All items from Shenwick & Associates

Here at Shenwick & Associates, we counsel our clients to avoid violating any laws and regulations. While our colleagues of the criminal defense bar may lose work from such advice, it keeps our disciplinary record clean, our malpractice insurance premiums low and our clients out of trouble.



Posted 3 days 7 hours ago

By Tara Siegel Bernard

Tracy S., 59, a technical writer for a large bank, divorced her husband just as the
housing market spiraled downward. They were forced to sell their home, just
outside Phoenix, for less than they owed, and the bank agreed to absorb the
difference, about $25,000.

“Our ability to pay and our credit was perfectly fine, but neither of us could
keep the house individually,” she said. Ultimately the house sold for about
$175,000, or 21 percent less than they originally paid.

Three years after the short sale, Tracy is a homeowner once again. She bought
a three-bedroom house for $190,000 in another Phoenix suburb this year, and
qualified for a traditional mortgage with a 20 percent down payment.

“I believed and was told that I was not going to get a mortgage for the first two
years after the short sale,” she said, asking that her last name not be used to
protect her privacy. “But after that, I hadn’t really planned and didn’t think I
would be able to get a mortgage.”

So far, she has been in the minority. Through the end of last year, only a tiny
sliver of borrowers tarnished by foreclosures and short sales during the economic
downturn had bought homes again, according to a study by Experian, one of the
Big Three credit reporting bureaus. These borrowers are generally locked out of
the mortgage market for two to seven years, depending on their circumstances.



Posted 4 days 5 hours ago

Here at Shenwick & Associates, many of our clients are understandably concerned about how to protect their assets from creditors––especially their home. While there are limits on how much asset protection we can provide clients when presented with an immediate crisis (i.e. a foreclosure sale), with advance planning, there are several strategies debtors can use to protect their most valuable asset. Let's look at a few of these asset protection techniques and devices:

1. The homestead exemption. Most, but not all states provide a homestead exemption (for example, New Jersey has no state law homestead exemption, forcing debtors to use federal bankruptcy exemptions, which are currently $22,975 per debtor, to retain any equity in their home). On the other end of the protections spectrum are states like Texas and Florida, which place no limit on home equity that can be protected from creditors. In New York State, the homestead exemption varies by region of the state, but for downstate counties, the homestead exemption is $150,000 per debtor. While that's a significant amount, given the value of real estate in the New York metropolitan area, many homeowners have much more equity in their homes than can be protected under the homestead exemption.



Posted 4 weeks 2 days ago

By Tara Siegel Bernard
Six months after his wife learned that she had a rare vascular disease of the brain,
Frank, now 66, lost his job as director of sales of a telecommunications company.
His wife, to whom he had been married for 36 years, died just two months later.
He was still grieving when he learned that he had kidney cancer. The tumor
was operable, but the exam brought to light a long list of other serious problems,
including a pulmonary embolism and a heart-rhythm disorder.

That was in 2009, in the depths of the recession, and finding a new job was
difficult. Two years later, after struggling to pay medical bills not covered by
insurance and other debts, Frank filed for bankruptcy. But that did not erase the
giant pile of federal Parent Plus loans that he had taken out to help put his three
children through college. Since he could no longer work, Sallie Mae, the loan
servicer, ultimately suggested applying for a disability discharge, which would
cancel the debts.

He qualified, and last July, his loans, which had ballooned to $150,000 in
forbearance, were wiped away. “I felt like a Buick had been lifted off my
shoulders,” said Frank, who lives in upstate New York.



Posted 30 weeks 4 days ago

By James B. Stewart

Anyone who wonders why law school applications are plunging and there’s
widespread malaise in many big law firms might consider the case of Gregory M.
Owens.

The silver-haired, distinguished-looking Mr. Owens would seem the
embodiment of a successful Wall Street lawyer. A graduate of Denison University
and Vanderbilt Law School, Mr. Owens moved to New York City and was named a
partner at the then old-line law firm of Dewey, Ballantine, Bushby, Palmer &
Wood, and after a merger, at Dewey & LeBoeuf.

Today, Mr. Owens, 55, is a partner at an even more eminent global law firm,
White & Case. A partnership there or any of the major firms collectively known as
“Big Law” was long regarded as the brass ring of the profession, a virtual
guarantee of lifelong prosperity and job security.

But on New Year’s Eve, Mr. Owens filed for personal bankruptcy.

According to his petition, he had $400 in his checking account and $400 in
savings. He lives in a rental apartment at 151st Street and Broadway. He owns
clothing he estimated was worth $900 and his only jewelry is a Concord watch,
which he described as “broken.”

Mr. Owens is an extreme but vivid illustration of the economic factors roiling
the legal profession, although his straits are in some ways unique to his personal
situation.

The bulk of his potential liabilities stem from claims related to the collapse of



Posted 39 weeks 4 days ago

By NATALIE KITROEFF Stacy Jorgensen fought her way through pancreatic cancer. But her struggle was just beginning.
Before she became ill, Ms. Jorgensen took out $43,000 in student loans. As her payments piled up along with medical bills, she took the unusual step of filing for bankruptcy, requiring legal proof of “undue hardship.”
The agency charged with monitoring such bankruptcy declarations, a nonprofit with an exclusive government agreement, argued that Ms. Jorgensen did not qualify and should pay in full, dismissing her concerns about the cancer’s return.
“The mere possibility of recurrence is not enough,” a lawyer representing the agency said. “Survival rates for younger patients tend to be higher,” another wrote, citing a study presented in court.



Posted 43 weeks 1 day ago

By After her husband died, Mary Veronica Santiago fell behind on her bills, and the creditors began to call.
So two years ago, she took refuge in bankruptcy, hoping to have her debts wiped away. But far from providing a fresh start and peace of mind, the Chapter 7 filing thrust Mrs. Santiago, 79, who lives in the East Village, into the center of a case that bankruptcy lawyers say poses a major risk to her and the millions of other New Yorkers who live in rent-stabilized apartments.
The issue, pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, is whether a rent-stabilized lease can be treated as an asset in a personal bankruptcy, just like a car or a piece of land, and used to pay off creditors.



Posted 1 year 1 week ago

By The dentist set to work, tapping and probing, then put down his tools and delivered the news. His patient, Patricia Gannon, needed a partial denture. The cost: more than $5,700.
Ms. Gannon, 78, was staggered. She said she could not afford it. And her insurance would pay only a small portion. But she was barely out of the chair, her mouth still sore, when her dentist’s office held out a solution: a special line of credit to help cover her bill. Before she knew it, Ms. Gannon recalled, the office manager was taking down her financial details.



Posted 1 year 2 weeks ago