You Deserve a Fresh Start in 2014

ImageThe New Year is a good time to evaluate your financial house and consider whether getting a fresh start by filing bankruptcy is the best option for you.

If you have too much debt or feel like you are way over you head in bills, bankruptcy may be right solution for you to get a fresh financial start in 2014.

Bankruptcy wipes out all credit card bills, medical bills, and personal loans. It even erases deficiencies on short sales and repossessed vehicles.

Filing bankruptcy initiates a Court ordered “automatic stay.” The automatic stay immediately stops your creditors from trying to collect from you. Creditors are immediately stopped from garnishing your wages, repossessing your car, or selling your house or other assets at a sheriff sale.

The first step is to make an appointment to meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to discuss your financial options. The consultation is free. I don’t judge my clients and always treat everyone with the respect they expect and deserve.

Stephen M. Dunne, Esquire has been consistently voted and named one of Pennsylvania’s Bankruptcy Super Lawyers by Law and Politics published by Philadelphia Magazine and Pennsylvania Super Lawyer for the years 2011-2013.

If you know someone who needs a fresh financial start in 2014, please tell them that I can help them make 2014 the year for a fresh financial start.

Call Today: 215-551-7109.

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Detroit Bankruptcy – Pensions Aren’t Protected From Cuts

Retirees like Gwendolyn Beasley, 67 years old, who worked 34 years for Detroit as a library clerk has an annual pension of $13,085. Ms. Beasley’s pension could be decimated in the very near future.

A judge declared Detroit eligible for bankruptcy and ruled that pensions aren’t protected from potential cuts. Five months after the city filed for Chapter 9 protection, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes said Detroit was entitled to reorganize under bankruptcy law, describing his ruling as a “fresh start” for the city.

Judge Rhodes said Detroit’s public pension holders aren’t entitled to special protection from potential cuts – despite a Michigan state constitutional provision aimed at shielding pensions. “Pension rights are contract rights under the Michigan constitution” and contracts are at risk for cuts under federal bankruptcy law.

Detroit plans on unveiling a proposal in January 2014 to restructure its estimated $18 billion in long-term debt, which makes it the largest-ever municipal bankruptcy in U.S. History.

The city’s unfunded pension liability has been estimated at between $3.5 billion and $8 billion.  The pension funds would undoubtedly receive only a fraction of what they are owed. The pension cuts will have a devastating on city employees and retirees who hoped state law would protect their pensions.

Rapper DMX files Bankruptcy

DMX (Born Earl Simmons) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to poor financial management. The Chapter 11 petition lists less than $50,000 in assets and $1 million to $10 million in debt. The New York native owes $1.24 million in child support and more than $21,000 on an auto lease.

Can Child Support be Erased?

No. Child support cannot be erased or legally discharged in a bankruptcy case but Chapter 11 bankruptcy does allow debtors to propose a reasonable repayment plan to cure the child support arrearage.

Why did DMX file Bankruptcy?

The State Department will not issue a passport to anyone that has more than $2,500.00 in child support arrearage. DMX has an upcoming international concert tour and the filing of the bankruptcy case allows him to get his passport back and travel abroad.

What happens in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case?

What happens in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases are usually straightforward.  On rare occasions, complications arise if creditors take aggressive action, if the trustee thinks you are hiding assets, or if you want to challenge creditors’ claims.

Who can file?

Any individual who lives in the United States or has property or a business in the United States can file a chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you received a chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge within the past eight years, you are disqualified from receiving a discharge in chapter 7. A similar disqualification may also apply if you received a discharge within the past six years in a chapter 13 case in which your unsecured creditors were paid less than 70% of what they were owed.

 

What is the means test?

In 2005, Congress added the “means test” to the bankruptcy law to make it more difficult for wealthy consumers to file chapter 7 bankruptcy. Most consumers who file for bankruptcy are not affected by this change. If your income is below the median in Pennsylvania, you are protected by a “safe harbor” and not subject to the means test. The current median family income figures for Pennsylvania are available on the website for the Untied States Trustee Program at: http://www.usdoj.gov/ust.

What are the first steps?

The first step in a chapter 7 bankruptcy is completion of certain basic forms. These include a three-page initial “petition.” You will also need to file a certificate from an approved credit counseling agency.  A number of other forms must also be filed either at the same time of the petition or shortly afterwards. These include your statement of financial affairs, statement of intentions with respect to certain secured debts, statement of monthly income and means test calculations, copies of any pay stubs you received from an employer during the sixty days before filing your bankruptcy case; and a set of schedules listing all your debts, assets, income, and expenses. It is important that all of these forms be filled out completely and accurately.

What are common mistakes?  

A chapter 7 bankruptcy is often called a “liquidation” bankruptcy because the debtors assets are examined by the court appointed  trustee and any “unexempt” assets are typically sold for the benefit of creditors.  Frequently overlooked assets include tax refunds, child support arrearages, security deposits, pledged goods at pawnbrokers, personal injury claims, other legal claims, and the cash value of life insurance policies.

Is Bankruptcy the Right Choice for You?

1. Bankruptcy may be the easiest and fastest way to deal with all types of debt problems.Bankruptcy is a process under federal law designed to help people and businesses get protection from their creditors.

2. Most bankruptcy cases are complicated. You should consider getting professional help.Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding with complicated rules and paperwork. You may want to get professional legal help, especially if you hope to use bankruptcy to prevent foreclosure or repossession. Dunne Law Offices, P.C. provides a free consultation to help you decide whether bankruptcy is the right choice.

3. Bankruptcy temporarily stops almost all creditors from taking any steps against you. This assistance is provided by the “automatic stay” that arises as soon as you file the necessary paperwork at the beginning of a bankruptcy case. Foreclosures, repossessions, utility shut-offs, lawsuits, and other creditor actions will be immediately stopped.

4. Bankruptcy can permanently wipe out your legal obligation to pay back many of your debts. This benefit arises because of the bankruptcy “discharge” that you get for successfully completing a bankruptcy case.

5. When a bankruptcy does not wipe out a debt, a chapter 13 bankruptcy (a “reorganization”) gives you the opportunity to catch up on that debt. For example, if you are behind on a home mortgage or car loan, bankruptcy will not usually allow you to cancel the mortgage or lien and still keep the property without repayment. If you want to deal with debts of that type in the bankruptcy process, you will need to propose a chapter 13 repayment plan. That requires affordable payments from your income over a period of three to five years.

6. The initial fee for bankruptcy is presently $306 under chapter 7 and $281 under chapter 13. The fee can be paid in installments over a period of 120 days.

7. If you file bankruptcy in Philadelphia, you usually do not need to go to court.You will have to attend one meeting with the bankruptcy trustee (not with a judge). Creditors are invited but rarely attend. You will not usually have to go to court for your bankruptcy case unless something out of the ordinary occurs.

US Postal Service on the Brink of Bankruptcy.

US Postmaster General Patrick Donahue issued a plea to Congress today: Take congressional action now to help the Postal Service avoid financial collapse.“The Postal Service is at the brink of default,” Donahue warned at a hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “Our situation is urgent. The congressional action is needed immediately to avoid this default.”

Faced with flagging revenues and high workforce costs, the Postal Service is projected to post a $9 billion deficit on the year and could miss a $5.5 billion payment on retiree benefits at the end of this month.

A bankruptcy of the postal service could have drastic implications, not merely for the agency but for the broader economy. A $1 trillion mailing industry employing more than 8 million workers relies directly on the agency’s services, as do countless American businesses, Donahoe testified.

The rise of email has dramatically curbed demand for old-fashioned letters, while competitive delivery companies have put the squeeze on the post office’s business model. Last year, the post office delivered 171 billion pieces of mail, down 20% from just four years earlier. Volume is on track to fall an additional 2% this year.

Senator Lieberman and Sens. Susan Collins (R) of Maine and Tom Carper (D) of Delaware all underscored the urgency of the situation.

“We must act quickly to prevent a Postal Service collapse and enact a bold plan to save its future,” Lieberman said. “Times are changing rapidly and so too must the Postal Service if it is to survive.”

Stephen M. Dunne, Esq.
Dunne Law Offices, P.C.

1500 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
Two Penn Center, Suite 200
Philadelphia, PA 19102


(215) 854 – 6342 office
(215) 205 – 6367 cell
(215) 525 – 9721 fax


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