“W” is for Wages are not always safe from creditors in Pennsylvania

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

Single W by CarbonNYC age garnishment is not legal in Pennsylvania. So your paycheck is safe and sound, right?

Your employer has just deposited your paycheck into your bank account and you write a check to pay your mortgage, “knowing” there is now plenty of money in there to cover it and nobody can get it. But the check comes back “NSF”. It bounced and for the life of you, you cannot figure out why!  But then there’s that innocent little check you cashed a while back for $1.19 and now it’s coming back to haunt you. Read on to see what happened…

Well, while your wages may be safe from direct garnishment this may be cold comfort indeed because, your bank accounts are not protected in this way.  In Pennsylvania, a bank account levy is allowed under Section 9607 – Title 13 – COMMERCIAL CODE  only after judgment is awarded.  But once armed with a judgment your creditors can take your entire bank account – if they can find it. If a legal judgment has been entered against you in Pennsylvania, the holder of that judgment can satisfy it in whole or in part with money in your bank accounts simply by obtaining a court order against your bank.

And how can creditors gain access to this information in this day and age of “privacy protection”? Well one way is through you via what is called “discovery in aid of execution”.  That is, under the PA Rules of Civil Procedure you can be required by subpoena to submit to questioning under oath regarding your assets and accounts.

But most collectors cannot be bothered to go through proper legal channels…that costs legal time and money. Instead they will resort to various underhanded schemes to find your accounts. One of the most successful routines they use is to trick debtors into cashing small checks they send them, say, for $1.19 (see above).  Accompanying the check will be a fake letter saying “we made an error in your account in your favor and so here’s $1.19 back”. When you cash the check the collector will see a copy of it in his bank statement and he can tell exactly where you do your banking.  That is enough to allow him to get what is called a “Seizure Order” against that bank. You may never even figure out how he got you but for a mere $1.19 (which he just tacks back onto your account) he typically seizes several hundred dollars. (The typical collector’s commission is between 40-50% of every dollar he collects.) The lesson is simple – don’t cash small checks your creditors send you.

Here is another far more important lesson: If you get served with a debt complaint, you definitely want to get a lawyer involved right away not only because not only can he defend you against it (either with a bankruptcy filing or outside bankruptcy) but also because a creditor judgment (that’s the key word of this blog if you haven’t guessed) can ALSO result in a lien against your home which will have to be satisfied before you can sell, whether or not you later go bankrupt. See my blog on the complex topic of Liens.

Now back to the exciting conclusion of this blog: except for a few minor exceptions such as the Commonwealth’s  statutory exemptions and payments received from Social Security, the entirety of all of your bank accounts may be subject to garnishment by a creditor who has obtained a judgment against you. And this applies to your hard earned wages as well, once they have been paid to you, as they become available to garnishment once they are on deposit in your personal checking account.It is important to recognize (i) that this is not a one shot deal, it can happen again and again until the debt is satisfied and (ii) that the one sure way to protect your bank accounts and the wages on deposit in them is to avail oneself of the automatic stay in bankruptcy to protect your assets. The stay is one really important reason why people in financial distress opt to seek the protection of the bankruptcy court!

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 attorneys playing the bankruptcy alphabet game:

  1. Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
  2. Bay Area Bankruptcy Lawyer Cathy Moran
  3. Northern Ohio Lawyer Bill Balena
  4. Jay Fleischman New York Bankruptcy Lawyer

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

Advertisements

L in Bankruptcy is for Long Term Payments, Chapter 13 Plans

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

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

This article deals with situations where debt repayment extends beyond the 3-5 year period allowed in a Chapter 13 and the end of the automatic stay in bankruptcy and some things that can be done about it.

The typical scenario would be where a homeowner uses a Chapter 13 to repay the arrears on their mortgage. The law states that while the arrears must be paid 100% over the course of the plan, payments on the mortgage may extend beyond that time. How could it be otherwise because almost all mortgages have a life of 30, 40 even 50 years, far longer than the maximum bankruptcy plan?

But what about a homeowner who also has non dischargeable taxes? They too can be “scheduled” and payments made over the course of the plan…but when the plan ends so does the “automatic stay” and the tax creditors will STILL be there waiting to get their money. And the IRS has an array of weapons at its disposal. For example, unlike common creditors, it can slap a lien on your home without even having to file suit to do so. And such liens can be more than just a nuisance, especially when it comes time to sell because then the title company will not issue a policy of title insurance until the lien has been paid thus in effect giving the IRS a second bite at the apple. You can try negotiating a lower tax with the Service by submitting what is called an Offer in Compromise after the bankruptcy is discharged but not everyone can qualify and a 20% nonrefundable down payment must be submitted with your offer on IRS form 656. If the IRS accepts the offer, it will want the remainder in 5 or fewer monthly installments.

But luckily there are other alternatives. The law allows a tax debtor to file under more than one chapter in bankruptcy in sequence. Many people wrongly believe that there is a waiting period after a discharge before another bankruptcy can be filed whereas the law actually reads only that you cannot receive a discharge in the second bankruptcy. However, as to non dischargeable debt, it really does not matter.

There are 2 scenarios where this strategy can be used with good effect. Suppose you file Chapter 7 to wipe out all your qualifying dischargeable debts and taxes. When the Chapter 7 is completed, some non-dischargeable taxes remain, but you could file under Chapter 13 for a repayment plan to deal with the balance. This strategy is called: “Chapter 20” (7 + 13). This stops interest and penalties.

Likewise, a “Chapter 26” (13+13) may be a way to spread paying a tax debt over a longer period– up to ten years (i.e. 2 5 year plans). This means filing one Chapter 13 and completing it, and then filing a second Chapter 13 for remaining debts. This also stops interest and penalties and most importantly liens will not attach to your property because of the automatic stay. If done quickly enough, this can be accomplished before the IRS starts up collection activity again.

As always, it is best to seek the advice of a competent bankruptcy attorney as this is a complex timing sensitive legal area.

©Christopher C. Carr, Attorney at Law 2009, All Rights Reserved. Photo by Chrisinplymouth.

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.

Others who have actually reached the letter L in the Bankruptcy Alphabet include:

St. Clair Shores MI attorney, Kurt OKeefe, who speaks the truth when he says that L is for Lie, the Big Mortgage Industry

Cleveland Attorney ( oh how I miss beautiful Cleveland on the shores of lake Erie where once I lived), Bill Balena ensures us that L is for Life Insurance

New York & California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman who attaches great relevance to L is for Lien

Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell who lays it all bare for us in L is for Lien Stripping

Honolulu Bankruptcy Attorney Stuart T. Ing also peels back the layers in L is for Lien Stripping

Marin County Attorney, Catherine Eranthe enlightens us in L is for Lift the Stay

Colorado Springs Attorney Bob Doig has gems of wisdom on why L is for Luxuries

Metro Richmond Consumer Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein who is solidly behind L is for Liquidated

Allen Park, Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyer, Christopher McAvoy enumerates how L is for List It Or Lose It