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Why I Started Practicing Law as a Bankruptcy Attorney – October Interview

Katherine: Hello everyone and thank you so much for being a part of the show. We have a special guest that’s going to be joining us, and he will be with us once a month so you will get the opportunity to ask your questions when they come up, and he will be prepared to answer them for you.

Attorney Daigle is a bankruptcy attorney, and he’s going to help you navigate your way through that, or if you have a friend that’s going through this, he would be the guy that you want to put them in contact with.

He’s also written and book and we’ll talk about that, but let me give you a little bit of his background before we get into just some of the basic information about filing bankruptcy and when to do that okay?

Peter Daigle is an attorney specializing in consumer bankruptcy. He has helped thousands of individuals and families of paying relief from creditors. The Daigle Law Office is located in Norwell and Central Vale Massachusetts, serving clients in South Eastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod, and the Islands.

Peter lives on Cape Cod with his wife Grace of thirty four years, and has four children and two dogs. He is an avid outdoors-man, and his passions aside from practicing law include biking, skiing, and stand up paddle boarding.

At this time I want to welcome Attorney Daigle to the show, how are you?

Peter: Oh very well, thank you for asking.
Katherine: First, I always want to know how one gets into whatever their practice is, and you said that this is a passion for you. Before we get into why we should file bankruptcy or when that should come up, what even got you into practicing?
Peter: Honestly what happened to me was before I was an attorney, I was in the real estate and building business, I got into trouble in the 1980’s and I had to file bankruptcy.
Speaker 1: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Peter: I ran into a slowdown in the market and I had too much going on. I felt like my world was coming apart, I had to seek relief in bankruptcy and that feeling of getting the relief, having been there, had honestly motivated me to be a bankruptcy attorney.

I went to law school, became an attorney, and that’s how I’ve concentrated my practice. I know what it feels like because I’ve been there, so that’s what sort of motivates me every day, to be able to help other people.

Speaker 1: You’ve written a book, let’s talk about that book.
Peter: Yeah, I wrote a book, in the introduction talks about my experience slightly, and how I got into this field. It’s written in a question and answer method where there’s about twenty questions, and they’re all easy questions and answers, in things that folks are really interested in. What happens to my credit, what happens if somebody cosigns for me, will my spouse be effected, how will my house be protected?

The questions everyone wants to know I’ve provided the answers for …

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Speaker 1: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Peter: In this book. It’s about fifty pages long.
Speaker 1: Awesome. Give them the name of the book and where they can pick up a copy of that, and then we’re going to get into your questions for your interview today.
Peter: Okay, so the name of the book is, “The Truth about Bankruptcy in Massachusetts”, and you can get it … if you go onto my website you can order it from my site.
Speaker 1: Awesome, now you talked about a perfect personal scenario of your own, a reason why you would file bankruptcy. What are some other reasons people come to you about filing bankruptcy?
Peter: Usually there’s some type of event that occurs in their life. For instance, a divorce, loss of a job, an illness, or some type of a circumstance that they hadn’t planned on …
Speaker 1: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Peter: Honestly and it had come up almost out of nowhere. When they laid out their life plan it all of a sudden appeared. That event causes them to go into financial distress whether they can’t pay their mortgage, they can’t keep their credit cards current, can’t pay their car loans, student loans, whatever.

We know one thing that bankruptcy does to us, it gives you that fresh start from that event having occurred. Sometimes it’s difficult to earn your way back out of your debt, even if you’re back on track. You get your job back …

Speaker 1: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Peter: You go through a divorce and you get support. Still, that time that you lost, that speed bump so to speak that you hit, it just knocks you back so that you can’t recover easily.
Speaker 1: Wow. I know that sometimes people feel like bankruptcy is a dirty word, what are your thoughts on that?
Peter: At some point, everybody needs a break in life on something. Think of it as your chance to get a break, and get a fresh start. There’s no other way for you to earn your way out of their money. Certainly everybody wants to fight and pay their bills, and earn their way back out of their debt, but sometimes there’s not really any alternative. Whether you’re at an age where that you may not be able to make enough money back, or you can’t go back to your earning capacity, and you just need to get a fresh start.
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Speaker 1: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Peter: You’re just completely overwhelmed with what’s here. Look at it as more of a positive that I’m going to get my life back and a fresh start, than a negative. I think it’s really how you approach it from your own thinking versus … and you know we’re all trained to the fight to the end.
Speaker 1: Yeah.
Peter: I think at some point …
Speaker 1: Mindset is a powerful thing. One more question in this arena, who all can know about this that think that people feel like this is something like public shame? Is this something that’s private or can anyone know about this?
Peter: The only place that it will show up is on your credit report. The federal bankruptcy documents, even though they’re a public record you can’t find them on Google. You couldn’t Google someone and find out if they filed bankruptcy. You have to be able to have access to the federal bankruptcy docket in order to find that out. It’s kept really protected, unless you’re a public figure that somehow word got out, or if you had access to someone’s credit reports, you wouldn’t be able to have access to that.
Speaker 1: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Peter: Very rarely does it come up unless someone were to run a credit check on you.
Speaker 1: All right. What are all the requirements for someone who is considering filing bankruptcy, or even thinking of this as an option? What are the requirements for filing bankruptcy?
Peter: The first thing is you are required to take a credit counseling course. When they changed the bankruptcy laws back in 2005 they sort of said we’ll give everyone a chance for a fresh start but you’ll have to go to credit counseling. It’s simply a one hour online course, you can do it online or by phone.
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Speaker 1: That’s nice.
Peter: It’s a requirement that you have to do now, you have to get some credit counseling and how to set up a budget. That’s one requirement, the other requirements is you can’t have filed in the last eight years, there’s an eight year difference. If you have previously filed you’re not going to be able to file again.

Those are the two big criteria. One is the time for filing, the second you’ve got to take the course. The rest of it you would qualify for.

Katherine: Now I am a single person, I’ve never been married. One of the things I’ve always been concerned about was how someone else’s life effects my life. When someone files bankruptcy, how does that effect your spouse?
Peter: That’s a question I get asked a lot. Filing for bankruptcy is based solely upon your social security. Even though you are married, in a state court, the judge could say, “What yours is his, and what’s his is yours,” and it’s all melted together.

In the context of a bankruptcy it’s purely an individual thing, and it’s based only on your social security number. Whatever your social security number is attached to, is what’s effected by the bankruptcy.

Katherine: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Peter: If your credit card, or house mortgage, or a car loan, if your spouse is not a part of it, and that’s not meaning being an authorized user on a credit card. For instance you can give your spouse a credit card that you’ve signed up for, they can use it. That doesn’t affect them that way, it only effects the actual Guarantor of the debt.
Katherine: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Phew, I might get married one day. We do have some people that have tuned into listen to what we’re sharing today, so I want them to let us know by virtually raising your hand if you have a question, and you can do so by pressing star six. If not, we have some great content and I think I have loads of great questions here, but I’d love for you to let attorney Daigle know what’s on your mind.

If you have any questions, or even if you know a loved one that’s been through this … and attorney Daigle I understand that it’s not a one size fits all. We are given some very general answers, but I think what I’m ultimately trying to achieve here is for people to feel comfortable. You talked about mindset just a moment ago, when we’re looking at bankruptcy look at it more positively, because this is a way to get a fresh start.

If we’ve ever messed up anything, got mud on our shoes, it takes a little longer to clean that off than it is to keep it clean. Look at it that way, this is an opportunity but it’s going to take a process. It’s interesting that you said that there’s a mandatory credit … is it credit counseling?

Peter: Yes, credit counseling.
Katherine: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s interesting, why was that piece added?
Peter: They kept seeing a lot of repeat filers. The credit card company said, “We’ve seen the same people over and over again, we feel that there needs to be some education out there on how not to have this happen.”

Essentially the credit counseling is based upon building a budget. Showing you in black and white how to live within your means. This is what you make, this is what you can afford to spend. The counseling is mainly around building a budget for yourself and that you can go forward with your fresh start living within your means, and not getting credit cards and using those as a crutch for a lack of income.

Katherine: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Now, I know that there are … I think that there’s two or three times the bankruptcy that people can file, can you talk about those?
Peter: Sure. The chapter seven, and the chapter thirteen. What a chapter seven is for, it basically gets rid of consumer debt. Credit cards, hospital bills, utilities, personal loans, that’s what chapter seven does.

What a chapter thirteen does, it’s called a reorganization.

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Katherine: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Peter: If you are unfortunate enough to get behind on your mortgage, or taxes, or car payments, what a chapter thirteen allows you to do is play catch up on those items. They’ll allow you on a three year period, or a five year period, to kind of get caught up on your house mortgage, car loans, if you’re behind on child support.

What it allows you to do is kind of reorganize your debt, allowing you to earn your way back out of those arrears.

Katherine: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Peter: You can keep the item. If you’re behind on your mortgage it allows you to play catch up, where in a chapter seven there’s no allowance of catch up. You have to pay it or you lose your item, you lose your house, you lose your car.
Katherine: Okay. What this anything, or items that will survive a bankruptcy, meaning what will still be there even after you file the bankruptcy?
Peter: If you owe your former spouse money, through an alimony …
Katherine: I got to get my money.
Peter: The ex wife or ex husband needs to get paid, the IRS, Uncle Sam, if you owe him any money in the last three years, you’re not going to be able to avoid that. Outside of three years it can be discharged, and student loans. Those are the three areas that are going to survive the bankruptcy. Those aren’t going to be able to get discharged.
Katherine: All right, well got to pay that spouse, Uncle Sam, and school, all right. I know people are saying, “This isn’t even helping me at all,” it is helping you, it’s helping you.

I want to ask one last question, and then I will allow you to let people know how to get in touch with you as we wrap this up, and we’re going to meet again next month. This leads us to next month’s conversation, because people are wondering how their credit is affected by bankruptcy.

Peter: You want me to give a brief answer to that, or …
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Katherine: Yeah, give me a brief answer to that because we’re going to get into it deeper next month.
Peter: Quite simply, you get a fresh start in bankruptcy. All of those little nicks and bruises that you have in your credit report, are wiped out. You will start out with a clean sleight on your credit report.

All of those negative things that folks creditors have been saying about you for all this time, whether they’re late, delinquent, or slow pay, will be gone and you’ll get that fresh start.

Katherine: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Peter: You’ll still need to rebuild that credit, and again we can talk about that next time on how to actually get your credit back in line once the debt is gone.
Katherine: Absolutely, we do have a question here, last four digit 3989, what’s your question for attorney Daigle?
Speaker 1: That actually was my question, the one that you answered.
Katherine: Okay.
Speaker 1: I’ll wait until next week to find out more information about that, because that has always been the stigma that I’ve heard while filing bankruptcy is that your credit will be locked up and it will actually last longer than the actual bankruptcy. I’m interested, I’ll tune in next week what he has to say.
Katherine: Absolutely, thank you so much. I’m sorry I answered your question, kind of.
Speaker 1: It’s okay.
Katherine: All right attorney Daigle, let people know how to get in touch with you outside of this interview.
Peter: If you’d like to follow me, and I do allow for a free consultation, you can call me at 508-771-7444, and its 580-771-7444, or you can reach me at my website at, that’s

Either from my website you can send me an inquiry, request a free copy of my book, or you can call me on the phone and I’d be happy to speak to you.

Katherine: Thank you so much, and we’ll talk to you next time.
Peter: Okay, thank you.
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