1 year 6 months ago

On May 16, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Husky International Electronics, Inc. v. Ritz[1], ruling that the term “actual fraud” in section 523(a)(2)(A) of the Bankruptcy Code includes forms of fraud that do not involve a fraudulent misrepresentation.
In this case, Husky International Electronics, Inc. sold products to and was owed money by Chrysalis Manufacturing Corporation. Daniel Ritz, one of the owners of Chrysalis, transferred money from Chrysalis to other entities that he owned, draining Chrysalis of its assets and making it impossible for Chrysalis to pay its debts owed to Husky and other creditors. Read More ›
Tags: Chapter 7, U.S. Supreme Court

1 year 6 months ago

CBS reports “Overdraft fees are raking in billions of dollars for the banking industry. But who’s paying them? Predominantly a tiny subset of consumers: young, working in lower-wage jobs and heavy users of debit cards.
lady strangling and upside downSurveying 304 individuals who reported paying more than $100 in overdraft fees during the past year, the Pew Charitable Trust found that the bulk — 67 percent — of those paying hefty overdraft charges are working but earning less than $50,000 annually. Roughly one-third earn $25,000 or less. Their preferred method of payment is a debit card, and more than a third of them are under age 36.
Nearly a quarter of those surveyed said they paid more than a week’s wages in overdraft fees in the past year, with one in four reporting that the charges added to $300 annually or more. Nearly one in five of these individuals said overdrafts cost them $500 or more last year.Read more

The post 5 Ways to Cut Costly Overdraft Fees appeared first on Diane L. Drain - Phoenix Bankruptcy & Foreclosure Attorney.

1 year 6 months ago

June 25, 2016 Google announced that it would ban ads for payday lenders (and similar services) starting on July 13. In a statement, David Graff, the company’s director of global product policy wrote:

We will no longer allow ads for loans where repayment is due within 60 days of the date of issue. In the U.S., we are also banning ads for loans with an APR of 36 percent or higher. When reviewing our policies, research has shown that these loans can result in unaffordable payment and high default rates for users so we will be updating our policies globally to reflect that.

Graff added that the new policy “is designed to protect our users from deceptive or harmful financial products,” and will still leave room for companies to advertise mortgages, car loans, student loans, and credit cards.  Read more…

As additional information read the article “Feds Payday lender charged 700% interest”… read more

The post Google Bans Payday Loans as Too Harmful to Advertise appeared first on Diane L. Drain - Phoenix Bankruptcy & Foreclosure Attorney.

1 year 6 months ago

Charge off“Charge off” is accounting jargon for the formal determination that the creditor is no longer treating its claim against you as an asset.   It permits the creditor to take a “wholly worthless bad debt” deduction on its taxes under Sec. 1244 of the IRC.    It does not mean the creditor has released its claim and it cannot pursue you.  Any payments received after the debt is charged off are treated differently for tax purposes.   And that its claim against the reorganized debtor is not on its balance sheet above the line.
What it does mean is that the creditors still retains the right to collect the full amount of debt and have a variety of options available to them. Depending upon the situation, the creditor may have internal collections staff pursue collection or sell it to an external collector, or the creditor may elect to sue on the entire debt.
Statute of limitations: most debtors do not understand that the creditor has a limited amount of time to collect on the debt.  That time limit is call the “statute of limitations” and differs in each state.  Here is a link to an article on listing the statutes by state: Statutes of Limitation on Debt Collection.  WARNING: this list may not be accurate so it is very important you talk with an experienced attorney to determine your rights.

The post Do I Have to Pay a Debt that Was “Charged Off”? appeared first on Diane L. Drain - Phoenix Bankruptcy & Foreclosure Attorney.

1 year 6 months ago

Sometimes a debtor’s rights in bankruptcy get affected by an overly aggressive Trustee.  The Trustee gets a fee and a percentage of any assets administered.  The debtor is seeking to keep any and all of his assets free and clear from the long arm of the Trustee.  This blog today deals with the personal injury+ Read More
The post Bankruptcy Exemption For Personal Bodily Injury Applies In Illinois appeared first on David M. Siegel.

1 year 6 months ago

A few weeks ago I wrote an article to warn plaintiff attorneys to be careful to ensure that their clients who have previously filed bankruptcy to ensure that all claims they have against third parties are reported on the bankruptcy schedules.  (Plaintiff’s Attorneys Beware: Your Client’s Bankruptcy Case is About to Sock You Right Between the Eyes)  Well,  . . .  it just happened to a lady in Minnesota. (See Cover v J.C. Penny Corporation, Civ No 15-515, District of Minnesota).
The significant aspect of this case is that the debtor, April Cover, failed to report a discrimination claim on her bankruptcy schedules but she did verbally tell the bankruptcy trustee about the claim.
Not good enough says the Minnesota court.  Actual verbal notice of a claim is not enough.  Audio recordings of the court meeting between the trustee and the debtor disclose that the discrimination claim was reported to the trustee.  There is no question that the debtor disclosed her claim, but without formally amending the bankruptcy schedules a debtor is legally barred from pursuing recovery in subsequent litigation.

The only locations where Cover disclosed her EEOC claim—the audio file of the creditors’ meeting and communications between the trustee and her counsel— are unavailable to creditors. Hence, despite her later, oral disclosure, Cover failed to adequately amend her Petition, and she also failed to keep the trustee apprised of the status of her EEOC charge, or the existence of this action. In the Court’s view, Cover’s positions are clearly inconsistent.”

Given the court’s opinion, actual written notice to the trustee is also probably insufficient to protect a debtor from judicial estoppel in subsequent litigation.  It is not enough to send the trustee a letter to report claims not originally report or new claims occurring during the bankruptcy.  The Minnesota court declares that only formal amendments to the bankruptcy schedules are sufficient to protect a debtor’s claim.
This issue becomes confusing because the trustee, when informed of the claim, probably determined that the claim was exempt from creditor or trustee claims under Minnesota law.  However, even when a trustee is informed of the claim against a third party and elects not to claim it because of exemption laws, the claim must be formally reported on amended schedules to be preserved.
Plaintiff attorneys need to ask the following questions:

  • Has their client filed bankruptcy in the past?
  • Did the injury occur before, during or after the bankruptcy case?
  • If a claim occurred before or during the bankruptcy were the bankruptcy schedules amended?
  • Did the Chapter 7 trustee release his or her claim against the injury claim?
  • Was the PACER computer system checked to see if the client has filed bankruptcy?
  • Have you obtained a full copy of the bankruptcy schedules?
  • Is it too late to amend the bankruptcy schedules to report a missing claim?
  • Was the notice of the claim sufficiently detailed to put the trustee and creditors on notice?

I encourage Nebraska attorneys to contact this office if they have concerns about their client’s bankruptcy case.

1 year 6 months ago

Bad credit can haunt you for years. It affects everything from your home purchase to your bills to renting an apartment. Some employers even check your report before hiring you. A newly proposed bill aims to improve the system.
California representative Maxine Waters recently introduced the “Comprehensive Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act,” which calls for some pretty significant changes to credit reporting. Ideally, those changes would protect consumers from incorrect information and outdated debt. The bill would also give the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau authority to monitor credit scoring practices. There are a lot of interesting updates proposed in the bill, including section 401, which “shortens the time period that most adverse credit information stays on consumer reports.” In general, most negative items stay on your report for seven years, but the bill would change that to four.
In addition, the bill aims to make credit reports more accessible to the consumer, give consumers more time before medical debts are added to a report, and make it easier for student debtors to repair their credit. It’s a proposed bill, so there’s obviously no guarantee these changes will be implemented, but you can always contact your local members of Congress and tell them how you feel about it. For more detail, check out the full bill at the link below.

Comprehensive Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act (PDF) | via Consumerist

Copyright 2016 Kinja.  All rights reserved.

1 year 6 months ago

On May 18th, James Shenwick delivered a lecture on personal bankruptcy in 2016 to Deliberate Solos.

I.          Introduction
Why do people file for bankruptcy today?●     Credit card debts ●     Business reversals and job loss●     Falling real estate values●     High housing costs ●     Student loans ●     Divorce ●     Medical bills and illness●     Guaranties of debt
II.        Economic Conditions that are driving Personal Bankruptcy Filing●     4.9% unemployment rate●     The effective unemployment rate is 9.7%●     The unemployment rate for recent college graduates is 7.2%●     $935.3 billion of revolving (credit card) debt as of January 2016●     The foreclosure rate is 1.2%●     11.5% of homes are “underwater.”●     Student loans total approximately $1.4 trillion

III.       What can a person with too much debt do?
            A.        Do nothing-“Hope and Pray”B.        Negotiate an “out of court” workout with creditors
Pros: ●     Save the legal fees in filing a bankruptcy petition and the Bankruptcy Court filing fees (usual minor in comparison to the amount of debt a debtor has).●     A workout may be a less “negative factor” on your credit report than filing for bankruptcy (“FICO Score”). However chapter 13 (partial payment of debts) is better on a credit report than chapter 7 (discharge of debts)●     Psychological relief in not filing for bankruptcy and “embarrassment or failure factor.”
Cons:  ●     You negotiate one creditor at a time-what if you can’t reach an agreement with all creditors-do you do the work?●     Who will do the negotiating-the debtor, a CPA or an attorney? (CPAs and attorneys will charge a fee for this work)●     The time and effort of drafting, revising and reviewing a Settlement Agreement, Release, Stipulation of Settlement or Stipulation of Discontinuance of litigation.●     Under § 108 of the Internal Revenue Code, debt relief is considered income and is taxable.  This is “phantom income” (Creditor will have to file a Form 1099R with taxing authorities)
C.        File Bankruptcy-Chapter 7, 11 and 13
IV.       Overview of the three types of personal bankruptcy
A.        Chapter 7-“Liquidation and Fresh Start”-the most common type of personal bankruptcy, this allows debtors to liquidate or discharge most (but not all) of their debts:
What debts are discharged in a Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy?●     Credit card debt●     Personal, business, automobile and real estate loans●     Lines of credit●     Medical bills●     Utility bills●     Personal and “good guy” guaranties-“good guy” guaranties are guaranties created for the leasing of commercial space.●     Chapter 7 bankruptcy will have the most negative impact on credit reports and will lower FICO score (however after receiving a chapter 7 discharge a debtor will be able to rehabilitate their credit and obtain credit ●     Chapter 7 bankruptcy constitutes the vast majority of individual filings, and can be very helpful in dealing with many debtor/creditor problems that individuals have these days (90-95% of our bankruptcy filings are Chapter 7). ●     Chapter 7 bankruptcy provides individuals who qualify to file under this chapter with a “discharge,” which can wipe out a significant amount of an individual’s debt.  ●     Over 819,000 individuals and corporations filed for bankruptcy in 2015.
The Mechanics of a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing●     Hire an attorney, provide data to attorney, bankruptcy petition is prepared, reviewed by client, filed with the Bankruptcy Court and Debtor attends one § 341 meeting with attorney and Bankruptcy Trustee●     The filing fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $335.
B.        Chapter 13- This type of personal bankruptcy provides for the reorganization of debts of an individual with regular income and allows them to retain real and personal property and business interests. 
●     Generally used by a person who owns assets that would be liquidated in a chapter 7 bankruptcy such as a house with alot of equity, a business or some other type of valuable asset●     Under BAPCPA, individuals must file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy if they earn too much and fail the means test. ●     Corporations may not file Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  Corporations may file Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a good solution for individuals with:●     A lot of home equity ●     Expensive cars●     A valuable lease●     A business they want to keep●     If a debtor’s income is greater than the median income for their state and household size, they will have to file a five year plan (rather than a three year plan).●     If a debtor has too much debt under § 109(g) of the Bankruptcy Code (as of April 1, 2016, noncontingent, liquidated, unsecured debts of more than $394,725 and noncontingent, liquidated, secured debts of more than $1,184,200), they do not qualify for Chapter 13.●     Chapter 13 bankruptcy will have an intermediate impact on credit reports and FICO score compared with Chapter 7 bankruptcy and an “out of court” workout.
The Mechanics of a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Filing●     Hire an attorney, provide data to attorney, bankruptcy petition and Plan is prepared, reviewed by client and filed with the Bankruptcy Court, Debtor attends one § 341 meeting with attorney and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee and attends hearing on Plan confirmation before the Bankruptcy Judge.●     The filing fee for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is $310.

C.        Chapter 11- Reorganization (for wealthy individuals or a corporation) or liquidation.  ●     The primary reason that individuals file for Chapter 11 is that they have too much income or assets or they have debts that fall outside the statutory limits for filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.●     An individual Chapter 11 is modeled on a chapter 13 bankruptcy but allows  more flexibility to the Debtor●     The filing fee for Chapter 11 is $1,717 and legal fees are in excess of $10,000
V.        “BAPCPA” and Personal Bankruptcy Basics
A.        In 2005, Congress radically revised and amended Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy laws.  These changes include median income and means testing, where if an individual (single, married or with children) has income that exceeds a certain dollar amount, then the bankruptcy filing is considered an abuse of the system and facially they are not permitted to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. 
B.        Median Income.  The first test under the revised code is whether a debtor exceeds the median income for their family size based on their state of residence. Pursuant to the 2005 amendments, a case where the debtor makes less than the median is presumed to be a non-abusive filing, and a below-median debtor may file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Family size New York State Median Income (effective April 1, 2016) 1 $49,086 2 $62,451 3 $72,074 4 $88,747
●     Add $8,400 for each individual in excess of four.  ●     Median income figures are periodically revised by the Census Bureau.  C.        Means Test-However, all is not lost for a debtor who exceeds his or her state median income threshold.  If an individual’s income exceeds the median income for their respective state and family size, they may still be allowed to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy if they pass the so-called “Means Test,” i.e. the results show that the bankruptcy filing is not a presumption of abuse under § 707(b)(7) of the Bankruptcy Code.  The Means Test (officially known as Form 22A, “Chapter 7 Statement of Current Monthly Income and Means-Test Calculation”) is one of the most complicated calculations in the law.  It consists of eight pages, and is similar to doing a 1040 tax return for an individual.  The Means Test incorporates the debts that an individual has (both unsecured and secured (i.e. mortgages and car loans), taxes that they owe, and expenses specified by the IRS in its financial analysis standards–food, clothing, household supplies, personal care, out-of-pocket health care and miscellaneous(National Standards); housing and utilities (non-mortgage expenses), housing and utilities (mortgage/rental expense), with adjustments, transportation(vehicle operation/public transportation/transportation ownership or lease expenses)(you are entitled to an expense allowance in this category regardless of whether you pay the expenses of operating a vehicle and regardless of whether you use public transportation) (Local Standards)–as well as many other factors.      It is similar to preparing an “offer in compromise.”
D.        However, with proper planning, most individuals or couples whose income exceeds the median income can still pass the Means Test and will be allowed to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, notwithstanding the legislative intent of the changes under BAPCPA, which was to try and minimize the number of individuals who could file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and force them to either not file for bankruptcy or to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
●     If an individual’s debts are primarily business debts, then the Means Test does not apply. ●     The data that is used to calculate the Means Test is a six-month rolling look backat the debtor’s income and expenses.  Accordingly, if a debtor is self-employed, an independent contractor or a salesperson, they may be able to earn less and therefore pass the Means Test.●     If a debtor is married and living with his or her spouse who is not filing for bankruptcy, the non-filing spouse’s income and expenses must be included in the Means Test.●     Failing the Means Test means that a Chapter 7 filing would be deemed presumptively abusive under § 707(b)(2)(A) of the Bankruptcy Code.  However, a debtor can rebut the presumption of abuse by showing special circumstances.●     Similarly, if a debtor’s after tax income is greater then expenses, the debtor has monies to make some payment to creditors, and a Chapter 7 filing would be presumptively abusive under the “totality of the circumstances” test in §707(b)(3) of the Bankruptcy Code.

VI. Student LoansA.    Student loans, both public and private student loans are non-dischargeable under Bankruptcy Code section 523(a)(8) unless the debtor can qualify for a “hardship discharge”B.     The seminal case in the county on hardship discharge is Brunner v. New York State Higher Education Services Corp., a 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals case which held that in order to qualify for a hardship discharge a debtor must show 1. that they made a good faith effort to repay their student loans (they made some payments before the hardship arose), 2. the hardship will continue during the term of the loan (10 to 15 years) and 3. As a result of the hardship they will not be able to repay the loan and maintain a “minimal” standard of livingC.     This is a difficult standard for debtors. They generally must have a severe physical or mental disability, they will need to hire an expert (doctor or psychologist who will testify at trial) and they will need to commence an adversary proceeding (bankruptcy litigation) at a cost in legal fees and expert witness fees in excess of $10,000.D.    As of late many judges, law professors and lawyers have criticized Brunner, but it is still the lawE.     There have been proposals to allow student loan defaults to be addressed in chapter 13 bankruptcy filings.

1 year 6 months ago

As a general rule, you are not responsible for the debts of your spouse. Also, if you marry someone you do not become obligated to pay the debts they incurred prior to the marriage.
But there is one major exception to these rules. You are liable for medical debts of your spouse under a legal theory called the Doctrine of Necessities. The necessities rule is not limited to medical bills. It could apply to utilities, rent, food, clothing and any other necessities, but the most common lawsuit utilizing this legal concept is in the collection of medical debts.

In Nebraska, when you marry someone you also marry their future medical debts.

If your spouse incurs medical debts during the marriage, you are liable for the debt.  Even if the bills only come in the name of your spouse.  Even if you did not sign for the debts.  Even if you did not authorize the treatment. Even if you are separated.  In Nebraska, when you marry someone you also marry their future medical debts.
This doctrine has been accepted in Nebraska courts.

At the common law the husband was liable for the expenses of the last sickness of his wife and for her proper burial as for necessaries furnished the family and . . . he continues to be so primarily liable. Therefore, unless the Legislature has, by statute, expressly relieved him thereof he continues to be so liable.

In re White’s Estate, 150 Neb. 167 (Neb. 1948). Nebraska, like most states, follows the old English common law and husbands are liable for the necessary good and services provided to his family.
But what about wives? Are they liable for their husband’s debts?  
Yes, wives are responsible for the medical debts of their husbands incurred during the marriage.
Nebraska Statute 42-201 provides the rule:
The property, real and personal, which any woman in the state may own at the time of her marriage, rents, issues, profits or proceeds thereof and real, personal or mixed property which shall come to her by descent, devise or the gift of any person except her husband or which she shall acquire by purchase or otherwise shall remain her sole and separate property, notwithstanding her marriage, and shall not be subject to disposal by her husband or liable for his debts; Provided, all property of a married woman, except ninety percent of her wages, not exempt by statute from sale on execution or attachment, regardless of when or how said property has been or may hereafter be acquired, shall be liable for the payment of all debts contracted for necessaries furnished the family of said married woman after execution against the husband for such indebtedness has been returned unsatisfied for want of goods and chattels, lands and tenements whereon to levy and make the same.
The Nebraska statute basically imposes the common law doctrine of necessaries on wives, although it is not a perfect match.
There are differences between the duties and obligations imposed on the husband under the common law as opposed to the duty imposed by Nebraska Statute 42-201. Does that make a difference?
At least two states have declared the Doctrine of Necessities unconstitutional.
In the case of Emmanuel v Mcgriff, the Supreme Court of Alabama struct down the doctrine of necessities as being a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution.
The Supreme Court of Virginia has also struck down the necessities doctrine as a violation of equal protection in the case of Schilling v Bedford City Memorial Hospital.  In that case the court made the following observation:

The [U.S. Supreme] Court has numerous times stated that such a gender-based classification cannot be justified on the basis of “archaic and overbroad” generalizations, “old notions,” and “role typing” which conclude that the wife plays a dependent role, while it is the husband’s primary responsibility to provide for the family. Orr, 440 U.S. at 279-80, 99 S.Ct. at 1111-12; Califano, 430 U.S. at 207, 97 S.Ct. at 1027. “No longer is the female destined solely for the home and the rearing of the family, and only the male for the marketplace and the world of ideas.” Orr, 440 U.S. at 280, 99 S.Ct. at 1112, quoting Stanton v. Stanton, 421 U.S. 7, 14-15, 95 S.Ct. 1373, 1377-1378, 43 L.Ed.2d 688 (1975).
It is apparent the necessaries doctrine has its roots in the same, now outdated, assumptions as to the proper role of males and females in our society. It therefore creates a gender-based classification not substantially related to serving important governmental interests and is unconstitutional.

The original purpose of the necessities doctrine was to help support wives and children by ensuring greater access to medical treatment and other necessities of life.  However, in modern times the doctrine is causing some horrible problems and inequities.
Married couples are sometimes divorcing for the sole reason of protecting a spouse from unbearable medical expenses.  Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times writes a heart-breaking story (Until Medical Bills Do Us Part) of elderly friends who were faced with filing divorce over medical bills.
Does it seem fair that married couples are burdened with each other’s medical debts but unmarried couples do not?  That hardly seems just.
What began as a legal doctrine to provide access to necessities has now become an incentive to terminate or avoid marriage.
Is it time to eliminate an outdated, archaic and potentially harmful necessaries doctrine?
Image courtesy of Flickr and Robert Kintner

1 year 6 months ago

credit reportDear Experian,
A judgment was filed against me. If a judgment is discharged in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy, can it be removed from your report? – JLB
From The “Ask Experian” team – Dear JLB,
The court judgment will appear as a public record in your credit report and will remain for seven years from the filing date. Any public record item in a credit report would likely be considered very negative and could affect your ability to qualify for a new rental agreement.
If included in bankruptcy, the judgment will be removed when the bankruptcy is discharged. You may want to submit documentation of the bankruptcy filing, discharge, and schedule of debts showing the judgment was included. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will continue to be reported for 10 years from the filing date, regardless of the discharge date.
Any collection accounts discharged through bankruptcy are updated to show that they were included in the bankruptcy, but will still show the account history for seven years.
Thanks for asking.
The post Will Bankruptcy Remove Judgments From Credit Report? appeared first on Diane L. Drain - Phoenix Bankruptcy & Foreclosure Attorney.