Friday, January 3, 2014

You Deserve a Fresh Start in 2014

Fresh Financial Start in 2014The New Year is a good time to evaluate your financial house and consider whether getting a fresh start by filing bankruptcy is the best option for you.

If you have too much debt or feel like you are way over you head in bills, bankruptcy may be right solution for you to get a fresh financial start in 2014.

Bankruptcy wipes out all credit card bills, medical bills, and personal loans. It even erases deficiencies on short sales and repossessed vehicles.

Filing bankruptcy initiates a Court ordered “automatic stay.” The automatic stay immediately stops your creditors from trying to collect from you. Creditors are immediately stopped from garnishing your wages, repossessing your car, or selling your house or other assets at a sheriff sale.

The first step is to make an appointment to meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to discuss your financial options. The consultation is free. I don’t judge my clients and always treat everyone with the respect they expect and deserve.

Stephen M. Dunne, Esquire has been consistently voted and named one of Pennsylvania’s Bankruptcy Super Lawyers by Law and Politics published by Philadelphia Magazine and Pennsylvania Super Lawyer for the years 2011-2013.

If you know someone who needs a fresh financial start in 2014, please tell them that I can help them make 2014 the year for a fresh financial start.

Call Today: 215-551-7109.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Detroit Bankruptcy – Pensions Aren’t Protected From Cuts

Retirees like Gwendolyn Beasley, 67 years old, who worked 34 years for Detroit as a library clerk has an annual pension of $13,085. Ms. Beasley’s pension could be decimated in the very near future.

A judge declared Detroit eligible for bankruptcy and ruled that pensions aren’t protected from potential cuts. Five months after the city filed for Chapter 9 protection, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes said Detroit was entitled to reorganize under bankruptcy law, describing his ruling as a “fresh start” for the city.

Judge Rhodes said Detroit’s public pension holders aren’t entitled to special protection from potential cuts – despite a Michigan state constitutional provision aimed at shielding pensions. “Pension rights are contract rights under the Michigan constitution” and contracts are at risk for cuts under federal bankruptcy law.

Detroit plans on unveiling a proposal in January 2014 to restructure its estimated $18 billion in long-term debt, which makes it the largest-ever municipal bankruptcy in U.S. History.

The city’s unfunded pension liability has been estimated at between $3.5 billion and $8 billion.  The pension funds would undoubtedly receive only a fraction of what they are owed. The pension cuts will have a devastating on city employees and retirees who hoped state law would protect their pensions.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Discharging Cyber Monday Purchases in Bankruptcy

Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping brought in an estimated $12.3 billion in sales, according to shopping analytics firm ShopperTrak. Overall spending was expected to reach $57.4 billion for the weekend, according to the National Retail Federation.

Can You Discharge Recent Shopping Purchases in Bankruptcy?

The best advice is to consider limiting your shopping to a minimum to avoid any problems with your upcoming chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

There are also a few guideposts to consider contained within the bankruptcy code itself:

1. Cash advances in excess of $875.00 within seventy (70) days of the bankruptcy filing, are nondischargeable.

2. Purchases from a single retailer or service provider exceeding $600.00 for “luxury goods or services” within ninety (90) days of the bankruptcy filing, are nondischargeable.”

What Happens if the Retailer files an Objection to my Case?

Purchases within the above time periods often end up motivating the retailers to file an adversary proceeding in bankruptcy court.

An adversary proceeding contesting dischargeability is essentially a federal lawsuit brought within a bankruptcy. A retailer argues that the debts purchased are non-dischargeable because the bankruptcy code contains a statutory presumption that cash advances are nondischargeable within 70 days and consumer luxury goods are nondischargeable within 90 days.

It is important to note that the statutory presumption simply shifts the the burden from the retailer to the debtor. The debtor is free to rebut the presumption and argue that they DID NOT incur the debt in contemplation of bankruptcy. Generally, evidence establishing that the debtor did not incur the debt in contemplation of bankruptcy will suffice to rebut the presumption.

For instance, a sudden shift in the debtor’s financial circumstances may be sufficient to rebut the retailers contention that the debtor never intended to pay the debt back in the first place.

The Debtor’s Subjective State of Mind

The key issue in a dischargeability hearing rests upon the debtor’s subjective state of mind. For instance, rebuttal evidence illustrating that the debtor had a sudden change in circumstances, or that the debtor did not contemplate filing for bankruptcy until after the debtor took the cash advances, or that the debtor had the subjective intent of repaying the debt at the time the cash advances were obtained.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Rapper DMX files Bankruptcy

DMX (Born Earl Simmons) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to poor financial management. The Chapter 11 petition lists less than $50,000 in assets and $1 million to $10 million in debt. The New York native owes $1.24 million in child support and more than $21,000 on an auto lease.

Can Child Support be Erased?
No. Child support cannot be erased or legally discharged in a bankruptcy case but Chapter 11 bankruptcy does allow debtors to propose a reasonable repayment plan to cure the child support arrearage.

Why did DMX file Bankruptcy?
The State Department will not issue a passport to anyone that has more than $2,500.00 in child support arrearage. DMX has an upcoming international concert tour and the filing of the bankruptcy case allows him to get his passport back and travel abroad.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Genesis of Bankruptcy Law

Consumers file bankruptcy cases in order to obtain a bankruptcy discharge.  A bankruptcy discharge releases the consumer from personal liability for certain specified types of debts. In other words, the consumer is no longer legally required to pay any debts that are discharged. The discharge is a permanent order prohibiting the creditors of the consumer from taking any form of collection action on discharged debts, including legal action and communications with the consumer, such as telephone calls, letters, and personal contacts.

Bankruptcy and the Bible - Is Bankruptcy Moral?

Many people think of bankruptcy as an “immoral” act, and that erasing their debts somehow turns them into a “bad” person. The truth is that bankruptcy is deeply rooted in the Bible and that Biblical doctrine actually inspired Congress to pass the first bankruptcy laws in the United States on April 4, 1800.

The “bankruptcy discharge” actually originated from the book of Deuteronomy, which ordered lenders to release borrowers from their debts every seven years.  The book of Deuteronomy states:

“At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. And this is the manner of the release; every creditor shall release that which he has lent unto his neighbor and his brother; because the Lord’s release hath been proclaimed.”  (Deut. 15:1-2)

Forgiveness of Debts - Old Testament

The Old Testament is full of examples of the compassionate treatment of the poor.   For instance, Deuteronomy 15:7-10 is particularly forceful.  It reads:

“If there is a poor man among your not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother.  Rather be open-handed and freely lend him whatever he needs.  Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: "The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near," so that you show ill toward your needy brother and give him nothing.  He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin.  Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hands to."