All items from St. Petersburg Bankruptcy Law Blog

By: Marshall G. Reissman
A recent article in the New York Times recently about consumers facing bankruptcy with much more debt than previous debtors. If you are facing this same type of situation, please call us and schedule a free consultation. We want to help you in this time of uncertainty and doubt
 
 
 



Posted 42 weeks 6 days ago

We recently reported that a debtor could strip off a second mortgage in Chapter 7 due to the decision the 11th Circuit reached in McNeal v. GMAC Mortgage, LLC (In re McNeal) (11th Cir. 2012). At the time the Court ruled in the case the Court decided not to publish the opinion, which meant that lower courts in the 11th Circuit were not required to follow the decision.
However, the Court in McNeal, recently published the opinion, which now means that lower courts in the 11th Circuit are required to follow the decision. Now, debtors in Chapter 7 in the 11th Circuit can strip off wholly unsecured mortgages.
Call us today to find out if you qualify.



Posted 45 weeks 6 days ago

By: Marshall G. Reissman, Attorney at the Reissman Law Group, P.A.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that debtors in Chapter 7 bankruptcy have the ability to strip off their second mortgage on their homestead property if the first mortgage is greater than the value of the home. The ability to wipe out a second mortgage in bankruptcy was previously only available to debtors in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Prior to this decision, many practitioners, myself included, would have counseled individuals who wanted to remain in their home, but wanted to strip off a second mortgage to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A United States Supreme Court decision in Dewsnup v. Timm, held that a Chapter 7 debtor could not “cram down” a partially secured debt. Cramming down a debt deals with valuing secured property to its actual value as opposed to what is owed on the collateral. This is another big reason folks file Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Many courts interpreted this decision into Chapter 7 debtors not being able to strip off wholly unsecured junior lien.



Posted 2 years 10 weeks 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.”



Posted 2 years 12 weeks ago

By: Ceara L. Riggs, Bankruptcy Attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida at The Reissman Law Group, P.A.
Search for St. Petersburg/Tampa Bankruptcy Lawyers and what comes up? Pages about modifying your home or walking away from your home. Those aren’t the only two options, but they’re the most common options.
So how about modifying? It’s easy – as easy as filling out an application to be President of the United States. Well, although there’s no application to be President of the United States, there is an application for a modification. But unlike any other application or paperwork you’ve completed, after you complete the paperwork demanded by the bank (all 40-80 pages of it), you send it to the bank for them to review. Then you send it in again. And send it in again. And send it in again. And maybe send it in one more time. Then you wait until they tell you you need more documents. Rinse. Repeat. Oh yeah, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a modification at the end, by which time you’re even further behind on your mortgage.



Posted 2 years 12 weeks ago

By: Ceara L. Riggs, Bankruptcy Attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida at The Reissman Law Group, P.A.
The question I am probably asked the most is, “How long will I get to stay in my house?” It depends. Looking for a more definite answer? Chances are, any lawyer that wants to keep their Bar Card and Number will give you the same answer.
And as frustrating as that answer probably is, it’s the reality of the situation. So you want numbers, here’s the numbers:



Posted 2 years 15 weeks ago

By: Marshall G. Reissman Bankruptcy Attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida at The Reissman Law Group, P.A.
Professional athletes filing bankruptcy have been in the news over the years including Mike Tyson, Sheryl Swoopes, and Lawrence Taylor. It may shock some people that professional athletes, who made millions during their careers, face the same kind of financial troubles that middle class Americans find themselves in. One of the latest professional athletes to file bankruptcy is Warren Sapp, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Unfortunately, professional athletes are not immune from the problems regular people face, they just have a few more zeros at the end of their bills. Whether it is over-spending, bad investments, or a victim of the recent real estate bubble, professional athletes are subject to the same types of financial problems. Another possible reason for filing bankruptcy is to stop pending litigation or to stop a garnishment. Read a post about bankruptcy and garnishment here.



Posted 2 years 15 weeks ago

By: Marshall G. Reissman Bankruptcy Attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida at The Reissman Law Group, P.A.
Folks usually seek out the services of a bankruptcy attorney only when their situation becomes dire. One of those situations occurs when a credior sues someone. A lawsuit can be detrimental enough, but the real pain happens if the creditor is able to get a judgment against the person. Once the creditor obtains the judgment, the creditor can take whatever legal action is available to enforce the judgment. One action is the ability of the creditor to garnish a person’s wages, bank accounts, and other revenue streams. A garnishment can turn things from bad to worse.
Fortunately, one way to stop a garnishment is to file bankruptcy. When a person files bankruptcy, an auotmatic stay of protection is put into effect. The automatic stay prevents a creditor from taking certain actions including enforcing a pre-petition garnishment action.  Not only will the garnsihment stop, but as long the person remains in bankruptcy and receives a discharge, the underlying debt will likely be dischargeable as well.



Posted 2 years 15 weeks ago

By: Marshall G. Reissman Bankruptcy Attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida at The Reissman Law Group, P.A.
There has been a lot of misinformation on the Internet about folks not being able to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Well I am here to tell you that people can and are filing Chapter 7.



Posted 2 years 16 weeks ago

By: Marshall G. Reissman Bankruptcy Attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida at The Reissman Law Group, P.A.
One of the advantages debtors receive when they file for bankruptcy is creditors can no longer seek to collect money from them. At the time a bankruptcy case is filed, an automatic stay of protection is put into place under Sec. 362 of the Bankruptcy Code, which prevents creditors from contacting debtors trying to collect on outstanding debt. When a creditor fails to abide by the Automatic Stay, the bankruptcy court has the ability to levy sanctions against the creditors for failing to abide by the Stay. Oftentimes a creditors will normally stop contacting debtors after receiving a phone call from the debtor’s attorney advising the creditor of the bankruptcy case information. When the creditor continues to violate the Stay, the debtor’s attorney can file a motion with the court and seek sanctions, including punitive damages and attorney fees.
This same principle applies after a debtor receives a discharge. Once a debtor receives a discharge, creditors are forever barred from attempting to collect a debt that was included in the bankruptcy. The same rules apply if a creditor violates the discharge injunction as if they violate the Automatic Stay. Usually, once put on notice, creditors will cease collection activity. It may take several attempts and some sternly worded letters, but creditors usually stop harassing debtors.
Then there are the exceptional cases.



Posted 2 years 17 weeks ago