Attorney Alexz Adams Speaks With Katherine On “This Needs To Be Said” And Shares Some Information That You Can Consider When Thinking About Your Finances And If Bankruptcy Is The Way For You.

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Listen in as we discuss the latest information about what is happening in the world of bankruptcy. Below is the audio recording and a transcript for your convenience.

Katherine: Thank you for joining our conversation with an attorney today. Our friend, Attorney Alexz Adams, out of Portland, Oregon is coming to share with us some more information that you can consider when thinking about your finances and if bankruptcy is the way for you. And let me throw this in too, not because I’m an attorney, I haven’t become an attorney since having them on my show, but what I have learned to do is to be a good listener, to always keep my pen and paper out and to see what other options they offer. And so like attorney Alexz has said before he started his firm to help people, I started my show to help people. So we’re bringing those two things together to let you know you may not even know you need this, and that is the thing that I really want to drive home.

Before you say, “Oh, this isn’t the thing for me I don’t need bankruptcy because bankruptcy sounds so bad and so absolute,” but I have to tell you it’s not. It’s a way to reset. And that’s only because that’s what I’ve learned from my friend, Attorney Alexz Adams. He’s going to join us and it’s getting close to the end of the year. And I know that there are emotional battles that we go through, and it could be dealing with your finances. It could be dealing with your loved ones. It could be dealing with anything. But finances seem to rain on my parade if they’re just not how I want them to be or need them to be. So what’s the best thing to do is to be proactive. Welcome into the conversation Attorney Adams. How are you?

Attorney Adams: I’m doing great. How are you doing, Katherine?
Katherine: I’m doing good. And I know you’re going to make me feel lots better because I feel smarter after I’m done talking to you, and I don’t feel defeated because I know that there is a way out. I may not want to be here, but there is a way through this. So we were discussing before we got started today about people and their emotions when it comes to finances and if they have to file bankruptcy and come talk to you and what that’s like. So I want to carry that conversation on and let the This Needs To Be Said audience in on it.
Attorney Adams: Yeah. There’s a lot of emotions that go into bankruptcy. Financial problems lead to pride because this is a pretty prideful country. Nobody wants to admit they’re having financial problems, and certainly nobody wants to talk about the roots of the problems, whether they’re self-imposed, maybe their upbringing, maybe just bad luck. These are really hard conversations. And what I found-
Katherine: Very hard.
Attorney Adams: Certainly with the emotional side of bankruptcy, that it creates something I’ve learned to call ostrich-ing over the years where you just ignore it. And although, perhaps for a few days, that’s okay. I’ve had lots of clients that have been ignoring financial issues for a lot of years, and they don’t get better. Nothing gets better until you deal with it head on. And in most cases, once you deal with it head on, it’s a different problem than you may think it is.

So I see a lot of people that have depression issues because they think they’re a failure as a provider or other areas in their life tied to their finances.

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Katherine: Yeah, that’s tough.
Attorney Adams: It’s a tough one. Certainly, the founding fathers of our country knew this and they put it in the constitution that bankruptcy’s are rights. And why is it a right? Because we don’t want everybody in our country just to not be able to move forward with their lives financially. We want people out there, and certainly in our country on the consumer side, spending money and doing the things that needs to be done to raise families and have good lives.

So when no action is happening and there’s no hope, it’s pretty frustrating for my clients. And what I like to see, what’s interesting for me to see is how fast we can turn that light on and say, “Look, there is some hope. There is a way to get you through this.” Bankruptcy, on a really big scale, it’s math related. The numbers are negative now. Is there a way to get them positive? And oftentimes, there is. Oftentimes, it’s a lot less painful than my clients think it is usually. And I’m sure a lot of other bankruptcy attorneys will tell you this, the hardest part about bankruptcy is to have the clients pick up the phone and ask for help. Because if they ask for help, the help is much more straightforward and practical than a lot of people may think it is. And I’m privileged to find a place in the law that I get to help a lot of people in a lot of different scenarios get moving on finances.

Katherine: You know what I wonder, and this is just a consumer question, do you find that more men or more women are nervous about coming to you? And I ask this question because my fiance fusses about money even when I say that there’s no smoke, there’s nothing to worry about. He’s like, “Why are we spending this amount of money on this?” I’m like, “Oh, my gosh.”

So he’s terrified about us spending money on things, and it’s nothing to worry about. I’m voting that more men are scared to come to you than women. Help me settle an argument.

Attorney Adams: I don’t know the answer to that. I’ve never really looked at-
Katherine: Uh-oh.
Attorney Adams: So I got to get off that real quick.
Katherine: Uh-oh, I see you ran.
Attorney Adams: No, but what I do notice is that in a big picture, certainly guys that are head of household have a much harder time coming to the fact that they need some help with finances. I think it’s instilled in our country for just generations that in certain types of households, if you’re the head of household, you’re supposed to go to work and make it all work and everything’s fine. And a lot of the times, everything’s not fine. There needs to be some adjustments or there needs to be some tweaks. And I certainly see that’s a tougher place for people to come into. I certainly see the older generation, people in their sixties and maybe older say, “I don’t understand. I’ve done everything right. I’ve paid taxes. I’ve never been late. I’ve got no criminal record, but here I am. I don’t understand it. What’s wrong with the system?”

And that’s often times a heartbreaking conversation to have. But when we have that conversation, there’s generally hope to get through it. If it’s medical bills or just clients with 20 year credit card balance. They’ve been paying minimum payments for 20 years. It’s still not paid off. These are real problems that real people have.

Katherine: You find yourself against a wall. And perfect because that’s my mom and my fiance’s mom’s area, 60 and 70 years old. And their belief was get a good job, you work hard, you’ll be able to make it. And make it to me sounds like surviving, just barely getting by. But if I think back to my childhood, I had a pretty good childhood, and I didn’t know that we were poor. And there’s some things in my adult life that I’m thinking, no one ever did that. I’ve never lived in a place and didn’t have a washing machine and dryer of my own. People went to the laundry mat, I’m like, “Why do you put up with that?” Because in my world, you always had that item. And in my fiance’s world, he was like, “No, you get your quarters and you go to the laundry mat.” And I was like, “Why would you do that?

You already have to go to the grocery store and lug that stuff home.” Now they have the delivery.

But it’s not a big divide between he and I, but it’s different. It’s a different thought process. So his mom and my mom come from a world of work hard. You stay on one job, you retire from that job and everything should be fine. And if they are to find themselves in a financial situation, I don’t even like having a conversation with them because it’s uncomfortable because they’re angry, they’re disappointed. What did I do wrong? And we spend a lot of time beating ourselves up because I didn’t do anything wrong. Why am I here? This is for people who have messed up. And that’s not the case.

I’ve learned from speaking with you over time that is not necessarily that you did anything wrong. Healthy people get sick with serious things all the time. Good people have bad things happen to them all the time. It’s just life. And that’s hard to swallow when you’ve behaved. That is the word I’m looking for. I’ve done right. I’ve been good, and this happened to me. So we finally pick up the phone, and I understand the initial conversation with you doesn’t cost me a thing. I talk with you about my specific issue because it’s not a one size fit all. However, financial issues can happen to anyone, right? So once I get over myself and come talk to you, you can now give me what are my options? What does it really look like?

And bankruptcy isn’t just black and white bankruptcy. I think you’ve talked to me about evaluating a person’s situation. Do they need debt consolidation or do they need bankruptcy or something else? So I’m just regurgitating what you shared with me and the conversations that I’ve had with other family members and just friends. But at any time, interrupt me because you are the expert.

Attorney Adams: I think you’re right. People come to financial problems from different pain points. What’s painful for you might not be painful for me, may not be painful for your fiance. But For other people, it’s too much. People always come into me and say, “Well, do I have enough debt to file bankruptcy?” That’s a question for my clients to answer. If you have $200 of debt, bankruptcy’s not your forte. But if you’ve got substantial medical debt, credit card debt, it’s different for everybody. Clients that have $300,000 of debt but have the ability to pay it, may not have an issue. Clients that have $30,000 and just aren’t making it, maybe that is a case. It’s very individually basis, which is why I don’t charge for my initial consult. I want to make sure that it even makes sense to hire me, and I want to make sure that I’m comfortable with my clients and that I can do a good job for them. And certainly, that’s part of my initial evaluation.

I’m not comfortable with the cookie cutter type scenario. I know that there may be some people out there that do that. I like to make sure that my clients have all the options, whether it’s inside of bankruptcy, outside of bankruptcy, whatever options are out there. I think that’s real important to discuss up front. I think that that’s an important part of what I do as a bankruptcy attorney.

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Katherine: And the possibility of someone not needing what you’re offering is only best done if they talk with you because I can talk with them over the water cooler and that’s not really going to give them not legal advice, nothing they can take home and say, “Okay, this is how I know for sure I’m okay or I’m not okay and these are the next steps.” And I know in my life personally when I don’t know the next step, it does make me uneasy. So I’m pretty sure there are other people that feel the same way. I’m not sure. Yes, I listened to you guys talk and I’m not sure. Well, that’s when they get an opportunity to contact you. What were you about to say?
Attorney Adams: I think that’s right. I think one of the really neat things I get to do as an attorney is I have really candid, really open conversations with my clients on my initial contact because it’s all privileged. It never leaves the office, but I get to hear the real deal, and to the extent my clients are open to having that conversation. That’s where the good results come from. If you hide stuff from your attorney, the attorney can’t do the job for you. And that’s no different in my case, but I’m certainly lucky to have those conversations. And generally, in an hour or half hour, hour long conversation, we both figure out if it makes sense for bankruptcy or not and whether they want to hire me and whether I want to accept the case. And then we figure out how to make it work for the client, if it’s something they’re going to move forward with.
Katherine: Now our time is just about up, but before we go … It went fast, didn’t it?
Attorney Adams: It did.
Katherine: It seemed like when we get warmed up, I’m ready. Right? Well what I do want to make sure before we go is to tell people how to get in touch with you outside of this discussion, but also just a couple of things that might be surprising to the consumer that could possibly be included in the bankruptcy. I’m in trouble, and I’m not sure if this, fill in the blank could be included.
Attorney Adams: I think first of all, you can reach me at my website, PortlandBK, P-O-R-T-L-A-N-D-B-K, dot com. I accept cases in Oregon and Washington. That’s probably the best way to reach me.

A couple of things I found it surprising in bankruptcy is there’s a certain kind of bankruptcy that can eliminate traffic tickets and get licenses reinstated. So I’ve had a number of cases where people have had a checkered past and have pulled themselves together, but they can’t get a license because they have maybe $10,000 of traffic tickets. And if the only thing that is holding up your license is $10,000 of traffic tickets, bankruptcy can solve that in a lot of cases, which is oftentimes very surprising to people.

Katherine: That is surprising.
Attorney Adams: The filing of a bankruptcy in general stops garnishments. So wage garnishments and bank garnishments stop with bankruptcy. And bankruptcy also is a very powerful way to deal with and perhaps pay tax debt in a lot of situations that people would say, “Well, you can deal with that.” Well, not necessarily all taxes, but oftentimes more tax resolution than you may expect. And a legal proceeding for bankruptcy can resolve taxes. So I think that’s some fun stuff-
Katherine: Those are three surprises. Yeah, because the only thing honestly I was thinking I have a house and a car I can’t afford. My list was too small. I’m like, “Okay, I don’t need you for that.” But then there are other things for sure, and even if there are things he did not mention and you said, “Well, he didn’t mention this, I’m not sure,” give him a call, check out his website and find out if his help is for you. Attorney Adams, thank you. Our time went too fast as always. But until next time, you have a super day and thank you for stopping by This Needs To Be Said.
Attorney Adams: You got it. Take care. Bye, bye.
Katherine: Bye, bye.
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