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October 2013 Archives

Bankruptcy Basics 2013 - Bruce Levitt Speaker

On November 4, 2013, our very own Bruce Levitt will be a speaker at a seminar called "Bankruptcy Basics 2013." This program is designed for lawyers who do not normally handle bankruptcy cases, including those at large firms, government agencies or attorneys considering venturing into a new area of practice. The speakers explain key provisions of the Bankruptcy Code, including a discussion of the differences between Chapters 7, 11 and 13 cases.

Even the Wealthy Face Foreclosure

Many people mistakenly believe that only "poor people" have their home foreclosed on. However, the foreclosure process affects all types of individuals and across a broad spectrum of income levels. Below are a few examples of wealthy and successful people who have faced foreclosure:

The FBI Investigates Bankruptcy Fraud

Many individuals do not understand how serious the crime of bankruptcy fraud is, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) takes it very seriously. Abuse of the bankruptcy system undermines the rehabilitative purposes the system was created to promote. Without a watch dog to ensure the integrity of the bankruptcy system, the entire process would fail. The FBI promotes a website that allows individuals who suspect bankruptcy fraud to report it. The website is administered by the Department of Justice and the United States Trustees Program.   According to the FBI, bankruptcy fraud occurs in four general ways:

Divorce & Bankruptcy: What You Need to Know

Money troubles impact every area of your life. When you are struggling financially, it can be a main contributor to your divorce. In many cases, a divorce caused by money struggles leads to one of the spouse's filing for bankruptcy protection. If you believe that both divorce and bankruptcy are in your future, it is important to confer with a skilled bankruptcy lawyer to discuss your legal options. For many couples, it may be beneficial to consider filing a joint bankruptcy case prior to filing for divorce. If you file your divorce and then one spouse files a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, it can result in your divorce proceeding taking longer. Additionally, when one spouse files a bankruptcy, the creditors begin collection efforts against the non-filing spouse on all joint debts.  Thus, filing a case together before your divorce proceeding can help you both obtain a fresh start financially. One concern for divorcing couples is the issue of child support. It is important to understand that filing a bankruptcy after your divorce has been finalized does not allow a parent to discharge his or her support obligations. In other words, child support payments cannot be eliminated in bankruptcy. Whatever your situation, the knowledgeable lawyers at Levitt & Slafkes can give you the advice and guidance you need. We can discuss whether you and your spouse should work together to complete a bankruptcy filing prior to your divorce and how it can benefit you. If you would like to discuss the most beneficial timing for your divorce and bankruptcy, now is the time to schedule a free initial consultation with a New Jersey debt relief lawyer at Levitt & Slafkes, P.C. Contact our attorneys online by filling out the form or by calling 973-323-2953 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Man Charged With Bankruptcy Fraud

Robert J. Yonkee Jr., 54, was charged in a federal court with bankruptcy fraud. He allegedly provided false information about his assets and concealed property in his Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. Mr. Yonkee is facing severe penalties, including 5 years in prison, fines up to $250,000 and up to 3 years of supervised release and 5 years of probation. Hiding assets Yonkee apparently had an ownership interest in an auto racing business that he failed to disclose to the bankruptcy court. The business sold vehicle parts and held inventory, capital and other valuable assets that were not made known to the creditors or trustee. False statements When a debtor files his bankruptcy schedules and Statement of Financial Affairs, it is done under penalty of perjury. Thus, Yonkee is accused of providing false financial statements in his filings. Additionally, he made false statements in his testimony at his meeting of creditors. Only time will tell if Yonkee is guilty of these charges, but his case is a reminder of how vital it is for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 debtors to be open and honest in their bankruptcy filings. Bankruptcy fraud carries severe penalties. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy protection, contact the skilled lawyers at Levitt & Slafkes. We can help you understand lawful ways of protecting your assets and whether bankruptcy is in your best interests. 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.

Has the 'Fat Lady' Sung for the New York City Opera?

Seventy years ago the New York City Opera was founded. After working to bring opera to the public, it recently was forced to filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. Apparently the Opera's last-ditch effort to raise $7 million fell short. The opera company claimed it has assets worth $7.7 million and liabilities of $5.6 million. It is noteworthy that the assets include the remainder of its endowment and pledges that have not yet been received. So, what went wrong? The opera's filings claim that it had a deficit of $44 million as of 2012. Its endowment has decreased from $55 million to approximately $4.5 million. In addition to the opera's liquidity issues, it also had overwhelming pension obligations. The pension is listed as the opera's largest creditor. The second largest creditor of the opera is the New York City Ballet, which has an approximately $1.6 million claim. This claim is related to the ballet company's departure from the performance space the two entities once shared. Other listed creditors include former chorus members, landlords and the musicians' health benefits fund. What about the ticket-holders? The opera is requesting permission from the bankruptcy court to provide refunds to people who purchased tickets to the productions that they have now canceled. It is estimated to be $323,000 that would need to be refunded. 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.

Bruce Levitt Moderates & Speaks at Advanced Consumer Bankruptcy Seminar

On September 18, 2013, our very own Bruce Levitt served as a moderator and speaker at the "Advanced Consumer Bankruptcy" seminar. The focus of the seminar was to educate attorneys on ways to assist consumers struggling with paying their mortgages and daily bills. The seasoned lawyers serving on the panel provided other lawyers with new and creative tools for how to obtain effective debt relief for their clients. Among the topics covered in the seminar were:

Chapter 13 Plan Modifications

Chapter 13 debtors are required to submit a repayment plan that must be approved by the bankruptcy court. The plan sets forth how you intend to treat your creditors in your bankruptcy case. The Chapter 13 plan is for a period of three to five years. This amount of time means that even with planning every aspect of your repayment plan, you can still encounter changes in life circumstances and other problems. For example, what happens if you are in the middle of your Chapter 13 case and you lose your job or encounter a major medical issue? When unexpected events occur that negatively impact your disposable income, you have two options:

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Secured Loans & Your Options

When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the automatic stay immediately is effective and protects you from collection activity. Many clients ask what happens to debt that is secured by collateral such as a home, vehicle, boat, motorcycle or other asset. It is important to have a plan regarding these assets before you file. A Chapter 7 debtor can only keep collateral pledged to a creditor in a Chapter 7 filing if the debtor is current on his or her payments or if the lender agrees to new payment terms. If you are seriously delinquent on your payments under the mortgage or vehicle loan, your creditor may seek relief from the automatic stay. If the Court grants this request, your creditor will be allowed to proceed with foreclosing or repossessing the asset pledged as collateral under the loan. In sum, a Chapter 7 debtor has one of four options:

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