May 28, 2017

How Long Will Creditors Try to Collect on a Judgment?

In my ongoing series of blog posts about debt collection, garnishments, judgments, and how to rebound from financial setbacks I am asked lots of questions. One reader asked what happens when you've proven to the sheriff that all your property is exempt from the judgment. She said, "Do they hawk you for years waiting for your financial situation to improve? What happens if you win the lottery … [Read more...]

What Can I Do about a Judgment against Me in NC?

A creditor has obtained a judgment against you. That means that the judgment constitutes a lien on your real estate (land and buildings) in the North Carolina county in which the judgment was obtained and in any North Carolina county into which it has been transcribed. It also means that the judgment creditor can have the sheriff seize personal property—anything other than land or buildings, … [Read more...]

Bankruptcy and Exempt Property: Common Mistakes

I have been practicing bankruptcy law for over forty years. This year I saw two cases in bankruptcy court illustrating the danger of hiring a so-called bankruptcy attorney who didn't understand the fundamentals of exempt property. First, a primer on exempt property I typically refer to property that creditors cannot reach as exempt property. Although there are many exemptions created by other … [Read more...]

Marital Property and Bankruptcy: Allocating Exempt Property

Each state has different laws on what is recognized as exempt property, that is, property that is out of the reach of creditors (including bankruptcy trustees). Further, there are federal exemptions. I wrote about this extensively and you may find it helpful reading. Here's the kind of question that occasionally comes up when we counsel a married couple about bankruptcy. Q: The exempt … [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...]

Bankruptcy and Undue Hardship Repaying Student Loans

Under the current bankruptcy law, student loans are not dischargeable in a bankruptcy. Whenever I say this I'm always asked about cases of "undue hardship." Experience has taught me that if the debtor is blind, deaf, mute, and is missing all four limbs, there is a small chance that the debtor can show undue hardship and thus have his or her student loans discharged in bankruptcy. In other … [Read more...]

I don’t want to file, but should I?

Some people are not good candidates for bankruptcy, including: Those with too many non-exempt assets; for them, we develop asset planning & protection strategies Those who cannot afford to file bankruptcy Those with no income or who have so few non-exempt assets that they are essentially “judgment proof” Those with finances so complicated by trusts and tax shelters … [Read more...]