Monday, July 28, 2008

For the thousandth time.....

So I was at a Creditor's Meeting today.

Aside: for the uninitiated, when you file a bankruptcy you must attend a hearing to which all your creditors are invited to attend and ask random questions or generally vent their spleen at you. Oh yes, the Trustee overseeing your case is also there to grill you and your attorney about minutiae and miscellaneous errors. Except very few creditors come.

I use the same spiel with every client at these hearings. I have my own little set script that tells them all the things I want them to know and the things that they are not to do, et cetera. One of the things I tell them is that while they are in their Chapter 13 bankruptcy, they are not to buy anything (particularly big ticket items), they are not to sell anything, and they are not to take out any new loans. Any of these type of transactions require court permission, which can be very difficult to obtain in some circumstances.

Pretty clear to understand, right?

So, after delivering this information, one of my clients says: "I have a big Dodge pickup and I really don't like the mileage it gets and I would really like to trade it in and get a new car that gets better gas mileage because in this economy I really can't afford to drive the big truck and everyone is selling off their big trucks and getting rid of their SUVs and pickups because they can't afford the gas."

OK. This wasn't exactly what he said, but a more grammatically-correct translation of what he said. But the feeling is there.

I literally believe my mouth dropped open. Physically. I'm really pretty sure it did. At least, it took me several seconds to form a response to him.

What came out was this:

Ummmm. No. You CANNOT do that. You would be breaking the law three times if you did that. Three times. That would be Federal Law. FEDERAL. First, you would break the law by trading in the truck--you would essentially be selling that car and as I just said you cannot do that without court permission. Second, you would break the law by agreeing to purchase a new car and as I just said you cannot do that without court permission. Third, you would break the law by taking out a new loan to purchase the new car and as I just said you cannot do that without court permission. You cannot do this. Period. If you want to get rid of the truck, now is the time to tell me and we'll give it back through the bankruptcy and then you can buy a beater for $250. But no, you cannot trade in the truck, you cannot buy a new car, and you cannot take out a loan on a new car.

His response: "Well, I don't want to get rid of it because I need transportation. I just can't afford to put gas in it. So it just sits. That's why I was asking. And everyone I know is getting rid of their trucks. So that's why. But I don't want to give it up."

I need transportation but cannot put gas in it but I don't want to give it up.

I wanted to yell at him to just give up the car and go buy an engine on wheels with the $250 he was going to save putting gas in his truck this month.

I really wanted to say that.

I SO wanted to.

But in the interest of good client relations, all I said was: "Hmm.... Well, just remember what I told you." All while shaking my head.

I'm still shaking it, but not in disagreement...

...but disbelief.

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