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Written by Canterbury Law Group

How Many Times Can I File for Bankruptcy?

If you have filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 before, can you do the same again? Can a debtor in Arizona file for bankruptcy multiple times? It’s not uncommon for Arizonians to fall into hard times and become severely indebted once or twice. Technically, it is possible to file for bankruptcy more than once under Arizona law and the applicable federal laws. However, the law specifies certain circumstances under which a debtor can actually do that.

BAPCPA and Multiple Bankruptcy Filings

In 2005, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) went into to effect. The law made it less easy for debtors to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The idea is to prevent unwarranted practices by higher income individuals who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to take advantage of its debt discharge clauses. BAPCPA aimed to force rich debtors to file for Chapter 13 instead and to pay back what they owe under a court-mandated payment plan.

As a result of BAPCPA, there are now several significant limitations for multiple Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings in Arizona.

What are the Limits on Multiple Bankruptcy Filings?

Here is a list of the most significant limitations to multiple bankruptcies that debtors should be aware of:

  • Debtors must wait for at least 8 years before filing for another Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The days are counted from the day the debtor filed the first Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. From then on, the debtor must wait exactly 8 years before filing for bankruptcy under the same chapter once again.
  • Debt discharges during the second bankruptcy could be more impaired based on discharges offered during the earlier bankruptcy filings. For example, if you are filing for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you cannot obtain a debt discharge if you were granted an earlier Chapter 13 debt discharge in the previous two years. If you have obtained a debt discharge under Chapter 7 in the previous 4 years, then you can’t get a Chapter 13 discharge for a new case. However, this doesn’t prevent you from being able to file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
  • You can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy regardless of how many bankruptcies you have filed before. There are certain circumstances, such as owning too much mortgage debt, that allow debtors to do this. Chapter 13 filings are accepted even for issues like needing a payment plan to pay off taxes owed.
  • Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, regardless of precious bankruptcy history, enables automatic stay on a current debt between three to five years. However, the court must be specifically requested to enforce the automatic stay if you have had a bankruptcy dismissed by the court during the previous 12 months.

The above limitations are not too restrictive when it comes to filing for another bankruptcy. If your case is complicated, you must consult with an experienced Arizona bankruptcy attorney. Keep in mind that you may not be able to keep filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in rapid succession as per the recently amended rules and regulations.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Busting Common Myths about Arizona Bankruptcies

Filing for bankruptcy anywhere can be stressful. However, if you are neck deep in debt, and if bankruptcy seems like the best path to take, you shouldn’t hesitate to do so. Some people hold back on filing for bankruptcy and sorting out debt because of many misconceptions. Here is a brief list of common myths surrounding bankruptcy and the actual truth which dispels them.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Erases All Debt

Under both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy rules, some debt will be discharged by the court. This does not mean that all debt will be “erased” by the courts. For example, discharge is not granted for certain debt like owed child support, spousal maintenance, penalties owed for criminal or civil cases, certain tax debt, and for all secured debt. What will actually happen when you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that the court will review your case, and the judge will discharge a certain amount of unsecured debt. Then, the court will oversee a payment plan for you to pay back all remaining secured or exempt debt.  Will you walk away from bankruptcy with substantially less debt—yes, all debt gone—not always?

The Creditors Can Claim My Car and House

This is a common myth surrounding filing for bankruptcy and it’s largely not accurate. The courts allow bankruptcy petitioners to keep family homes and main modes of transportation under exemption rules. Even if your house is tied up in debt, you can claim an exemption of up to $150,000 out of the total equity value of your home. You can also get up to $6,000 worth of exemptions for each motor vehicle you own. Also, Arizona’s homestead laws further protect family homes. There are no recent known cases where an Arizonian bankruptcy court uprooted a family from their home over an unpaid debt. The courts are largely in favor of debtors keeping their shelter. To find out more about exemptions your property or vehicles might qualify for, contact a local bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale.

The Bankruptcy Court will Inspect My House

The bankruptcy court does not demand that anyone go to the debtor’s house and go through his or her possessions. The petitioner is expected to voluntarily list all possessions (under oath) when presenting the necessary paperwork. If the debtor has lied, the creditor’s lawyer will point it out to the court. There are no inspections of any sort involved absenting a willful fraud on the court by the applicant.

Filing for Bankruptcy Disqualifies Me from Applying for Credit Cards and Loans

Debtors that file for bankruptcy are not automatically disqualified from obtaining credit cards or loans like car loans. Certain types of bankruptcy, like Chapter 7 bankruptcy, discharges unsecured debt like unpaid credit card bills and personal loans. Once you have been declared bankrupt, your credit score will be lowered. Some loans will not be available for you based on this low credit score. However, as soon as you start repaying remaining debts, your credit score will come back up again quickly. In the meantime, you will be able to qualify for secured credit cards or loans even after you have filed for bankruptcy.

Also, when you have filed for personal bankruptcy once, you have to wait at least 6 years to file for personal bankruptcy in the state again. Creditors know this, and some actually prefer to lend to formerly bankrupt clients because of this knowing that they will not return to the bankruptcy court for years to come.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

When Should You File for Bankruptcy?

Of course, filing for bankruptcy is not easy on anyone. The filing process can go smoothly if you have a good lawyer. What’s really difficult is deciding when to file for bankruptcy. Does your financial situation actually call for you to throw in the towel? This article will help you understand which situations call for declaring personal bankruptcy:

Do a Self-Assessment of Your Situation

No one knows your financial situation better than you. So, when deciding to file for bankruptcy, you should do a self-assessment of your financial situation. Even if you feel like your debts are unbearable, you may not necessarily be in the danger zone that calls for declaring bankruptcy. There are several indicators that you are in serious financial trouble. Here is a short list:

  • You get constant debt collection calls
  • You are unable to, and have not recently made, minimum payments on credit cards
  • You don’t know the size of your debt
  • Your family home is at risk of foreclosure due to a debt
  • You have to borrow money to pay for necessities
  • You get a lot of red notices in the mail
  • Your creditors are threatening legal action

If you answer yes to three or more questions above, then you are seriously in debt. If you are unable to pay for everyday necessities without using credit cards or borrowing money in another manner, then you are definitely in the financial danger zone. You could consider bankruptcy as a possible solution.

Consider Alternative Routes

Filing for bankruptcy will lower your credit score significantly. Therefore, it’s not something that should be done frivolously. First, consider if there are alternatives to bankruptcy you can consider. Try calling your creditors and renegotiating the terms of your loans. Most creditors prefer if debtors don’t go bankrupt as a judge could erase the unsecured debt. It’s very likely that the creditor will be able to come into new favorable terms with you.  You can also consider selling stuff around the house to find funds to repay loans. It’s possible that you are spending money unnecessarily, so a household budget adjustment may solve your problems. Exhaust your alternatives first, and then decide to file for bankruptcy.

Consult with an Attorney

If you are really not sure about doing either of the above, you can always consult with an attorney for professional advice. Find a local bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale or other cities in the state. Most will be willing to hold a consultation for a lowered fee. The state of Arizona does pose limits on how much a bankruptcy attorney can charge so money may not be an issue.

Know What Types of Debt You Owe

Are your debts mostly because of secured loans, unsecured loans, unpaid taxes, or fees due like alimony? Some debts, like taxes and child support, cannot be wiped out by filing for bankruptcy. If you owe a lot of unsecured debt, like credit card debt, then filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a good option.

It all depends on the type of debt you owe, and your income level. Before you file for bankruptcy, make sure you are eligible for it. You may also want to ask your attorney whether a certain type of debt can actually be forgiven by a bankruptcy court.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

What Type of Bankruptcy Should You File in Arizona?

There are several different types of bankruptcy to consider if you are in serious debt you cannot pay back. First, you have to decide that bankruptcy is the best course of action to take. Once you have done that, you should decide under which “chapter” under which to file for bankruptcy.

The most common types of personal bankruptcy are Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. To decide between the two, you should seek legal advice from a local bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale, Phoenix or elsewhere. Let’s look at the types of bankruptcy available and which type may suit your needs the best:

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is sometimes referred to as “liquidation bankruptcy.” It’s quite common because it allows the court to discharge many types of unsecured debts. For example, massive amounts of credit card debt or personal loan debt can be completely discharged by a judge under this law. If there are nonexempt properties or debts, the court would appoint a Trustee to oversee your finances until remaining creditors are paid off.

This type of bankruptcy is only available to debtors with medium to low-income. The process to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can take up to 4 months, and sometimes involves significant paperwork.

Chapter 11

This type of bankruptcy is similar to Chapter 13 in that it is also a type of “reorganization” bankruptcy. It is typically used by large corporations or companies but individuals can use it too. Personal bankruptcy is rarely filed under Chapter 11 however.

Chapter 12

Chapter 12 bankruptcy is exclusively for fishermen and farmers. It involved submitting a repayment plan to court like in Chapter 13. However, unlike Chapter 13, these plans are allowed to be more flexible. Chapter 12 offers more flexibility with cramdowns and lien shipping for unsecured aspects of secured loans. Chapter 12 requires higher debt limits to get a favorable ruling.

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is called the “wage earners” bankruptcy. It’s usually the last resort for those who don’t qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This route allows debtors to pay back their creditor in full or part via a court-approved payment plan. Paying the debts off can take up to 5 years depending on the petitioner’s income. Once the payment plan is approved, the court may discharge some unsecured debts. Chapter 13 bankruptcy can prevent a home foreclosure and allow debtors to keep much their property.  Discussing these issues with experienced bankruptcy legal counsel is critical.

Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy law in Arizona, only unsecured debt below a certain fixed debt amount (e.g. $394k) will be discharged by a court. Submitting a payment plan for this type of bankruptcy can be complicated so a bankruptcy attorney is almost always needed to successfully procure court approval of your 3 or 5 years Chapter 13 discharge plan.

To decide which type of bankruptcy is best for you, look at two things: assets and income. Income matters because filing under Chapter 7 is only possible for people in a certainly limited income bracket. You must also choose the right type of bankruptcy to protect assets that could be considered nonexempt. Speaking in general terms, if you are unemployed or earn a low income with few available assets, Chapter 7 may be the best option. If you earn a significantly high income and have many assets, Chapter 13 could be the best option.  Under either Chapter, counsel with experienced and seasoned bankruptcy legal counsel is the critical first step in the process.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

How to Protect Yourself against Creditor Harassment in Arizona

If you are far behind on a loan payment, you can expect the collection calls to start. However, if the collection calls are very frequent and disrupt your life, or the calls are threatening in any manner, then it can be considered harassment. Many indebted Arizonians face harassing calls and other harmful collection efforts from creditors. Here are several steps you can take to stop the abuse.

Try to Negotiate with the Creditor

The easiest and cost-free solution you can take is to try to negotiate with the creditor to settle the debt. Instead of not picking up the phone, in which case the creditor will find other ways to reach you, or ignoring calls, talk to the creditor directly. If your finances are too tight to pay back your loans, discuss it with your creditor and you may be able to come to new terms. Depending on your negotiating skills, and the creditor’s willingness, you may be able to get a payment extension, a reduced interest rate or a waiver or both.

If the creditor is particularly abusive, it is probably best not to engage should the behavior gets worse on the part of the creditor.

Call a Lawyer Immediately

It’s highly recommended to call a bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale or your local area to put a legal stop to harmful third party collection efforts. There are attorneys who specialize in providing relief to those who suffer from abusive creditors. No matter how much you owe, creditors cannot harass you as a part of their collection efforts. There are both federal and Arizona state laws to protect debtors against harassing creditors.

Protection is granted to consumers under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The law outlines personal rights when it comes to debt collection practices. You can consult with a lawyer to find out whether any of your rights under FDCPA has been violated. The lawyer will be able to tell you if the behavior you have endured from the creditor can be considered a legitimate collection effort and what remedies you may have under the FDCPA.

You Can Sue if You are a Victim of Abusive Practices

If you know that you have been subjected to illegitimate collection efforts or practices that can be considered harassment, you can sue the creditor in question with the help of an attorney. The collection practices in question may be considered a violation of either state or federal law.

Harassment, in general,  that involves constant phone calls, multiple phone calls on the same day, auto dialing calls and calling without leaving messages can be considered unfair practices. If the debtor calls your friends, family, employer or another third party regarding your finances, then it is a violation of the law.  Other common creditor harassment practices include the use of threats, such as a threat to call the police on you, charging even more in addition to the debt such as late fees, not validating the debt or continuing to contact you after you have clearly stated your intent to refute the debt. If you have been subjected to any of these, you can take your case to court.

Additionally, filing for personal bankruptcy can relieve you of harassing debt collection efforts literally overnight.  Speak with a seasoned bankruptcy attorney to evaluate your many options. Call us at 480-744-7711 for more help on these issues.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Scottsdale Bankruptcy Options in the New Year

The Scottsdale bankruptcy attorneys at Canterbury Law Group are authorities in bankruptcy. For those struggling with their financial affairs, there are laws that provide for the reduction or elimination of certain debts, and can provide a timeline for the repayment of non-dischargeable debts. It also permits individuals and organizations to repay secured debts with more favorable terms to the borrower.

During December and January, we have many clients looking at options to refresh their finances in the New Year. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, there are four types of bankruptcy cases to choose from:

Chapter 7 is commonly referred to as “straight” bankruptcy or “liquidation.” It requires a debtor to give up property which exceeds certain limits called “exemptions”, so the property can be sold to pay creditors.

Chapter 11, also known as “reorganization”, is used by businesses and a few individual debtors whose debts are very large.

Chapter 12 is used only by family farmers.

Chapter 13 is called “debt adjustment”. It requires a debtor to file a plan to pay debts (or parts of debts) from their current income.

Most people filing bankruptcy will file either chapter 7 or chapter 13 and either type of case may be filed individually or by a married couple filing jointly.
It is no surprise that filing bankruptcy can become tedious and overwhelming. At Canterbury Law Group, we will represent you through the entire process and fight diligently to secure your fresh financial start.

Call us today to schedule your consultation. We can put you on the path to reach financial success!

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Simple Tips to Help Avoid Post – Holiday Bankruptcy

The annual gift-giving season is swiftly approaching and the Phoenix and Scottsdale bankruptcy attorneys at Canterbury Law Group know that this can sometimes lead to serious repercussions after the holiday cheer wears off.

To combat any decisions that may lead you to bankruptcy, the law team at Canterbury suggests treating your holiday spending like a business. Below are suggestions to help you stay on track during the most expensive season of the year.

1. Strategize. Begin by creating a holiday spending plan. Decide how much you can afford to spend this season, including gifts, travel, parties, decorations, and any other holiday expenses. Make a shopping list for whom you want to purchase gifts for. Determine how much you’ll earn between now and the holidays and decide how much you’ll need to set aside each paycheck to save the amount you will need. Also, consider your charitable gift intentions and budget.

2. Track your spending. If you realize you do not need to spend as much as you planned in some categories, move the extra funds to other categories. Or, save the money for your debt stockpile when the bills start to arrive in the New Year.

3. Shop without your credit cards. Yes, leave them at home unless you know you need them for a specific purchase and you already have a specific plan to repay the debt. Use cash.

4. Shop smart. Shop online first so you can price compare multiple retail locations. It’s also wise to ignore most of those “big” sales. In reality, deals such as “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” often leave you spending more and acquiring items that aren’t needed. Stores will often mark up items before “cutting” the price and you end up paying the same-or more.

5. Avoid purchasing on impulse. Instead, make a note of the product, where you saw it and how much it was. Consult your spending plan, and, if there’s room, return for the purchase. If you are married, consult your spouse. Do not hide your spending; you are a family and a team.

If your credit card debt truly gets to the point of seeming to reach the point of no return, no matter how much you save or earn—you might consider bankruptcy to flush out all the debt and start fresh and new.

It is no surprise that filing bankruptcy can seem like an extreme option but it does offer a way out. At Canterbury Law Group, we will represent you through the entire process and fight diligently to secure your fresh financial start. Call us today to schedule your consultation. [email protected] or 480-744-7711 or www.canterburylawgroup.com

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Important Factors on Bankruptcy Help in Scottsdale

If your financial struggles are becoming overwhelming and the future looks bleak, there are a few things you need to know before filing for bankruptcy.

1. There is No Shame in Filing – If you are considering bankruptcy but your feelings about what type of person you would be to file are stopping you, it’s time to get over it! These days, people from all walks of life file for bankruptcy. You should feel no shame in wanting to solve your financial struggles and get your life back in order. The stigma is in avoiding the problems, hiding from creditors, and not facing the facts – it’s time to fix your finances and turn a new corner.

2. You May Be Able to Keep Your Home – Arizona has well known homestead exemptions that allow you to keep your primary residence. Being forced out of your home is not a reason to avoid filing bankruptcy. The likelihood of losing your home is much greater if you do not file. A Scottsdale bankruptcy attorney can help you make bankruptcy choices that in most cases may permit you to maintain ownership of your home even after your bankruptcy concludes. And in this day and age when so many homeowners are underwater on their mortgage, the likelihood of your home not being included in your bankruptcy is even greater.

3. Bankruptcy is an Investment – If you feel as if you are sinking financially, now is the time to contact a Scottsdale bankruptcy attorney. He or she can help you assess your current situation and get a handle on where you are headed. This will give you some time to save up the money you need to file for bankruptcy before it is too late.

Canterbury Law Group is uniquely qualified to represent clients in the most sophisticated personal and business bankruptcy cases. The range of services we provide depends on an individual’s or a company’s unique situation. Call us today to schedule a consultation. 480-240-0400 or [email protected]

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Does Bankruptcy Affect Students Financial Aid?

As back to school season is here, many parents are wondering if a previous bankruptcy can affect eligibility for education loans. Although it may affect some loans, it does not affect eligibility for certain forms of financial aid.

The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-394) amended the US Bankruptcy Code at 11 USC 525(c) to prohibit denial of government student grants and loans based solely on the student’s or borrower’s past or present filing of a bankruptcy petition. The only exception is the Federal PLUS loan.

A child is eligible for federal student loans, such as the Stafford loan, regardless of the parent’s history of bankruptcy. Also, the Stafford loan does not depend on the borrower’s credit history in any way.

A parent’s history of bankruptcy also does not affect the child’s eligibility for federal grants, state grants, scholarships and money from the college, nor student employment programs like Federal Work-Study. The parent may also be eligible for tuition installment plans because these plans are usually structured as a qualified education loans to make them difficult to discharge in bankruptcy.

However, parents are ineligible to borrow from the PLUS loan program for five years from the date of the bankruptcy discharge. By law, PLUS loan borrowers must not have an adverse credit history. The regulations define an adverse credit history as having had a bankruptcy discharge, foreclosure, repossession, tax lien, wage garnishment or default determination in the last five years or a current delinquency on any debt of 90 or more days.

If a child’s parent is denied a PLUS loan because of an adverse credit history, the child becomes eligible for increased unsubsidized Stafford loan limits. Parents with a recent bankruptcy will be ineligible to serve as the borrower or co-signer on most private student loans. The provisions of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1994 apply only to federal student loans, not private student loans. Most lenders of private student loans ask about bankruptcy filings in the last 7 or 10 years. It really doesn’t matter whether the filing was under chapter 7, 11 or 13, as the lenders will be wary of lending money to anybody with a recent bankruptcy filing.

The bankruptcy lawyers at Canterbury law Group work attentively with bankruptcy clients to secure their fresh financial freedom. Whether filing as an individual or for your business, the bankruptcy attorneys at Canterbury Law Group are experienced experts in all areas of bankruptcy cases in the Phoenix area. Please call us today to schedule your consultation.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Arizona Bankruptcy Exemptions

At Canterbury Law Group, our Scottsdale attorneys are renowned bankruptcy technicians. We represent clients through the entire bankruptcy process and, although all cases are unique, the end goal of bankruptcy is always a new beginning and fresh financial start.

We help clients determine eligible exemptions for their bankruptcy case. Here are some of the most common exemptions available under Arizona law (meaning that they will emerge from bankruptcy):

  • Alimony and Child Support – Alimony and child support, up to the amount needed for support. 33-1126.
  • Bank Deposit – A debtor may exempt $300 in a single bank account. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 33–1126(8).
  • Homestead or Residential Property – Under Arizona law, debtors may exempt up to $150,000 (per debtor or married couple) of their home or other real property covered by the homestead exemption. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 33–1101, 33–1103 and 33–1104.
  • Insurance Benefits – Life insurance benefits that are payable or received by a surviving spouse or child, up to $20,000.
  • Claims for the destruction of, or damage to, exempt property – Cash surrender value of life insurance policies, subject to length of ownership requirements and other exceptions.
  • Motor Vehicles – A debtor may exempt up to $6,000 in one or more motor vehicles. An elderly or disabled debtor, or an elderly or disabled spouse or dependent of the debtor, may exempt up to $12,000.
  • Pension and Retirement Benefits – Benefits from various employee pension systems are exempt. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 33–1126 and 38–792.
  • Personal Property – A debtor may exempt the following personal property:
    • up to $6,000 in household furniture and appliances not covered by other exemptions
    • up to $1,000 total in bible, bicycle, sewing machine, typewriter, computer, burial plot, rifle, pistol or shotgun
    • up to $500 in clothing
    • up to $400 in musical instruments
    • up to $800 in animals
    • up to $2,000 in engagement and wedding rings
    • up to $250 in books
    • up to $150 in watch
    • wrongful death awards
    • prepaid rent or security deposit to $2,000 or 1.5 times your rent, whichever is less, in lieu of using homestead exemption.
    • all teaching materials for youth, and
    • certain professionally prescribed health aids.
  • Tools of the Trade – A debtor may exempt up to $5,000 in trade implements, which includes farming tools if the debtor’s primary income is from farming. All arms and uniforms that a debtor is legally required to keep are exempt. Library and teaching aids of a teacher.
  • Unemployment Compensation – Unemployment compensation is exempt as long it is not commingled with other funds and except for the enforcement of child support orders. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 23–783.
  • Wages – A debtor may exempt the lesser of the following wages, per week:
    • 25% of his or her disposable earnings, or
    • earnings in excess of 30 times the federal minimum wage
    • Workers’ Compensation – A debtor may exempt up to $6,000 in one or more motor vehicles. An elderly or disabled debtor, or an elderly or disabled spouse or dependent of the debtor, may exempt up to $12,000.

Our legal team is ready to represent you in your Scottsdale business or personal bankruptcy case. Call us today to schedule your consultation. Our track record speaks for itself! 480-744-7711.

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