A few questions with Fort Lauderdale Bankruptcy Attorney Steve Glerum
Q: Why do you enjoy Bankruptcy Law?
A: I am able to really help people. I’ve been practicing for over 30 years and have experience in all types of law, but no area of the law gives me more satisfaction than assisting clients who are usually so far in debt,without the bankruptcy process they would never get out from under their financial burden.
Q: Shouldn’t people have to pay the bills they incur?
A: I’ve heard and I understand that assertion. But simply put: Stuff happens. Job loss. Divorce. Bad investments. Illness and medical bills. Just too much debt. The bankruptcy law was enacted by Congress to help people swamped in debt. I tell my clients: it’s not a moral decision,it’s an economic decision. It will be the difference between years of scraping by to try and pay creditors, as opposed to after bankruptcy, being able to provide for your dependents and have a life. The bankruptcy law realizes too much debt means you are unable to provide for your family and be a productive citizen. It allows people to wipe the slate clean and get a fresh start,a new financial beginning. The load is off their shoulders. That’s what gives me satisfaction in what I do and what I mean by helping people.
Q: What about the debt settlement companies you hear ads for as an alternative?
A: Not to be flippant, but, there just is no free lunch. The fact is debt settlement firms have no power or leverage to make creditors do or accept anything, despite promises to the contrary. You pay and you pay, but if something happens and you suddenly can’t pay and “default”, it will all be for naught,as in your money has literally gone down the drain and the debt remains. Absent a bankruptcy any creditor is in the driver’s seat .
Q: What are the requirements and restrictions for filing bankruptcy?
A: There are important and fairly complicated rules that must be followed. Transparency is paramount; you must disclose all assets, but many, if not all assets such as a homestead and retirement accounts are “exempt” in the bankruptcy process,which means you keep them. There are many, many other exemptions and by far most of my clients do not have to give up any assets. My clients are able to discharge 100% of their unsecured debt (credit cards and medical bills) and it’s the best of both worlds: they can retain their secured assets (mortgages and car loans but they must keep paying) or just walk away without the lender seeking a deficiency claim.
Q: Did the Great Recession give your business a boost?
A: Surprisingly, not really. But the recession demonstrated the best intended and smart people can make financial mistakes. Donald Trump, Burt Reynolds,Detroit, even Walt Disney once filed bankruptcy.
Q: Does a person in bankruptcy have to go to court?
A: No. I should mention bankruptcy is not an adversarial proceeding like other areas of law. My clients have a brief meeting with the trustee assigned to administer their case and I am present with them; everything else is handled by and through me. It’s another aspect my clients like: No muss, no fuss.
Q: What advice do you give to someone with so much debt they just cannot keep up?
A: Explore the option of filing bankruptcy. I offer a confidential.free consultation and will explain the process. It’s all hot air unless and until we actually file. As with most things today, there is plenty of information online. I’ve been advising clients for years that if you’re more than $10,000 in debt and unable to keep up, you’ll just never get out from under it. You will end up paying your creditors more than is actually owed in the form of high interest and penalties. It pains me to see good people who have tried and paid over time, only to have something unexpected happen, falter and default. Then the hammer comes down in the form of collections,lawsuits,etc. The client finally throws up his or her hands and comes to me.
And the sad part is we could have saved all that money months or years earlier. At least be informed before embarking on a payback plan,because in the end, if you default. your good faith and honest intentions will fall on the deaf ears of your creditors.