Monday, March 10, 2014

Co-Debtors in a Chapter 7

A lot of people in Bucks County have debts they are seeking in a Chapter 7 but they are co-signed by another individual.

It is important to note and to be understood that the automatic stay applies only to acts against the debtor and the debtor's property.  It does not protect cosigners, guarantors, or other codebtors.

Therefore -- The automatic stay of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy does not prevent a creditor from collecting a dischargeable debt from a cosigner.  This is important -- the calls, lawsuits, and letters may continue against a non-filing debtor.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Real Housewives of Bankruptcy Fraud

The long-awaited trial of the Giudice family has ended with a plea.  Rarely does bankruptcy fraud hit the news.  Go here for an in-depth review of the case.  But, when bankruptcy fraud does hit the news, I'm fixated on the progress of the case (which is frequently unknown given the slow wheel of federal cases).  But, this ended in a not-so-unsurprising way.

Any Bucks County bankruptcy lawyer who has done this long enough has had a client try to commit fraud, either from not disclosing property or income to more nefarious reasons.  Anytime I catch a sniff of fraud, I'm out.  The client gets their money back and the petition is never filed.  It's not worth it.  And, as you can see, it is not worth it for the person committing the fraud.

Sentencing is in July and, after discussions with a Lehigh County criminal lawyer, we both agree that there is a very strong possibility of 12 months incarceration for her and 24+ months for him.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Right of the Debtor -- Utility Services

As a debtor in a Bucks County bankruptcy, you have an opportunity to enjoy the continued use of your utility services (i.e. electric, water, etc.).  Most people in the area get their electric from PECO.

I've blogged about adequate assurance before.  Remember --- even if you owed money to the utility company, they still must provide you with service.  To retain this right, however, a debtor must, within 20 days after the date of the filing of the bankruptcy case, furnish adequate assurance of payment for future services in the form of a deposit or other security.  This is governed under 11 U.S.C. 366.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Getting Your Tax Transcript Just Got Easier

My friend over at Chester County bankruptcy lawyer, wrote a post about tax transcripts that, in a tremendously geeky way, makes me happy.  As stated on the blog E Pluribus Unum,
Earlier today, at the White House Education Datapalooza, an official from the United States Department of the Treasury informed a packed theater and livestream that students, parents and citizens would finally be able to do something simple and profoundly useful over the Internet:download a transcript of their tax return from the Internal Revenue Service
“I am very excited to announce that the IRS has just launched, this week, a transcript application which will give taxpayers the ability to view, print, and download tax transcripts,” said Katherine Sydor, a policy advisor in the Office of Consumer Policy of the Treasury, “making it easier for student borrowers to access tax records he or she might need to submit loan applications or grant applications.”

This is actually a really nice feature.  Albeit, while we have Amazon talking about drone delivery in 2014 and the IRS is now just letting us download our own tax transcript, it is a good step. Since you must provide your last two years of tax returns to your Bucks County bankruptcy lawyer prior to filing, this could speed up the process and reduce frustration.  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Duties of the debtor -- Attendance at the Meeting of Creditors

For all individuals who file for bankruptcy in Bucks County, one of the duties they must perform is attending the Meeting of the Creditors.  They must also submit to a formal examination by the Trustee, which involves answering questions under oath.

Your Bucks County bankruptcy lawyer should inform you that you are also required to bring a picture I.D. issued by a governmental unit and proof of your Social Security number, normally in the form of your Social Security card or a W-2 (no copies, original documents only).

A debtor is also required to bring with them evidence of their present income (i.e. a recent pay stub) and a recent statement of your checking/savings accounts.

Certain cases will require additional information.  It is best to talk to your lawyer about the requirements and your lawyer should anticipate any unique circumstances in your case that would warrant additional documentation.  For example, if you are recently divorced, you should contact your Bucks County Divorce Lawyer to get a copy of your Marital Separation Agreement/Property Settlement Agreement just in case the trustee wants to see any asset division.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Bankruptcy Noticing Center

The central Bankruptcy Noticing Center (BNC) is in Virginia and is part of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.  The BNC sends standard notices in Bucks County bankruptcy cases, including the notice of the commencement of the case.

As bankruptcy attorney, I also receive the Electronic Bankruptcy Noticing Service (EBN).  When you receive your notices regarding your case, you will notice "BNC" frequently.  Now you know why!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Protection against discrimination in a Bucks County bankruptcy

Before we get into a discussion on discrimination and bankruptcy, please note -- if you are in Chester County and are looking for a Chester County bankruptcy lawyer, please contact Gary Freedman at your earliest convenience.  He just launched his website and it looks promising.

Now, 11 U.S.C. 525 protects Bucks County debtors from three types of discrimination:
1)  discrimination by governmental units with respect to employment and with respect to the granting of licenses, permits, franchises, and similar grants
2)  discrimination by private employers with respect to employment; and
3)  discrimination with respect to making or insuring of student loans.

For example, withholding an individuals driver's license solely because of nonpayment of a dischargeable debt is a violation of this section.  This same section prohibits private employers from discriminating against debtors with respect to promotions and advancements.  This includes termination as well.

In my experience, most people do not tell their employer about their bankruptcy.  They are not obligated to at all.  But, I have had numerous employers refer Bucks County people to me since their debts are impacting their job performance.  When people worry about their debts, they generally have major concerns and these concerns can generally be alleviated through a bankruptcy.