Tag Archives: Joseph Wrobel Chicago Bankruptcy

Employment and bankruptcy: Why bankruptcy filers should not lose sleep

In any society, the concept of getting something and not paying for it seems wrong. The incorrect assumption of many people who have never filed bankruptcy might be that an individual ran up credit cards, borrowed money and never intended to pay it back. The actual amount of true bankruptcy fraud is quite small and the majority of people who file for bankruptcy protection had never imagined they would find themselves in a state of financial emergency. The economic collapse in 2008 significantly changed the landscape of financial assumptions in the U.S. First, we no longer assume jobs and markets are bulletproof. Second, we all know someone negatively affected by the bad economy. Third, we all probably know someone we regard as a good person with strong character who filed for bankruptcy protection when the economy or a financial emergency threatened his or her livelihood.

With so many people taking advantage of bankruptcy laws, it is tough for employers to be that fussy.

Since the end of the economic boom in the 90s, many people bought more house than they could afford, expecting values to continue rising and equity building. Many more people were cut short when their companies started laying people off. Meanwhile, others who had a good amount of money in savings may have lost most of it due to illness, not being able to find another job, or an emergency event such as a traffic accident or other personal injury. As more people learned that bankruptcy was there to help them out, and they did not “lose it all” in the process, like some people think, the perception and feeling about bankruptcy improved.

Since so many people have taken advantage of the bankruptcy laws and protection, it is more difficult for an employer to deny a job to someone based on their current or recent past financial situation. It may be illegal for an employer to deny your application simply because you filed for bankruptcy, in federal, state and local government positions. In private companies, however, the potential employer may be allowed to inquire as to your financial status and review your credit. As stated earlier, with such a large number of people with bankruptcies in their past, the pool of applicants for jobs could be wrongly skewed when candidates are rated not on their education, experience and background, but rather whether they have ever filed for bankruptcy protection.

While many employers may not care about a bankruptcy, some positions involving money may require additional consideration.

There are some positions involving money, budgeting and financial expertise, where the employer might not consider an applicant who has experienced personal financial emergency or has taken advantage of bankruptcy protection. Having said that, many of those companies might have themselves taken advantage of bankruptcy laws to restructure their debts and creditor obligations.

If during the application and interview process the topic of financial security and bankruptcy were to come up, it is smart to have a prepared explanation of what occurred and why you may have decided to file for bankruptcy protection. The same way you might let a friend or family member know that bankruptcy is not bad, it is a provision of the law to give people a fresh start in uncommon circumstances, you as a job applicant might explain those uncommon circumstances, often not within your control, and assure them that you made the best decision to protect your home and your family when the chips were down. An honest and forthright job applicant may be just the person they are looking to hire.

Joseph Wrobel and his associates are not only bankruptcy attorneys, but also counselors to their clients, to help them get that fresh start they need and get back on their feet without feeling shame or fearing they shouldn’t apply for that dream job.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can “Like” the firm’s Facebook page and “Follow” Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

 

Chicago bankruptcy questions and answers with Joseph Wrobel, September 2015

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress. 

Click/tap here to listen to the podcast now!

Topics covered in this 30 minute show:

  • What type of debts does a bankruptcy eliminate, and what debts will I have to keep?
  • How long does a debt need to exist to include it in my bankruptcy filing?
  • Are there any special rules in bankruptcy for home owners association dues?
  • How soon can I file for bankruptcy if I need to use the bankruptcy laws more than once?

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973 he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School.

Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy website online for more about the firm. You may also contact Joseph Wrobel for more information at (312) 781-0996 and by e-mail at JosephWrobel@ChicagoBankruptcy.com

What should I do with the car or truck I cannot afford when I want to file for bankruptcy?

Reaffirm that car loan; you might have a good interest rate you do not want to lose. Too many people incorrectly assume that filing for bankruptcy protection means that you have to give up every possession and asset you own. This is not true. Every day there are individuals who file for bankruptcy protection, everywhere from rural farm towns to big cities. Whether your crops completely failed or you were run down by a limo on the way to a business meeting, bad things happen to good people. When your earning capacity is temporarily or permanently impaired, the bill collectors start swarming like vultures. When you finance your car or truck and fall behind on the payments, the big vultures are ready to swoop in and carry it away if you do nothing to protect the interest in your car.

There are exemption amounts in every state that allow you to keep up to a certain valued amount of personal property and assets, including equity in your vehicle, the amount that is paid off. When it comes to that car you finance, it is not your asset until it is paid off and in your name, and meanwhile all you may have is equity in the vehicle if it is well on the way to being paid off, as opposed to you owing more than it is worth. To learn more, read our blog, Bankruptcy Exemptions in Illinois.

There are a few options for financed cars and trucks when you fall behind or consider bankruptcy.

Got buyer’s remorse? That new “keep up with the Jones” model you absolutely had to have, might feel like more of an albatross when it comes to the monthly payment. Maybe your temporary financial condition makes you wish you never got that car in the first place, and if that is the case, you can surrender it to the trustee or finance company and include any deficiencies in the bankruptcy, whether you file for Chapter 7 (full discharge) or Chapter 13 (reorganization).

If you like the car or truck, or maybe have an excellent interest rate or a decent amount of equity and the equity is more than the exemption allowance, reaffirmation is a good idea. A reaffirmation agreement is just what it sounds like, a contractual agreement between finance company and you the borrower that you promise to keep current with the payments on the vehicle and to keep it excluded from the bankruptcy. Your bankruptcy filing will need to list the vehicle and financial details, including the reaffirmation agreement, to keep everything straight with the court and trustee.

If you have a good deal on your car or truck loan, you might want to reaffirm and keep it.

Remember that your ability to get new credit for a car or truck loan could be limited for a short period after a bankruptcy, and if you do not have a decent down payment then your interest rate could be high, until you are able to refinance the loan. For more on credit repair, read our blog, Credit scores, cards and reports: What you might not know.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can “Like” the firm’s Facebook page and “Follow” Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

 

Bankruptcy Exemptions in Illinois

Exemption amounts are important in bankruptcy cases. The exemptions are used to determine how much money you may have to pay to your unsecured creditors and how much property you are allowed to keep, depending on how you file and the particular circumstances of your case.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the form of bankruptcy most people first think of, the full discharge. In Chapter 7, the state exemption rules indicate you may keep certain property and money that does not have to be surrendered to the bankruptcy trustee. Watch our video explaining Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 bankruptcies are used in reorganizing debt; where you pay a percentage of the amounts owed to creditors, and the exemption amounts control how much you may be required to repay to unsecured creditors, to whom you may owe debts that are not secured by an asset. Watch our video explaining Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Illinois bankruptcy exemptions:

  • Child Support and Spousal Maintenance
  • Cemetery and Burial Funds
  • Legal Claims for Negligence or Tortious Conduct
  • Crime Victim’s Compensation
  • Franchise, Permit and Licensing Funds
  • Fraternal Benefit Society Benefits
  • Homestead and Residential Property
  • Insurance Benefits
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Personal Property
  • Pension and Retirement Benefits
  • Partnership-owned Property
  • Public Assistance Benefits
  • Trade Implements
  • Unemployment Compensation
  • Veterans Benefits

The amount you may be allowed to keep set aside from the bankruptcy case, Chapter 7 or 13, is set by the Illinois legislative branch and it can change from year to year. If you or someone you know had a bankruptcy case a few years back, it is likely some of the exemptions have changed since then.

Determining the exemptions you may claim can be very complicated and an experienced bankruptcy attorney is strongly recommended to navigate the complicated bankruptcy laws and procedures involved from the beginning of your case, to the discharge and termination of proceedings.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works to educate clients and bring everyone bankruptcy and financial news they can use to better understand the laws and processes involved in consumer bankruptcy.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can “Like” the firm’s Facebook page and “Follow” Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

Bankruptcy Basics: Danger in Attempting Bankruptcy Without a Lawyer

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress.

CLICK/TAP HERE TO LISTEN NOW

Topics covered in this 30 minute show:

  • What happens when people try to pursue a bankruptcy case (pro-se) without a lawyer;
  • Why the bankruptcy courts treat everyone with the assumption they know the laws;
  • There is no “do-over” or reset button on final decisions by bankruptcy courts;
  • How a bankruptcy attorney can help repair some but not all of the damage.

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973 he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School. 

Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy Site online for more about the firm. You may also contact Joseph Wrobel for more information at (312) 781-0996 and by e-mail at JosephWrobel@ChicagoBankruptcy.com

Supreme Court gives bankruptcy judges more power, could help speed up cases

Bankruptcy judges traditionally had less power to decide certain matters since 1978. A new U.S. Supreme Court decision in, Wellness International Network, Ltd. v. Sharif, now expands the power of bankruptcy court judges. Before this recent decision (May 25, 2015), bankruptcy court judges had to send certain elements of bankruptcy cases to higher level federal district court judges, who might no longer be needed when the litigants in a bankruptcy lawsuit agree and consent in certain decisions.

The U.S. Constitution controls the power of the judiciary; here is a brush-up civics lesson:

Within the U.S., Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution provides that “The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.[i]” Congress used its power in establishing 94 federal district courts and 13 courts of appeal. The judges and justices in these established courts are appointed by the President of the U.S., and with the approval of the U.S. Senate. These judges (federal district courts) and justices (federal courts of appeal) are appointed for life and their pay is guaranteed and cannot be reduced.

The appointed federal court judges and appellate court justices would have been involved in bankruptcy cases, prior to this new U.S. Supreme Court decision, which now empowers bankruptcy judges to make final decisions on disputes that arise, in cases where all the parties consent[ii].

There had not been significant discussion about the power of bankruptcy judges since 1978 when Congress adopted a new bankruptcy statute. Bankruptcy judges were employed as lower status judges than other federal judges. The Constitution required that only senior judges could make final decisions that would end up in federal courts.

This case involves a bankruptcy litigant and money held in a family trust:

In this case, Wellness International Network, Ltd., v. Sharif, 575 U.S. ([No. 13-935]) (2015), opinion published May 26, 2016, Mr. Sharif was alleged to owe Wellness $500,000, and while Sharif was seeking a bankruptcy discharge of his duty to pay any debt to Wellness, its attorneys sought to take money and assets from a family trust, to collect on their claim.

The Supreme Court decided in Wellness v. Sharif, to reverse the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that the bankruptcy court cannot hold the constitutional authority to decide whether certain property belonged to the bankruptcy estate. A main issue before the Supreme Court is was whether all disputes in bankruptcy lawsuits necessarily had to be decided by a higher-level federal court judge, particularly if consenting parties are involved.

Litigant consent is a historically prominent aspect of the federal court system.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing the majority Supreme Court opinion, stated, “Adjudication based on litigant consent has been a consistent feature of the federal court system since its inception…Reaffirming that unremarkable fact, we are confident, poses no great threat to anyone’s birthrights, constitutional or otherwise.[iii]

Now, with broader authority on a variety of matters, bankruptcy judges are empowered to make decisions in bankruptcy lawsuits instead of sending those issues up to higher federal court judges. This means consumer bankruptcy cases can be handled more quickly and efficiently, by the bankruptcy court most familiar with the individual cases.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works to educate clients and bring everyone bankruptcy and financial news they can use to better understand the laws and processes involved in consumer bankruptcy.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can “Like” the firm’s Facebook page and “Follow” Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

 

[i] Cornel University Law School, U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 1.

[ii] Valuewalk.com, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Boosted By Supreme Court Decision, By Clayton Browne, May 27, 2015.

[iii] See HNii above.

Lawsuits prompt Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase to update credit reports to eliminate consumer zombie debt

Imagine being consistently denied for employment due to negative marks on your credit report. Now, consider those same negative marks on your credit are discharged through a bankruptcy, but are still on your credit report. Some people have been compelled to pay off discharged debt because the banks have them over a barrel and refuse to update your credit report. Diane Torres is one of these victims. Ms. Torres went through bankruptcy in 2010 and received a discharge of certain debts. Two of the discharged debts, a Chase credit card and another from GE Money Bank, were still showing as delinquent accounts on her credit.

Job offers and loan approvals can require positive credit scores. Even after bankruptcy, some lenders refuse to clear reported debts from consumer credit reports.  

Ms. Torres applied for a job at a credit union. They told her they could not offer her the position unless she cleaned up the negative marks. ““I felt desperate,” she said. “It was urgent that I pay these debts or else I would not get the job that I really needed.” But after, at the suggestion of her bankruptcy lawyer, she provided the credit union with a record that she had voided the debts in bankruptcy, she got the job.”[i]

Ms. Torres is not alone, but she is lucky the credit union told her why her offer was in jeopardy. Many others simply do not receive offers after promising job interviews and they might never learn that the deciding factor was a negative credit mark; one which may have been discharged in bankruptcy.

When the bankruptcy court discharges the debt, that debt becomes uncollectable as a matter of law. The discharge does not automatically clear the credit score for someone who went through bankruptcy. In many cases, bankruptcy clients report they are being bullied into paying off credit cards with banks refusing to budge, despite the bankruptcy.

 Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, both involved in lawsuits in federal court on this topic, agreed that they will update borrowers’ credit reports.

Zombie debt is commonly known as debt that has been discharged in a bankruptcy, written off, or otherwise no longer collectable for a variety of reasons. When these debts are bought and sold among finance companies the consumer loses. The recent announcement that these banks will put the zombies of consumer debt to rest is good news, “bills that are still alive on credit reports although legally eliminated in bankruptcy,[ii]” should be updated within the next three months.

The New York Times reported, “The lawsuits accuse the banks of engineering what amounts to a subtle but ruthless debt collection tactic, effectively holding borrowers’ credit reports hostage, refusing to fix the misstated unless people pay money for debts that they do not actually owe.[iii]

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. can help clients with zombie debt problems and financial catastrophes, generally. Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

[i] New York Times, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase agree to erase debts from credit reports after bankruptcies, by Jessica Silver-Greenberg, May 7, 2015.

[ii] See HNi

[iii] See HNi

Bankruptcy Basics: May 2015 Bankruptcy FAQs

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress.

Click/tap here to listen to the podcast now.

Topics covered in this 30 minute show:

  • If I get sued and lose at trial and my creditor gets a judgment can I still file bankruptcy?
  • I am trying to do bankruptcy without a lawyer, do I have to include empty accounts?
  • Is a surviving spouse responsible for the credit card debt of their deceased spouse?
  • If I filed for bankruptcy in 2012. I’m behind again on bills, when can I file again?

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973 he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School.

For more about the firm. You may also contact Joseph Wrobel for more information at (312) 781-0996.

Debate: More talk about potential downfalls of allowing for student loan bankruptcy relief

So many Americans are afraid of any “bursting bubble.” The bursting housing bubble, for example, crippled many individuals and families when home values dropped and people went from having equity in their homes to being upside down. When jobs in several industries were scarce, many people lost their savings. Too many innocent single parents ended up moving in with their own mothers and fathers to give their kids food and shelter.

Can student loan bankruptcy allowances lead to a bursting student loan bubble?

Student debt is incurred through public and private lenders. Some loans are secured by the U.S. government and others are not. In any industry, the failure to pay back loans, or make good on one’s end of a deal, can lead to the floor dropping out and financial failure of the individuals and organizations involved. Many financial critics talk about the repayment of student loan debt being used to lend more money to new students applying for financial aid and loans for school.

According to another recent article, “Disaster looms with student loan bankruptcy consideration[i],” the approximate amount of current student debt is $1.3 trillion, with the federal government guaranteeing 90 percent of those student loans. As we reported in our last blog on this issue, “Should Congress move forward with student loan forgiveness in bankruptcy courts,” the average student loan debt is around $30,000 but many more students have more than $100,000 in student loan debt!

Will students consider bankruptcy as part of their financial plan to pay for college and graduate school?

While many optimists believe that students today know the financial and educational challenges ahead of them and those students desire a good credit rating and clean financial record without collections or bankruptcies. However, the best plans in life can be prevented or influenced by considerations beyond our control. In those situations, it might make sense to extend bankruptcy protection to student loans in addition to the other personal and household debts dischargeable under bankruptcy law.

An alternative to bankruptcy, for those concerned about debt, might be one of the many federal student debt relief programs. For example, “The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program was established in 2007 so students can reduce their debt. Students who pursue careers that are deemed to be in the public interest and have relatively low salaries, such as nursing and teaching, can have a portion of their loan debt forgiven.[ii]

Until there is a change in the law and bankruptcy becomes an option for student loan debtors, we can only speculate about what could happen and how many student loan cases are likely to result in bankruptcy. There will be much more debate on this issue in upcoming news stories.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. will follow the student loan forgiveness news to keep you informed of your options.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

 

[i] Times Leader, Disaster looms with student loan bankruptcy consideration, by Eileen Godin, Apr. 9, 2015.

[ii] See HNi above.

The automatic stay: It has exceptions and there are ways you could lose its protection

In a previous article about the automatic stay provision of the bankruptcy code we lined up a few situations in which this section of the bankruptcy law stops bill collectors in their tracks. As a general rule, when a petition for bankruptcy relief is filed and accepted by the bankruptcy court, the automatic stay provision is effective and remains in place until the bankruptcy is over.

As a debtor, you do not have to do anything to use your automatic stay benefit. Rather, all your listed creditors should receive notice sent by your bankruptcy attorney informing them about the bankruptcy and the law prohibiting collection of debts while you are in a bankruptcy case. Having said so, it is important to note the scenarios in which actions and obligations cannot be avoided through a bankruptcy filing.

There are some legal actions not stopped by the automatic stay:

  • Tax proceedings are allowed to proceed despite the automatic stay provision in bankruptcy.
  • Pension loans are still collectable and are properly withheld from an individual’s paycheck to repay a loan from a qualified pension.
  • Divorce proceedings continue and are not stopped by a bankruptcy filing. The automatic stay does not affect child support and spousal maintenance cases, however the underlying factors leading to the bankruptcy might impact financial outcomes.
  • Child custody and visitation proceedings also continue in family court despite a bankruptcy case. Paternity of children can also be established with no concern for a bankruptcy matter.

It is possible to lose the protection of the automatic stay:

  • If you had an earlier pending bankruptcy case filed within one year of your current case, the judge might not allow your automatic stay protection to take effect, based on certain facts and circumstances.
  • If there are deadlines you must meet for addressing collateral property securing other debts, and you fail to comply, you might lose your automatic stay protection.

Eviction cases have special rules where the automatic stay will not matter:

  • Creating a dangerous situation or condition or using illegal substances in connection with a rental property can lead to eviction the automatic stay will not prevent.
  • Landlords obtaining judgments of possession before a tenant files for bankruptcy can still have tenants removed despite an automatic stay, in most cases subject to exception.

The bankruptcy code is full of general rules, exceptions and conditions in which exceptions might not apply. It is important to talk to an experienced bankruptcy attorney to find out how the automatic stay provision of the bankruptcy code can help you in your specific situation.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.