If you get Netflix streaming, I highly recommend “The Queen of Versailles”. It tells the story of David Siegel, the owner of the Westgate Resorts timeshare business, and his third wife Jackie, the former Mrs. Florida. As dubious as timeshares are for consumers, Mr. Seigel is a classic successful American entrepreneur, becoming filthy rich from scratch by selling nice vacation weeks to middle class consumers.
The film opens in 2008, while the Siegels are constructing the largest single family home in the United States, modeled after Versailles, at 90,000 square feet. Their current 26,000 square foot home was just too crowded for themselves, their seven minor children, and assorted nannies and staff. They are proud of their lavish lifestyle, exhibiting the crassness and over-the-top behavior often associated with “new money”.
The most common issues for consumer debtors is understanding the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. It can be confusing, and an experienced bankruptcy attorney should review the facts of each case. Beware of attorneys who steer debtors toward a particular chapter for the convenience and comfort level of the attorney!
A Chapter 7 is a “liquidation”. A trustee is appointed to sell what you own and divide the proceeds among creditors. However, debtors are permitted to protect certain minimal levels of assets throughexemptions. It is not unusual to see a trustee file a “report of no distribution”, and with no assets to distribute, the debtor gets his discharge about 4-5 months after filing. Sometimes, even if a debtor has to surrender or redeem assets, and an estate is created, it is still the best route. The debtor still receives his discharge, but the case may take a year to close.