Saturday, June 28, 2014

Can I file for bankruptcy while in a Bucks County geriatric community?

Frequently, people in the legal community will send me bankruptcy clients who are either injured or who are senior citizens.

For example, my Quakertown DUI Lawyer friend has been a big source of referrals for my Upper Bucks County office.  When people are disabled, my Bucks County Disability Lawyer friend will send me those who are no longer able to work.  Frequently, they send me people who are senior citizens.

I have represented Bucks County residents who are in a nursing home, over 55 community, or have full-time home health care.  Other times, they have partial home health care.

No one in any geriatric community is precluded from filing a Bucks County bankruptcy.  You just have to qualify for a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 like everyone else.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Taping of the Meeting of the Creditors

The Trustee must hold the hearing with the Bucks County debtor or debtors under oath.  Bankruptcy Rule 2003(e) further requires that the hearing be recorded verbatim using electronic sound recording equipment.

The Trustees in Bucks County use a tape recorder and microphone.  These recordings must be made available for access for two years after the hearing date.

So, when you meet with the Trustee, make sure you speak loudly and clearly so the microphone can pick up your answers.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Amendments to a Bankruptcy Petition

You have filed your bankruptcy petition through a Bucks County bankruptcy lawyer.  Prior to filing the petition, you looked at every page and made sure that things are accurate and there were no errors or omissions.

Then....shucks!  You forgot something.  It might be an additional, recurring expense.  Maybe it was a rifle.  Maybe it was a family heirloom.

Well, under Bankruptcy Rule 1009(a) allows for a voluntary petition to be amended by the debtor at any time before the case is closed.  This happens frequently after the Trustee's Hearing where an error or omission shows up.  Sometimes, Schedule C must be amended to add for additional exemptions.  Generally, as long as there is no fraud or false pretense, you should be fine having your attorney file the amendments.

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.