I is for “IRA” in the Bankruptcy Alphabet Game (New IRA Exemption )

Cast Iron Capital Letter I (North Scituate, RI) is for “IRA” (and 401k’s) in Bankruptcy. How they can help (or hurt) you.

By Christopher C. Carr, Esq. Chester County bankruptcy attorney. Tel: 610-380-7969 Email: cccarresq@aol.com Web: christopherccarrlaw.com

The 2005 amendments to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code added a broad new category of property that may be excluded from bankruptcy to the extent that such funds are deposited by the debtor in a tax exempt fund. As part of an overall initiative by Congress to expand the bankruptcy protection of tax exempt investment vehicles, one can now exempt up to one million dollars in an IRA account and such amount may be increased “if the interests of justice so require”.

Section 522 (d) 12 of the Bankruptcy Code states, in pertinent part:

For assets in individual retirement accounts described in section 408  or 408A  of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, other than a simplified employee pension under section 408(k) of such Code or a simple retirement account under section 408(p) of such Code, the aggregate value of such assets exempted under this section, without regard to amounts attributable to rollover contributions under section 402(c), 402(e)(6), 403(a)(4), 403(a)(5), and 403(b)(8)  of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, and earnings thereon, shall not exceed $1,000,000 in a case filed by a debtor who is an individual, except that such amount may be increased if the interests of justice so require.

This new provision of the Bankruptcy Code is important for asset protection and planning purposes. An IRA (other than a “sep” pension or “simple” account) can now be used to shelter funds that would otherwise not be exempt under a state or federal exemption and could thus be eligible for distribution to creditors. Such funds would simply be contributed by the debtor (from say a non-qualified savings account or a tax refund) to a qualified plan, up to the annual aggregate limit imposed by law (for 2011: $5,000 if under 50 years of age and $6,000 if over 50), on or before the date of the bankruptcy filing.

It is important to note as well that this protective coverage is afforded not only for money in qualified funds but also to rollovers from a plan so long as the distribution is again deposited into a qualified plan within sixty days. Thus, perhaps as an unintended byproduct of the rollover provisions, individuals can make emergency IRA withdrawals to meet very short term needs but this strategy should only be pursued in situations where the funds withdrawn are certain to again become available before the sixty day deadline (from say an income tax refund or maturing CD). Otherwise, there will be a “double whammy” effect: not only will such withdrawn funds then be taxable income to the debtor (who may possibly be assessed IRS penalties as well) but the shelter from creditors in bankruptcy discussed above would not be available.

We have talked a lot about IRA’s but what about the employer sponsured plans, the 401k?  Well there are advantages for the debtor here as well: The law allows you to  pay your creditors and still can save for your retirement.  In fact, the more you puy into the plan subject to plan limitations, the less you have to pay them.

When you file a Chapter 13 you can reduce income on both schedule I and on the means test by the amount you contribute to qualified retirement plans. In general this means payroll deductions for both 401k contributions and loan payments. Your plan payment can be unacceptably high, if you are in an excess income situation. But if you max out your contribution, this will result in a dollar for dollar reduction in your plan payment. That is, iyou have the opportunity to turn the tables: instead of making a high monthly payment to your unsecured creditors and a correspondingly lower retirement contribution, you are minimizing the amount they receive by providing for the future of you and your family.  What could be better than that?

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., is a quality bankruptcy and debt relief practice, located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney, who has over 30 years if diversified ;egal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!  

 

I also provide Mortgage Modification Services.

Other lawyers in the bankruptcy alphabet game:

Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell: I is for involuntary petition too.

New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman : I is for Income.

Marin County Bankruptcy Attorney, Catherine Eranthe claims I is for Income as well.

Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran: I is for IRS.

Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig: I is for In Forma Pauperis (he speaks Latin).

Big Island Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart T. Ing: I is for Independent Contractor.

Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyer, Christopher McAvoy:I is for income Tax Refunds.

Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus: I is for Insiders.

©Christopher C. Carr, Attorney at Law, 2011, 2012, All Rights Reserved

Photo by

Advertisements

The H in the Bankruptcy Alphabet is for “Honesty” and Fraud Avoidance.

190864341_12cca04722_t[1] is for Honesty

By Christopher C. Carr, Esq. Chester County bankruptcy attorney. Tel: 610-380-7969 Email: cccarresq@aol.com Web: christopherccarrlaw.com

Every potential bankruptcy client needs to understand that it is in his/her best interest to be entirely honest in their dealings with their lawyer, the trustee and the courts.  Not only may the debtor harm themself by failing to disclose material information but they may also potentially face severe criminal penalties.[1]  The United States bankruptcy laws require the debtor to disclose all income and assets to the bankruptcy court and the court is empowered under applicable federal statutes to uphold the integrity of the system and the participants in it. The theory and practice of these disclosures, is that if accurate and complete, the bankruptcy trustee and the court are able to determine what, if anything, the debtor can afford to repay to the creditors.

The bankruptcy disclosure form which every debtor is required to sign WARNS as follows:

Bankruptcy Crimes and Availability of Bankruptcy Papers to Law Enforcement Officials

A person who knowingly and fraudulently conceals assets or makes a false oath or statement under penalty of perjury, either orally or in writing, in connection with a bankruptcy case is subject to a fine, imprisonment, or both. All information supplied by a debtor in connection with a bankruptcy case is subject to examination by the Attorney General acting through the Office of the United States Trustee, the Office of the United States Attorney, and other components and employees of the Department of Justice.

WARNING: Section 521(a)(1) of the Bankruptcy Code requires that you promptly file detailed information regarding your creditors, assets, liabilities, income, expenses and general financial condition. Your bankruptcy case may be dismissed if this information is not filed with the court within the time deadlines set by the Bankruptcy Code, the Bankruptcy Rules, and the local rules of the court. [2]

Oftentimes the debtor will unintentionally hurt their case by “shading” the truth based upon an inaccurate understanding of the bankruptcy laws.  For example, a debt may not be listed on the petition because the debtor does not wish to reveal it. However, a debt that is not disclosed cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

One of the great unfounded fears in all of bankruptcy is that the debtor will “lose all their assets in bankruptcy”.   Thus, a debtor may fail to reveal an asset which might have been partially or completely exempt and thus unnecessarily face the complete loss of the asset (see below).   There are generous exemptions available for many assets especially under the federal statutes and the laws of states like Pennsylvania where I practice law allow debtors to elect these, instead of the far less generous state exemptions. Other states like Florida have homestead exemptions which allow a debtor domiciled in Florida to completely shield their primary residence.

One article provides the following example of this temptation in action  and how the result of yielding to it easily can be detected:

“Because cash is difficult to track down, it may be tempting to pile up as  much cash as you can before bankruptcy and then “forget” to include the cash on  your financial  statement that you file with the bankruptcy court. Be forewarned that the  bankruptcy code imposes significant civil and criminal penalties on debtor’s who  intentionally provide false information to the bankruptcy court. Because the  bankruptcy trustee will have access to all your recent history of earnings, bank  statements and other financial records, there is a strong likelihood that the  trustee will be able to tell if you have attempted to siphon off cash before  filing your bankruptcy petition.”

It is thus essential that the debtor reveal all debts, assets and income sources to the lawyer who can then properly advise the debtor on legal protections and issues. If there is any question for example as to whether an item is an asset, the debtor should disclose it and let the lawyer decide how to properly treat it in the petition. Some writers have indicated that such proactivity can help to show that the debtor did not have the requisite intent to commit bankruptcy fraud.

One consequence of failing to disclose income or assets is that the debtor may be denied a bankruptcy discharge and remain liable for all debts under Section 727 of the Bankruptcy Code. Its provisions permit the court to dismiss the debtor’s case for dishonesty on the bankruptcy schedules, hiding assets, failing to maintain financial records, refusing to turn over records, or refusing to cooperate with the trustee. Not only may the court deny the dishonest or uncooperative debtor a discharge under Section 727 but any assets turned over during the case will still be sold by the bankruptcy trustee so that the debtor loses the property without any concomitant bankruptcy benefits.

As is indicated above, the most serious consequence for the debtor of dubious honesty is the prospect of being charged with criminal bankruptcy fraud.  Most bankruptcy fraud first comes to the attention of the bankruptcy trustee during the course of the bankruptcy or as a result of “whistle blowing” by neighbors, creditors, or ex-spouses. The IRS under the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation’s Bankruptcy Fraud Program and the US Trustee are the most active in investigating fraud.  The Department of Justice Trustee Program encourages individuals to report bankruptcy fraud to the US Department of Justice for further potentially criminal action. The IRS also maintains a whistle blower award program.

The IRS appears to use the Bankruptcy Fraud Program to make examples of egregious miscreants, especially where a case also involves tax fraud or evasion, and consequently has an extremely high conviction rate. For example in 2011, 83% of those who had been charged with bankruptcy fraud are now serving time. In virtually all these cases, the individual was also required to make substantial financial restitution and also were required to serve a period of supervised release.

In addition, just because your bankruptcy is discharged, don’t think that you are off the hook. Individuals who file for relief under Chapter 7
or Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code are subject to audits by the U.S. Trustee.  For further information visit the U.S. Trustee site.

The moral of the story? You are filing bankruptcy to get a fresh start. You have little to fear and everything to gain from the process if you are honest and adopt a policy of full disclosure.

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., is a quality Chester County Bankruptcy Practice, located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Attorney Carr, who has over 30 years if diversified experience as an attorney, concentrates his practice on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!

 


[1] The criminal sanctions can include sentence of up to five years in prison and fines up to $250,000.

[2] Source

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., is a quality bankruptcy and debt relief practice, located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney, who has over 30 years if diversified ;egal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!  


I also provide Mortgage Modification Services.

For other articles in the nationwide bankruptcy ABC’s series check out these attorneys:

  1. Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell: H is for Hearing.
  2. New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman: H is for Household.
  3. Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran: H is for House, no not the doctor.
  4. Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Lawyer Bob Doig: H is for Homestead.
  5. Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus: H is for House
  6. Hilo Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart T. Ing: H is for Household Size.
  7. Cleveland and Lorain Count Bankruptcy Attorney, Bill Balena: H is for Honesty

©Christopher C. Carr, Attorney at Law, 2011, 2012, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Arenamountanus

G in the Bankruptcy Alphabet is for “Garnishment”: Will Bankruptcy Help?

By Christopher C. Carr, Esq. Chester County bankruptcy attorney. Tel: 610-380-7969 Email: cccarresq@aol.com Web: christopherccarrlaw.com

G takomabibelot 2657676353_a57f4042a9_t[1] is for for “Garnishment”: Will Bankruptcy Help?  In addition to the obvious monetary loss for the debtor/garnishee, a garnishment can negatively impact employment, because the employer will see that the employee is having credit issues[1] and also is presented with the added administrative burden of complying with periodic court orders. Can you put a stop to it with a bankruptcy?

A.      Garnishment For Ordinary Consumer Debt:

In most states, garnishment for ordinary consumer debt is permitted. Most US states allow wage garnishment for consumer debt with the exception of Pennsylvania, South Carolina, North Carolina and Texas (depending upon the debtor’s circumstances).

The automatic stay in bankruptcy (Section 362 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code) is a fundamental consumer protection.  It halts most creditor actions against you, including collection proceedings from the moment your case is filed with the bankruptcy court, including wage garnishment for consumer debt.  A garnishment of wages is considered a collection proceeding under the bankruptcy code.  As a result, a creditor that attempts to garnish wages violates the debtor’s rights to an automatic stay under the Bankruptcy Code.

The automatic stay generally protects you against garnishment until the end of your case whether closed, discharged or denied.   If the bankruptcy discharge is granted and the case is closed then the automatic stay becomes permanent in the form of the discharge injunction. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/3689006 by Jay Fleishman, Esq.

B.      Garnishment For Unpaid Domestic Support:

However, garnishment for is a creature of a different stripe altogether, All US states allow income garnishment for tax arrearages and child support and in some states even spousal support (alimony) may be garnished as well. These are termed domestic support obligations (DSO’s).  DSO’s cannot be discharged or modified in either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, pursuant to 11 USC. 523(a)(5). However, the impact a bankruptcy will have on support payments differs as between a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing is useless against the collection, enforcement, or payment of DSO’s. Thus the automatic stay in effect does not exist in a Chapter 7.

However, in contrast, a Chapter 13 proceeding can actually work to protect the debtor against DSO enforcement actions, including wage garnishments, because all property acquired by the debtor is property of the bankruptcy estate. Thus, all actions to collect or enforce DSO’s usually will be halted by the filing of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Support payments may be temporarily stopped until the plan payment details are worked out as well. For more information on DSO’s and how they are impacted by bankruptcy, see my article “D” is for Domestic Support Obligation.

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., is a quality bankruptcy and debt relief practice, located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney, who has over 30 years if diversified ;egal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!  

 

I also provide Mortgage Modification Services.

©Christopher C. Carr, Attorney at Law, 2011, 2012, All Rights Reserved

Visit the sites of these other lawyers for their pespectives on the letter G:

Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell says G is for General Unsecured Creditor.

New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman who says G is for Garnishment.

Maui Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart Ing who talks about Garnishment too.

Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran says G is for Guaranty.

Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig says G is for Goals.

Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney, Mark J. Markus says G is for Gifts.

Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney, Monica D. Shepard has an article that says G is for Guilt.

Tagged as: Automatic Stay In Bankruptcy, bankruptcy, creditor, debt, Christopher Carr  Bankruptcy Lawyer, Philadelphia Bankruptcy Attorney,  Philadelphia Bankruptcy Lawyer, stay, garnishment


[1] Nowadays a credit check is routinely done before a job is offered so credit is obviously of heightened concern to employers.

“O” in the Bankruptcy Alphabet is for “Options” to Bankruptcy

By Christopher C. Carr, Esq. Chester County bankruptcy attorney.

Tel: 610-380-7969 Email: cccarresq@aol.com Website:westchesterbankruptcyattorney.org

Green O from Dave Q  O is for Options or Other Alternatives to/in Bankruptcy.

If you are behind on bills or can’t afford your mortgage payments, filing a consumer bankruptcy is certainly one option to consider. You can read my Rocket Lawyer blog:  Filing Bankruptcy: Pros and Cons to learn more about the types of bankruptcies. However, some people do not wish to file bankruptcy for a variety of reasons and there are certainly circumstances under which filing a consumer bankruptcy is NOT advisable. Supra Lawyer lists 7 such reasons.   For those clients who cannot or will not declare bankruptcy,  there are alternatives not requiring a bankruptcy filing , including:

  • Debt Settlement (AKA Debt Management): Debt Settlement offers a structured debt repayment plan, whereby you pay only a portion of the original debt. This is not the same as debt consolidation where one big debt simply replaces a lot of little ones. Oftentimes, you pay a budgetable fixed sum every month for from 3-5 years and the servicer uses that fund to settle with the creditors as it builds up. It is important however, to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable organization before “investing” with any such entity.  (The FTC has recently revised the Telemarketing Sales Rule to encompass debt settlement companies which will hopefully bring some regulation to this industry.)
  • Mortgage Modification (including Home Affordable): If you own a home and do not wish or need to file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, a mortgage modification may be a better option than bankruptcy as the filing of the HAMP Application will also avoid mortgage foreclosure while in consideration by the Lender. The government is attempting to streamline this process and, as the name implies, make monthly rates far more affordable for those who qualify by requiring banks which took bailout money to offer the Home Affordable Loan (HAMP). Others have joined the program voluntarily seeking to take advantages of the financial incentives being paid by the government. However, the program has been moving very slowly to date because it has been left up to the banks to administer. For those who do not qualify because of income or other reasons or because their bank simply does not offer a HAMP, there are usually conventional programs offered by the lenders, typically with less favorable terms. There are also special programs available for those who have Fannie Mae or Freddy Mac backed loans.
  • Debt Settlement & Mortgage Modification: a potent combination for the in debt home owner may well be to combine a debt settlement program to reduce unsecured debt with a mortgage modification to reduce monthly mortgage payments, as these in combination can resolve most of the pressing debt issues for many homeowners.
  • Other Programs: There may be other alternatives for homeowners, especially for those who cannot take advantage of any of the above programs and are willing to enter into a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure and exit gracefully from their homes. In addition, there may be short or long term aid available to eligible homeowners at the state or local level, such as the Act 91 (HEMAP) program in Pennsylvania. (Unfotunately, word is that there is no longer funding available under this program which was partially federally funded.)
  • Bankruptcy as a Last Resort: Properly speaking, bankruptcy is not always a last resort.  In fact, consumer bankruptcy can be used by eligible persons not otherwise in need of a “fresh start” to effect such things as stripping off junior mortgages; reducing high auto payments: removing a large debt load or dealing with a significant arrears on a residence.  However, it is important to recognize that the eligible debtor who has tried and failed to utilize one or more of the above programs, may still avail themselves of bankruptcy as a last resort, to save their home, car and/or seek protection from their creditors. In addition, in certain circumstances a bankruptcy working in combination with one of the other above options, for example a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in concert with a mortgage modification, may be a potent option. In addition, a debtor who is current on their mortgage payments under most circumstances may exercise the “retain and pay” option to keep their home, under Section 521 (a) (2)  of the Bankruptcy Code which remains largely intact after the 2005 amendments to the Bankruptcy Code.

The key point is that each debtor’s situation is unique and deserves special consideration. Further, because the process is hardly ever as smooth as it is supposed to be because of the complexities and pitfalls involved, it is advisable to consult a competent and compassionate attorney who has experience in bankruptcies and/or in negotiating modifications to guide you through the process and help you properly complete the paperwork.

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., is a quality bankruptcy and debt relief practice, located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney, who has over 30 years if diversified ;egal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!  

I also provide Mortgage Modification Services.

©Christopher C. Carr, Attorney at Law 2009, 2012, All Rights Reserved

The “F” in Bankruptcy Alphabet is for “Failure” (and “Fresh Starts” in Bankruptcy)

F 2724770810_f84d80d958_t[1] is for Failure and “Fresh Starts” in Bankruptcy {Perhaps also for “Favorite”  because of all the articles I have written, this is my favorite”}

By Christopher C. Carr, Esq. Chester County bankruptcy attorney.

Tel: 610-380-7969 Email: cccarresq@aol.com Web: westchesterbankruptcyattorney.org

Many people in our culture still believe unfortunately that it is a mortal “sin” to declare bankruptcy; akin to a financial death sentence, to admitting failure as a human being and as a member of the larger economic enterprise. But in fact bankruptcy has been “built into” the US capitalist system since its beginnings with the Bill of Rights because it is essential to the very success of that model, which is in turn based on encouraging individual risk taking.

Being a success is a basic assumption of American life. We are taught almost from birth that at all costs we must be winner! But In fact, it is a harsh irony of life that success is built on trial and error and consequently upon failure. Some companies have even adopted corporate cultures which actually encourage failure so that employees will be willing to take risks and innovate.  See Why I Hire People Who Fail.

Our lawmakers from the very founding of our country have been mindful of the necessity to provide this “escape path for risk takers”:

The United States Constitution provides a method whereby individuals, burdened by excessive debt, can obtain a fresh financial start and pursue newly productive lives unimpaired by past financial problems. It is an important alternative for persons mired deep in financial difficulty.

The federal bankruptcy laws were enacted to provide debtors with a fresh start and to establish a ranking and equity among all the creditors who are clamoring for the debtor’s limited resources. Bankruptcy helps people avoid the kind of permanent discouragement that can prevent them from ever reestablishing themselves as hard-working members of society.

Source: Purposes, Benefits and Costs of Bankruptcy Disclosure pursuant to U.S. Code § 527(a)(1) & § 342(b)(1).

Some disagree with this proposition stating based on empirical findings that bankruptcy only helps about 2/3 of all who apply to get a fresh start and that is only because they find a steady income source.  See “The Failure of Bankruptcy’s Fresh Start”.  But for me, this only proves the point for i.) 2/3 is a pretty high rate of economic “resussitation”, ii) a study design like this just looks at a single point in time, it does not do follow ups to see what percentage ultimately do see improvement in their financial condition and iii.) how do you get people to pull themselves out of the economic mire (see quote above) unless society provides a safety net which is after all what bankruptcy really is? Not everyone will try and of those who do not all will make it but then there are no guarantees in life (or the law).

In my practice I represent many hard working small business people (from screenplay writers to truck stop owners) who are heavily engaged in the capitalist system. And what is capitalism at its core but the willingness of people to take chances in hopes of making money?  Someone–a small business venture–comes up with an idea for a business, obtains the financing and other myriad necessary resources to get that business up and running, strives to generate sufficient revenues to cover expenses over time, all in the hopes of making a profit from engaging in the business. At any point things may not work out as expected, causing the business to founder and ultimately sink.  Failure lurks in waiting at every corner!

Indeed some historians of note have argued that the American Revolution was in large part fought for debt relief:

The idea that debt is necessary for trade, and is to be forgiven liberally when necessary, is a key driver to the rise of our market economy. Americans fought to provide the same debt relief to everyone because we believe in equality and because bankruptcy protection takes the risk out of risk taking. Our historic willingness as a nation to forgive debt lies behind a good part of our prosperity. One good example is John Pintard, a state legislator and stockbroker, who was one of those who fell for William Duer’s financial scheme, which helped trigger the Panic of 1792, the nation’s first stock-market crash. Pintard ultimately landed in debtors’ prison in Newark. He got out of jail in 1798, and he filed for bankruptcy in New York in 1800. Among his many other post bankruptcy accomplismments, Pintard  founded the New-York Historical Society in 1804, and was a founder of the New York Bank for Savings in 1819.

In 1841, Congress passed a sweeping federal bankruptcy law that offered bankruptcy to everyone. Meanwhile, in 1831, the New York State Legislature abolished imprisonment for debt. Other states soon followed. Debtors’ prison was abolished, and bankruptcy law was liberalized, because Americans came to see that most people who fall into debt are victims of the economic cycle or misfortune like Pintard, and not of sloth, greed, or other negative personal attributes.

What would happen if there were no bankruptcy laws, no bankruptcy courts and no chance for people to obtain a fresh start?  Would people be as eager to innovate, to take chances and to possibly fail with no safety net to catch them? It is a fundamental premise of the capitalist system that they would not. That is why people who cannot pay their debts should not feel that they are ethically “challenged”, especially in this difficult economy, if they find they must seek the protection from their creditors for which our bankruptcy laws so prudently provide. For, failure is only the first step on the way to a fresh start!

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., is a quality bankruptcy and debt relief practice, located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney, who has over 30 years if diversified ;egal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!  

I also provide Mortgage Modification Services.

©Christopher C. Carr, Attorney at Law, 2011, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

More attorneys playing the bankruptcy alphabet game at letter F (HEY GUYS WE ARE 25% OF THE WAY TO Z!!!):

Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell: F is for Family Farmer/Fisherman.

New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman: F is for Future Flow Agreement .

Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran: F is for First .

Kauai Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart Ing: F is for Foreclosure

Jacksonville, Florida Bankruptcy Attorney, J. Dinkins G. Grange: F is for Forms .

Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig: F is for Foreclosure .

Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney, Mark J. Markus: F is for Forgiveness of Debt .

“E” in the Bankruptcy Alphabet is for “Eviction”


By Christopher C. Carr, Esq. Chester County bankruptcy attorney.

Tel: 610-380-7969 Email: cccarresq@aol.com Web: westchesterbankruptcyattorney.org

“Can I Stay in My Apartment if the Landlord Sues to Evict Me for Back Rent and Wins if I File Bankruptcy?”

Before  2005, the answer was clearly “yes”…a tenant bankruptcy could easily stop an eviction by filing for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy even after an eviction judgment had been entered against the tenant in state court. Once the tenant filed for bankruptcy, the “automatic stay” prevented all creditors, including landlords, from pursuing the repayment of debt.

But in 2005, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (“BAPCPA”) changed all that. The last three words of the title of the Act (“Consumer Protection Act”) are no more than legislative window dressing  as the new provisions relating to evictions found within Title 11 of the United States Code at Sections 362(a)(22), 362(a)(23), 362(l) and 362(m) are some of the harshest changes facing consumers under the new law.  The landlord can now evict a tenant if the landlord obtains a court-ordered judgment for possession prior to the tenant filing for bankruptcy. There is no longer an automatic stay to protect the tenant against the landlord unless the narrow exception described below applies.

If the eviction is for the nonpayment of rent, an exception applies if state law allows a tenant to remain in the rental unit and “cure,” or pay the rent, after an eviction judgment. Most states do not however even allow this “pay to stay” (as I will call it for simplicity’s sake) option.

If the tenant in pay to stay a state pays the rent into court and files the certification, on the day that the bankruptcy petition is filed (and serves the certification on the landlord), the tenant gets the benefit of the bankruptcy “automatic stay” but only for a period of thirty days from the date that the bankruptcy petition is filed.

If the tenant wishes to remain in the apartment beyond the initial thirty day reprieve, the tenant will have to satisfy the amount stated in the judgment for possession within thirty days following the filing of the bankruptcy petition and must at the same time file a certification with the bankruptcy court that the tenant has paid this amount (and serve the certification on the landlord). However, even here if the landlord objects to either certification and in court, the tenant must still leave.

The bottom line is that if tenants who are facing eviction in non-pay to stay state due to monetary default are in essence forced by BAPCA to gamble for if they lose in the state court level, they will have no avenue of relief open to them in the bankruptcy court.  (In a pay to stay state the gamble is less onerous if the tenant is successful in jumping through the hoops described above.) If on the other hand, they choose to forgo their day in court in favor of the safer route of filing bankruptcy, they are facing considerable expense for the privilege of staying in their apartment.

Additionally, filing bankruptcy destroys credit and thus can make it much more difficult if not impossible to find a new apartment.  The better counsel for most tenants facing eviction may be to preserve their credit and their cash and simply find a new home.

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., is a quality bankruptcy and debt relief practice, located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney, who has over 30 years if diversified ;egal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!  

I also provide Mortgage Modification Services.

5 Things You Should Avoid If In Debt

By Christopher C. Carr, Esq., Chester County Bankruptcy Lawyer

Struggling with too much debt: you’re not alone? The entire nation it seems has a credit card hangover especially after the new year when the bills for all those Christmas Presents start to roll in. For years, credit was easy and many people became overextended. But we now have to “pay the piper”. The advice of the debt experts is to be sure you don’t make your situation worse by making common mistakes.

So let’s talk frankly: Here are 5 strategies you should avoid:

  1. Paying only the minimum amount on your debt as this will result in the amount you owe actually GROWING and your problems will only become worse. Look at some of those credit card statements you get. It’s downright scary! 35 or 50 years to pay off your card at minimum payments! And maybe your cards are maxxed out and you really HAVE no more credit…what good is that? When that happens, it usually is a sign that it is time to get a fresh start!
  2. Relying on friends and relatives to bail you out with loans you probably never can repay as this can permanently damage relationships with the most important people in your life.
  3. Resorting to unscrupulous companies that demand cash upfront or high fees for help they promise, but don’t deliver. You need to do extensive due diligence before ever giving any of these companies a dime.
  4. Using new high-interest loan to pay off lower interest rate loans or doing a debt consolidation– while it may seem easier to just have one payment, this will actually increase the amount you have to pay back over time. Debt consolidation is just that: it just gets you one big bill instead of several smaller ones. What you really may need is Debt Settlement by an attorney, who will work hard to dramatically REDUCE your debt without bankruptcy.
  5. Declaring bankruptcy unless you have consulted with a bankruptcy lawyer and determined that this is the only appropriate choice for you – Bankruptcy can give you a fresh start even can SAVE YOUR HOME, CAR OR APARTMENT but it is NOT for everyone- it can have long term and severe consequences for your financial future. There usually are other alternatives such as debt settlement or a mortgage modification or a combination of tools and techniques which may work for you…

How to select a professional to guide you?  The lawyer you select to advise you should be compassionate, versatile and experienced: able to understand each of these alternative tools and techniques, advise you as to which to choose and perform the service(s) you ultimately select with his/her assistance.

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., is a quality bankruptcy and debt relief practice, located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney, who has over 30 years if diversified ;egal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!  


I also provide Debt Settlement; IRS Tax Settlement & Mortgage Mod Services NATIONALLY.