Attorney Alexz Adams Talks About “Things You Did Not Know About Bankruptcy” in an Interview with Katherine from “It Needs To Be Said”

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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: Hello everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today on This Needs to be Said. Our friend from a long time ago, bankruptcy attorney Alexz Adams, is joining us to talk with us about some things that you may not know that you’re going to be affected by during bankruptcy if you have thought about bankruptcy. Let me also back up that attorney Alex is also very compassionate, and he wants you to feel like the attorneys are approachable. I chuckle because over the years, I have become more and more comfortable with attorneys because they answer your questions, they let you know what is important, what you need to be paying attention to, how to reset your life. Before I interviewed attorneys on my show, I was afraid of them as well. So, I wanted to put this out to the This Needs to be Said audience. That is where the chuckle comes because I have overcome that in spending time with attorneys.
Katherine: Bankruptcy is a topic that, just around the water cooler, if you say it with your friends, it sounds bad. What did you do wrong that you have to file bankruptcy? You say it, and you drop your voice an octave because you do not want anybody to hear about this. You are afraid if you do file bankruptcy, everyone will know. What if it goes against how you were raised or the principles that you guide your life by? What if it just does not feel right? I challenge you, I encourage you, not challenge you, I encourage you to stay tuned, keep your pen and paper out because there is always something to learn, and the aha moments or the, “Oh, I did not know that.” Get ready for those. That is what is going to happen.
Katherine: If you find yourself in a place in life where you need to reset, which is what I have learned to put bankruptcy as a synonym to, you are going to reset your life. These are some things that you want to know about. You know what? You really do not want to be in a situation right now to learn this, but if you are, you definitely want to tune in. But I just do not like it when we only figure things out when there is a fire. Put this down in the event of life needing to be reset. Put this in that category in your life. Make notes, put it where you file your important papers because you never know when you or someone close to you will need this information. You can share it with them.
Katherine: Attorney Alexz is going to share with us how to get in touch with him outside of This Needs to be Said. He is going to give us a lot of great information. I want you to listen attentively. At this time, I want to welcome attorney Alexz to This Needs to be Said. How are you?
Alexz Adams: I am doing great. Thank you for having me today.
Katherine: I am glad that you stopped back by here, and spending some time with us to talk about bankruptcy matters. Here we go. You are the expert. I got my pen and paper out just like I told the audience to do. I want to jump right in because there are a couple of things that, as I was looking over the questions, I did not know I could be affected by. The first one for me is about your driver’s license. I did not even know your driver’s license could be affected by bankruptcy. Maybe it … I don’t know. Teach me, because I want to know what is it about your driver’s license and bankruptcy that could be a concern to someone?
Alexz Adams: I have a lot of clients that come into my office and for a number of reasons, and a number of different debt categories, we are talking about the problems they have. One of the questions that I ask my clients is, “Do you have any outstanding traffic tickets or criminal convictions you owe money on?” I am always surprised that I hear the answer is, “Yes”, to a lot of those. We kind of split those into two categories. There’s the things I cannot get rid of, like criminal stuff, restitution, court fines, probation fees. But, then there’s the category of debt, called really, infractions or traffic tickets that, in a specific bankruptcy, chapter 13, I can eliminate. Oftentimes, I am in a position talking to a client whose license has been suspended solely because of traffic tickets. They may have three, four, $5,000 of tickets for a number of reasons, parking tickets, traffic tickets, and they are just rolling the dice driving around because they do not know that they can handle the traffic tickets in a bankruptcy.
Alexz Adams: In a chapter 13 bankruptcy, traffic tickets and traffic ticket collections are stayed. If you get through the bankruptcy, completely eliminated. This gives the drivers an opportunity, if again, if the license is solely suspended for traffic tickets to get the license reinstated right after filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy before you pay off the fines or before you get through the bankruptcy. This works in chapter 13 only, but it is a nice gift to give to people who come into my office who do not realize I can get their license back in those situations. It is surprising that most clients do not think that, that is something that bankruptcy can help with but it certainly can. I want to spread the word on that for people that have traffic ticket issues that just cannot pay them. Sometimes, chapter 13 is a way to get the license reinstated and get back on track.
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Katherine: You know what I always wondered about when a person gets behind, it seems like you are in quicksand. You are constantly sinking, but you think you are digging yourself out. With what you just shared, that is a sigh of relief because I would not know. I am not paying traffic tickets because I am not able to, I am not seeing it in my budget to do it, and I have lost my license, and to get my license back it’s going to be a fee and a penalty or something. It’s going to be bigger than I imagined, so being able to wipe the slate clean, again audience, I am telling you, I am not saying go file bankruptcy just for the sake of it because I think you have to qualify for that. That is another question. However, I am saying it is an option. When you are looking at solving your problems, it is an option, and sometimes you did not even know to ask the question like, “Can you help me with my driver’s license?” Now you know.
Katherine: I just always wondered like it piles fees on you and penalties, and do you really want me to get out of the hole? What you just said is like, “Hey, let’s reset it.” And it sounds simple. I like that it sounds simple. I like when a solution is simple. So, thank you for that. Go ahead.
Alexz Adams: I think what you bring up is how to look at bankruptcy. Look, bankruptcy is a business decision for your personal life and your family life. It’s nothing beyond that. It can be moral questions. I am not the kind of person that was raised this way. Those are things that we can talk about. At the end of the day, it’s a business decision, and if your finances are in shambles, oftentimes even meeting with a bankruptcy attorney to just go over the options really sheds a light on one of the directions you want to go to resolve things. One of the big, to get a little off topic, one of the big concerns with clients is they will come in and meet with me after they have done everything. My position is always if this is even something to consider, meet sooner because there’s assets that people seem to liquidate, at least in my district, that you do not need to liquidate.
Alexz Adams: For instance, 401Ks. I cannot tell you how many hundreds of clients have come in to file bankruptcy after they have liquidated their retirement account to pay the debts, and they are still in debt. What most of my clients do not realize until we talk to them is typically retirement accounts are completely protected in bankruptcy. That means, you file bankruptcy, you get rid of your debt, and you typically keep your retirement account. It’s questions like that that cannot really be expressed outside of an in person meeting. I have had a number of clients say, “I have read every bankruptcy blog that I can read but sitting down with you for 20 minutes, now I understand what is going on and I can really make the informed decisions I need to make.” So I think that is a spot on observation on what bankruptcy actually is.
Katherine: I have not heard it like that before. A business decision for your personal life, and that is perfect because it takes the emotion out of it. When you said that, I was like, “Okay, make a decision.” I felt that instantly. I did not even know that, and I interview you guys. I am not the expert. You better pay attention when this show is over, when we get to the end of the interview, please get his information so that you can get in touch with him because I can only tell you what they tell me. That is all I know. That is the extent of my education. These questions do stand out to me because I am a regular person, not an attorney, and I am going, “Wow, I did not know that.”
Alexz Adams: I think there are a lot of mistakes with bankruptcy lawyers on what we are and what we actually do. To a certain extent, I do the analogy that I am like the dentist, right? You do not want to go to the dentist. You are there because your teeth hurt or you have some other need. But once your teeth is fixed, you say, “Wow, I should have done that a while ago. I have had this abscess for six months or my teeth needed to be pulled.” But once it is done, on hindsight, it is always less painful than you thought it was and you feel a lot better for it. Nobody really wants to be in my office but if we are going to do it, we are going to do the best job we can for you and be just real direct upfront with the benefits and costs of it, and hopefully if it makes sense, give you the result you are looking for.
Katherine: Absolutely. I hope everybody is looking to resolve it, and we do not know the answer to that resolution until we sit with someone like you. I am sitting here going, “What is the next question?” We have wage garnishments that can be a concern, as well as getting your car back. I am going to go with car since we were just talking about license.
Alexz Adams: If your car is repossessed, and I guess you would Google the term car repossession, what am I supposed to do? Bankruptcy lawyers come up. So, I get a lot of calls from people whose, “My goodness, Alexz, my car was repoed last night. This is my only way to work. I have got kids that I have got to pick up from school. I do not have alternate transportation. What am I supposed to do?” In the right scenario, a bankruptcy can help get the car back, again, specifically the chapter 13 bankruptcy which really reorganizes all of your debts into one monthly payment.
Alexz Adams: Oftentimes, if your car was repossessed recently, we can recover the car for you and start the payments back up through the court chapter 13 trustee payment process, which is kind of convoluted to explain over the phone on this interview. But, you will end up with a car payment to pay off your debts and some certain other things, and oftentimes we can get the car back if you get in touch with us quick enough. It does not make sense in all cases, but certainly repossession of cars, getting the cars back into the debtor’s possession and giving them an opportunity to pay it on a payment plan they can afford, that is a big deal in bankruptcy and it saves a lot of people, you know, jobs and life’s and crises from schools if you have your vehicle back. Big part of what we do.
Katherine: Yeah, depending on where you live, your car … like I am in Charlotte, North Carolina. If you do not have a car here, we are growing, but if you do not have a car here, you are limited on what you can do. You spend an hour or two hours trying to get somewhere on the bus. So, that makes a big difference. I am a single mom, so having to pick up children and drop off children would be a big … it is a need for me if I did not have my car. That is why I was stumbling over these questions because if I do not have my driver’s license, if I do not have my car, and my wages are garnished. They were like all in a ball together, and I know that they are different, but how different and how does it affect me?
Katherine: I am thinking of my personal life as the consumer, as the person that is coming to you, and these things are important to me. I do not know that I can get them back. These are things … I have filed a bankruptcy many, many years ago before I knew you. I was one of those people who went into the office, stomach in knots, in tears, what did I do wrong? How did I get here? I tried to do everything right. It is a bad feeling when you are unaware that it is actually help. It just seems like I must have messed up to have to go here, and that is not what it is.
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Katherine: I am glad, I am so glad that you said it is a business decision for your personal life. I am going to sing that. I cannot really sing. I will not sing it during this interview. But, you have shared with us some great information already. I want to move over to wage garnishments because I have not have this happen to me, but I have had friends that say, “Oh no, the bank has frozen my money. Money was taken out of my check that I do not know what this is or what happened.” I do not know if they did not get a notice or if they ignored a notice, or if that is the way to get their attention. Now they come to you, I do not know. I have lots of questions about that one question. What can you help with when someone is going through a wage garnishment?
Alexz Adams: Sure. That is another major area of where my clients come from. “Hey, Mr. Adams, I have got a notice on my payroll that says I am supposed to get a check for $1500, and it is $1200 or $1100 because of this garnishment. What is that? What can I do?” In the state that I practice in, Oregon, creditors can take 25% of your wages out of every paycheck if they can figure out where you are, and they can also sweep your bank accounts and take everything out of your bank accounts with very limited exceptions if they can figure out where your bank is. Over the years, we have dealt with some pretty complicated cases where large swaths of money are taken from pay stubs or your weekly pay or monthly pay, and your bank accounts can be taken for many thousands of dollars.
Alexz Adams: The filing of a bankruptcy does a couple of things. It prevents future wage garnishments. So, it is kind of like at least stopping the hemorrhaging so you can figure out what is going on. In a number of cases, and specifically in my district with the exemptions that we are allowed to use on behalf of the clients, I can oftentimes get that money back after filing, or at least a portion of it. So, if I have a situation where, “I have been garnished $3,000 in the last 90 days. What am I supposed to do?” Oftentimes, we can file a bankruptcy, recover that money, get it to the client, stop future garnishments as well as restructure a lot of the other debts because the reality of the situations that I seem to see is by the time you are being garnished for one, especially by the time it is hitting your payroll, oftentimes there is a plethora of other problems just under the surface. This is just one of many problems you have to deal with. If you deal with it in a comprehensive manner, the debt issues people have, clients have, through a bankruptcy proceeding, there is just a weight lifted off people’s shoulders.
Alexz Adams: I get the privilege of seeing it and really showing people how different life can be. It is rewarding to see people come back in after 30, 60 days and say just, “Thank you.” I get countless cards and cookies and things like that from clients whose lives have really changed for the better based on the work we do. It is really rewarding.
Katherine: Our time is already up-
Alexz Adams: Oh no.
Katherine: I am going to let people know how to get in touch with you outside of This Needs to be Said, but I think we hit three major things. If you, I am talking to the audience, if you have any of these issues and you were thinking, “Oh my gosh, I do not even see a way clear”, because I have been there, I think we all have been there. You have a problem and you cannot see solutions because you are looking at the problem. If your driver’s license, your wages are being garnished, your car has been repossessed, you have something that you think, “It’s not really that big of a deal”, talk with attorney Alex Adams anyway. You do not know what you do not know. You know that saying, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you”? This is one of those times when it does.
Katherine: I can name a bunch of other times that this spells that saying but, what you don’t know can hurt you. We have people on This Needs to be Said, and we are exposing the elephant in the room, get in touch with these people. They are resources to help you move to your next level. No, they do not call me and tell me that you gave them all of your dirty secrets and I get to know them, too. I have no idea who calls, who has issues. My job is to be a platform to share this information with you. Attorney Adams, tell them how to get in touch with you outside of This Needs to be Said please.
Alexz Adams: Sure. For people in Oregon or Southern Washington, you can reach me on my website, portlandbk., that is, or you can reach me at 503-278-5400. My main office is in the Portland, Oregon area. Of course, we do no cost first meetings to see if it even makes sense to pursue a bankruptcy. So, happy to help anybody who is interested.
Katherine: I like the way … I like everything you said, okay? But, the last thing you said, and we have to get out of here, is that you are going to see if this is the thing the person needs to do anyway. So, we are not just here to take your money is what I heard you just say.
Alexz Adams: That is correct. That is correct, and not every case-
Katherine: But, it is much appreciated-
Alexz Adams: You do not need to file bankruptcy in every case. Absolutely.
Katherine: Thank you. Thank you so much for being a part of This Needs to be Said. Until next time, have a wonderful day.
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