Tom Lester

We can help you decide what to do

We will assess your financial situation and help you consider all options for debt relief.

If a bankruptcy is not right for you, we will discuss other available paths.

Bankruptcy can be a valuable tool, but it is critical to have a guide who knows the law and gets you all the relief to which you are entitled. Our attorneys and staff have decades of experience navigating the bankruptcy court system. We have a superb reputation with the bankruptcy trustees and the court. We will make sure your bankruptcy gets done right.

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcies

Most individuals use one of these two chapters to file bankruptcy. The goal of both types of bankruptcy is the same -- to protect your assets and to discharge your debts.

To qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, an individual must past the Means Test. This test looks at your income for the six months immediately before you file and compares your monthly average to the median income for families of the same size in your area. There are a number of twists and turns in this process and successful navigation requires counsel capable of understanding the process.

If you do not meet the Means Test, or you have a prior Chapter 7 filing (within 8 years) or Chapter 13 filing (within 4 years) you may not file a Chapter 7.

If you do not qualify for a Chapter 7, you may be able to file a Chapter 13. To qualify for a Chapter 13 you must have less than $360,475.00 in unsecured debt and less than $1,441,875.00 in total debt. We will explain your options and help you decide which path will best meet your goals.

You can normally keep your house and car in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 if you continue to make regular payments on those loans. If you are behind on payments, we can help you develop a plan to bring those payments current.

There are many things to consider when filing either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. We are here to help you decide which option is best for you.

Advocating Clients Rights

The practice of law is first and foremost a service industry. Tom’s clients enjoy an attorney-client relationship firmly focused on the needs of the individual. Good people find themselves in financial distress for a variety of reasons, and no single course of action fits everybody.

Tom is also a very effective advocate in personal injury cases, where his natural compassion and straightforward approach have led to very favorable settlements and verdicts for his clients. Tom has lectured on bankruptcy and collection matters to a variety of audiences. He has presented the Debtor/Creditor section of the local Street Law CLE. Tom also addressed the Whatcom County Bar Association (WCBA) in 2008 on "How to Follow a Debtor Into and Out of Bankruptcy." He also presented in May 2009 on the subject of Real Estate and Bankruptcy to the WCBA.

Tom was born and raised in the small town of Clarion, Iowa and attended local schools there. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Drake University with a major in Business Finance and a minor in Economics in 1982. He then attended the University Of Iowa School Of Law, graduating with his J.D. in 1985. Tom began his career litigating asbestos cases in King County. He moved into bankruptcy, personal injury and criminal defense in 1987. Over the years, Tom has tried, settled or otherwise resolved hundreds of cases. In 1991 Tom moved his family to Bellingham. He started his own firm in 1993. Tom is a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, a WSTLA-Eagle (Washington State Trial Lawyers Association) and WACDL (Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers). Finally, he's a member of the board for Whatcom County's volunteer lawyer program, Law Advocates, and sits on a committee looking at proposed changes for local rules for the Western District of Washington Bankruptcy Court as they affect Chapter 13 proceedings.

In his spare time, Tom enjoys soccer, cycling and living with his family in Whatcom County.