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November 2013 Archives

Relieving the Fear of Filing for Bankruptcy

Even though Americans all over the country are struggling financially, they are still hesitant to seek financial relief by filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Most individuals say they are not "they type" for file for bankruptcy. However, the type of person filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is typically an honest and hard-working person who has suffered unexpected financial hardship completely out of his or her control. Common examples include major health issues, loss of employment, divorce and many other circumstances that can negatively impact a person's finances

Cracking Down on Debt Collectors

If you have been harassed by debt collectors using abusive tactics, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is ready to help. Pursuant to 2010's Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the CFPB has the authority to supervise the nation's debt collection industry. The CFPB is currently requesting input from the public on better ways to balance a business' right to recover money owed against protecting the consumer against abusive collection efforts. Additionally, advances in technology such as smartphones being used as many consumers' primary telephones, requires an overhaul of the rules governing collection activity. Although the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the main law governing debt collectors, only applies to third-party collectors and debt purchasers, the CFPB is considering writing regulations governing creditors who handle their own collections. This could result in a significant amount of resistance to the CFPB's efforts. Only time will tell what the CFPB can accomplish in protecting consumers from intimidating tactics used by collectors. However, if you are overwhelmed by your debt and you are ready to obtain financial relief, contact the attorneys at Levitt & Slafkes to discuss your options. Filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy could immediately stop the collection activity against you and allow you to obtain a fresh financial start.   If you are interested in learning how filing a bankruptcy case can benefit you, contact Levitt & Slafkes, PC, at 973-323-2953. You can also reach us by filling out our online form. We represent debtors in Chapter 7, Chapter 13 and Chapter 11 filings. Let us help you get the fresh financial start you need today.

Student Loans - Lending Without Risk

Even though we keep hearing that our country is out of its financial crisis, many individuals are still drowning in debt. One of the largest debts facing Americans is student loan debt - estimated to now be more than $1 Trillion Dollars! So, how did we get in this predicament? A recent article gave a historical perspective to answer this question, which we will summarize here.

Bankruptcy & Enforcing Child Support Payments

What happens if you have custody of your children and you learn that your ex-spouse is filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy? You are probably concerned about the impact the bankruptcy filing will have on your child support payments. Fortunately, the law provides protection for children and provides that child support payments are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. For most debts, the automatic stay bars any collection activity as soon as the bankruptcy case is filed. However, there are a few exceptions to the stay including actions to modify alimony or child support obligations. This means that if you are pursuing this type of action against your ex-spouse, it is not prohibited by the automatic stay. Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. §507, alimony and child support payments are given a high priority over other debts. A non-custodial parent cannot avoid his or her obligation to support his or her child by filing for bankruptcy protection. In fact, if the full amount of child support is not paid in full as part of the bankruptcy disbursement, the remaining amount must still be paid by the debtor.  Even child support payments that are past due are not discharged. It is also important to note that your ex-spouse's bankruptcy filing can be helpful if you believe he or she was not completely honest with you regarding finances. When an individual files for bankruptcy, he or she must make full financial disclosure of assets, debts, income and expenses. If you have questions regarding the bankruptcy process and how it could benefit you, contact Levitt & Slafkes today! If you are interested in learning how filing a bankruptcy case can benefit you, contact Levitt & Slafkes, PC, at 973-323-2953. You can also reach us by filling out our online form. We represent debtors in Chapter 7, Chapter 13 and Chapter 11 filings. Let us help you get the fresh financial start you need today.    

What Happens to Your Home in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

If you own a home and you are considering filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it is important to understand all of your options. Most Chapter 7 debtors keep their house as long as they remain current on their mortgage payments. However, if you are overwhelmed by your mortgage debt and you want to surrender your home, a bankruptcy filing can postpone a foreclosure and buy you some time.

What Is Really Forcing the Postal Service Into Bankruptcy?

The Berkeley Post Office building dates back to 1914 and is beloved by many citizens, as evidenced by a "camp-out" objecting to the US Postal Service's decision to sell it. The US Postal Service has a real estate portfolio worth $85 billion and it is looking to downsize. But what is the cause of the Postal Service's financial woes? Many people are not aware that the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) of 2006 is the cause of the USPS's financial problems. This law requires the Postal Service to pre-fund 75 year's worth of future health care benefits to retirees. This financial burden has not been placed on any other government entity. The Postal Service has also taken a hit due to the numerous electronic bill payment methods. People can save the cost of a stamp and the hassle of mailing their payments by simply logging into their computer to pay their bills online. Still, you would think that having the monopoly on the delivery of mail would be quite profitable. The truth is that its profitability is part of the problem - the private sector wants in on the action. FedEx and UPS have already taken a lot of business from the Postal Service when it comes to packages. Luckily, however, only the Postal Service is given the authority to deliver mail and until that changes, the Postal Service will live on. We are bankruptcy lawyers who know how to make a difference in your financial situation. We have experience you can rely on and we care about your results. Contact our New Jersey law firm online by filling out the form or by calling 973-323-2953 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Your Payday Loans in Bankruptcy

Payday loans are short-term loans that typically carry very high interest rates. They are often referred to as "cash advances." If you take out a payday loan and you are unable to repay it in a timely manner, the high interest rate results in you accumulating debt quickly. Many debtors ask whether bankruptcy can eliminate this type of debt. In short, the answer is "yes in most circumstances." A payday loan is an unsecured debt. Thus, this loan is typically dischargeable in a Chapter 7 filing. It is treated like other unsecured debts in a Chapter 13 filing, which means the debtor pays a percentage, if anything, of what is owed. Typically, unsecured creditors receive pennies on the dollar under a Chapter 13 plan. To prevent fighting over money during your bankruptcy filing, it is important to close the bank account if your payday loan involves a post-dated check. Likewise, if you consented to the creditor automatically deducting money from your bank account, you should close the account prior to your filing. It is important for debtors to understand that the lender of the payday loan can challenge your attempt to discharge their debt, but these challenges are rarely successful. Court generally do not look favorably upon the payday loan industry.  Of course, most lenders will only challenge the discharge if the amount of the loan is worth their time and effort. Finally, if a payday lender alleges that you wrote a "bad check" and threatens to file criminal charges against you, this type of action may be a violation of numerous laws, including the automatic stay. If you are considering filing a bankruptcy case and you have one or more payday loans, you should discuss it with your attorney at Levitt & Slafkes. We are bankruptcy lawyers who know how to make a difference in your financial situation. We have experience you can rely on and we care about your results. Contact our New Jersey law firm online by filling out the form or by calling 973-323-2953 to schedule a free initial consultation.

New Bankruptcy Billing Guidelines

Big law firms charging big legal fees in Chapter11 bankruptcy cases are getting some bad news this November, 2013. The United States Trustee Program (USTP) has established new guidelines for setting appropriate legal fees to be charged in larger Chapter11 cases. For purposes of applying the guidelines, larger Chapter11 cases are those that include "$50 million or more in assets and $50 million or more in liabilities, aggregated for jointly administered cases and excluding single asset real estate cases as defined in 11 U.S.C. § 101(51B). Although the guidelines are not mandatory, the USTP is encouraging bankruptcy courts across the country to incorporate the guidelines in their local rules of bankruptcy procedure. Additionally, USTP lawyers intend to enforce and defend the guidelines in bankruptcy courts and through appeals when needed. What does this mean to you? If your company files a large Chapter11 bankruptcy case, it is likely that the legal fees will not skyrocket as they have in past cases. Attorneys will be required to disclose billing rates in other specialties, budgets will be created before the case is filed and any expense overruns will need to be justified. In short, transparency in all legal fees will be required in large Chapter11 cases. We are bankruptcy lawyers who know how to make a difference in your financial situation. We have experience you can rely on and we care about your results. Contact our New Jersey law firm online by filling out the form or by calling 973-323-2953 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at Levitt & Slafkes, PC.  

Ozzy Osbourne's Oldest Son Seeks Bankruptcy Protection

Louis Osbourne, Ozzy Osbourne's oldest son, has filed for bankruptcy protection. It is believed that he got into financial trouble after investing in the Irish real property market. Osbourne, who recently started his own record label All Night Records, filed jointly with his wife Louise. They currently live in Harborne in Birmingham. Louis Osbourne is the son of Thelma Riley, who was married to Ozzy for almost 10 years. Ozzy is currently married to Sharon and they are reportedly worth more than £100 million, with houses in Beverly Hills and Buckinghamshire. Ozzy still tours with his band, Black Sabbath, who recently finished the Latin American leg of a world tour and will begin the European leg soon. Sharon is a judge on the reality television show X Factor. If you have made some bad investments that have caused your financial difficulties, filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case may be the solution to your troubles. Bankruptcy allows a debtor to obtain a fresh financial start. To learn more, contact Levitt & Slafkes to schedule a consultation. If you are interested in learning more about Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases, contact Levitt & Slafkes, P.C. We are experienced in handling a variety of bankruptcy issues. Our offices are conveniently located in South Orange, New Jersey. Please call us at 973-323-2953 or online to schedule your free initial consultation today.

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