Determining Property Ownership in Bankruptcy

It is not uncommon for close family members to transfer ownership of assets to one another. It is also common for one family member to own assets by proxy in the name of another family member. But before you do such things, you should be aware of the sticky issue of ownership should bankruptcy take place.

Let’s consider a hypothetical situation. John Doe has bad credit but his sister, Jane Doe has excellent credit standing. John desires to buy a car but because of his bad credit record, he is not able to secure financing, so he asks his sister Jane to purchase the vehicle in her name. John even pays the down payment and promises to pay the monthly installments so that Jane does not have to fork out a single dime.

All goes well for a few months until Jane runs into problems of her own. Let’s say she runs into massive financial difficulties, loses her job and incurs high medical costs for a chronic and serious illness. She is no longer able to clear her debts and files for bankruptcy. Another hypothetical scenario can be Jane is an innocent spouse whose husband has absconded leaving her straddled with huge back taxes she is liable for because she and her husband are joint filers of their income taxes. The IRS might even file a levy on her properties (including the car she bought in her name). Again, the situation is critical and Jane is forced to file for bankruptcy protection.

In these hypothetical situations, the car immediately becomes part of the bankruptcy estate. This means the car might be sold to help pay off Jane’s debts. She cannot transfer the ownership back to her brother because it is not allowed and the bankruptcy trustee would simply reverse the transfer if she tried to do so.

The only way for John to obtain ownership of the car is to buy it back from Jane. Even if the car is fully paid up, as long as it is still under her name, John cannot lay any claim to it. The bankruptcy trustee does not take into consideration who has been paying the monthly installments or maintaining and using the car. As far as the trustee is concerned, the car belongs to Jane because it officially says so on paper.
So if this type of incident happens to you, you should be aware of the legal implications of ownership of assets.

Are you facing huge debt problems? Consider filing for bankruptcy protection to avoid losing your assets and get your creditors off your back. Call us at (813) 200 4133 for a free consultation.

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    Do Not Fear Excessive Bankruptcy Charges

    It is not uncommon to get ripped off when making a purchase of certain goods or being overcharged when hiring someone for services. In many industries there are no governing regulations and prices are generally dependent upon market forces. But unlike other industries, the legal industry insofar as bankruptcy is concerned has its fees governed by law.

    The bankruptcy judge has the right to determine the fees charged by bankruptcy attorneys to some extent. Section 329 of the bankruptcy code gives the judge this power. In fact, it is legally binding for the bankruptcy attorney to declare his fees to the court. The court then reviews the charges and decides if the fees charged are unreasonable. Being required to do this causes many bankruptcy lawyers not to charge excessively for their services.

    But there are no hard and fast figures that determine if a fee charged is excessive. Among the things the bankruptcy judge takes into account in deciding whether fees are reasonable are the complexity of the case, the competence and skill of the lawyer and the amount of work the lawyer did in the case. A long-drawn or complicated Chapter 13 bankruptcy would warrant a higher fee than a straightforward Chapter 7 case. If the attorney solved difficult problems for the client, set out creative strategies or filed correct petitions, the charges can be higher.

    If the judge determines that the fees charged are excessive, the onus is on the lawyer to prove otherwise, failing which the lawyer has to lower his fees.

    So if you are contemplating filing for bankruptcy but are hesitant to do so because of affordability issues, it’s time to put aside such concerns. Call us at (813) 200 4133 for a free consultation on how bankruptcy can give you a new lease of life financially by eliminating your debts.

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      How to List an Omitted Creditor in Bankruptcy

      How to List an Omitted Creditor in Bankruptcy

      When you file for bankruptcy, you have to submit the list of your creditors to the bankruptcy court. This listing contains the names and addresses of all your creditors. This is the list reviewed by the bankruptcy judge and used to pay off your creditors either through liquidation of your assets in Chapter 7 bankruptcy or payment plan in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

      You will have the opportunity to review the list before it is lodged with the bankruptcy court. During this time, if you notice any inaccuracies or any creditor that has been omitted, you should rectify it with your bankruptcy lawyer.

      However, if you overlooked a creditor and submitted the list with one or more creditors missing, you can still have the creditor included. But you have to file an amendment. In most cases, when you file for an amendment you will have to complete a new schedule list to show all creditors including the creditor that was omitted. For this, you will incur an amendment fee.

      If you have exited bankruptcy and had your debts discharged and discover you have omitted a creditor, you may still have the debt owed to this creditor discharged provided it was incurred before you filed for bankruptcy. If the creditor attempts to collect on the outstanding debt, you may have to reopen your bankruptcy case.

      If you are in such a situation, call us at (813) 200 4133 for a free consultation.

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        What You Should Know about Medical Bankruptcy

        Healthcare these days is getting more expensive. Your medical bills are usually unsecured debt. And the peculiar thing about medical debt is that they are ongoing, especially the expensive ones. You see the doctor and you are directed to have additional tests and treatments, followed by consultations with specialists and then come the prescription charges. Should your medical bills increase to the point where they are a debt you cannot bear, you may want to consider filing for bankruptcy.

        Usually, it is advisable to seek other means of paying medical debts before filing for bankruptcy. You can look around for more reasonable medical fees, discounts on medicines or seek the help of non-profit advocacy groups. But suppose you have already taken these steps and still find yourself drowning under the weight of medical debts. Then you should consider bankruptcy.

        The thing about medical debt is that it is not likely you will be allowed to file for bankruptcy only to clear your medical bills alone. You would be required to include all other debts also, including back taxes, credit card debts, personal loans etc.

        It is strongly advisable for you to seek the legal counsel of a bankruptcy lawyer to discuss the timing to file for bankruptcy. As I mentioned above, medical debts are ongoing and bankruptcy only discharges your medical debts incurred up to the point of your bankruptcy filing. So if you file for bankruptcy too early you may be left with a large amount of medical bills incurred after the bankruptcy that cannot be discharged.

        So call us at (813) 200 4133 for a free consultation on how to best eliminate your medical debts (and other debts) through bankruptcy.

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          What You May Not Know about Bankruptcy Laws and How they Affect You

          If you are contemplating filing for bankruptcy, you should take note of what the law on bankruptcy says and how they affect you. Some of the recent ones may not be to your best interests but nevertheless, if you intend to file for bankruptcy, you are obligated to abide by them. Here are some of the laws and how they may affect you.

          Eligibility to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy hinges on your income. The bankruptcy law states that you have to pass a means test, which is an evaluation on whether your household income exceeds the amount of average income set by your state. If your household income is more than the average cost of living set by your state, then you are not eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Instead, you will have to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy where you are put under a payment plan and required to repay your debtors over a period of up to five years.

          Unlike the past, the bankruptcy laws now generally exclude student loans from your petition. This means student loans cannot be forgiven and is treated like child support or alimony, unless you can show that repaying this debt will severely affect your standard of living. Such a thing is not easy to prove so most debtors with student loans have to repay their loans despite filing for bankruptcy. If you still need to include your student loan among your bankruptcy liabilities, call us at (813) 200 4133 for a free review of your case.

          On a brighter note, under current bankruptcy laws, your home will be saved from foreclosure the moment you successfully file for bankruptcy. You will receive an immediate automatic stay of action, meaning your bankers are compelled to cease all foreclosure proceedings against your home as soon as you file. Since preventing your home from being foreclosed is something everyone desires, it gives you a strong incentive to file for bankruptcy. So if your home is about to be foreclosed, you should file for bankruptcy without delay.

          Call us at (813) 200 4133 for a free consultation on all matters pertaining to bankruptcy.

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            What You May Not Know about Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

            If you are contemplating filing for bankruptcy, you should make sure you are knowledgeable about the bankruptcy options open to you. One of the types of bankruptcies you can file for is Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as liquidation bankruptcy. Under this bankruptcy, your non-exempt assets are liquidated to pay off your debts and when all this is done, any debt left over is forgiven. But there are lots of other factors that come into play which can be confusing at times. Here are some facts about Chapter 7 bankruptcy to clear the air.

            1. You will not lose your home
            The prospect of losing the roof over your head has caused many a potential filer to avoid Chapter 7 bankruptcy and thereby bypass a good opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start again financially. But under the bankruptcy rules, you will not lose your primary home if it is worth below a certain amount. This also applies to your car. However, if you live in an expensive home, then you may want to consider filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy (wage earner plan) instead to keep your home.

            2. You will not lose your retirement funds
            Another exempted asset that is protected under Chapter 7 bankruptcy are your retirement funds like your 401(k) or IRA (Individual Retirement Account). These retirement assets cannot be used to pay off your debts. However, if you have recently withdrawn money from any of your retirement plans to pay debts, then this money is no longer exempted.

            3. You will still be able to secure loans
            Granted, there will be an inevitable effect on your credit score once you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy which will last for 7 to 10 years. But this does not mean you will be shunned by banks and financial institutions when you apply for loans. If you stay current on all your loan obligations for 2 years or so, there should be no reason why you cannot secure loans from lending institutions.

            4. You can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy more than once
            There is some confusion as to how many times you are legally allowed to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. There is no limit in the law with the proviso that you cannot file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition within 8 years after your last Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

            5. You can qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy provided you pass a means test
            Due to the nature of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it can be open to abuse. That is why the government passed the Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer Protection Act 2005. After this Act was introduced, it is now easy to qualify for Chapter 7 as long as you pass a means test. The means test is to see if your household income falls below the average set by your state.

            If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, call us at (813) 200 4133 for a free consultation.

             

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              How to Prevent Credit Card Issuers from Stopping Your Bankruptcy

              One of the main sources of unsecured debts for bankruptcy filers is credit card debt. Since the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) was passed in 2005, more restrictions have been put in place to making a bankruptcy filing. This is to prevent anyone from simply filing for bankruptcy and getting all their massive debts written off without paying for them. Thus with the enforcement of the BAPCPA in 2005, credit card issuers now have more clout in your bankruptcy. For one thing, credit card issuers can now block your bankruptcy filing.

              It is to the best interests of credit card issuers to file a dispute to prevent you from filing bankruptcy so that you are compelled to pay up all your credit card debts. With this new right they have afforded them by the BAPCPA, credit card issuers will find just about any excuse they can think of to block your bankruptcy. So here’s what you can do to stop their actions:

              1. Use only one credit card
              If you need to make your purchases of necessities like food or gas, try to make them all using only one card. If that is not possible because of credit card limits, try to use as few cards as you can because one of the reasons the bankruptcy court can use to throw out your bankruptcy filing is multiple card usage to jack up your debts. Also make sure you keep your credit card statements and purchase receipts so that you can prove the necessity of your purchases.

              2. Get a refund for luxury items purchases
              According to the law, you will be scrutinized for your credit card spending for up to 90 days prior to your bankruptcy filing. So if you have made purchases of non-essential luxury items within that time, you may want to consider returning the items to reverse your credit card purchases and reduce your debts.

              3. Keep credit card debt to a reasonable limit
              Generally the limit at which the credit card issuers dispute your bankruptcy filing is $10,000 of debt. So try as far as possible to keep your credit card debt to under $10,000. Of course, the amount of credit card debt you hold should be as low as possible. And while this is not an absolute figure, it is a good gauge of how much debt is too much in the eyes of credit card issuers. However, take note that credit card issuers can technically file a dispute to your bankruptcy no matter how little or much you owe them.

              So take note of these factors when filing for bankruptcy. If you wish to file for bankruptcy, contact us at (813) 200 4133 for a free consultation.

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                How Bankruptcy can Help Eliminate Wage Garnishment

                If your wages have been garnished by the IRS due to non-payment of taxes, there may be a way to eliminate the garnishment. Obviously, the best way to stop wage garnishment is to pay off all your existing taxes. However, if your wages have been garnished in the first place, it probably meant that you could not afford to pay off your taxes in one lump sum. So if paying off your taxes is not possible, what other option is there?

                The other option is to apply for a payment plan that puts you in good standing so that the garnishment assignment stops. Yet another option is to make an offer in compromise to the IRS. An offer in compromise is an offer of paying the IRS less than what you owe based on what you can afford.

                Another option is to apply to the IRS for your tax debt to be declared uncollectible. This can only be considered if the garnishment of your wages leaves you with insufficient funds to support yourself and your family. The process of applying for this may delay collection efforts until your financial situation improves but it is up to the discretion of the IRS to approve your application.

                The final option to stop your wage garnishment is to file for bankruptcy. A bankruptcy filing may either stop your garnishment temporarily or permanently.

                These are your options to stop your wage garnishments. Call us at (813) 200 4133 to discuss which option is best for your situation.

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                  How Bankruptcy Can Help Eliminate Tax Debts

                  Can tax debt be eliminated through bankruptcy? Most people would tell you, “No”. But that is not entirely true. The good news is that you can eliminate tax debts through bankruptcy, although not all of it. The question is which tax debts can bankruptcy eliminate and which bankruptcy cannot. To be able to distinguish which tax debts can be discharged through bankruptcy, you should consult a bankruptcy lawyer.

                  The fact is some tax debts can be discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy while others can be dealt with through Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The taxes that cannot be discharged through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy might be able to be paid off through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy without being penalized with interest payments.

                  There is a timing factor that determines the dischargeability of your tax debts. Generally, if you have been filing and paying your taxes honestly to the best of your capabilities through the years, then the tax debts that are longer than 3 years prior to the date of filing of bankruptcy can be discharged by the bankruptcy court. But your most recent taxes like you current year’s tax bill is unlikely to be discharged.

                  But the IRS will go through your old tax returns with very thoroughly. And if they do find any dishonesty or discrepancy in your tax submissions, the bankruptcy court will not allow you to discharge your old tax debts.
                  How you treat your taxes during your bankruptcy process also plays a role. If you fail to file a tax return or file one late during the course of your bankruptcy, you risk having the court throw out your entire bankruptcy case. So if you do not want to see your bankruptcy case dismissed altogether, you should stay current with your tax filings.

                  If you are living under a heavy load of debt, whether they be tax debts or other debts, consider bankruptcy as a way out. Call us at (813) 200 4133 for a free consultation.ted through bankruptcy? Most people would tell you, “No”. But that is not entirely true. The good news is that you can eliminate tax debts through bankruptcy, although not all of it. The question is which tax debts can bankruptcy eliminate and which bankruptcy cannot. To be able to distinguish which tax debts can be discharged through bankruptcy, you should consult a bankruptcy lawyer.

                  The fact is some tax debts can be discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy while others can be dealt with through Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The taxes that cannot be discharged through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy might be able to be paid off through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy without being penalized with interest payments.

                  There is a timing factor that determines the dischargeability of your tax debts. Generally, if you have been filing and paying your taxes honestly to the best of your capabilities through the years, then the tax debts that are longer than 3 years prior to the date of filing of bankruptcy can be discharged by the bankruptcy court. But your most recent taxes like you current year’s tax bill is unlikely to be discharged.

                  But the IRS will go through your old tax returns with very thoroughly. And if they do find any dishonesty or discrepancy in your tax submissions, the bankruptcy court will not allow you to discharge your old tax debts.
                  How you treat your taxes during your bankruptcy process also plays a role. If you fail to file a tax return or file one late during the course of your bankruptcy, you risk having the court throw out your entire bankruptcy case. So if you do not want to see your bankruptcy case dismissed altogether, you should stay current with your tax filings.

                  If you are living under a heavy load of debt, whether they be tax debts or other debts, consider bankruptcy as a way out. Call us at (813) 200 4133 for a free consultation.

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                    What a Bad Bankruptcy Attorney Looks Like

                    If you wish to file for bankruptcy, it is highly advisable that you hire a competent bankruptcy attorney instead of filing for bankruptcy by yourself. But as in any profession, there are good bankruptcy attorneys and there are bad ones. A good bankruptcy attorney is a dream to work with but a bad one…well, let’s just say you will wish you never met him.

                    Here’s what a bad bankruptcy attorney looks like:

                    1. Exorbitant fees

                    If the attorney charges sky high fees, it should raise a red flag with you. But that does not mean you should hire the cheapest lawyer in town. Most times, you get what you pay for. Attorneys who bank on undercutting their rates just to secure the most number of clients will not be able to give you the necessary attention your case needs. The best thing to do would be to do some due diligence on what the general rates are among most bankruptcy attorneys and if you find one that is either way above or below the norm, you should avoid him or her.

                    2. Hidden fees

                    When discussing your case with the bankruptcy attorney, be sure to bring up the question of fees and ask him or her to explain a breakdown of the fees. You have a right to question what every charge is for. And you should avoid bankruptcy attorneys who are not upfront with how much they will charge you.

                    3. Pushy attorneys

                    If you come across a bankruptcy attorney who seems pushy and wants you to sign a contract as quickly as possible without giving you enough time to go through it, you should be wary of him or her. It is legally required of all bankruptcy attorneys to outline all parts of a contract to you so that you thoroughly understand it before you sign the dotted line.

                    4. Incompetent attorneys

                    Bankruptcy can sometimes get rather complicated. So if an attorney does not have enough experience handling bankruptcy cases, it would be better if you look for someone else. In your research, ask the attorney about his or her past cases. Look up his referrals of past clients and look through his credentials in independent attorney rating services like avvo.com.

                    If you need advice about bankruptcy or are looking for a competent bankruptcy attorney, call us at (813) 200 4133 for a free non-obligatory consultation.

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