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bankruptcy petition
The Judicial Conference has approved a fee increase effective June 1, 2014.
The fees for filing a chapter 7 case will increase from $306.00 to $335.00.
The fees for filing a chapter 13 case will increase from $281.00 to $310.00
This is a $29.00 increase in the filing fees.
The fees for filing an adversary proceeding will increase to $350.00 (Debtors are not charged filing fees for adversary proceedings).
Chapter 11 filing fees will increase to $1,717.00.
It gets more and more expensive for folks to achieve any relief from their debts.

Posted 3 days 22 hours ago

151985627_f76043167b_sIn my practice, I see it all the time: an elderly couple come to talk about their debts. Inundated by credit cards and living on a fixed income, they see no help in sight.
But, their retirement can’t be garnished and the credit industry can’t get at it (in most cases). Social security is almost completely protected from creditors. And, so is the house: a credit card company can’t force you to sell your home even if you owe them a lot of money. At least not in California, and, I would guess, most other states as well.
So, what possible benefit can there be to an elderly couple to file bankruptcy? Here are four good reasons why not to file:
1. It’s humiliating. We were all taught to pay our debts; and no one wants his or her neighbors to know that they can’t handle their economic obligations.
2. It costs money. The attorney and the court have to be paid.
3. It “ruins” a perfectly good credit score.
4. It sets a bad example for the children.
Those are very good reasons not to file; but the benefits far outweigh the detriment. Four of the many advantages to filing a bankruptcy:
1. It stops the collection calls and letters.
2. It will, ultimately, improve your credit score.

Posted 1 week 2 days ago

gavel with houseIn Part One, I discussed some of the options you may consider when your house (or other property) is in foreclosure, namely mortgage modifications and short sales.  This post will focus on whether a deed in lieu of foreclosure, or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be the right move for you.

Posted 2 weeks 2 days ago

IsolationAre you or have you ever been in debt?  I am talking about the kind of debt that swallows you whole. The kind of debt you obsess about counting.   As you continue to count each dollar you owe, the tighter your chest becomes.  The debt continuing to squeeze until you can’t breathe anymore.  Your obsession becomes the debt you have accumulated and believing that without a miracle you are never getting out of debt.
At night you try to sleep but the night’s slumber eludes you.  The single thought consuming the very essence of your soul is debt.  How much debt do I have now?  How did my debt spiral out of control? How am I going to put food on the table with all this debt?  How am I going to take care of my family with all this debt?

Posted 4 weeks 5 days ago

11702555793_31333b9da1_mA chapter 7 bankruptcy can be easy or difficult. Here are four steps to making it go quickly and smoothly:
1. Hire a competent knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney that you can talk with. Provide your attorney every piece of information and all of the documents she asks for. Remember that the attorney is on your side: she wants the case to go as easily and smoothly as possible.
2. Communicate with your attorney. Make sure she has all the answers to all of her questions. Playing “hide the ball” or “forgetting” to tell her something will only make her life harder, your paperwork inaccurate and can potentially be catastrophic. A good attorney will recognize the weak spots of your case, and discuss what can and should be done. Sometimes it is as simple as waiting a couple of more weeks or months to file and the problem will go away. But if the attorney isn’t told about the issue, she won’t be able to advise you competently.

Posted 5 weeks 5 days ago

investment fraudHas anyone ever offered you $500, $1,000, $2,000 or more for you to sign your name – no strings attached?
Assuming you are not a celebrity working an autograph show, cash offers like this are not likely to happen.  Yet I hear stories about these “too good to be true” offers at least once or twice a year from my bankruptcy clients.  And when I see this type of situation, I know that my client likely has a real mess on his hands.
One of these cases from several years ago sticks out in my mind.  I’m going to change the facts to protect my client’s privacy but the principle will not change.  My client, Jack, worked in the billing department for a county government, and he lived in a quiet, residential neighborhood.  Jack had no pressing financial issues.

Posted 6 weeks 3 days ago

Stethoscope and money symbol for health care costsThe 2005 Bankruptcy Reform Act’s “means test” for chapter 7 bankruptcy filers was weakened by a recent ruling from a Texas bankruptcy court.  Under this ruling, student loans incurred for the purpose of obtaining a professional degree to be used in business are not “consumer debts” under section 707(b) of the bankruptcy code.  This new ruling places some chapter 7 filers outside the strictures of the means test, and allows a chapter 7 filing if the unpaid student loans balances are large enough.
The bankruptcy means test is an income-based formula designed to prevent high income bankruptcy debtors from filing chapter 7.  The means test seeks to shepard such debtors into chapter 13 bankruptcy plans where a portion of the debt must be repaid to creditors over a three to five year period.
Chapter 13′s gradual debt repayment stands in sharp contrast to chapter 7′s immediate debt discharge provisions, causing many bankruptcy debtors to prefer chapter 7.  However, the means test forces some high earning debtors to file chapter 13 instead.

Posted 6 weeks 6 days ago

A bankruptcy petition preparer in Michigan was sentenced in federal court to several years in prison.  The story can be accessed here.
As reported by the Detroit News, a man was convicted of violating several orders from the United States Bankruptcy Court prohibiting him from filing petitions for people.  Bankruptcy petition preparers can do some tasks to prepare paperwork but such work is limited.  Bankruptcy is a complex legal proceeding and petition preparers are not authorized nor trained to provide the services to fully guide a debtor through the bankruptcy process.  The bankruptcy court in Michigan issued several orders and then, finally, after the preparer flouted the court’s order one time too many, referred the matter over for criminal prosecution.

Posted 7 weeks 3 days ago

The deadline for public comments to proposed changes to bankruptcy rules and official forms has been extended two days to Tuesday, February 18, 2014, at 11:59 p.m. eastern time.

Posted 8 weeks 5 days ago

3356071885_8c9eabeaa4_mFiling Bankruptcy is all about timing. Sometimes, waiting to file makes good sense and will save the debtor a lot of headaches and some significant debt. Sometimes, however, the time to file is as soon as possible.
Let’s look at six reasons to file now; and six reasons to wait:
File now when:
1. Your house is appreciating and may exceed the homestead amount if you wait;
2. Your house is appreciating and you can strip a wholly-unsecured second deed of trust now, but might not be able to in a few months;
3. You are expecting a significant raise or you just got a good job;
4. You are anticipating a change in your marital status and want this done beforehand;
5. You just want to get started on being debt-free; or
6. You want to avoid litigation or collection annoyances.
File later when:
1. You just got a bonus from work and it significantly affects your income level;
2. You are anticipating some significant medical treatment and aren’t sure if your health insurance will cover all of the associated costs;

Posted 9 weeks 5 days ago