Thursday, July 14, 2016

Unsecured Creditor Barred From Making Late Claim

Can a creditor in a chapter 13 bankruptcy case file a claim late due to ‘excusable neglect’?

In order for a creditor to have a valid interest in a bankruptcy case, they must file a claim with the Bankruptcy Court. The filing of a claim is subject to strict time limitations. Although the Bankruptcy Court may allow for the late filing of a claim under certain circumstances this does not mean that they must do so in every case. A case coming out of the Sixth Circuit is a good example of this.

Debtors filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2014 seeking to reorganize their debt and make payments according to an approved plan.

Read more . . .

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Baby Boomers Suffer From Student Debt, Too

Is student debt a problem for baby boomers?

Although we think of student debt as affecting new graduates and young adults, research shows that a surprising number of baby boomers are still carrying the weight of debt from their educations. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the number of borrowers 60 years of age and older was up from 700,000 people in 2005 to 2.2 million in 2014.

Furthermore, the Read more . . .

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Debt Consolidation in Wisconsin: Chapter 128

What are the differences between Chapter 128 and bankruptcy?

Chapter 128 is an old, but still relatively unknown, alternative to bankruptcy available to the people of Wisconsin. It is a voluntary debt consolidation plan that works through the Wisconsin Circuit Court system and has elements that distinguish it from both consumer credit counseling plans and bankruptcy.

Differences between Chapter 128 and Bankruptcy

There are two major distinctions between Chapter 128 and bankruptcy. The first is that bankruptcy is federal and Chapter 128 is strictly limited to the State of Wisconsin. The second is that Chapter 128 enables you to pay your debts through consolidation, not erase them through bankruptcy

Did the Federal Government's overhaul of bankruptcy laws affect Chapter 128 proceedings?


Read more . . .

Monday, June 6, 2016

Love and Marriage and Bankruptcy

Should a married couple file for bankruptcy together?

For some people, being married means doing everything together. Making a home, having children, filing taxes and discussing every minute detail in between might be the best way to go for these folks. Luckily, most people are much more realistic and understand that being married does not cause one to lose his or her personal autonomy. This should be kept in mind during good times and in bad. One of those bad times can be when filing for personal bankruptcy becomes necessary.
Read more . . .

Monday, May 16, 2016

Medical Expenses Are the Number One Cause of Bankruptcies in the U.S.

 Why are so many U.S. bankruptcies traceable to high medical expenses?

Although even more extravagant claims have been made, it is estimated that U.S. indebtedness as many as three out of five bankruptcies in this country are attributable to medical calamities.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Price of Debt Relief

What will it actually cost me to file for bankruptcy?

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy you are likely overwhelmed with debt. So much so that the thought of one more bill is enough to put you over the edge. So, when someone tells you about the fees associated with bankruptcy is causes you to pause. The bad news is yes; it does cost money to file for bankruptcy. The good news is it bankruptcy is a relatively cheap option in comparison to the amount you owe creditors.

Read more . . .

Monday, April 25, 2016

Research Shows Lottery Winners Often End Up Bankrupt

How is it possible for people to blow through millions, or even billions of dollars?

It is counterintuitive that people who win the lottery or inherit tremendous amounts of money will end up bankrupt and yet, according to research studies, that is precisely what frequently occurs. When people win the lottery, their lives are changed forever, and often not for the better. Once the initial exhilaration wears off, typically within a few months, a new reality sets in and it is one that can be difficult to adjust to and manage.

Although the odds of winning the lottery are, as we're all well aware, extremely slim (something around 1 in 292 million), there are lessons to be learned from those who handle sudden wealth badly and suffer the consequences.  Some problems associated with acquiring sudden wealth, whether through winning the lottery or by other means, may be unpreparedness and susceptibility.
Read more . . .

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Consumer Fraud Protection Bureau Wins $173 Million in Case Against Bankruptcy Debt Scammer

When it comes to debt relief, there are good guys and bad guys. Unfortunately, the number of scammers entrenched in the debt relief industry is growing, and well-meaning Americans are facing disastrous consequences for working with so-called “credit counselors” and “consolidation specialists” -- all of whom are out to make a quick buck.

As practitioners of bankruptcy law, we know the options available to consumers -- and we are here to help. However, as one recent case points out, many debtors -- unaware of their choices -- turn to unscrupulous con artists for help with their fledgling financial situation, only to end up worse off than when they started.

Earlier this month, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reigned victorious over one such “debt relief” company, referred to in pleadings as “Morgan Drexen.” And, the verdict is hardly one to scoff at: $173 million.

According to the details of the lawsuit, Morgan Drexen offered clients “bankruptcy” services -- promising to help debtors avoid bankruptcy, or to minimize their exposure once the process began. However, Morgan Drexen performed “little to no” work on the clients’ files, and is even alleged to have falsified bankruptcy pleadings on clients’ behalf.

In essence, struggling debtors relied on the services of this “debt relief” company, and were ultimately taken advantage of in the process. If you are facing a difficult financial situation, the best resource is an experienced bankruptcy attorney that can offer realistic advice and reasonable solutions. As always, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

For anyone defrauded by Morgan Drexen, the CFPB promises to forward letters to all former clients explaining their options moving forward. The letters will contain information as to whether certain debts have been repaid (or not) and what debtors need to do to rectify the situation.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Ohio Gets Millions for Hardest Hit Fund

What is being done about the wave of mortgage foreclosures in Ohio? 

The U.S. Department of Treasury recently announced that Ohio will be provided with another $96.6 million under the "Hardest Hit Fund," a federal program designed to help states recover from the foreclosure debacle stemming from the Great Recession. The state is eligible for an additional $250 million in taxpayer funds to bulldoze houses and fight housing blight.  

What is a mortgage foreclosure? 

A foreclosure occurs when a homeowner fails to make full principal and interest payments on a mortgage. A borrower who misses a payment and does not pay it within one month is in "default." After the lender notifies the borrower that the payment must be made in full, and the mortgage remains delinquent after 3 to 6 months, the lender can initiate a foreclosure proceeding. At that point, the lender can evict the homeowner, seize the property and sell it at a public auction. 

The Housing Blight in Ohio 

The additional funds from the Hardest Hit Fund will enable Ohio and other states to clean up the mess from the housing market collapse by demolishing abandoned homes in depressed towns across the state, including 158 vacant apartment buildings in East Cleveland. Ohio previously received $570 million for not only blight removal, but also foreclosure prevention programs. 

The money is used by the state, cities and nonprofit groups in Ohio to counsel or provide financial relief to homeowners who are facing foreclosure, and to tear down abandoned homes. The vacant property is then turned into green space or sold for new development. As homeowners defaulted on their mortgages and walked away from their homes, banks and other lenders were unable to sell many properties in foreclosure auctions. Lawmakers believe the additional funding will help Ohioans recover from the lingering devastation of the financial crisis. 

The White House has employed a number of tools to help Americans who were swept up in the recession and the housing downturn and views the Hardest Hit Fund as a program that will strengthen the housing recovery. Whether there has been a recovery in the housing market so far is arguable, but abandoned and blighted homes certainly have a ripple effect on the values of other homes in the neighborhood. 

Can I save my home by filing for bankruptcy? 

A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy petition may enable you to set up a plan to pay the mortgage payments that are in arrears. The homeowner and lender can agree to a time period for the repayments to be made, but the delinquent payments must be made simultaneously with the current payments. Provided that all of the required payments are made according to the repayment plan, you can avoid foreclosure. If you are having trouble making your mortgage payments, you should consult with a bankruptcy attorney to explore your options. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Discharging Your Tax Debt In Bankruptcy

When can a tax debt be discharged in personal bankruptcy?

For those struggling with debt, bankruptcy may be the best option for relief. Although the idea of a fresh start is tempting, some will warn that not all debts are dischargeable in personal bankruptcy. Some of these nondischargeable debts are domestic support debts, student loan debts and tax debts. While this is generally the case, it is not completely impossible to discharge tax debts.

Federal Tax Debts

If you are seeking to discharge tax debts, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the best option because it allows tax debts to be discharged under certain circumstances. The only federal tax debts that can be discharged are income tax debts and specific requirements must be met in order for this to happen. Fraud must not be present for a tax debt to be discharged.The tax debt must also be at least three years old, meaning that the return was due at least three years ago. In addition, the tax return must have been filed at least two years prior to the filing of bankruptcy. Finally, the assessed debt must have been at least 240 days old prior to the bankruptcy filing or have not been assessed at all at the time of filing. If all of these conditions are met, the bankruptcy court will consider eliminating the tax debt.

State Tax Debts

The State of Ohio also discharges tax debts under certain circumstances that are similar to the federal requirements.The requirements include that there be no fraud or tax evasion present, that the debt is at least three years old, that the tax return was filed at least two years prior to the bankruptcy filing and that the assessed debt is at least 240 days old at the time of filing.

While it is difficult to discharge tax debts in a personal bankruptcy proceeding, it not impossible.  You should contact a skilled tax attorney to find out what your options are.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Lenawee Court Hears Fraudulent Transfer Case

What is a fraudulent transfer in a bankruptcy?

Individuals who cannot meet their financial obligations can be relieved of repaying some or all of their debt by filing for bankruptcy. Since the new bankruptcy law was enacted in 2005, however, there are more restrictions and individuals must meet additional requirements to be eligible, including attending credit counseling. Nonetheless, bankruptcy laws have always been complicated and prohibited certain conduct, particularly fraudulent transfers.

This is the overarching issue in a bankruptcy case working its way through the Lenawee County Circuit Court. The case involves creditor claims against a bankrupt Ohio businessman, his son, and nine businesses they own. A complaint by three heating and air-conditioning companies alleges fraudulent transfers of real estate and vehicles by Phillip Cargnino to his son, Zacahari Cargnino, in an effort to avoid payment of debts.

What is a fraudulent transfer?

A fraudulent transfer (or fraudulent conveyance) is an illegal transfer of property by one individual to another party in an effort to defer, hinder or defraud creditors. In bankruptcy law there are two types of fraudulent transfers: actual fraud and constructive fraud.

Actual fraud involves the intent to defraud creditors that occurs when a transfer is made within one year before the date of a bankruptcy filing. Constructive fraud is the transfer or sale of property for an insignificant amount of money to a spouse, relative, business partner or friend. If a trial in bankruptcy court reveals a transfer of property was fraudulent, the judge can order the person holding the assets to surrender the assets to the creditor or make an equivalent monetary payment.

The Lenawee Case

The three companies originally sued Phillip Cargnino before he filed for bankruptcy in 2012. Then, in 2013, a consent judgment allowed him to make monthly payments on debts to these companies that were not discharged in the bankruptcy. The companies began an enforcement action last May after no payments were made, alleging that the son fraudulently received four vehicles, a boat, a Jet Ski and two properties. 

The complaint asks for a judgment against the son for debts owed by the father for about $175,000. The question in this case is if and when the transfers were actually made and whether or not they will be found to be fraudulent conveyances. Lawyers for the Cargninos denied the allegations.

The bottom line

An individual who files for bankruptcy must comply with federal law and regulations. An error can result in the court refusing to discharge the debts. Intent to defraud creditors can have devastating consequences. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you should consult with a qualified attorney to make sure you avoid any possible pitfalls.

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Miami Valley Bankruptcy, Brian Lusardi, Esq., assists clients with Bankruptcy matters including but not limited to: Common Myths, Cost of Bankruptcy, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, The New Bankruptcy Law and Personal Bankruptcy in Xenia, Ohio, and the cities of: Wilberforce, Alpha, Spring Valley, Dayton, Bellbrook, Yellow Springs, Cedarville, Fairborn and Clifton; and the counties of Greene and Montgomery.

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