John Boddie

Memo for Former Clients
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October 20, 2020

After 40 years as a North Carolina attorney, I retired in 2017.  I kept my active law license for three years after my last case closed, but as of October 23, 2020, I will officially become "Retired - Inactive" and no longer practicing law.

Listed below you will find answers to the questions my former bankruptcy clients asked most frequently after their bankrupty discharge. The answers were based on the law as of 2017 and cover these topics:
(1) mortgage reaffirmation,
(2) credit reporting of mortgages,
(3) student loans,
(4) old debt included in the bankruptcy that someone is trying to collect,
(5) dealing with the IRS if a creditor sends a 1099,
(6) credit reports,
(7) wills, and
(8) judgment liens and real estate
Bankruptcy client files were kept for at least four years after the case closed and were then shredded.  All remaining client files will be shredded and discarded in 2021. Information about your case is available through PACER, the federal court system's online database. Any bank, mortgage company or lawyer should have a PACER account and can easily get information about your case and any filed documents.

(1) Why did I not reaffirm my mortgage?

Sometimes my clients' mortgage company will tell them that they should have done what is called a "reaffirmation" in their Chapter 7 bankruptcy.   In fact, people can keep their homes and continue paying their mortgages after bankruptcy whether the mortgage is reaffirmed or not.  A reaffirmation is a procedure that benefits the mortgage company and is rarely in the homeowner's interest.  What it does is reinstate the mortgage so that the homeowner becomes liable for the mortgage debt in spite of the bankruptcy even if they lose the home in foreclosure.  Because reaffirmation is almost never a good idea for the homeowner, the bankruptcy judges in the Middle District of North Carolina will hold a court hearing if someone tries to reaffirm a mortgage.  In most cases the judges here would disallow the reaffirmation.  In some other bankruptcy courts outside North Carolina, it is more common for judges to allow a reaffirmation even if it is not in the homeowner's interest, and some mortgage companies in these other states mistakenly think that reaffirmation of the mortgage is required.  In fact, reaffirmation is not required and is not even allowed by our local bankruptcy judges, except in extremely rare cases.  I can recall only two cases of mine where we reaffirmed a mortgage in the last 20 years.  In these cases the mortgage company drastically reduced the interest rate and the outstanding balance, and so it made sense for those two clients to reaffirm the new deal.  For everyone else I represented, the mortgage companies refused to offer a better deal and so there was no reason to reaffirm.


The chief judge of the Middle District Bankruptcy Court published an opinion in 2006 explaining why our court does not approve mortgage reaffirmations.  The case is In re Bennett (Case No. 06-80241) 05/26/2006 and can be read by clicking on the case name.  If the link doesn't work, the Bennett opinion can be found by going to the Middle District website, and clicking on "Opinions."


(2) Why doesn't my mortgage show on my credit report?

Because mortgages are not reaffirmed in bankruptcy cases filed in Greensboro or Winston-Salem, the banks or mortgage companies are not required to report the mortgage to the credit bureau.  If you filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your personal obligation to pay the mortgage debt is discharged in bankruptcy just like your credit cards and other debt.  The reason you are paying the mortgage is to keep the house. 

(3) Were my student loans affected by my bankruptcy?

Before 1990 people could file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, pay as much as they could afford toward their student loans in a five-year plan and get a discharge of the remaining balance at the end of the case.  After 1990 it has been almost impossible to relieve government-guaranteed student loan obligations through bankruptcy.  From 1990 onward, the judges in the Middle District of North Carolina used the so-called Brunner test.  Between 1990 and 2005 only one of my clients was able to get a discharge of his student loan.  After the law was made even worse in 2005  I had no clients who were able to discharge their student loans using the Brunner test.  However, this legal situation may change, so you should consult a new lawyer to see if anything can be done about your student loans.

(4) What if a creditor tries to collect a debt included in my Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

If you get a collection letter, contact a new lawyer to find out if you are entitled to money damages from the creditor or collection agency.  If someone calls you, give them your bankruptcy case number and try to get their name and address.  

Some companies buy bad debt and try to collect it.  If the debt was included in your bankruptcy, it is still discharged even if a debt buyer now owns the right to collect it.

If someone demands money immediately or asks for your bank account or credit card number, you are probably dealing with a scam artist.  Some criminals have been known to get public bankruptcy records and use the information to scam people out of money.  Some of these scammers will even impersonate bankruptcy lawyers or paralegals to convince their victims that they owe money in spite of their bankruptcy.    If somebody claims to be from my office, this is a scam.  If you have given your bank account number to anyone, go to your bank immediately and change your account number. And, of course, consult with a bankruptcy or consumer rights lawyer right away.

(5) Do I owe tax to the IRS for debt discharged in bankruptcy?

You do not owe tax for debt discharged in bankruptcy.  Creditors listed on your bankruptcy should not send an IRS Form 1099 notifying the IRS of "forgiveness of debt."   However, if you get a 1099 form claiming that the creditor "forgave" or "cancelled" your debt, you will have to deal with it.   If you get a 1099 from a creditor, attach IRS Form 982 to your tax return.  If you have already filed your tax return for the year listed on the 1099, you should file an amended tax return and attach the Form 982 to that.  On the Form 982, check Box 1a that says "discharge of indebtedness in a Title 11 case" (Title 11 is the Bankruptcy Code), write in your bankruptcy case number, and on Line 2 list the amount of the debt shown on the 1099 form.   If your usual tax preparer does not know about Form 982, check around and find a new tax preparer.

(6) What if a debt listed in my bankruptcy shows up on my credit report?

For 10 years after you file bankruptcy, your credit reports should show each included creditor with a zero balance and a note that the debt was "included in bankruptcy."   If the entry shows a balance or late payments, follow the instructions on the credit report to file a dispute.  If the debt isn't corrected on your report, find a lawyer to help you.  After 10 years (and sometimes before) the debts should drop off entirely.


 (7) Do you have an original will that your office prepared for me (or my parents) in the 1990's?

No. Prior to 2000 I prepared wills and similar documents, and on rare occasions I kept my client's original will in my safe deposit box.  By now, all of my clients have retrieved any original wills.


(8) Does a judgment listed on my bankruptcy affect real estate I buy after the bankruptcy?


If you're buying a house and someone tells you that a judgment will create a lien on your new house, refer them to the court opinion at  (The footnote explains that judgments listed on the bankruptcy do not create a lien on property bought after the bankruptcy.)

Here's the link to the court opinion:

Again, note that the information above was current as of 2017. Since I am no longer practicing  law, please consult another lawyer for advice.

John Boddie

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