Bankruptcy Lawyer Bryan W. Stone answers the question: “What are my alternatives to bankruptcy?”
Many people considering filing for bankruptcy protection lack information about the process. This is understandable given that most people filing for bankruptcy have never filed before and are thus totally unfamiliar with how the system operates. Someone with only passing knowledge might think that all a person needs to do is decide to file and fill out some paperwork and before you know it the bankruptcy is over and done. Sadly, there are many more steps along the road that must be navigated before reaching the desired conclusion. Thankfully, skilled bankruptcy attorneys are here to help guide the way.
Bankruptcy Lawyer Bryan W. Stone answers the question “Do I need an attorney to file bankruptcy?”
Experts in the field of bankruptcy law gathered recently in Arizona to discuss legal changes and how these changes have impacted the majority of debtors. Those gathered at the symposium concluded that the changes that were part of the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) were not only ineffective, but served to make the bankruptcy process more confusing and more expensive for debtors. Ultimately, changes designed to make the process more difficult succeed only in driving away potential filers, helping creditors at the expense of those who may desperately need the relief offered by bankruptcy protection.
Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer Bryan W. Stone of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Can I get credit after filing personal bankruptcy?”
What is the first thing a person should do after bankruptcy? Get a credit card!
Not really, but you should at least think about opening some new credit lines, according to Gene Melchionne, a Connecticut-based bankruptcy attorney. Think about credit, but “Don’t go crazy trying to get new credit right away,” Melchionne advises.
The nice thing about emerging from bankruptcy, Melchionne says, is that you no longer have to worry about the debts that were dragging down your budget before bankruptcy. On the other hand, your credit score is in the gutter, and you need to take on some credit in order to start to bring the score up.
Melchionne suggests starting with a small credit limit and monitoring credit card use closely to make sure you can pay off the entire balance each month.
Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer Bryan W. Stone of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Do I need an attorney to file bankruptcy?”
A Milwaukee bankruptcy judge has sanctioned a bankruptcy petition preparer after having the woman hauled into court in handcuffs and shackles by the United States Marshals Service.
The woman, Katee Sims, faced contempt charges for continuing to prepare bankruptcy petitions for third parties, despite being ordered in July to stop doing so.
Sims said she first got into the business when she was at the courthouse working on her own bankruptcy petition. A man sitting next to her told her he was a bankruptcy petition preparer. Although Sims had filed bankruptcy herself five times, she had no professional experience or training helping third parties prepare petitions.
Nevertheless, she launched a bankruptcy petition preparation business, offering to assist people with filling out bankruptcy forms. Bankruptcy petition preparers are prohibited by federal law from providing any legal advice or answering even basic questions for clients. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel described petition preparers as “typists.”
The Journal Sentinel reported that, until 2012, the Milwaukee area was a bankruptcy petition preparer hotbed, and had more preparers in business in its federal court district than nearly every other district in the country. Many of these petition preparers charged clients what were seen as excessive fees, and they were accused of submitting bankruptcy paperwork rife with errors.
Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer Bryan W. Stone of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What are my alternatives to bankruptcy ?”
As North Carolina continues to struggle with the issue of whether to opt in or opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, economists at Columbia University are touting what they see as one of the expansion’s indirect benefits: a reduction in bankruptcies.
As is now well known, the Affordable Care Act—known in common parlance as Obamacare—gave states the option of expanding Medicaid coverage to low-income citizens.
As it turned out, the “option” was not really an option at all. It was a requirement. States were required to expand Medicaid eligibility to people whose incomes were less than 138-percent of the Federal Poverty Level. That amounts to an annual income of $19,530 for a family of three, by year-2013 standards.
A number of states took the word “option” seriously and opted out of the Medicaid expansion. They fought the Obama administration all the way to the United States Supreme Court. In 2012, the high court sided with states that viewed the term “option” as just that. States could opt out, the court ruled.
Officials in states that opted out worried that swelling Medicaid rolls would drain state coffers. The federal government has agreed to foot the bill for Medicaid expansion until 2016, with its share of the bill dropping to 90-percent thereafter.
Charlotte Bankruptcy attorney Bryan W. Stone answers the question: “What is Chapter 11 Bankruptcy?”
Though most people have heard of Chapter 7 bankruptcies (known as liquidation bankruptcy) and Chapter 13s (used to restructure debts), Chapter 12 bankruptcies are far less common. To find out more about what a Chapter 12 bankruptcy is and how it is used, keep reading.
What is a Chapter 12 bankruptcy?
Chapter 12 is actually one of the newer categories of bankruptcy and was only formally made permanent in 2005. Chapter 12 is used specifically for family farmers and family fishermen. Chapter 12 is similar to a Chapter 13 in that it allows the restructuring of a person’s debts to avoid liquidation or foreclosure.
Who is eligible for a Chapter 12 bankruptcy?
Very few debtors are actually eligible to file Chapter 12 bankruptcy and in 2011, the most recent year that numbers have been made available, only 630 of the overall 1.4 million bankruptcies filed in the U.S. were for Chapter 12 cases.
Charlotte Bankruptcy attorney Bryan W. Stone answers the question: “Does Bankruptcy stop foreclosure?”
One of the things most people considering filing for bankruptcy are confused by and concerned with is the meeting of creditors. The name can seem ominous, implying that the debtor is placed on a chair in the center of the room and then picked apart by angry lenders. The reality is, thankfully, far more boring.
When does the first meeting of creditors happen?
Once you officially file for bankruptcy you will receive a notice from the bankruptcy court informing you that the case has begun. This letter will typically appear about a week after you first file. In the letter, the date and time for the first meeting of creditors will be found. The meeting itself is usually scheduled a few weeks after the letter is delivered, ensuring that the process moves along at a relatively fast pace.
What is the meeting about?
The meeting of creditors is also known as a 341(a) meeting and it exists so that the bankruptcy court trustee, as well as your creditors, receive an opportunity to ask you questions under oath. This allows creditors to get a more complete understanding of your overall financial picture and clear up any confusion that may exist regarding your bankruptcy filings.
Charlotte Bankruptcy attorney Bryan W. Stone answers the question: “Are my 401k and IRA protected in bankruptcy?”
The Supreme Court recently made waves in the bankruptcy world when it released an opinion in Clark v. Rameker, a case concerning the exemption for inherited IRAs. In Clark, the justices agreed unanimously that the inherited IRA Ms. Clark received from her mother was not eligible for protection from creditors.
The case began back in 2010, when the Clarks filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Ten years before filing, Ms. Clark had received the IRA from the estate of her deceased mother. At the time of the bankruptcy filing, Ms. Clark and her husband listed the IRA as an asset, valued at around $300,000, but said that it was exempt from the overall bankruptcy estate. The couple argued that the money should be protected against claims by creditors, something that the trustee disagreed with.
The bankruptcy trustee overseeing the case, as well as the Clarks’ creditors, fought the couple over the claimed exemption. The creditors argued that because the money was not the actual retirement money of Ms. Clark it should not be exempted under the usual retirement fund heading.
The case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court where Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out several ways in which the inherited IRA differs from a person’s personal IRA savings. The Court noted that in traditional IRAs, a person can continue to invest money in the account, whereas those with inherited IRAs cannot. Most importantly, those who hold inherited IRAs are allowed to withdraw any or all of the money in the account for any reason without ever incurring a penalty. Those with traditional IRAs face a 10 percent penalty for early withdrawals.
Charlotte Bankruptcy attorney Bryan W. Stone answers the question: “Can I get credit after filing personal bankruptcy?”
A recent article on CNBC discussed the issue of increasingly pricey prescription drug bills and how the escalating costs associated with treating illness can drive families into bankruptcy.
The report noted that in 2013, Americans forked over more than $41 billion in unreimbursed prescription drug costs. This number has continued a steady march upwards and is reaching levels that are impacting the financial health of some homes. The reality is that many insurance plans today carry not only steep monthly premiums, but large annual deductibles that must first be hit before coverage kicks in, putting those families with low incomes in trouble.
One bankruptcy attorney interviewed in the article noted that half of his clients have medical-related debts. In other cases, experts say that a person’s debt may appear to have nothing to do with medical expenses, for instance, it may be exclusively on credit cards. However, this usually is because the family chose to use their cards to pay for living expenses after their income went towards prescription drug bills.
Sadly, the implementation of the new Affordable Care Act appears to have done little to solve the problem. Those with chronic health conditions must still pay large monthly premiums and contend with potentially thousands of dollars in annual deductibles. Additionally, a lack of knowledge surrounding the confusing insurance plans and their offerings make it even more difficult for consumers to understand how best to minimize medication costs.
Charlotte Bankruptcy attorney Bryan W. Stone answers the question: “Do I need an attorney to file bankruptcy?”
Though it’s not something many people think about, filing bankruptcy can have an important impact on whether you get to see your yearly tax refund. As a result, timing your filing can matter a great deal, a decision that could cost you potentially hundreds or thousands of dollars.
In the case of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the money you receive from a tax refund will almost always need to be turned over for payment to your creditors. This is because the tax refund is viewed as disposable income and will be considered surplus money that will almost always be paid into your bankruptcy plan.
The only exception is if you are able to excuse a tax refund from your repayment plan. To do this you’ll need to file a request with the bankruptcy trustee and explain why the money should be excused. Usually this will only be allowed in cases where you need the money to pay for something unexpected.
What issues are at play?
Whether a person gets to keep his or her tax refund when filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy depends on several factors: 1) the amount of the overall refund, 2) any bankruptcy exemptions and 3) when the case is filed.