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7 years 4 days ago

I'll be 60 years old this year - a true flower child at heart.  Love, Peace, Equal Rights.  And as my generation grew up we lived those values and life slowly changed.  Something's happened - there's been a shift and in my opinion an ugly shift.  It's like all the small-minded Americans banded together with the goal of homogenizing America.   When did the right to personal freedom end and when did religion (your religion) have the right to rule this country -me?  When did it become OK for personal relationships to be judged as good or bad - appropriate or inappropriate?
America - Home of the Free.  Home of Choicespersonal freedom
Politicians, stop trying to cram down our throats what your American Dream of life looks like.  It's certainly OK to have that dream - what's not OK is to expect my dream to look like your dream.  No 'dream' is better or worse, it's simply different.  Isn't that the essence of America, a country that began with people who were not allowed to live a life they honored?  
Be careful America.  Remember Hitler - one crazy man's hatred made history.  Can't happen again - really??  Isn't it already happening?  What's the difference between Jews and Gays - Germany and America?  It's just the 'flavor of the times' and geography.  Why can madness take over?  Because we - my generation - the majority of which just pass the buck, knowing someone else will do it.  Making doing nothing OK. It's not.  History cannot repeat itself and  for that to happen - we must use the system - the same system that's removing our Rights now.  Where are all the lawyers and judges?  History credits the breakdown in German Courts of lawyers & judges that allowed Hitler his power. Lawyers and Judges please stand up and honor the law!  Not as a democrat or a republican, moderate or conservative, but as scholars of America.  My husband used the bankruptcy laws in a Federal Bankruptcy Court to allow a gay couple to file jointly.  That was a challenge - but he found a way.  He made a difference for one gay  couple.  My husband can't be the only brave attorney in America that worked  hard to make a difference for a couple who's choices were different than his. 
It's time for all of us to come out of the closet and voice an opinion that allows everyone their personal lifestyle and choice.  If not, where do you draw the line?  Personally, I think we should outlaw mohawk haircuts.  Yuk!!


7 years 4 days ago

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy and meet with an attorney he/she will likely determine whether you are under or over median income  Individuals at or below median income for their family size can file a Chapter 7.  If you are over median income you must file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.
If you are married both your income and the income of your spouse must be included in the means test.  This is true even if you are not filing with your spouse because his/her income contributes to the household income. If you are separated and living in separate households then you do not need to include your spouse's income in the means test.  While you do have to account for your spouse's income, you also account for his/her expenses.
Median income is the average family income.  You family size is considered. For a one person household median is $39,563. For a two person household median is $51,562. For a three person household median is $58,473. For a four person household median is $70,363. You can add $6,900 for each person over four in your household.
So, who can you count?  You count yourself, your spouse if applicable, and your minor children that live with you.  If you have a child that is over 18 and is financially dependent upon you, especially because he/she is in college or is disabled in some way, you may count them.  If you have a parent or relative living with you that is financially dependent you may count that person.  As a general rule, if you can claim an individual as a dependent on your taxes you can probably count them.  The big exception to this is custody arrangements that relate to taxes.  If you can claim your child on taxes, but he/she does not live with you, you cannot claim him/her as part of your household for purposes of evaluating your qualification to file a Chapter 7.
If it does appear that your gross income is over median you should still speak with an attorney.  It is very possible that some of your qualified expenses will actually put you under median, meaning that you can file for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. 
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment for a free consultation, contact a St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today.


7 years 4 days ago

Debt Buyer LawsuitsIf you have run into financial problems and are unable to pay credit card payments you probably expect to hear from the bank. What you don’t expect is to be sued by a company that you never heard of.  It is probably a debt buyer.  This is becoming  common.
Companies known as debt buyers routinely purchased accounts from major lenders and credit card companies. They buy these accounts at significant discounts and make substantial profits attempting to collect the full amount.
When they are unable to successfully collect through the use of collection agents they file lawsuits. Most of these lawsuits are not defended and a  default judgment is signed by the court.
This is where the real trouble starts. Once a judgment is entered creditors can garnish your paycheck.  Arizona law allows a creditor to garnish 25% of your take-home pay.
A recent article appearing on Credit Slips highlighted a common problem with these debt collection lawsuits. The credit industry has taken many shortcuts when they have sold or assigned these accounts. A major debt-buyer called LVNV Funding is a good example. In the case discussed on Credit Slips the account was originally owed to Sears. However, Sears had sold the account Citibank. Citibank turned around and sold the account to Sherman Financial Group.  But, the lawsuit was filed listing LVNV Funding as the plaintiff, the company attempting to collect.
The only evidence that LVNV Funding was able to produce was its own business records. They were unable to produce any evidence or testimony that the person they were suing ever owed any money to Sears or that the account had been properly transferred to LVNV Funding.  The Court ruled that LVNV Funding failed to prove that it had a right to collect and entered judgment in favor of the defendant.
The problem with the lack of proof shown in the LVNV Funding case is not unique. A recent decision by a New York state court commented that the practice of the debt-buyer industry unfairly affects consumers. It’s common for an account to be sold and then nothing to be done for several years. The interest rate on the credit card accounts is much higher than the creditor would be able to collect on a judgment. Also, the typical credit card agreement also allows late fees and penalties to be added. The judge in that case has set a deadline for the debt buyer to prove it has the legal right to collect in the Court’s pending cases. If it fails to do so, the judge has threatened to dismiss all 930 of its pending cases.
The debt-buyer industry is counting on the fact that most consumers do not know what to do if they are sued. Most of the collection lawsuits are not defended. When they are not defended the debt buyer is awarded a judgment by default. They are then allowed to use the legal process to garnish wages, freeze bank accounts, and seize personal property.
This isn’t a problem that just taking place in other states. Our office has successfully help several people faced with these debt buyer lawsuits. When you’re faced with financial problems bankruptcy is only one of the options. If your problems are being caused by an account that is now held by someone you never did business with, you probably have a valid defense.
We understand that most people have been through a tough few years. There is no shame in having financial problems that have gotten out of control. If you’re faced with problems such as these, please feel free to give us a call.  We can help.
Original article: Debt Buyer Lawsuits: Are you being sued by someone you never heard of?©2013 Arizona Bankruptcy Lawyer. All Rights Reserved.The post Debt Buyer Lawsuits: Are you being sued by someone you never heard of? appeared first on Arizona Bankruptcy Lawyer.


7 years 4 days ago

The emerging trend, according to a recent CNN Money article, is that the economy has tanked to the point people can't even afford to file for bankruptcy.

Probably true, based on the experience of this law firm. When the crash hit in 2007, the biggest problem was the wave of toxic mortgages re-setting to interest rates, and consequently payments, that shot to absurd amounts. Home owners couldn't make the payments, so bankruptcy was one way to eliminate the debt and stop the foreclosure long enough to get out of the house and not have to abandon your toothbrush and Fido. This event, in turn, triggered the economic down-turn, the lay-offs and decline in income that bring us to where we are today.

The 2005 "reform" of bankruptcy law has compounded the problem for debtors by requiring more paperwork and thereby increasing costs. Among the most ludicrous requirements is pre-filing debt counseling. Bankruptcy is the last thing debtors want to do. If debt management re-payment plans were a solution, they would be doing them.

The average attorney fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $1,500 (and that is more or less what bankruptcy lawyers charge in DC, MD and VA.) But, says the article, it is expected that between 200,000 and one million consumers will not be able to afford even that.

Our bankruptcy and tax law firm has recognized this reality. That is why we have set up a new program to make legal representation in bankruptcy more affordable to debtors in DC, MD and VA. The initial cost to start is minimal and the monthly payments within reach. In the meantime, you have legal representation, an advisor, and someone to "run interference" (if I may borrow a sports term) with creditors. Take a look: FINANCED BANKRUPTCY℠.

Call us, and we'll discuss your situation.


5 years 4 months ago

The emerging trend, according to a recent CNN Money article, is that the economy has tanked to the point people can't even afford to file for bankruptcy.

Probably true, based on the experience of this law firm. When the crash hit in 2007, the biggest problem was the wave of toxic mortgages re-setting to interest rates, and consequently payments, that shot to absurd amounts. Home owners couldn't make the payments, so bankruptcy was one way to eliminate the debt and stop the foreclosure long enough to get out of the house and not have to abandon your toothbrush and Fido. This event, in turn, triggered the economic down-turn, the lay-offs and decline in income that bring us to where we are today.

The 2005 "reform" of bankruptcy law has compounded the problem for debtors by requiring more paperwork and thereby increasing costs. Among the most ludicrous requirements is pre-filing debt counseling. Bankruptcy is the last thing debtors want to do. If debt management re-payment plans were a solution, they would be doing them.

The average attorney fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $1,500 (and that is more or less what bankruptcy lawyers charge in DC, MD and VA.) But, says the article, it is expected that between 200,000 and one million consumers will not be able to afford even that.

Our bankruptcy and tax law firm has recognized this reality. That is why we have set up a new program to make legal representation in bankruptcy more affordable to debtors in DC, MD and VA. The initial cost to start is minimal and the monthly payments within reach. In the meantime, you have legal representation, an advisor, and someone to "run interference" (if I may borrow a sports term) with creditors. Take a look: FINANCED BANKRUPTCY℠.

Call us, and we'll discuss your situation.


7 years 4 days ago

 Will Your Daughter Lose Her CarNaturally we worry about how filing bankruptcy will affect those we care about.  It is common for a parents to have a car, bank account, even a house, in their names because their daughter or son needed help to buy the car, get a bank account, or qualify for the house.
Does this mean that the daughter’s property is going to be at risk if you file bankruptcy?  Usually not.
We have all been brainwashed into thinking that the legal system is all about technical loopholes and “fine print.”  Even lawyers will often latch onto an old rule of law and insist that it controls the outcome.
One of these rules is that ownership is always determined by whose name is on the title.  That may be a starting point, but it does not determine the outcome.
A recent example is a dispute I was involved with in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.   The case was filed in the Phoenix Bankruptcy Court. My client’s car was in the name of his limited liability company.  We claimed the car as protected in his personal chapter 7 bankruptcy.  The bankruptcy trustee objected and claimed my client did not have the right to protect the car because it was not in his name.  The trustee correctly pointed out that limited liability companies (LLC’s) did not have the right to protect any property.
At the hearing at the Arizona Bankruptcy Court, the Bankruptcy Judge agreed that the car was owned by my client based on the evidence that he personally paid for the car, paid the insurance, and treated the car as his personal property.  Although the name on the title was some evidence of ownership, it alone did not determine the outcome.
The same is true of the everyday situation where a parent is on the title of their children’s car.  Often this is done for purposes of financing and insurance.  It is also true of bank accounts because the child may not be old enough to open an account in his name alone.  There have even been court decisions involving the “true” ownership of real estate.
This reasoning works both ways.  Sometimes a client will ask me if it would be okay to put a valuable asset into someone else’s name as a way to protect it from the bankruptcy process.  I understand that most people are not at their best when first learning that they may lose something important when filing a bankruptcy.  These are things that most of us would never do, but it does not stop use from thinking them.  It would not work anyway.
Just putting someone’s name on the car title is not enough to transfer the “true” ownership.  The bankruptcy trustee and bankruptcy judge would consider other factors.  Also, there are special rules that allow the Court to take back anything that is given away in contemplation of bankruptcy.
Before worrying too much about how a possible bankruptcy will affect others whose financial lives are tied to yours, check with an experienced Arizona Bankruptcy Lawyer.  It is more complicated than just filling out the Court forms and knowing some general rules.
Original article: Will My Daughter Lose Her Car if I File Bankruptcy?©2013 Arizona Bankruptcy Lawyer. All Rights Reserved.The post Will My Daughter Lose Her Car if I File Bankruptcy? appeared first on Arizona Bankruptcy Lawyer.


7 years 4 days ago

mortgage, foreclosure, fear of foreclosure, save my home from foreclosure, chapter 13Many people find themselves in a tough position when they’ve fallen behind on their mortgage payments and are unable to make them up. They try to negotiate with the mortgage company, enter into a loan modification, or some even try to borrow the money from friends or relatives. It’s a very scary to receive a Notice of Foreclosure especially when your options are limited. When people in this situation come into our office it’s important that as their potential attorney we delicately ask the question “Can you really afford to save your home?” This is a difficult topic and many people dismiss it when it’s first brought up, however, it’s important to realize bankruptcy should be a solution to your financial problems and bankruptcy should give you debt relief. The reality is sometimes financial challenges come up and we fall behind. This can be corrected by filing bankruptcy - Chapter 13, however, if the problem is you cannot afford your mortgage payment on an average month then bankruptcy will be nothing more than a temporary solution. I have this conversation with clients on a weekly basis and try to help people realize that a life in which your finances are under control is a life with much less stress and anxiety. When attempting to save your home it’s important that you weigh the pros and cons. If holding on to your home is going to leave you in the same position you were in or worse, choosing to keep your home may not be your best solution. There are many people who surrender a home within a bankruptcy and are later able to purchase another home when their finances improved. Surrendering a home in your bankruptcy does not mean that you will never own a home again it just means you are making the decision to get back on your feet and headed in the right direction when it comes to your finances.
 


7 years 4 days ago

By: Marshall G. Reissman Bankruptcy Attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida at The Reissman Law Group, P.A.
The test that everyone wants to talk about when they come in for a consultation is the Means Test. Folks generally want to know if they qualify to file Chapter 7 by passing the Means Test. This test is pretty simple. If you are below the state median income you qualify. Everyone breathes a big sigh of relief that they won’t be forced into a repayment plan under Chapter 13. The problem with this is the Means Test is where the analysis begins, not where it ends. The actual income and expenses of the Debtor must be taken into account in order to pass the not much discussed “Totality of  Circumstances Test.”
Even if a Debtor is below the median income on the Means Test, if the Debtor has disposable income on the bankruptcy schedules, the Debtor may not qualify to receive a discharge under Chapter 7. This is called the Totality of Circumstances Test. If a Debtor has disposable income to pay back unsecured creditors, the Trustee can file a notice stating that receiving a discharge under Chapter 7 would be an abuse. Not many folks talk about the Totality of Circumstances Test, and the only test you can find on the internet is the Means Test. Inevitably, folks do some research on the internet, find out they are under their state’s median income, and automatically think they can receive a discharge under Chapter 7. Therein lies the mistake. Passing the Means Test just gets you to the starting line, a better analysis needs to be performed to see if you can finish the race.
I recently had the opportunity to review Warren Sapp’s bankruptcy petition when I was interviewed by a Tampa Bay Times reporter. Link to the story can be found here.  I previously wrote an article about the reason why I, and other bankruptcy attorneys, think that Mr. Sapp filed for bankruptcy. The garnishment. Another question folks had was how could a person with so much income file Chapter 7. Looking over the schedules, it did not appear Mr. Sapp had substantial income in the six months prior to filing the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy petition. What I believe will be problematic for Mr. Sapp is the amount of disposable income he shows on his schedules. While Mr. Sapp does not fail the Means Test, Mr. Sapp lists more than $4,500.00 in net monthly income on his schedules, which could  be viewed as an abuse is he receives a discharge under Chapter 7. I guess we will have to wait and see.
In the meantime, if you want to find out if you not only qualify to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, but will be able to receive a discharge under Chapter 7, call us for a free consultation. We have more than 30 years combined experience representing individuals in bankruptcy.


5 years 4 months ago

By: Marshall G. Reissman Bankruptcy Attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida at The Reissman Law Group, P.A.
The test that everyone wants to talk about when they come in for a consultation is the Means Test. Folks generally want to know if they qualify to file Chapter 7 by passing the Means Test. This test is pretty simple. If you are below the state median income you qualify. Everyone breathes a big sigh of relief that they won’t be forced into a repayment plan under Chapter 13. The problem with this is the Means Test is where the analysis begins, not where it ends. The actual income and expenses of the Debtor must be taken into account in order to pass the not much discussed “Totality of  Circumstances Test.”
Even if a Debtor is below the median income on the Means Test, if the Debtor has disposable income on the bankruptcy schedules, the Debtor may not qualify to receive a discharge under Chapter 7. This is called the Totality of Circumstances Test. If a Debtor has disposable income to pay back unsecured creditors, the Trustee can file a notice stating that receiving a discharge under Chapter 7 would be an abuse. Not many folks talk about the Totality of Circumstances Test, and the only test you can find on the internet is the Means Test. Inevitably, folks do some research on the internet, find out they are under their state’s median income, and automatically think they can receive a discharge under Chapter 7. Therein lies the mistake. Passing the Means Test just gets you to the starting line, a better analysis needs to be performed to see if you can finish the race.
I recently had the opportunity to review Warren Sapp’s bankruptcy petition when I was interviewed by a Tampa Bay Times reporter. Link to the story can be found here.  I previously wrote an article about the reason why I, and other bankruptcy attorneys, think that Mr. Sapp filed for bankruptcy. The garnishment. Another question folks had was how could a person with so much income file Chapter 7. Looking over the schedules, it did not appear Mr. Sapp had substantial income in the six months prior to filing the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy petition. What I believe will be problematic for Mr. Sapp is the amount of disposable income he shows on his schedules. While Mr. Sapp does not fail the Means Test, Mr. Sapp lists more than $4,500.00 in net monthly income on his schedules, which could  be viewed as an abuse is he receives a discharge under Chapter 7. I guess we will have to wait and see.
In the meantime, if you want to find out if you not only qualify to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, but will be able to receive a discharge under Chapter 7, call us for a free consultation. We have more than 30 years combined experience representing individuals in bankruptcy.
The post The Test No One Discusses in Bankruptcy appeared first on St. Petersburg Law Blog.


7 years 4 days ago

Myths and Truths About Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Part II
Myth:  Debtors who file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will lose their entire tax refund every year they are in the Chapter 13 without exception.
Truth:  Sometimes debtors in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy are required to turn over their tax refunds.  The debtor is obligated to turn over tax refunds; however, the debtor may retain the lesser amount of either $600 or two months plan payments.  The debtor is required to turn the excess over to the trustee and should not spend the rest of the refund.  If the debtor would like to retain more than that amount, they can contact their attorney and have their attorney file a Motion to Retain Tax Refunds.  The motion states the legitimate expenses debtor would like to spend the money on, and receipts or bids for the services or products would be attached so the trustee can confirm the amounts the debtor wishes to retain.  The trustee has 21 days to object.  If no objection is filed, the debtor can retain the portion of their refund accounted for by the motion.  If the trustee objects, the debtor would be required to surrender their tax refund to the trustee. 
Myth:  When the debtor makes his or her Chapter 13 plan payment every month, the trustee takes most of the money for himself.
Truth:  The trustee gets paid a small percentage of the total plan base as his fee.  The percentage rate fluctuates but is usually about five percent.  The trustee disperses the rest of the monthly plan payments to various creditors.  The trustee pays on secured debts, such as vehicle loans, arrears on houses, and monthly mortgage payments if the debtor wishes.  They also pay taxes, unsecured debts, sewer bills, and other debts as well.  If the debtor is required to surrender tax refunds or employee bonuses, the trustee does not keep that money for himself.  He generally uses those proceeds to pay unsecured creditors a portion of their debt if they have filed a proof of claim.  The trustee may pay certain creditors before other creditors based on their priority level.
If you have questions, please contact a St. Louis or St. Charles bankruptcy attorney.


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