Student Loans and Covid-19

There is no doubt the coronavirus pandemic has impacted everything in your daily life.  Today we are going to look at the impact of Covid-19 on your federal student loans owned by the Department of Education.  Keep in mind these are different than privately held student loans.

Currently, your Department of Education student loan payments are suspended and you are not required to make payments.  Unless extended, this suspension of payments is scheduled to end on December 31, 2020. In addition, if you made a payment after March 13, 2020, you can request a refund of that payment without any penalty.

You may wonder if your failure to make payments will negatively impact your credit score during this period and the answer is no.  Student loan servicers were required to report to credit reporting agencies as if you made your regularly scheduled payment.  Therefore, there should be no delinquency being reported during this time.  If you check your credit report and find this is not happening you need to contact the servicer and start a dispute with the credit reporting agency. 

In contrast to general forbearance, this payment suspension does not need to be requested and should have happened automatically.  It also differs in that the interest rate will be set to zero so it will not accrue and it will also not be capitalized during this time period.  Therefore, if you are able to make payments it will go directly toward the principal owed. This would allow you to pay off the loan faster and reduce the total amount paid on your student loans.  If taken advantage of, this could save you thousands of dollars on your Department of Education student loans.

Fall 2020 Update

Three Easy Consultation Options

At Detroit Lawyers PLLC both your financial and physical health are important to us. In order to adapt to the times, we are providing the following ways to meet with our attorneys:

In Person Consultations

Our office is open for business! We are back providing in person consultations for all required meetings throughout the bankruptcy process. We have spent the few months outfitting our office to make sure it is as safe as possible.

The following steps have been taken:

  • Our building has instituted directions for how traffic should flow throughout the premises. Visitors will be asked to go up stairways on the north side of the building and go down stairways on the south side of the building. Please follow all the signs!
  • In our suite, a protective barrier will provide adequate distance between our clients and us.
  • We have installed a state of the art Molekule air purification system which will eliminate viruses and bacteria.
  • After each meeting, we completely disinfect all surfaces in the common areas and meeting rooms.
  • We ask all our clients to wear masks while in the building and call us upon their arrival. We will open the door for them once they arrive and will ensure they are the only ones in the waiting area. We even provide same day walk-in in person meetings. Just give us a call and we will make sure you are seated with an attorney within the hour.

Video Conferences

We have set up easy to access meetings using Zoom for consultations. All you need to do is book online or call us at (248) 237-7979. We will send you a simple link in advance and you can video chat with us on your computer or phone. Downloading the Zoom application on your computer or phone is simple. This is probably our least used option and we encourage our client s to try it a it’s much easier than they imagine!

Phone Meetings

We still offer the simple option of a phone consultation. A majority of our clients have started the process via phone over the last six months.

The Remote Bankruptcy Processs

 Throughout the last few months we have perfected the entire process from initial consultation through receiving a bankruptcy discharge. We take care to carefully explain the process and provide documentation to our clients as we know more gets lost in translation remotely. If we aren’t able to meet in person, our staff is dedicated to assist our clients in gathering documentation to get their case filed as soon as possible with 100% accuracy. We can pull most our clients’ paystubs, tax returns and credit reports online.  If our clients are on board, there’s no reason why we can’t file a standard case 48 hours after being retained.

Remote Court Hearings

The Eastern District of Michigan Bankruptcy Court has ordered that all hearings still being held either by phone or Zoom video conferences. This policy has been in effect since April and will continue until further notice. Our clients can still receive a bankruptcy discharge without leaving their homes. Take advantage of your chance to do this now before you are required to attend an in person hearing at federal court in downtown Detroit. Save on parking, don’t take a half day off work and get it out of the way now!


Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Coronavirus continues to spread throughout the United States. Michigan, specifically metro Detroit, has been hit particularly hard.  We would like to provide you with a few resources or tips that may help you during these trying times.


If you’ve lost your job you should attempt to contact the State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency and apply for unemployment benefits.  This is their website: State of Michigan UIA.  Under normal circumstances, you can receive up to $362.00 per week for a maximum of 26 weeks.  Due to the coronavirus you can now receive up to $962.00 per week for a maximum of 39 weeks.  With the number of layoffs the website may be particularly slow, but it’s important to apply right away.  You have 28 days from the date of your work stoppage to apply for benefits.  Here is a guide to claiming unemployment benefits in Michigan during Covid-19: UIA Guide.


While a number of companies have been forced to layoff workers, there are over 40,000 jobs from more than 2,000 companies in Michigan looking to hire workers.  You can use the Covid-19 job portal to search for immediate openings.  The website is: COVID-19 Job Portal.


The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act was intended to help business owners with their immediate needs.  Part of the CARES Act includes the paycheck protection program. The program will provide cash assistance through 100% federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during the coronavirus pandemic.  If you’re an employer, and you maintain your payroll, the loans would be forgiven.  This would help workers remain employed and businesses snap-back quicker.  The max loan is equal to 2.5 times your average monthly payroll costs.  You can also use the loan for interest on any mortgage obligation, rent, utilities and interest on any other debt obligations incurred before February 15, 2020. At this point, we have not found any banks accepting loan applications, but you should contact your bank to get more information.

Now, the loans are not automatically forgiven.  You must apply through your lender for forgiveness on your loan.  The application is likely to require documentation of the number of employees on payroll and pay rates, including IRS payroll tax filings and State income, payroll and unemployment insurance filings. Documentation verifying payments on covered mortgage obligations, lease obligations and utilities.


Governor Gretchen Whitmer has temporarily suspended evictions in Michigan until April 17.  This means even if you fall behind on your rent payments your landlord is prohibited from commencing any eviction action.  Foreclosure sales and evictions of homeowners has also been suspended.  In addition, many mortgage companies are offering forbearance or suspension of their mortgage payments.  The following lenders have programs in place: Ally Bank, Bank of America, Quicken Loans, TD Bank, and Wells Fargo. You should contact your mortgage servicing company as soon as possible to see if you are eligible for any relief due to coronavirus.

It is important to remember that mortgage forbearance is not forgiveness.  You will still have to pay back what you owe, but it may provide you with some temporary relief during these tumultuous times.


Similar to mortgage companies, many automakers are offering deferred payments.  Ford, Nissan, GM and Toyota have all said they will provide payment relief options to customers affected by the virus, including extensions and deferred lease payments. 

Some lenders are also offering to waive fees to skip a payment on loans.  Lake Michigan Credit Union is waiving all fees to skip a payment on credit cards, auto, boat, RV, 4-wheeler, personal watercraft, snowmobile, or unsecured term loans.

Communicating with your lender during the coronavirus pandemic is best way to increase your chances of continuing a mutually beneficial relationship.

We will continue to update the resources so be sure to check back soon.

Please contact us with any questions.  While we may not know the answer, we will try our best to help point you in the right direction.

The Simple Process of Filing a Bankruptcy Case During the COVID-19 Pandemic

You can file an entire bankruptcy case without leaving your couch. (Photo Credit: Sammy Joonhee)

With all of the changes being made there’s something that has remained constant at Detroit Lawyers, PLLC: our value in establishing an honest, communicative, and open relationship with our clients. We want you to always feel assured that we’re here with you every step of the way. In doing so, we’ve taken the time to outline this entire process from start to finish.

Steps to filing for bankruptcy without leaving your home:

Free Consultation:  

Available through phone call, Zoom conference call, or facetime call

Upon setting up the consultation:

  • We’ll send you an intake form to fill out (this will allow us to determine all of the options available to you).
  • This is a fillable form that can be completed right on your phone, or home computer without the need to print.
  • Not tech-savvy? Not a problem. We will fill the form out with you over the phone and proceed with the consultation.

Retaining our firm:

Once you’ve hired us to represent you, a retainer agreement will be executed.

  • Retainer agreement: Attorney-client agreement outlining the terms and services of our firm will be sent electronically and can be signed electronically.
    • Payment to retain and secure our services: All payments can be made over the phone with a card, or directly on our website at
    • Required Documents: A list of required documents specified to your case will be sent electronically along with retainer agreement (see number 3 for elaboration).  

Required Documents:

You will receive list of documents that are necessary to file

How to get documents to us:

  1. Email them (we don’t mind you bombarding our inboxes)
  2. Provide us with your login information and we’ll pull them for you
    • We can also assist with setting up logins to gain online access
  3. Fax them
  4. Take a picture(s) and text them
  5. All of the above

Filing your case:

Due to the court temporarily suspending the requirement to obtain a person’s original signature we can now set your filing appointment to happen via phone.

  • We will set up a time to go over your bankruptcy petition and schedules with you.
  • We will send you a copy of your completed petition for your review.
  • We will get your written permission to affix your signature.
  • We will electronically file your case through the court.

Court Procedure:

New court procedures have been established so that you do not need to physically appear in court for your 341 Meeting of Creditors.

The way your court meeting will be held is dependent on your assigned trustee.

Your hearing will be held a couple of different ways:

  • Over the phone:  We will provide you with a phone number and access code to call on the day of your originally scheduled court meeting. Your court meeting will take place over the phone with us, and your assigned trustee.
  • Interrogatory form: This contains a series of questions you will need to answer. The questions mainly pertain to the information already provided on your bankruptcy petition.

We have personally made this into a fillable form so that you can complete it on your phone, or home computer without needing to print.

Getting your Discharge:

Your case is set to be Discharged 60 days from the date of your court meeting.

How to get your Bankruptcy Discharge:

  • Check your mail!

Day-to-day activities may be limited, but our services and willingness to aid you through these financial difficulties are not. Give us a call or go on our website at any time to set up a free consultation.

Coronavirus Update

Our Commitment to You

At Detroit Lawyers PLLC, we remain focused on continuing to provide outstanding customer service while keeping our clients safe. As a result of the coronavirus outbreak we have implemented changes to our office policies.

  • We are open for business! You can file bankruptcy during the government’s stay in place order. You can stop creditor harassment, wage garnishments and foreclosures. In fact, you can file a bankruptcy case and receive a discharge, without leaving the comfort of your home.

  • In office meetings will now be conducted by phone or video conferencing. We will work by your side from initial consultation to the filing of the case and you can do it all from the safety of your own home.

  • Detroit Lawyers PLLC will continue to comply with the Eastern District of Michigan’s policies and that of its respective Trustees. It remains our goal to continue to push our client’s cases forward and will be working hard to facilitate resolutions and discharges. If at any time a client is uncomfortable proceeding with a telephonic conference requiring attendance at our office, we will seek them an adjournment with no questions asked.

  • In order to keep our clients and staff safe, we ask that you not enter into our building if you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with coronavirus. This includes fever, cough, shortness of breath or sore throat. In addition, please stay home if you have travelled outside of the state or country in the last 14 days.

We understand that as a result of the pandemic, you may have had to make some difficult financial choices. Many are watching their retirement plans dissipate, losing hours at work or being forced to stay home to care for their children. As a full financial services firm, we welcome your questions on how to navigate the next few months. For many folks, the loss of a tax refund or garnishment can be particularly devastating during the current climate. We will continue to offer our clients a quick turnaround from initial consultation to filing to get those garnishments stopped and money back into their bank account as quickly as possible.

If you have any questions, please contact our office at (248) 237-7979 or set up a free consultation online.

Solutions for Unpaid Divorce Attorney Bills

Our office deals with all types of financial obligations. Our attorneys notice patterns in the types of debts we see.  Attorney fees for a divorce is a common debt that drives people into bankruptcy.  

Why are divorce fees so high?

The contentious nature of divorce litigation lends itself to a high number of billable hours and unpaid fees. Because many divorce attorneys charge a nominal deposit, the bill continues to grow and eventually multiply with unpaid interest. Divorce attorneys will stop representing the client once the bill gets out of control. As a result, individuals will hire multiple attorneys on a single divorce. Because each attorney must familiarize themselves with the case, the fees are multiplied.

Many individuals aren’t informed by their divorce lawyers on how to control their fees. Considerate attorneys will send a letter outlining ways to reduce fees such as limiting phone calls and working with legal assistants.

There also is an emotional element in divorce or custody proceedings that make it unlike any other field of law. Divorce attorneys often act as armchair psychologists. Discussing their client’s frustrations and anxiety instead of the legal work at hand. Anger towards their spouse and the need to retain custody of their child at all costs further muddy the waters. In an emotional state, divorce clients will incur exorbitant legal fees ignoring their potential financial implications.

Laura Dern’s character in Marriage Story was a high priced divorce attorney. Hopefully her client wasn’t saddled with too much debt after the divorce.

Inability to Pay

The dissolution of a marriage inevitably results in debt issues on the horizon. The divorce judgment itself outlines an allocation of debt and potential child or spousal support that wasn’t being paid prior to the divorce. People are unable to meet their typical household expenses when their income is cut in half. A monstrous divorce bill on top of that exacerbates these debt problems.

Collection Efforts

Divorce attorneys are uniquely situated to collect on their divorce bill unlike other forms of debt. Divorce attorneys are familiar with the courts and collection attorneys in the field. Therefore, they can quickly get a judgment and collect on their client via garnishment or aggressive collection tactics.

Solutions to Divorce Bill

Many people think that because a debt is owed to an attorney that they cannot get rid of it. They are ashamed that they generated such a large bill. Many have a strong relationship with their attorney so they will sacrifice their financial well being for years to pay a bill that will never go away. The good news is that a divorce bill can be easily discharged in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. There is no exception to discharge for divorce bills or fees. A divorce bill should be treated just like any other consumer debt such as a credit card or medical bill. An experienced bankruptcy can immediately stop any collections efforts for the divorce bill using the bankruptcy stay.  As an alternative, a debt settlement can result in cutting the bill in half with the right attorney at your side. We encourage our prospective clients to not let one difficult and emotional period in their lives to dictate their entire future. Call our office today to set up a free consultation and we will put a plan together for you.

Detroit Residents Are Overtaxed

A Detroit News investigation found that Detroit homeowners could have been taxed by more than $600 million. As a debt relief company, we meet with many Detroit residents struggling with large property tax debt. A majority of these people are facing tax foreclosure or other financial hardships as a result of their high tax bills.

After the Great Recession, housing values plummeted across the State. However, the tax bills in the City did not follow suit quickly enough. As a result, the residents were overtaxed significantly in the immediate years following the recession that they are still feeling the repercussions for into the 2020s.

The Detroit News provided a handy tool to determine if you were overtaxed. You simply plug in your property address and it will indicate the amount you should actually be paying.


If you were overtaxed or are struggling with tax debt, there are a few solutions you can try to lessen the burden.

Appeal your tax Bill

  Once estimating the market value of your property, if it is at odds with the State Equalized Value on your tax bill, then you can appeal your tax bill at your City’s Assessor’s office at any time. Detroit has a specific website to guide you through the process.

Apply for a Poverty Tax Exemption

If you are below the poverty line for your household size, you may be able to eliminate the property tax owed by claiming an exemption. This does not contain fees assessed for solid waste and delinquent water bills. For example if you are a household of three and earn less than $23,036.00, you can eliminate your obligation.

Enter a Payment Plan with Wayne County

Recent years have provided more generous payment plans with the Wayne County Treasurer. The Treasurer has recently flooded television stations with commercials outlining the process. The Wayne County website provides outlines of the payment plans.

File a Chapter 13 Bankuptcy Case

In certain cases, its too late to enter into a payment agreement with the Treasurer or the terms are impossible to meet. A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy case will allow you to pay down the past due tax obligations over a three to five year repayment plan. If there is no equity in the property, you can pay even less than the taxes owed through the plan.

Our firm has a vast amount of experience working with property tax issues in Wayne County on both sides of the aisle. Please contact our office for a free consultation to find the best plan for you.

Detroit Lawyers PLLC featured in Jalopnik

The automotive blog, Jalopnik,  conducted a thorough investigation of Credit Acceptance and its practices. Jalopnik examined over twenty years of court records in the 36th District in Detroit and found that one out of every nine people facing a debt collection case was being sued by Credit Acceptance.

Attorney Drew Millitello was interviewed for the story and provided insight on how Credit Acceptance’s collection practice related to bankruptcy.

Check out the article here. The firm is proud to be a part of such an illuminating investigation into a major problem

The article was later republished in the Metro Times. 

If you have a problem with Credit Acceptance or an sub-prime auto lender, give our office a call for a free consultation at (248) 237-7979.

Attorney Drew Millitello featured in the November 7, 2018 issue of Metro Times

Brite Financial

Are you being garnished by Brite Financial?

Has Brite Financial repossessed your vehicle and attempted to sue you for the deficiency?

Do you have a high interest car loan from Brite Financial and your vehicle broke down?

WHO IS Brite Financial?

Brite Financial Corporation is an automobile financing company that works with car dealers to provide financing to high credit risk individuals at a high interest rate. At times, the interest rate provided will be just below the statutory limit at 24.99%. We have found from our experience that Brite Financial is aggressive at repossessing automobiles when an individual becomes past due. After repossession, Brite will sell the vehicle and ultimately sue the individual for the difference between the sale price of the vehicle and the amount the individual owed. This is called the deficiency balance. The deficiency balance can range from a small amount to as much as $15,000.00. Once a Complaint is filed seeking judgment on the deficiency balance, it is very difficult to succeed in court as the contract terms have already been agreed upon. In a vast majority of cases, Brite will be successful in obtaining a judgment. After Brite obtains a judgment, they can begin garnishment proceedings immediately.

Our office has worked with hundreds of individuals who have experienced financial problems as a result of their agreements with Brite.  We have found that the car dealerships that work with Brite have sold a number of vehicles that have problems resulting in the vehicle breaking down shortly after purchase.


Detroit Lawyers can stop a garnishment by Brite Financial immediately and discharge any obligation that was previously owed to them.  By filing a bankruptcy case, we will contact it’s attorneys to get the garnishment stopped. If it has taken over $600 within the last 90 days prior to the filing of the bankruptcy case, we will get that money back for you as well.

If your monthly payment owed to Brite Financial is too high as a result of the interest rate, we can reduce the interest rate in a Chapter 13 plan. If your vehicle is over three years old, we can reduce the amount owed on the vehicle to the fair market value of the vehicle.


Don’t accept Brite Financial taking 25% of your paycheck. Do not continue to pay a high interest rate on an old vehicle that is breaking down. Contact our office today at 248 237 7979.

Changes Coming in Michigan Drivers Responsibility Fees?

Michigan Driver Responsibility Fees put the working poor in tough position that they can’t get out of. A cycle of license suspensions and fees follows resulting in a debt exceeding the worst credit card balances. These fees result in drivers saddled with debt for tickets and fees. This is compounded by the lack of a driver’s license which limits job prospects. Its no secret that drivers responsibility fees drive individuals into bankruptcy, where they can discharge fees and get their license back immediately. We have worked with families that have for the sole purpose of getting their license back. However, it appears that there are changes on the horizon in the state of Michigan.

How Did We Get Here?

In 2003, Driver Responsibility Fees were imposed to make up for a budget shortfall. The state legislature could not agree to raise taxes or limit spending, so the decision was made to take the funds from drivers. Public Act 165 of 2003 took effect October 1, 2003 and assessed a monetary penalty owed to the state to drivers convicted of a certain offense.  Offenses such as no proof of insurance or driving with expired license received a fee of $150.00. While the most common offense, driving while license suspended, received a fee of $500.00.  Driver’s Responsibility Fees have been a lucrative source of revenue for the state. Crain’s Detroit Business reports that they generated more than $100 million for Michigan’s budget.


Effect on the Community

Because of the fees, as many as 100,00 Michigan residents have had their driver’s license revoked. To get their license back, the drivers must pay all tickets, drivers responsibility fees and a reinstatement fee of $150.00.

Forgiveness Coming?

The Michigan Legislature has recently voted to phase out drivers responsibility fees, which will completely be phased out on October 1, 2019. The House bill seeks to end collection of all fees even earlier by moving up the timeline to September 30, 2018.  This contrasts with the Senate bill which will continue collection activities for six years after assessment. Both bills would need to be approved by the acting governor to become law. Although the house bill is much more advantageous for drivers, drivers responsibility fees will be a thing of the past in the next decade.

This is great news for drivers, but most people can’t wait between one and six years to get their license back. If you have insurmountable drivers responsibility fees, our firm can get your license back immediately. Call 248-237-7979 for a free consultation.