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When should I convert my chapter 13 bankruptcy to a chapter 7

When should I convert my chapter 13 bankruptcy to a chapter 7?  Loss of employment loss of income plan is no longer feasible. You no longer need save your home or cars.

Section 348 of the bankruptcy code says that the qualification for a chapter 7 discharge is the petition date and not the conversion date. Therefore if you didn’t qualify for a chapter 7 filing on the date your chapter 13 is filed you cannot convert to a 7

However if it has been at least 8 years since you filed your prior chapter 7 you can dismiss your chapter 13 and then filed a brand new chapter 7

Examples

Mindy filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy on August 1 2007.  The case was discharged on February 1 2008 and was closed the same day.  Mindy filed her present chapter 13 case on August 5, 2011.  On August 2 2013 Mindy filed a motion to convert her case to a chapter 7.  The case cannot be converted to a chapter 7 because Mindy did not qualify for a chapter 7 discharge on the date of her chapter 13 filing.  Mindy can however dismiss her chapter 13 on August 2 2013 and filed a new chapter 7 on August 3 2013.

Atari U.S. operation files for bankruptcy

Atari U.S. operation files for bankruptcy.

A former colleague of mine mentioned this article to me today.  It is surprising to see Atari file Chapter 11 when it seemed recently that there had been a resurgence in interest in playing the classic Atari games such as Asteroids.  Recently I saw someone wearing a re-issued Atari t-shirt with the classic early 1980’s logo.   As a kid growing up in Sheboygan, I remember the afternoon after Christmas morning probably around 1983.  There had to be at least 4 thrown out Atari Game System boxes sitting out on the street for the trash.  A lot changes, many of you out there will remember the ill-fated Radio Shack TRS-80 computer system or the Commodore 64 all early competitors to Atari who always kept their focus on games.  They tried a computer system, but quickly learned that consolidation in the industry doomed them to the scrap yard.

Although I am not intimately aware of the details and facts surrounding Atari’s bankruptcy, it is a Chapter 11 filing which is usually filed where a corporation wishes to survive after a “reorganization” which is a friendly way of saying reducing debt balances, interest rates and eliminating some types of debt.  In this case, Atari (of the United States) is trying to separate from its from its French owner to save its “classic” assets which include classic games such as Asteroids.

When considering debt relief, please consider NLO Nelson Law Office, our firm is a full service personal bankruptcy firm concentrating its practice in the areas of Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 Bankruptcies.  At this time, our firm provides referrals for bankruptcy work that requires either a personal or business Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

If you have ever wondered why a person would file a Chapter 11, think of it simply as a large Chapter 13.  Chapter 13 only allows about $340,000 in unsecured (credit card style) debt and about $1,000,000 in secured debt.  Clients with multiple investment properties and large lines of credit often look to a personal Chapter 11 to handle problems too large for Chapter 13.

Adoption Tax Credit is Exempt

Adoption Tax Credit is Exempt

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NEKESSA-DANYELLE-JOHNSON4

Today, Judge Janet Baer issued a ruling in Case No. 2011-B-45378 which held that the Adoption tax credit provided by Section 36C of the Internal Revenue Code is exempt as a “public assistance benefit” under the Illinois Exemption Statute.

In this case, the debtor was able to exemption nearly $24,000 of income tax refund in her Chapter 7 Case.

Trail Ridge Road Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

Trail Ridge Road Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

Click the above-listed link to read the case.

For more information about bankruptcy call NLO Today at 877-GO-GO-NLO.

 

NACBA Board of Directors Election Debate – Hear David Nelson talk about his candidacy

Today, an unofficial debate was held by three of the four candidates running for seat #4 in the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys Board of Directors.  Hear David Nelson talk about his candidacy and his passion for consumer advocacy and bankruptcy rights.  Covered in this meeting are the topics of outreach, qualifications, the future and legislative trends.  HAMP, Principal DownPayment, Private Student Loans and Marketing are discussed.

To listen to the recorded debate, goto:  NACBA Debate

New Year’s Fresh Start Bankruptcy Timeline

New Year’s Fresh Start Bankruptcy Timeline

Set Up your Free Bankruptcy Consultation Today!  Fill out the form below for an immediate response.

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NLO Nelson Law Office is a Debt Relief Agency offering debt relief through bankruptcy.

2012 New Year's Eve Fireworks Navy Pier Chicago, Illinois

2012 New Year’s Eve Fireworks Navy Pier Chicago, Illinois

1)  Get Through the Holiday, spend wisely and see our post about credit card use during the holidays
2)  File your taxes as soon as possible
3)  See a Bankruptcy Attorney about Debt Relief Options early in January to find out your options
4)  Receive your tax refund in February and file your bankruptcy.

Why is the New Year such a popular time to file bankruptcy?

Tax Refunds are usually received prior to May 31st of the New Year.  Tax Refunds can be used for legal fees and court costs in a bankruptcy.  The tax refund is listed on the bankruptcy petition, but the portion used for legal fees and filing fees is exempt.

Holiday spending often times puts people “over the top” after years of family budget deficits caused by medical bills, illness, loss of job or overspending.

What should I do if I don’t have much of a tax refund?

You can either wait to file your bankruptcy later after you have saved enough money to pay for it, or you can file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy which allows for all of your legal fee to be included in the bankruptcy “plan”.

Need more options?  Have Questions?

Call David Nelson at 877-464-6656 to set up a free bankruptcy consultation.

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Can I Use My Credit Cards for Christmas Gifts and Still File Bankruptcy?

Can I Use My Credit Cards for Christmas Gifts and Still File Bankruptcy?

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Yes, you can use your credit cards for Christmas and still file bankruptcy. However, you must be extremely careful. If you are filing within ninety days of using your credit cards, you must make sure that you have used them only for “necessary” i

Daley Center Christmas Tree

Daley Center Christmas Tree

tems and not for “luxury” items. If you are filing more than 90 days since you last used your credit card, you can essentially charge anything onto the credit cards except it cannot be in bad faith or with a fraudulent intent. Schedule a Bankruptcy Consultation

At this “Christmas” time of year, people spend excessively and often use credit cards. A large portion of Chapter 7 Bankruptcies are filed in the months of February, March and April because tax refunds can be used for paying your bankruptcy attorney fees, filing fees and due diligence costs such as credit reports.

1. Best Solution: Do not use your credit cards – At All. File Bankruptcy with your tax refund as early as January or anytime after you receive your tax refund.

2. Fair Solution: Use your credit card over the holidays and prior to your bankruptcy for “necessary” items such as groceries and clothing from non-luxury retailers. File Bankruptcy with your tax refund as early as January or anytime after you receive your tax refund. Before even considering this solution, you should seek out a qualified bankruptcy attorney.

3. So-So Solution: Use your credit card for non-luxury items that might be objectionable as non-necessary, such as toys, electronics or other items are not basic survival items, such as food and clothing. You could possibly file in January, February or March but best choice is to file April 30th or later.

4. Not so great solution: Use your credit card for all items at all retailers, including luxury retailers. Purchase jewelry, electronics and just about anything you want. File your bankruptcy at least ninety days after the last purchase. Take the chance that you have made such flagrantly offensive purchases that the creditor files an adversary petition to take away your discharge, or, worse yet, fraud. Bottom line: this is risky at best, but if the purchases are small enough, a calculated risk.

5. Terrible solution that will nearly always run into problems: Use your credit card during the holidays on anything and run every card up to the limit. Include luxury items at luxury retailers. File your bankruptcy whenever you want, such as February. Chances are that if the purchase is over $500 at any one creditor, the creditor will file an adversary lawsuit.

One scenario that happens over and over again (often times with bad results) is the “blowout” Christmas Charger who decides to “let it all out” one last time before filing for bankruptcy. This charger may still have up to $1000 left in credit and may often purchase entirely luxury goods, such as an iPad, Wii, Xbox, large screen T.V., an unnecessary computer, a trip to the Caribbean, or a bunch of jewelry. Then the charger stops in to a local attorney’s office and doesn’t mention the charging, the bankruptcy attorney doesn’t check out the charge bills, the bankruptcy is filed in February and then a lawsuit is file by the credit card company to take away the bankruptcy discharge with regard to the credit purchases. Usually, the debtor is forced to hire a second attorney at $2000 or more to represent the debtor in a defense of the discharge action and usually results in the debtor entering into a promise to pay the entire debt to the creditor with interest over a period of time.

What is the lesson of this article? If you are contemplating bankruptcy, stop using your credit cards and keep it simple. If you must use your credit cards, then use them only on food and clothing and at non-luxury retailers. Under all circumstances, try to not use your credit cards at all 90 days prior to the filing of your bankruptcy.

Three true stories:

Client purchases an $8,000 hot tub one week prior to filing on a line a credit issued from a credit card style creditor. Client files bankruptcy. 2 & 1/2 month after filing bankruptcy, debtor is sued by the credit card company. Creditor seeks to take away the debtor’s discharge with regard to the $8000 debt plus attorney fees and interest or about $10,500 total. If the case was not settled, this would have eventually been a garnishment on debtor’s income for about five years at 15% of his gross salary. Due to a settlement, the debtor was able to pay off the debt under a new agreement over 5 years at a reasonable interest rate. What does this teach us? A luxury item purchased within 90 days prior to a bankruptcy filing that is obnoxious and unnecessary and expensive will result in a nasty lawsuit that will cost the debtor another $1000-2000 in legal fees and possibly ruin all of the benefit of the bankruptcy.

Client purchases a tennis bracelet at Nordstrom as a “gift to herself” for filing bankruptcy…Good Luck! Nordstrom filed suit against the debtor, debtor ended up returning the item and paying about $600 in attorney fees to Nordstrom as a settlement instead of a fraud judgment, which would have resulted in the denial of an entire discharge of all debts. Bottom line: no “gifts” for successfully filing bankruptcy. No jewelry purchases on credit cards included in the bankruptcy up to one day before filing.

Client knows he isn’t going to be able to afford a new riding lawn mower for many years after filing bankruptcy, and one week prior to bankruptcy he purchases a new riding lawn mower for $1500.00. Client files bankruptcy one week later. Client does not tell his attorney about this purchase and does not make the bill available to the attorney, and the attorney must rely upon a credit report to file the bankruptcy petition. Debtor is sued in an adversary petition to deny the discharge of this debt. Result: client ends up paying the debt back over 36 months at 10% interest. Not much better result than if he had purchased it one year after the bankruptcy legitimately.

The one resounding rule throughout these cases seems to be that creditors object to the discharge, but this “un-permitted” purchasing in effect gives the debtor access to a tool right away that he may have needed immediately but would not have been able to get after the bankruptcy. Bottom line: even though the behavior above is in violation of the bankruptcy code and even though creditors dislike this behavior, they do end up preferring to extend a loan at a reasonable interest rate.

NLO Nelson Law Office is a debt relief agency offering debt relief through bankruptcy. To schedule a free confirmation click here and write “Bankruptcy Consultation Request” and hit send. Our office will respond with a variety of times and date for your consultation. Or…call our national toll-free number 877-GO-GO-NLO or 877-464-6656.

Student Loans in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: What to do after the bankruptcy is over?

Eagle Ridge Resort, Galena Illinois

Eagle Ridge Resort, Galena, Illinois

Student Loans in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: What to do after the bankruptcy is over?

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One of the thorniest issues in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is often what happens to student loans.  Student loans are not dischargeable – i.e. they do not go away as a result of filing bankruptcy!  However, student loans do eventually disappear sort of like a “balloon loan”.  All student loans die after 25 years after the date of first repayment plus deferments.

Until that time – you are on the hook and must continue paying.  Recently, a client shared with me his experience in dealing the aftermath of a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.  Below is a narrative of the status of the loan mid-way just after the 341 meeting:

Debtor’s account is not past due.

Sallie Mae received the 341 Meeting of the Creditors Notice.

Student loans placed on hold while in bankruptcy status.

No payments due during the life of the bankruptcy.

This hold on the accounts does not affecting Debtor’s credit.

Debtor needs to call Sallie Mae when bankruptcy is discharged.  At that time, his account is reactivated and billing will begin again.  Debtor will then begin to owe payments.

There will be no arrears at the time of reactivation.  Interest will accrue during the bankruptcy’s life, but Sallie Mae cannot advise Debtor of what the interest may be or has been because that  can be construed as trying to collect on the debt.

Sallie Mae cannot tell Debtor what his balance is, but they can confirm or deny what he says the balance is.

Debtor does not have access to his account via the internet during the bankruptcy.

This exception gives us a rare window into the behavior of the student loan servicer during the pendency of a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

Summary of Student Loan Treatment before, during and after a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:

Prior to Filing your Bankruptcy, you should pay on your student loans or seek deferment.

  1. Failure to do this will result in garnishment up to 15% of your gross income

After you bankruptcy is filed, you CAN make voluntary payments on the student loan.

  1. This will keep your balance from rising.
  2. This IS NOT necessary.
  3. Only manual payments (check)
  4. Taking a “break” from payments for 4-6 months may allow you to improve your cash flow position to give you a “fighting chance” to be in good financial standing

After your bankruptcy is closed, you should resume making your payments. 

  1. Recommend calling lender to confirm amount of payment and how to make payment
  2. Electronic payments resume being available

For more information about filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, please email NLO Nelson Law Office Bankruptcy Information

To Call and speak with a Bankruptcy Attorney and Set-Up a free Bankruptcy Consultation, please call 877-GO-GO-NLO (877-464-6656).

file bankruptcy on your own

Clear Lake Iowa

Clear Lake Iowa

file bankruptcy on your own

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File your own bankruptcy.  File your Chapter 341 documents, reaffirmation agreements, filing fee and attend your own Chapter 341 meeting.  How Hard Can it Be?  Avoid Attorney fees and file it on your own.  Warning – it will take a lot of time.  Great for disabled, unemployed or low income filers with uncomplicated cases.  Chapter 13 is practically impossible to do properly on your own, but can be done.  Usually people start it on their own and add an attorney later.

Ever wondered how to file a bankruptcy on your own? Well wonder no more, here is the quick 5 minute course on how to do it!

1. Fill Out the Required Bankruptcy Forms – Link to Official Bankruptcy Forms!
2. Take your pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course at least one calendar day prior to your filing – Link to an Example of Court Approved Credit Counseling Agency!
3. File your bankruptcy by going to the Federal Clerk of Court in your district – Link to Information about Where to File!
4. Submit your Chapter 341 Documents within 14 days to the bankruptcy – Link to Information on how to submit your 341 documents!
5. Attend your 341 Meeting
6. Wait for your Discharge Order!
7. Need Help – Contact the Bankruptcy Assistance Desk – Link to the Help Desk!

8.  Link to “Guide for Individuals filing without an Attorney”, by United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

That’s it.  How hard can it be?  Avoid attorney fees and file it on your own.

So what’s the catch? Why do people use attorneys in probably 95% of all cases:

• What do you fill-in the forms?
• How do I reaffirm a debt, such as to keep my car or home?
• How do I fill out the means test?  It’s worse than doing my taxes!
• What do I say and do at my 341 Meeting of the Creditors?
• Should I be using a Chapter 13 bankruptcy for my higher income and/or need to save my home?
• What is a motion for relief from stay?
• Why has the trustee filed a motion to dismiss?

Bottom line – filing on your own is a good option when you have a lot of time on your hands and can go to the bankruptcy assistance desk to help along the way to confirm your filings are done right. This is great for people who have racked up a lot of debt say $60,000 in credit card debt are now unemployed, getting harassed by creditors and will not likely be re-employed for at least one year. This is true of people in the construction business and other long cycle industries. Another good application for filing on your own is when you have made a lot of money in the past, have lots of debt and then suffer a disability which becomes permanent leaving you with an income that is often only 20% of your former income. In this case you won’t be taking on more debt in the future and you are really in no danger of a lawsuit or garnishment, but you simply want to clean up and get rid of all of the old debt so that you can focus on your new life. Many times these folks will do best using legal aid associations providing pro-Bono – free bankruptcies. One large organization that is used in Cook County is: Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago.

For a free 1/2 hour bankruptcy consultation to learn whether you qualify for debt relief under bankruptcy or should even consider filing on your own, please call 877-GO-GO-NLO (877-464-6656) or email your request for a consultation to us at info@nelsonlawoffice.com.

341 meeting skype videoconference

341 meeting skype videoconference

Can I Skype or Video Conference My 341 Bankruptcy Meeting?

Yes.

I recently had a client who filed for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy several days before leaving for a year contract work assignment in a foreign country.  The client wished to file bankruptcy before she left to ensure that her creditors were not harassing her while out of the United States.  However, returning to the United States for the 341 Meeting was cost prohibitive at nearly $4000 round trip cost.  After speaking with the United States Trustee and reviewing the bankruptcy code, I learned that there is no real law that either prohibits the use of video conferencing for this hearing  or supports the use.

In the Northern District of Illinois, it is essentially at the discretion of the U.S. Trustee and Local Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee to allow this meeting if it will meet the requirements of a 341 meeting.  Essentially, the trustee needs to ensure that:  1) The debtor is the one present at the 341 meeting  2)  That the debtor review the petition prior to filing it and that the debtor did sign the declaration and recognizes her name.  3)  Identification can be proven up where the debtor’s bankruptcy attorney has seen all identification in his office prior to the meeting and has personally met the debtor and can identify the debtor to the trustee.  The trustee must be able to verify the debtors Identification and the picture of the video conferencing match and that a positive identification has been made.  Then it is really just a regular meeting except that the debtor is not in the flesh to confront the trustee and creditors if present.

My recommendation if that the court consider establishing bankruptcy rules that allow video conferencing under the following circumstances:

1. It would be an undue hardship for the debtor to attend the meeting in person.
2. The debtor found it important to file the bankruptcy realizing that she could not attend the 341 meeting person.
3. The court should adopt a formalized script for identifying the debtor.
4. The court should set forth minimum standards of quality.

In essence this is an extension of the already commonly used telephone appearance made by out of state attorneys in bankruptcy court where to appear in person would be cost prohibitive and to not appear would against the interests of good justice.

In conclusion, I do not believe that Skype or Video Conferencing should be the norm in our 341 meeting appearances, but do believe in situations where a debtor will have an undue hardship in attending that it be an accepted substitute of in person appearance as a means of furthering good justice.

illinois hardest hit program

illinois hardest hit program

Illinois Hardest Hit Program – Save Your Home – $25K Grant to Pay Mortgage Arrears

For anyone who hasn’t heard, here’s the news…there’s a new program on the block for saving your home.  And for some people, it’s a hit.

Looking for unbiased help in figuring out how to save your home?  Check out the following housing organizations. Click on the Link.  I have worked with all of them for years and know of their honesty and fair dealing:

The Illinois Hardest Hit Program essentially gets your home out of foreclosure.  Pays all the arrears, court costs, etc. to reinstate your loan fully and then provides up to 18 months of payment assistance.  The cap on the assistance is $25,000.

To apply for this program, please go to (click link):  Illinois Hardest Hit Program

Pro’s:

  • No Fees
  • Completely Reinstates Your Mortgage
  • Up to 18 months assistance

Con’s:

  • Increases the mortgage balance on your home by up to $25,000
  • Does not reduce the total amount owed on your home
  • Does not provide assistance after 18 months which is a problem if a person has not secured employment or their family is only partially employed

Who are the best candidates for this program:

  • Homeowners who are only temporarily out of work and can easily return to work in a stable job within 18 month of starting the program
  • Homeowners whose mortgage has less than $15,000 in arrears or is about 6 months or less behind
  • Homeowner who want to stay in their house for 10 years or more and does not care about having the flexibilty to move….for say a new job, changed family circumstances (divorce) or any other matter

Who are the worst candidates for this program:

  • Homeowners who haven’t made a mortgage payment for over one year
  • Homeowners who are in a profession that has been affected by the severe economic downturn such as construction or union jobs and are unlikely to have stable employment for the next five years
  • Homeowners who want the ability to be flexible in selling their home in the next 10 years

Who should consider a short sale of their home instead of this program:

  • Homeowners who cannot afford their home even when they are fully employed
  • Homeowners who are in an employment industry that will not recover soon and may need to relocate for employment
  • Homeowners who have so much debt on their home that they will not have equity for ten years or more (typically someone with two or more mortgages including a home equity line of credit)

Who should consider a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy instead of all of these options?

  • Homeowners who have unsecured debt (credit card style debt) that exceeds more than 1/3 of their annual take home pay
  • Homeowners who have not made a mortgage payment in over one year
  • Homeowners who have not been able to get a short sale approved by their lender
  • Homeowners who want to easily walk away from a home to simply move-on or need to relocate for employment
  • Homeowners who are insolvent – that is – no real assets outside of retirement accounts

When is a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Reorganization a  better than the Illinois Hardest Hit Program?

  • When a mortgage debt is more than 6 months in arrears (no payment for at least 6 months or longer
  • When the homeowners property has more than one mortgage such as a second mortgage or home equity line of credit
  • When the homeowner has equity or something valuable to save in the property but also has a large amount of unsecured debt (credit card style)
  • When the total home mortgage debt can be reduced through “stripping off the second and junior mortgages/liens”
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code. CALL 877-GO-GO-NLO (877-464-6656) FOR A FREE BANKRUPTCY CONSULTATION TODAY! SATURDAY APPOINTMENTS ARE AVAILABLE.