Like you, the team at Gold & Hammes has been closely monitoring the Covid-19 situation. In accordance with the shelter-in-place order issued by the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health, we are doing our part to participate in this shutdown for the health and safety of our community.
Starting March 17, 2020, our physical office has been closed. We do not know how long we will be required to keep our physical office closed, but it is expected to last for several weeks.
What does that mean for you?
For our current clients:
- The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the San Jose Federal Building is closed, but the judges are continuing to hold telephonic hearings (which we participate in, as necessary), and we continue to be able to electronically file documents with the court, including filing new cases.
- The bankruptcy trustees who hold the Section 341 meetings with debtors and their attorneys (which happen about a month after the case is filed) are all holding their meetings by telephone conference call. This change does not let us sit down at a table with the Trustee and it requires a little more preparation on our part, but so far this telephone process has actually been easier.
- The Chapter 13 Trustee (Devin Derham-Burk) is performing only the most vital functions, with reduced on-site staffing. Her staff has only a limited ability to answer their phone lines at this time. If you have a question for the Trustee’s office, please ask us your question by email, so we can find the answer for you.
- Most importantly, if you will be falling behind on your Chapter 13 plan payments, please do not panic!!! Unfortunately, many people are in the same situation as you are. We will assume that nearly everyone is having financial strains now – don’t worry about discussing the details with us immediately, in person. But let us know about changes in your situation by email or text so that we can see what the timing should be to help you deal with them.
- Please be assured that the judges are generally understanding, the trustees are also, and we will do our very best to protect you and your case. The local judges have published some new rules to help everyone through this time, such as allowing court documents to be filed without original “wet ink” signatures on them, while still assuring that they are legitimate. Some of these new procedures are a little complex, but there is currently enough flexibility in the process so that in most cases problems are resolvable while we wait for the overall Coronavirus problem to pass.
Although our physical office is closed, we are gearing up quickly to be fairly functional on a remote basis. Here are some of the things we can do at this time:
- We are once more able to answer phone calls to 408-297-8750. For a while we could not and we had to switch our telephone carrier in order to answer our phones remotely.
- You may text us at 408-297-8751. It is almost the same as our phone number, but the last digit has changed from a “zero” to a “one.” We find that texting is a very good way for us to have useful conversations together, but there is one difference: Unlike personal texting, please do not expect an instantaneous response. We use a desktop-based computer program for office texting, so unlike normal texting, our cell phone doesn’t let us know immediately as soon as each text arrives.
- You can email to us at office@GoldAndHammes.com
- Our fax number has changed to 408-300-5989.
- We still receive U.S.P.S. mail at our office address, but until we return to our office, we no longer are able to go down to our office-complex mailbox every day to pick it up. So while we are working remotely, we ask you to please use email, text, or fax instead.
- We have started to use Zoom for video meetings, as well. If you are not familiar with Zoom, we invite you to Google it and you’ll find that it is widely used by big companies and government agencies so that people who are at different locations can more effectively communicate and make decisions together. We can share documents on the screen and notate them. This helps us explain options that are available for you. The only problem is that you seem to need to download a free application in order for us to use it together. We urge you to check it out.
- For more details on how to join a Zoom meeting, click here.
- We are able to prepare and file documents to help in your case, such as amended plans, plan modifications, amended schedules, and so on. Instead of meeting with you in our office, we work out the content with you by phone, text, and email. Then the process set up by the court for filing them lets us email the final documents to you and you reply to our email authorizing us to file them with the court. This process is a little slower and has more steps, but it has worked very well so far. In fact, we have filed cases for entirely new clients since shelter in place, and it has taken time to work out the new procedures, but each new case we file is a little easier than the one before it.
- We are able to receive copies of paystubs, tax returns, bills, and other documents from you by email (preferred) or by text.
- One thing which has not changed: If you have any questions, call us, or text us, or email us.
If you are not currently our client but are wondering if bankruptcy could help you, please do not hesitate to contact us:
- Yes, we are taking new clients! If you are having financial problems, we will do our best to see if we can help you.
- We can meet several different ways: phone, text, email, and video meeting (though Zoom). Because we are not able to have in-person meetings, we will want to meet first using the phone, and following up with phone, text, email and/or Zoom meetings. Until the Coronavirus problem is behind us, we won’t be able to have an in-person meeting, but so far, the phone and Zoom have worked very well.
- As always, if you have any questions about this process, please feel free to text or email your questions so we can connect with you.
We sincerely thank all of you for your patience.
We wish for the very best for you and your family. We hope you will stay safe and stay healthy,
Gold & Hammes