Filing Bankruptcy and Professional Licenses

bankruptcy doesn't mean you'll lose your licenseWritten by Myrtle Beach Bankruptcy Lawyer, Allen Jeffcoat

In my Myrtle Beach bankruptcy practice, I often talk to clients who are considering filing bankruptcy and who have a license that they are worried about losing if they file bankruptcy.

I’ve talked to Myrtle Beach realtors, lawyers, doctors, chiropractors, building contractors, insurance agents, securities dealers, counselors, accountants and many other professionals who are worried about making it through the current recession. They realize that they may lose some of their investment property in a bankruptcy, but want to protect their means of earning a living–which for them means protecting their professional license.

Myrtle Beach is blessed with many professionals that make our town a great place to live. But many professionals invested in real estate deals several years ago during the real estate boom they thought would never end. These investments have soured, and the resulting debt load threatens to ruin the professionals and their family’s financial future. Often bankruptcy offers a clear way to emerge from these financial problems with a fresh financial start.

My clients often say, “I’m a good [doctor lawyer, accountant, etc.].  But I have to have my license to do my work. My buddy says the state will take my license if I file bankruptcy. Even if bankruptcy is my financial answer, I can’t do it if I will lose my license.”

Well, their buddy is wrong. The Bankruptcy Code provides that “a governmental unit may not deny, revoke, suspend, or refuse to renew a license, permit, charter, franchise, or other similar grant to, condition such a grant to, discriminate with respect to such a grant against, deny employment to, terminate the employment of, or discriminate with respect to employment against, a person that is or has [filed bankruptcy].” This means that the professional’s license is safe.

The bottom line is that if you have financial problems, get help.  Don’t let fear of losing your professional license stop you from dealing with your financial problems.

Otis Allen Jeffcoat, III is a bankruptcy lawyer practicing in Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach/Little River, and Pawleys Island/Litchfield. He has been practicing law in South Carolina since 1973 and along the Grand Strand since 1977. Most of Allen’s bankruptcy and workout work is for individual and small business debtors, although occasionally he helps small landowners deal with defaults by their bankrupt commercial tenants. “I get to meet and help clients at a time of high stress and some despair for many of them, when they are under a level of financial pressure that they haven’t felt in their lifetimes,” says Allen. “When they tell me that they feel better about their future, that they have some hope, that they understand how they can move forward in a responsible way--that’s the best ‘thank you’ that a lawyer can have, and it makes my day.” “I wish sometimes that my clients and I had talked sooner, when they had more options,” Allen continues, “But in almost all cases I feel that I have helped them through some difficult restructuring in their finances, with positive results for their emotional and physical health.” In addition to his bankruptcy practice, Allen handles a variety of matters for clients, including residential real estate, commercial real estate, environmental law, corporate work, foreclosures, receiverships and loan workouts of all sizes. He is experienced in resort development, from timesharing to large planned unit developments and condominiums, and the homeowner association litigation that such developments spawn from time to time. He also helps clients with their needs in estate planning, probate administration, litigation, and elder law. Allen grew up in Columbia and attended public schools there before heading north to Princeton University for college. He graduated from Princeton magna cum laude with a degree in Politics. He returned to Columbia for law school at the University of South Carolina, where he served on the Law Review. He was in private practice in Columbia for a few years, then got married and moved to Myrtle Beach in 1977, where he has remained ever since. Giving back to his community and state is important to Allen. He is a founder of the Grand Strand Family YMCA, was its first President, and now serves as a Director of the YMCA of Coastal Carolina. He is a Director of the Waccamaw Community Foundation, and is a past Trustee of United Way of Horry County, Inc. He has served as a Trustee of The South Carolina Nature Conservancy and as its Chairman. He is a member of the City of Myrtle Beach Election Commission; a graduate of Leadership Grand Strand, and past President of the Rotary Club of North Myrtle Beach. He is active in the Princeton University Schools Committee and in fund-raising for Princeton University. Allen is married and has the smartest, most beautiful granddaughter in the country. He also has two daughters and one son-in-law. He lives with his firm administrator, who also happens to be his wife, Mary.

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