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Posts Tagged ‘Chapter 13’

Cumulus Media Files for Bankruptcy

January 11th, 2018

The Atlanta based radio company Cumulus Media has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  At the time of filing, Cumulus Media had approximately $2.4 billion in debt.

If you have a company that is in financial trouble and would like someone to talk to, contact our law office at 816-524-4949 or visit our website at

Bankruptcy by the Numbers

July 26th, 2016


Comparing last year to this year, the ABA reports that the number of people who have filed for bankruptcy has fallen eight percent (8%).  Approximately 523,000 Chapter 7 bankruptcies were filed, 302,000 Chapter 13 bankruptcies were filed, and 7,000 Chapter 11 bankruptcies were filed.

If you or your business are having financial trouble, contact our law office at 816-524-4949 or visit

Bankruptcy and Divorce

January 5th, 2015

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, domestic support obligations, under 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(5), and non-domestic support obligations, under 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(15) are not dischargeable.  This means that they do not go away when a person files for bankruptcy. A domestic support obligation means child support, alimony, or maintenance that is owed.  Non-domestic support obligations are debts that arose from family law proceedings, such as attorney fees, the division of property, or other debts owed to the former spouse.

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, only domestic support obligations, under 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(5), are not dischargeable.  This means that a Chapter 13 debtor could erase debts that are non-domestic support obligations.

Domestic support obligations could be child support, maintenance, alimony, guardian ad litem fees, psychologist expenses, attorney fees related to a custody case, or any other items the parties meant to be in the nature of support for a child or the former spouse.

If you or your former spouse have filed for bankruptcy and you are worried about whether the bankruptcy will make things worse for you, feel free to speak with us by setting up a free consultation through our website at or call us at 816-524-4949.

401(k) Contributions in Bankruptcy

November 25th, 2014


If you are in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy or thinking of filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and have a 401(k), you may have an issue continuing to contribute to your 401(k) after filing.

If you need legal assistance, contact our office at 816-524-4949.

How to Pick a Bankruptcy Attorney

May 23rd, 2013

That’s it, you’re done. After struggling to pay your debts, you’re ready to  consider bankruptcy. It’s time to contact a bankruptcy lawyer, but which  one?  Some advertise on TV and radio, others on billboards and bus stops.  They seem fine, but you can’t tell for sure. Asking friends for a recommendation  is rather awkward. A discrete online search, maybe?

Filing for bankruptcy is a serious step, requiring excellent advice and the  right representation. Here’s how to find, and then choose, the best bankruptcy  attorney for you.

Signals of professionalism

To get started, check the National Association of Consumer  Bankruptcy Attorneys,  says Philadelphia lawyer Michael Duffy. Membership in this organization  indicates that the firm or lawyer is “dedicated to the practice of bankruptcy,  stays up to date on the latest developments, and provides competent  representation.”

Once you find members in your area, visit your state bar’s website to find  out if they’re certified. “Most states have specialist certifications for  bankruptcy,” says NACBA President Edward Boltz. This certification means the  lawyer has been practicing law for a minimum number of years, spends at least  half his or her time working with bankruptcy cases, is peer reviewed and has  passed a written examination in that specialty.

Such associations and credentials provide assurance that the lawyer has  practical knowledge and will know what to do in case something goes wrong. “It’s  insurance,” says Boltz. “A lot of cases are straightforward, but no one realizes  how fast they can go south until they’re going through it.”

Prepare to meet with a few

After you’ve identified a few lawyers or firms you’d like to explore further,  view their websites. They should contain clearly written educational information  and downloadable financial forms that you can fill out that to help you  determine if you qualify for bankruptcy.

Then, start to schedule some appointments. “Most lawyers will give a free  consultation,” says Boltz. “It’s helpful to go to see more than one. Not to  price shop, but to gauge how comfortable you are with them.”

Before you meet, complete the forms available on the website (if they offer  them) and bring them with you. Write down any questions you might have and bring  them, too.

Qualities to look for in a bankruptcy lawyer

Personality and professionalism matter, and — like anyone — a lawyer who  appears terrific on paper can fall short in person. It’s critical that you trust  that the person you hire will be working in your best interest.  Look for  the following three qualities during your consultation.

1. They discuss alternate resolutions. Chapter 7, a  complete cancellation of eligible debts, might not be the best or only way to  deal with your financial problems. If there are other options, an ethical lawyer  will present them.

“With each case, I always weigh the options,” says San Francisco bankruptcy  lawyer Jeena Cho. “Sometimes I suggest that a client just pay his bills. This  situation comes up if the client is making too much money or has too many  assets. The other advice I give sometimes is to do nothing. This can happen for  those who are ‘collection proof,’ meaning they have nothing the creditors can  take in case of a judgment.”

Another suggestion might be a credit counselor’s formal debt management plan,  especially if most of your lenders are credit card companies. The interest rate  reduction the agency may be able to secure can translate into lower  payments.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a court-supervised payment arrangement, might also be on the table.  A lawyer may recommend it if you have enough income to support at least some of  your liabilities and own property that could be taken in a Chapter 7 or a  lawsuit.

Understanding the full menu of resolutions and then choosing from them  reduces the possibility that you will regret making the decision to file for  bankruptcy.

2.  They display a passion for the process. You wouldn’t have a  heart operation performed by a indifferent surgeon, nor would you want the  person representing you in bankruptcy court to be distant or aloof. Therefore,  the lawyer you’re considering should exude a genuine passion for the occupation  and process. Find out why he or she chose to specialize in bankruptcy law.  Listen carefully to the response. Many lawyers find the work fascinating and  rewarding.

“I got into it over 30 years ago and I still love it,” says Dallas lawyer  Herman Lusky, “When people leave their debts behind, they can become active  members of society again.”

John Hargrave, a lawyer whose firm is located in Barrington, N.J., has a  similar attitude. “By working with people I can make their lives dramatically  better. There are few other areas, if any, where a lawyer can do so much good  for someone in a short amount of time.”

3. They hear and understand you. For most people, declaring bankruptcy  is a painful decision. Because of the emotions involved, you’ll want your  attorney to not just to have the proper credentials, but to exhibit a desire to  understand your specific situation and goals. Your lawyer should possess empathy  and a willingness to take the time to ask probing (sometimes difficult)  questions.

“Only hire someone who wants to know what led to your financial predicament,”  says Hargrove. “Someone who will can address what your biggest worries are.”

Not all lawyers have great bedside (or courtside) manners, so after the  meeting, ask yourself if you’re truly comfortable with that person and if all of  your concerns were addressed. If you feel like a number rather than an  individual, cross that lawyer off your list and move on to the next until you  find one who treats you with some respect.

A fee commensurate with service

And finally, the fee. Lawyers, even those who help you not pay your  creditors, aren’t free. The cost varies by complexity and location, but in  general is between $800 and $2,500 from start to finish.

Avoid ultra-low-rate bankruptcy mills that advertise heavily and crank out  the cases. “They usually only have a few lawyers and a large number of legal  assistants,” says Lusky. “For a simple run-of-the-mill case, they’re probably OK  , but you don’t know when complications may arise. The first time you meet with  your lawyer would be at the creditors meeting, and if  there is a problem, they won’t be prepared to handle it properly.”

Don’t presume you get more for hiring the most expensive lawyer on the block,  however, or less if you scrape the bottom of the price barrel. “Fees are  determined by the market,” says Lusky. “In some areas, caps are set by the  courts. This means that, for the same price, the client can usually get an  experienced, highly qualified lawyer for the same price as a novice.” Be sure to  ask what it covers, though, as some attorneys include court and other costs in  the quoted fee, others don’t.

Once you’ve found the person who possesses the ideal combination of  experience, character and cost, you’re set. If you choose to move forward with  filing, you can do so with assurance that you’re working with a lawyer you can  trust.

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Courtesy of Fox Business.

Number of individual bankruptcy filings drop

September 13th, 2012

It’s called the “10 year mistake” by credit counseling services. Financial advisors say to avoid it at all costs. But, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute, filing for bankruptcy was unavoidable for 1.46 million individuals and 36,000 businesses in 2011. Although these levels are historically high, the good news is that individual bankruptcy filings have declined 8 to ten percent over the past year.

Bankruptcy is a federal court process that is designed to help individuals eliminate overwhelming debts or repay them under the protection and supervision of the bankruptcy court. There are two general categories, “liquidation” and “reorganization”.

About 75 percent of the individuals who file for bankruptcy do so under Chapter 7, which is a form of liquidation bankruptcy. Basically the process involves completion of forms and submission of a petition to the court. Upon review and approval, an “automatic stay” is imposed on all creditors, prohibiting them from collecting debts owed to them until contacted by the court. Creditors are then informed of the repayment terms, if any.

Certain property is exempt in bankruptcy which individuals are allowed to keep, while other assets must be turned over to the court’s trustee to be sold and the proceeds used towards paying some of the creditors’ claims. One notable exempt asset is an individual’s account in an employer’s retirement plan. Under government regulations, these assets are exempt from liquidation to pay creditors. For this reason, leaving assets in a 401(k) or other retirement plan or an IRA may be advised versus taking distributions or loans from these accounts.

Chapter 13 is another form of bankruptcy, which is also referred to as “reorganization” or “wage-earner” bankruptcy. This version includes a repayment plan which describes how the debts will be repaid over the next three to five years and a trustee is assigned to oversee the repayment process. Creditors are permitted to comment on the repayment plan. After approval by the court, whatever debt is left after the terms of repayment is discharged.

Some of the most common reasons for filing for bankruptcy include divorce, unexpected and uninsured health problems and loss of a job. The personal stories range from younger individuals overextending themselves on credit cards when buying their first house to older folks getting caught in high interest rate loans for home repairs such as siding or replacement windows. In most all cases, financial problems begin with access to more credit than can be handled and under terms where interest rates are higher than average.

Chapter 13– Confirmation of plan– Calculation of projected disposable income

July 16th, 2012

Addressing one of the significant issues still open regarding the calculation of a Chapter 13 debtor’s projected disposable income, the court said that, while Code §1325(b)(3) requires that the determination of the expenses for an above-median debtor be made in accordance with Code §§707(b)(2)(A), (B), this does not obviate the Bankruptcy Code’s threshold requirements, in §1325(b)(2), that the amount of an expense be reasonable necessary. Here, the debtor’s monthly mortgage expense of $5,857 was not reasonably necessary where the applicable IRS Local Standard for monthly housing expenses for a one-person household in Burlington County, New Jersey, was $1,125. The debtor’s five-bedroom residence had a total of 6,100 square feet, as well as numerous luxury features such as a 300—plus-bottle wine cellar, a second kitchen, a pool table room, and a heated pool. Moreover, the debtor’s Form 22C deducted expenses for electricity, heating fuel, sewer/water, and home maintenance totaling $880, which was nearly double the local standard for non-mortgage housing utilities of $491. In re Konowicz, 2012 WL 1813410.

Chapter 13- Confirmation of plan- Good faith- Fee-only plan

June 26th, 2012

Reversing In re Puffer, 453 B.R. 14 (D. Mass July 8, 2011), the First Circuit Court of Appeals said that a “fee-only” Chapter 13 plan (i.e., a Chapter 13 plan under which the only creditor receiving significant payment is the debtor’s attorney) is not necessarily proposed in bad faith for the purpose of Code §1325 (a)(3), nor is a Chapter 13 case necessarily filed in bad faith for the purpose of Code §1325 (a)(7) because the debtor proposes a fee-only plan. While fee-only plans should not be used as a matter of course, the court said, there may be special circumstances, albeit relatively rare, in which this type of odd arrangement is justified. The judge concurring in the judgment said that he would leave application of the test entirely to bankruptcy judges instead of prescribing a rule requiring “special circumstances” limited to “relatively rare” instances. In re Puffer, —F.3d—, 2012 WL 954860 (1st Cir., March 22, 2012).

Ineligibility of Chapter 13 debtor for discharge does not preclude a plan that permits stripping off wholly-unsecured junior residential mortgages

May 25th, 2012

“Chapter 20” was curtailed by BAPCPA, but it remains vitality for the purpose of lien stripping. The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel holds that the Bankruptcy Code allows a debtor to follow a Chapter 7 with a Chapter 13 in which he proposes to strip wholly unsecured junior liens from his residence. Debtor’s ineligibility for discharge does not bar such lien avoidance; the avoidance will be effective when debtor completes plan payments. The panel further holds that debtor must treat the holders of the avoided liens as general unsecured claimants.