, how bad is it? Or how good can it turn out to be?

Katherine:

So talk to me a bit about how bankruptcy works. Because again, 17 years ago, and I didn’t become an attorney over that time, I just felt like I lost. And then the past couple of years I’ve been able to talk with people like yourself on my show. And I was like, where were they then? Not that my attorney was bad, they did what they were supposed to do, but that didn’t make me feel better. I feel all of those things that I felt not knowing. And you all do so many things that I didn’t even hear about back then. Like help people. Help them after the fact. So many things just are there that can help people to make a better decision quicker. If you have good information in front of you, you can make a good decision. And I’m trying to help people do that. So talk to me a bit about how bankruptcy works.

Alexz Adams:

I think first of all, you’re very generous to share that personal story with your listeners. Thank you, and thank you for sharing that with me. I think what it really shows is, so many people focus… You know, if you’re in this situation, what a failure you may feel or how embarrassed it is. But just talking to you, in contrast, look at all the good you’ve done. You’ve got a radio show, you’re a fantastic interviewer, you’re very kind and empathetic to myself, and I’m sure your listeners feel the same way. And this is all post-bankruptcy. Look at how successful you are. Instead of looking at what you’re losing, what are you getting with bankruptcy? You’re getting freedom. Freedom from phone calls, freedom from garnishments, freedom from the burden of pairing all that guilt with you.

Alexz Adams:

Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding. So you go through bankruptcy, and certainly my office and I take cases in Oregon and southern Washington, moves things in very expedited and linear fashion, at least in the best way that we’ve been able to figure out for clients, so we get you to the end of the line very quickly. And it’s very much like a Phoenix type situation, that from the ashes of this proceeding, you can create any type of life that you want to. And there’s so much more on the other side of it if you’re there. And if it’s something you need and then you realized, to get your life back, to really focus on what’s important. Which is your family, your own life, starting a business, career, education. That’s where you should be spending your time instead of dodging creditor phone calls and not running away from garnishments. That’s my thoughts on it.

Katherine:

I agree with you. And you mentioned garnishments. Don’t allow yourself to be surprised. Don’t ignore opening your mail. And the worst that can happen when you talk with an attorney like Attorney Adams is that you find out that you’re not as bad off as you thought and they won’t need to file bankruptcy with you. That’s the worst that can happen. In my opinion. The best that can happen is they say, hey, let’s get your reset. Because sometimes it could be worse than we think, and sometimes it’s not as bad as we think. But I’m giving you that big gray area to force you to find out for yourself.

Katherine:

Customize your life for yourself and know what it’s going to take to fix your life. Because I could stand around a water cooler and tell my testimonial, but it may not be exactly another person’s story, not enough for them to say, I need to call. You feel like you are a cost burden, you feel like you are overwhelmed in your financial situation. Call. It doesn’t hurt to call. Contact.

Katherine:

So we are at the end of our time this go round, but I want you to let people know how to get in touch with you outside of This Needs To Be Said, please.

Alexz Adams:

Sure. You can reach me at my website, which is Portlandbk.com, p-o-r-t-l-a-n-d-b-k dot com or on phone number, (503) 278-5400. My main office is in the Portland, Oregon area. We handle cases statewide in Oregon and in southern Washington. And we’re happy to help it make sense for you.

Katherine:

All right, I thank you so much. And until next time, you have a wonderful day.

Alexz Adams:

Thank you.

Katherine:

Bye.

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