October 17, 2017

Joint Liability for Debts: An FAQ

I am frequently asked whether spouses have joint liability for debts. This FAQ should help readers gain a basic understanding of the issues to consider, but is not a replacement for a qualified bankruptcy attorney's opinion on your specifics. Q: MY HUSBAND HAS SUBSTANTIAL DEBT THAT HE CANNOT PAY. HE NEEDS TO FILE BANKRUPTCY. DO I HAVE TO FILE WITH HIM? A: I have heard this quite often. One … [Read more...]

Is Bankruptcy Right For Me? Questions to Ask Yourself

There are some things regarding family finances that serve as a warning that the family should take a good hard look at their financial situation and determine how to remedy the situation.  I have listed some of these below.  If your family has had one or more of these happen, do not put off addressing what may be in your financial future. 1.  There are months in which there is not enough money … [Read more...]

Can I Go Bankrupt Without My Spouse?

Can one spouse file a bankruptcy case without the other spouse?  The answer is "yes." Who is an "authorized user" on the account? It is common these days for one spouse to generally be unable to pay their debts as they become due, while the other spouse is not liable for those debts. In this regard it is important to understand the  concept of “authorized user." Just because the spouse’s name … [Read more...]

Repaying debts with Debt Consolidation, Debt Settlement, or Chapter 13

In nearly 40 years of practicing bankruptcy law, I've learned a lot about human nature. One of those things is that the vast majority of people want to pay their debts. Almost invariably, they do not want to file bankruptcy because of the perceived stigma. This is understandable, but it may lead to a decision that in the long run becomes costly and painful. To meet that desire to make good on … [Read more...]

My Parents’ House is in Foreclosure, What Can I Do?

One of the heartbreaking realities of my practice in insolvency law is getting a phone call from an adult child who has just learned that a credit card company has sued or obtained a judgment against his or her parent, or that their parent’s real estate is in foreclosure because of missed mortgage, HOA or real estate tax payments. In my line of work, it is rare to see a senior citizen with a … [Read more...]

Asset Protection Basics: What You Need to Know if You Owe Debts You Cannot Pay

Many people who want to come in and talk about asset protection are surprised to learn that they have no assets to protect. "How can this be? "I own a car and a house!" Asset protection comes in to play if you own property that has equity above the mortgages owed (called non-exempt property -- property that creditors can reach); or if you anticipate that you may have non-exempt property in the … [Read more...]

2012 Sunset for the Mortgage Forgiveness Laws?

An important IRS provision for homeowners who need to restructure their mortgages or who are facing foreclosure might expire at the end of this month. If you are considering restructuring your mortgage or are facing foreclosure In the words of the IRS, “The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal … [Read more...]

Small Business Owners, Plan to Stay OUT of Bankruptcy

A recent column in Business Week about small business lending examined the role of the personal guarantee. "Given that most business loans are unsecured, a lender has little recourse, when a loan goes sour, beyond the personal guarantee of principals. And if the principals backing a loan are broke, a personal guarantee is virtually useless." The article went on to tell prospective borrowers … [Read more...]