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Low Fees - Payment Plans - Evening & Weekend Appointments

Hardship and Difficult Cases Accepted
Help With-Credit Cards-Bank Loans-Foreclosure-Taxes-Student Loans
Free Telephone Consultation 410-484-4900 24/7

Excel lance In Legal Service - Serving The Entire State Of Maryland

We have earned the trust of thousands of satisfied clients and have gained experience in thousands of successful Bankruptcy cases since 1973.   We will properly prepare all required documents for you, promptly file them with the court, appear in court with you at your hearing and keep you fully informed throughout your case.   There is no substitute for trust and experience.   You can use the law firm that has helped thousands of Maryland consumers since 1973

Client Comments

" Your representation was outstanding in recovering thousands of dollars I paid out in a debt consolidation scam, properly representing me in a bankruptcy and getting all my debts eliminated at a low fee and less than one half of what I paid to them. What was most important to me was your integrity and clear answers to my questions." ~~D.G.

I was very impressed with your dedication to my case, answering all of my questions throughout the case, obtaining my discharge without delay and getting back the money taken in the wage attachment. If anyone needs to file bankruptcy you are the lawyer they need to call. ~~K.B.

" I was surprised to learn how the debt settlement company I saw on television took advantage of me. Thank you for getting my money back from them, properly filing my bankruptcy and saving my house. I recommend your services. " ~~H.M.

" Many thanks for a job well done in getting my tax debts and other claims eliminated and being available to answer all of my questions throughout my case." ~~B.W.

" I appreciate your meeting with me on the weekends so I did not have to lose time from work."~~N.T.

" Thanks for taking over my chapter 13 case which enabled me to save my house. " ~~ W.S.

" Thanks for your straight forward answers, working with me with a payment plan and saving my house."~~D.J.

Representing Debtors To Totally Eliminate Debts, Or To Reorganize Debts In Order To Protect Property And To Obtain A Fresh Financial Start

Prompt, experienced and effective representation for all financial issues including, foreclosure, repossession, wage attachments, student loans, federal and state tax matters. In addition to bankruptcy, we provide effective representation for tax problems with the IRS, tax audits, tax liens, tax wage attachments, IRS offers in compromise, IRS installment plan arrangements, and IRS audits.

If you are currently in a Chapter 13, making payments to a mortgage company, a trustee, finding out your Chapter 13 plan can not be confirmed, and your Chapter 13 will not result in retaining your home, upon review of the facts in your case in many instances, we can provide options that will be less expensive and far more effective.

Our debt relief agency will fully prepare all bankruptcy documents, both before and after your case is filed, go to court with you, and defend you against contested matters from the trustee, your creditors and their attorneys.

We work with you with a workable payment plan and a low fee we invite you to compare. Call, you will see for yourself.

You can call a Maryland Bankruptcy lawyer if you have questions about your eligibility to file.

Your can call a Maryland Bankruptcy lawyer if you have questions about which chapter is best for you.

You can call a Maryland Bankruptcy lawyer if you have questions about what you will keep and what you can lose.

Your can call a Maryland Bankruptcy lawyer if you have questions about how long will the process take in your case.

You can call a Maryland Bankruptcy attorney if you have questions about the advantages of filing for chapter 13.

Your can call a Maryland Bankruptcy lawyer if you have questions about is the effect of the means test.

You can call a Maryland Bankruptcy attorney if you have questions about can your house or car payments be reduced.

Your can call a Maryland Bankruptcy lawyer if you have questions about what your other alternatives are.

Each case is different and presents different opportunities and challenges.


*If you have been a victim of a "credit counseling program", "debt management program" or home "rescue scam", we can help to get your money back, damages or both.   We have recovered thousands of dollars for payments made to programs that have misrepresented their status and their ability to provide an effective solution.   If you are in a debt "credit counseling" or "debt management program", you may wish to determine:

1. Exactly what portion your payments is being applied to principal.
2. Exactly what portion your payments is being applied to hidden interest, costs and fees.
3. Exactly what portion your payments is being paid to the program for their benefit.
4. Most of these programs have huge advertising expenses, overhead, and expenses that are being paid by the people they are supposed to help.
5. If the program accepts funds from the very creditors they are collecting for, a conflict of interest exists.
6. If the program has represented they are non-profit, if any portion of your payments being paid to them for any reason, a conflict of interest exists.
7. FYI Before you pay a penny to a "credit counseling program" or "debt management program", you should request a written statement exactly what percentage of their customers actually complete the program and become debt free.   You will learn the percentage is extremely low.

*If you are behind in mortgage payments and your mortgage has been accelerated it is possible you can make payments and the mortgage company may not have any obligation to reinstate your mortgage, or return your late payments.

*As any decision can be made within hours, or at the most, a few days.   If you are hearing terms such as "mitigation department", "reinstatement department", "loss mitigation", you should be suspicious.

*Each day you that you are in default, and each day your case is delayed, will generate additional fees and expenses which benefit the mortgage company that you will have to pay which will make it more difficult to attempt to save your home.   Depending upon your facts, we know exactly what to do to force a prompt decision and to determine your very best option to prevent the sale of your home.

*Many people are lead to file Chapter 13 but are not properly informed of the many fees and costs that are imposed during the course of the plan which causes some people to be in a far worse position after filing than prior to the time the case was filed.   If you are in, or have been in a Chapter 13, that resulted in failure, we have effective options for you.

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"There is No Substitute For Experience."

Bankruptcy Attorney
Maryland Bankruptcy Lawyer
Attorney Credentials:
Former Assistant State's Attorney
Admitted To Practice Before:
The U.S. Supreme Court
All Maryland Courts
Federal District Court
Maryland State Bar Association
Baltimore City Bar Association
Baltimore County Bar Association
University of Baltimore
A.A. B.S. J.D.
Honorable Discharge U.S. Army

Bankruptcy Myths

Myth 1: Everyone will know you have filed for bankruptcy.
Myth 2: You will lose everything you have.
Myth 3: You will never be able to own anything again.
Myth 4: You will never get credit again.
Myth 5: Filing bankruptcy will hurt your credit for 10 years.
Myth 6: If you're married...both you and your spouse have to file for bankruptcy.
Myth 7: It's really hard to file for bankruptcy.
Myth 8: Only deadbeats file for bankruptcy.
Myth 9: Filing bankruptcy means you're a bad person.
Myth 10: Filing for bankruptcy will hurt your credit.
Myth 11: Even if you file for bankruptcy, creditors will still harass you and your family.
Myth 12: If you file for bankruptcy, it may cause more family troubles and may even lead to divorce.
Myth 13: You can't get rid of back taxes through bankruptcy.
Myth 14: You can only file once for bankruptcy protection.
Myth 15: You can pick and choose which debts and property to list in your bankruptcy.

Statement of Client Rights

You are entitled to be treated with courtesy and consideration at all times by your lawyer and the other lawyers and personnel in your lawyers office.

You are entitled to an attorney capable of handling your legal matter competently and diligently, in accordance with the highest standards of the profession.

You are entitled to your lawyer's independent professional judgment and undivided loyalty compromised by conflicts of interest.

You are entitled to be charged a reasonable fee and to have your lawyer explain in the beginning how the fee will be computed and the manner and frequency of billing.

You are entitled to have your questions and concerns addressed in a prompt manner and to have your telephone called returned promptly.

You are entitled to be kept informed as to the status of your matter.

You are entitled to have your legitimate objectives respected by your lawyer including whether or not to settle your matter.

You have the right to privacy in your dealings with your lawyer and to have your secrets and confidences preserved to the extent permitted by law.

You may not be refused representation on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin or disability.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a reason to be embarrassed?   Because over a million people a year have filed for the past seven years, the process has changed so that there is no embarrassment.

Will I be able to get new credit?   Some of our clients get cars a week after the case is closed and houses within a year.

Will Bankruptcy will destroy my life?   It actually gives you a fresh start to a better life.

Will I lose control of my life?   It gives back control over your life by ending the harassment, calls and payments you can't afford.

Is Bankruptcy expensive?.   We offer low fees, payment plans in most cases and have evening and weekend appointments. Will I lose everything?   In most bankruptcies, you keep all of your property.

Is a Bankruptcy published in a newspaper?   Very few people, if any, will know about your case.

What will my future be like?   In most cases, when you go through the bankruptcy process, it gives you a brighter future.

Will I lose my bank accounts?   Bankruptcy will protect monies in your bank account.

What if my employer finds out?   In a chapter 7, your employer will most likely not find out and even if so, you cannot lose your job.

What will I do if I have to start over?   The fear should be: What would you do if you didn't have a chance to start over?

What if I don't qualify for bankruptcy?   If we take your case, you will be given bankruptcy protection. We have qualified thousands of people for bankruptcy since 1973.

I don't understand anything about bankruptcy?   At your first appointment, we will fully explain all of your options.

When will the harassing phone calls, garnishments, suits, letters stop?   They all stop once the bankruptcy case is filed.

Will Bankruptcy will hurt my credit?   Most people's credit is already bad or will be bad soon by the time they call a bankruptcy attorney. The bankruptcy gives you a fresh start.

Contesting dischargeability

Some kinds of claims against an individual debtor survive the discharge without the creditor having to do anything to protect the claim. Examples are child support, student loans, criminal restitution and judgments arising from drunk driving.

Other kinds of claims survive the bankruptcy only if the creditor takes action in the short time allowed.

Table of debts dischargeable and non dischargeable in Chapter 7

A creditor whose claim against the debtor was incurred by fraud, dishonesty or other forms of intentional "bad acts" or which is a non support claims which arose in a divorce may contest the discharge of his claim in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy by filing a timely nondischargeability suit and proving, to the satisfaction of the court, that the elements for non dischargeability are met. These adversary proceedings must be filed within 60 days of the first meeting of the creditors or the claim is discharged.

If you hold a pre bankruptcy judgment for fraud against the debtor, that judgment may be conclusive in an action for non dischargeability in the bankruptcy court. You still need to file the non dischargeability action; you may not have to prove anything more than the existence of your judgment.

If your claim is a non support claim arising in the divorce, you must file an adversary proceeding to preserve your claim. 11 U.S. C. 523(a)(15).

Non dischargeability and claims in the bankruptcy estate.

If there will be a distribution in the case, whether your claim is non dischargeable or not, you must file a claim to share in the distribution. Get the proof of claim form and file it with the court within the time set in the notice

Bankruptcy Preferences

The Bankruptcy Code permits a trustee (or a debtor in possession) to recover from creditors payments made shortly before the bankruptcy filing where the payment gave the creditor more than other, similarly situated, creditors would get through the bankruptcy process.

The policy behind the statute is to diminish the advantages that a creditor might get by litigation or by aggressive collection actions that force the debtor into bankruptcy. That is accomplished by making payments received in the 90 days before the filing recoverable in bankruptcy.

It is neither wrong of the debtor to make a preferential payment nor wrong of a creditor to accept it . The preference statutes are simply an attempt to achieve equity between creditors. Creditors are almost always better off attempting to get payment of their claims from their debtors and dealing with any efforts to recover the money when, and if, such attempts are made in bankruptcy.

Debts arising in divorce:

When a divorce or separation agreement or judgment creates a debt in favor of the former spouse, those non support obligations to the former spouse may be excluded from the Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge. 11 U.S.C. 523(a)15.

The creditor spouse doesn't have to prove fraud or dishonesty; he or she must prove that discharge of the debt creates a greater hardship on the creditor spouse than excluding the debt from discharge would create for the debtor spouse.

These non support, marital debts are non dischargeable only if the creditor/spouse files an adversary proceeding within 60 days of the first meeting of creditors. (The rule for support debts is different: they are non dischargeable without action on the part of the benefited party).

More on family issues in bankruptcy

Should I file a non dischargeability action?

Before spending time, money and emotional energy in contesting the discharge of your claim in the debtor's bankruptcy, you need to ask yourself some hard, real - world questions about why you might contest dischargeability. Consider:

What is the likelihood that the debtor will have assets or income in the future from which your claim could be paid, if you were successful in excepting the debt from discharge?

If the debtor is older, low skill or discredited in his field of endeavor, or subject to other substantial non dischargeable claims such as taxes, the chances of recovering money after the bankruptcy to pay your non dischargeable claim are questionable.

What are the costs of litigating the nondischargeability action?

How do those estimated costs compare to the size of the debt you want to collect? What is the risk that you won't prevail?

Did the dishonest or malicious act create the debt or did it occur after you extended credit?

Generally, to prevail, you must show that but for the dishonest act, the debt would not have arisen. Lies about intent to repay the debt, made after the debt was incurred, usually won't support a non dischargeability action,

Remember too that corporations don't get a discharge of their debts in bankruptcy; the assets of the debtor corporation are simply liquidated to pay creditors. So, the concept of "nondischargeability" is meaningless in a corporate bankruptcy case.

The presumptions in non dischargeability actions generally favor the discharge of the debt except perhaps in the case of debts arising from divorce. Consider the costs vs. benefits before spending substantial time and energy contesting the discharge of a particular debt.

Do I need to file an adversary proceeding to protect my claim? Yes, if you claim that the debt arose by reason of the debtor's fraud or other dishonesty.

Some debts are not dischargeable by their very nature such as child support or spousal support. If you are owed support, you don't have to do anything to prevent the discharge of the debt.

Is it a preference?

Bankruptcy Code §547 defines a preference as

Payment on an antecedent (as opposed to current) debt;

Made while the debtor was insolvent;

To a non insider creditor, within 90 days of the filing of the bankruptcy;

That allows the creditor to receive more on its claim than it would have, had the payment not been made and the claim paid through the bankruptcy proceeding.

Note that payments to a fully secured creditor aren't preferences because the creditor didn't get more than he would have in bankruptcy, where the creditor would get the value of the collateral.

A non obvious preference may occur when the creditor converts an unsecured debt to a secured debt by recording a financing statement long after the transaction with which it was associated; by obtaining a writ of attachment; or by recording a judgment lien.

Creditors are best served by the prompt perfection of such liens to lessen the possibility that the advantage obtained by getting the lien is lost in a preference recovery action in a subsequent bankruptcy.

Defenses to preference actions

Defenses to the recovery of a preference are found in 11 U.S.C. 547(c). They include:

contemporaneous exchanges;

payments made in the ordinary course of the business of the debtor and the creditor on ordinary business terms; and security interests that secure debts that bring new value to the debtor. amounts of subsequent credit extended and unpaid.

These defenses need to be raised in an answer to a preference complaint. The burden of proof lies with the creditor to establish that despite the elements of a preference, the transfer is protected by one or more of these defenses.' The trend today seems to be for trustees or debtors in possession to sue everyone who received payment of any sort during the 90 days before filing and to sort out the merits of the plaintiff's claims later. It feels a lot like extortion since the economics frequently suggest the settlement of claims that appear to have little validity.

Insider preferences

The bankruptcy code also permits the recovery of payments on old claims owed to insiders, such as relatives, corporate officers or directors, or related entities. For insiders, the trustee can look back to payments made within a year of the bankruptcy filing. This provision attempts to prevent the debtor from paying relatives and business decision makers at the expense of the trade creditors.

In an insider preference action, there is no presumption that the debtor was insolvent when the payment was made and thus the proof of these kinds of actions is sometimes more complex for the trustee.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

The Main Objective

Secured Debts

Reaffirmation Agreement


Court Hearing in Your Bankruptcy Case (called the Meeting of Creditors)

The Trustee

Contested Bankruptcy

Full Disclosure

Tax Refunds

Your Credit Record

Cost to file Chapter 7


To get a Discharge from the Court on all of your "dischargeable debts". A discharge means you do not owe a debt. Not all debts are legally dischargeable. For example, income taxes that are less than three years old are nondischargeable. Likewise, child support, student loans, and spousal support are nondischargeable. Certain other debts are nondischargeable.


Some creditors have a right to repossess assets unless they are paid. Auto loans are usually secured by the pledge of your car title as collateral to secure the car loan. Mortgages against real estate are secured by a lien against real estate. Household goods can also be secured against a loan. Secured creditors can repossess cars, household goods, and foreclose on home mortgages if regular payments are not made on these loans. There are three choices to make as to secured debts in a bankruptcy case:

1. Surrender the collateral (the car or house) to the creditor; or

2. Reaffirm the debt with the creditor to keep the collateral

3. Redeem the collateral from the creditor


If you have a secured debt, you are required to state, in writing, as a part of your bankruptcy petition whether you intend to surrender, reaffirm or redeem the collateral pledged to secure the loan. This "Statement of Intent" is sent to each creditor and your stated intent should be performed within roughly 45 days.

If you intend to reaffirm on the debt, that means you intend to keep the collateral and keep making regular monthly payments of principal and interest until the debt is paid in full. Reaffirmation agreements are voluntary and they require the creditor's agreement to allow you to reaffirm the debt and keep the collateral. This does not always happen. Some creditors refuse to agree to reaffirmation. In that case, you must give up the collateral to the creditor. It is important that you understand that you will likely lose the collateral if the creditor refuses to agree to the reaffirmation agreement.


The bankruptcy laws allow a debtor to keep collateral by paying the creditor the fair market value of the collateral pledged to secure a debt. This is very rare since it requires the debtor to pay a lump sum of money to the creditor equal to the fair market value. You can sometimes borrow the lump sum from a new lender. If you can't borrow the lump sum, then you may not be able to redeem the vehicle. We can help you in redeeming vehicles by referring you to a lender.

COURT HEARING IN YOUR BANKRUPTCY CASE (called the Meeting of Creditors)

In every bankruptcy case, the law requires a Court appointed "Trustee" to question each debtor about his or her financial affairs. You must attend a Court hearing for this and bring a picture ID with your social security number to your hearing. You must also bring to your hearing the following documents: tax returns for the last two years, your car titles, pay stubs, retirement account statements and bank statements for the month in which your bankruptcy is filed, any life insurance policies you have and loan closing statements for loans taken within the last three years. Other documents may also be required by the Trustee.

THE TRUSTEE A Trustee is a local attorney who is appointed by the United States Trustee (an arm of the United States Dept. of Justice) to administer your bankruptcy case. The Trustee has certain powers, as a matter of law, to order your full and complete cooperation in your bankruptcy case. There are numerous powers available to a Trustee. It is important that you follow all instructions given to you to successfully complete your bankruptcy case.


Your right to a discharge in bankruptcy can be contested (challenged) by the Trustee in your case, by the United States Trustee, by any one of your creditors and by the Bankruptcy Court Judge. Very few bankruptcy cases are contested.


The most important requirement in bankruptcy is that you make a full and complete disclosure of all debts and assets you have. Concealing assets and lying to the Bankruptcy Court is a federal crime. Always tell the truth to your attorney and to the Trustee and the Court. Bankruptcy fraud cannot be tolerated.


The Trustee in your bankruptcy case has the power to take your tax refund and distribute it to your creditors. If the Trustee asks for your tax return and tax refund, you must cooperate in full. Failure to do so can cause the Trustee to contest your right to have your bankruptcy debts discharged.


Bankruptcy is allowed by law to be reported on your credit report for ten years from the date you filed your bankruptcy case.

This rule prescribes the procedure to be followed when a party requests the court to determine dis­chargeability of a debt pursuant to § 523 of the Code.

Although a complaint that comes within § 523(c) must ordinarily be filed before determining whether the debtor will be discharged, the court need not determine the issues presented by the complaint filed under this rule until the question of discharge has been determined under Rule 4004. A complaint filed under this rule initiates an adversary proceeding as provided in Rule 7003.

Subdivision (b) does not contain a time limit for filing a complaint to determine the dischargeability of a type of debt listed as nondischargeable under § 523(a)(1), (3), (5), (7), (8), or (9). Jurisdiction over this issue on these debts is held concurrently by the bankruptcy court and any appropriate nonbankruptcy forum.

Subdivision (c) differs from subdivision (b) by imposing a deadline for filing complaints to determine the issue of dischargeability of debts set out in § 523(a)(2), (4) or (6) of the Code. The bankruptcy court has exclusive jurisdiction to determine dischargeability of these debts. If a complaint is not timely filed, the debt is discharged. See § 523(c).

Subdivision (e). The complaint required by this subdivision should be filed in the court in which the case is pending pursuant to Rule 5005.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1991 Amendment: background to the intent behind the Rules.

Subdivision (a) is amended to delete the words “with the court” as unnecessary. See Rules 5005 (a) and 9001 (3). Subdivision (c) is amended to apply in chapter 12 cases the same time period that applies in chapter 7 and 11 cases for filing a complaint under § 523(c) of the Code to determine dischargeability of certain debts. Under § 1228(a) of the Code, a chapter 12 discharge does not discharge the debts specified in § 523(a) of the Code.

Committee Notes on Rules—1999 Amendment: legislative history explaining the intent behind the Rules.

Subdivision (c) is amended to clarify that the deadline for filing a complaint to determine the dischargeability of a debt under § 523(c) of the Code is 60 days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors, whether or not the meeting is held on that date. The time for filing the complaint is not affected by any delay in the commencement or conclusion of the meeting of creditors. This amendment does not affect the right of any party in interest to file a motion for an extension of time to file a complaint to determine the dischargeability of a debt in accordance with this rule.

The substitution of the word “filed” for “made” in the final sentences of subdivisions (c) and (d) is intended to avoid confusion regarding the time when a motion is “made” for the purpose of applying these rules.

Legal Terms to Know

Summary Judgment - Decision on the basis of evidence presented for the record without a trial when there is no dispute as to the facts of the case

Survivorship - Joint tenancy, by which one owner inherits property because he or she has survived all other owners.

Best Evidence - The best form of a piece of evidence available low fees lawyer, low fees attorney.

Best Evidence Rule - Rule requiring parties to produce the original photograph, recording, or writing when attempting to prove the contents. Duplicates may be admissible in place of an original so long as there is no genuine question about the authenticity of the original. The original will not be required if it is lost or destroyed, if the original is not closely related to a controlling issue in the case. if it cannot be obtained through a subpoena, or if it is in the possession of an opposing party.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt - Moral certainty that every element of a crime has been proven by the State. Not an absence of all possible doubt, but the absence of all reasonable doubts in the mind or the ordinary person.

Bind over - To hold a person for trial.

Standing - Right to sue.

Stare Decisis -Binding precedent; a decision by a court higher than the trial court.

Statement - Writing signed by a person

Statute - Law declaring duties and rights, or prohibiting or commanding certain conduct.

Statute of Frauds - Law requiring that certain documents be in writing, such as any agreement pertaining to real estate leases for more than one year. According to the UCC, contracts for the sale of goods for more than $500 must be in writing to be enforced.

Statute of Limitations - Time a prosecutor must bring charges in criminal cases, or within which a plaintiff must begin a lawsuit in civil cases.

Sequester - To separate a jury from outside influences during its deliberations as may occur during a highly publicized trial.

Bench Warrant - Order to arrest a person based on his or her failure to obey a court order.

Beneficiary - Recipient of benefits or property in a will or trust, insurance policy, or other such document.

Bequeath - To leave property through a will.

Bequests - Gifts conferred through a will.

Bond supersedeas - Appeal bond.

Bond surety - Certificate to secure the appearance in court of the criminal defendant.

Booking - The fingerprinting, photographing, and recording identifying data of a suspect after arrest.

Statutory Construction - Interpretation of the scope and meaning of statutes.

Summons - Order for a person to appear before the court.

Support Trust - Trust by which the trustee spends only as much income as needed for the beneficiary's support.

Suppress - Exclusion of evidence at a trial because it is improper or was illegally obtained.

Supra - Above.

Surety -Person who signs a guarantee to pay money if the defendant fails to appear in court as ordered.

Surety Bond - Bond purchased to insure proper performance by the executor.

Statutory Law -Law enacted by the legislative branch of government, as distinguished from common law or judge-made case law.

Stay - Court order temporarily halting a proceeding.

Stipulation - Agreement by attorneys on both sides of a civil or criminal case as to some aspect of the case

Strict Liability Statutes - Statutes criminalizing specific conduct in which the actor's intent is deemed irrelevant. In many jurisdictions, sexual contact between an adult and a child below a certain age is a strict-liability statute, meaning that an honest belief that a minor was older is no defense. In a case of strict liability, the only question for a judge or jury is whether or not the defendant did a prohibited act.

Strike -To exclude evidence that has been improperly offered.

Sua Sponte - On one's own behalf without any prompting or suggestion.

Brief - A written statement prepared by one side in a lawsuit to explain to the court its view of the facts of a case and the applicable law.

Burden of Proof - In the law of evidence, a requirement of affirmatively proving a fact.

Self-Incrimination -- The privilege against self-incrimination is the constitutional right of a person to refuse to give testimony that could subject him or her to criminal prosecution as guaranteed in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Asserting the right is often referred to as taking the Fifth.

Self-Proving Will - A will whose validity does not have to be proven in court by the witnesses to it, since the witnesses executed an affidavit reflecting proper execution of the will prior to the maker's death.

Sentence - Punishment ordered by a court for an offense.

Sentence Report - Document containing background material on a convicted person. A sentence report is prepared to guide the judge in the imposition of a sentence.

Breach - The breaking or violating of a law, right, or duty, either by the commission or omission of an act.

Breach of Contract - Failure by one individual to abide by the terms of a contract without lawful excuse.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction - Authorization for a court to hear the type of case that is before it. A municipal court has subject matter jurisdiction in cases involving violation of that municipality's ordinances, but not over felonies.

Subpoena -Process commanding a witness to appear and give testimony at a certain time and in a certain place.

Subpoena Duces Tecum - Court order commanding a witness to bring specified documents or records to court.

Bench - Seat occupied by a judge; the court itself, low fees lawyer, low fees attorney.

Bench Trial - Trial in which a judge rather than a jury decides the facts.

Rebuttal - Evidence offered by a person after the close of the case and after the opponent has rested in order to contradict and explain the opponent's evidence.

Rebuttal Witnesses - Witnesses introduced to disprove, explain, repel, or counteract facts given in evidence by the adverse individual.

Recall Order - Recall of an arrest warrant.

Record - Documents and evidence together with transcripts of oral proceedings in a case.

Recusal - Voluntary action by a judge to remove himself or herself from a case because of prejudice, bias, self-interest, or conflict. Also, the process by which a judge is disqualified from a case because a individual objects.

Redirect Examination - Rebuttal evidence offered after one's evidence has been subjected to cross-examination.

How Will bankruptcy affect my credit? Bankruptcy can neither hurt nor help your credit, as your credit rating is frozen by law at the time of your filing.

detinue - at common law, an action to recover personal property

lottery winnings - lottery winnings are counted as assets.

What happens in a 341 meeting of creditors? In a 341 meeting of creditors, the trustee will check your ID and your social security number, then verify that all the schedules are true and accurate, and that nothing major has changed in your financial picture. He or she will remind you that if something major occurs in the next six months, you have a duty to notify the bankruptcy trustee.

What questions is the trustee likely to ask in a 341 hearing? The trustee may ask you how your finances came to such dire shape. Frequent reasons for bankruptcy include loss of a job, divorce, or a disabling medical even.

What are the steps in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy? A bankruptcy begins with the filing of a petition with the bankruptcy court. Once the petition is filed, the court will schedule a 341 meeting of creditors, at which any of your creditors may ask you questions. The only questions creditor may not ask is "how do you plan to pay me back."

What happens to Judgments in a bankruptcy proceeding? Most judgment liens are discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding. Judgments awarded in divorce and custody, proceedings, however, survive the bankruptcy.

What is a step-up? In chapter 13 proceedings, a step-up is an increase in the plan payment after a secured debt has been paid off.

What are the steps in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy? Like a chapter 13 bankruptcy, the first step in a chapter 13 bankruptcy is to file a petition with the bankruptcy court, together with a payment plan. The court will then schedule a 341 meeting of creditors, as in a chapter 17 bankruptcy. Ordinarily a well-prepared chapter 13 plan will be accepted by the court, thought the trustee may order certain changes. Once the plan is completed, which could take from three to five years, the debtor is awarded a discharge.

Is bankruptcy right for me? If your bills exceed your income each month, then bankruptcy may be right for you.

What is the difference between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy? In a chapter 7 bankruptcy, all the unsecured debt is discharged. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the debtor agrees to pay part of the debt over the life of the plan, usually three to five years.

Are tax debts dischargeably in bankruptcy? Tax debts less than three years old are called priority debts, and will survive the bankruptcy. Tax debts less than three years old are treated like unsecured debts and are discharged.

Will a Chapter 13 bankruptcy stop the foreclosure on my house? Ordinarily, yes.